The Edmonton Elks have survived the largest period of upheaval in franchise history, with a complete rebrand and cleansing of organizational management over the last year and a half, but some things must remain sacred.
The team unveiled new helmets for the 2022 season on Thursday, bringing back a refreshed version of the iconic Double E logo after it was replaced by antlers last year. The old logo had been retained in a secondary capacity by the club while they underwent their name change after years of protest from Inuit groups, but it had faded into the background despite the explicit goal of the rebrand to maintain the alliterative property of the club’s moniker.
For new president and CEO Victor Cui, restoring the historic logo to prominence was an essential part of the team’s efforts to reconnect with the local community. Though some might argue the logo is tinged by the organization’s previous inappropriate name, it carries deeper meaning for those that grew up fans like he did.
“We don’t have anything to be embarrassed about the history of our organization. We have amazing people, amazing players, amazing coaches, and an incredible legacy that we should shout and be proud of and the Double E is a big part of that,” Cui proclaimed on The Dave Jamieson Show following the unveiling.
“To me, this is not a helmet reveal. This is not a new logo on the helmet, that’s just a sticker and colours. This is about what does the Double E represent to the community? What does it represent to the fans? It symbolizes something that respects our history, respects our season ticket holders that have stayed illogically loyal, through wins and losses, to the team.”
While only a small segment of fans have remained vocally resistant to the team’s necessary name change, far more felt cast aside when iconic markers of the franchise like the Double E logo, middle helmet stripe and gold numbering were unceremoniously shelved as part of the rebrand. Alumni too, felt slighted, but Cui has attempted to heal all those hurt feelings in his first month at the helm.
The new helmet was part of that process, based on input from the fan base and then marketed to them with the support of current and former players like David Beard, Jed Roberts, Mookie Mitchell and Hector Pothier. Ultimately, it’s a product of Cui’s desire to get to know the fan base on a more personal level, something many weren’t expecting.
“I think what stood out the most in the first month to me is how surprised Edmonton Elks’ fans were that I was engaging with them. It still catches me by surprise because it’s water cooler talk, that’s what social media is. It’s what we used to do by the water cooler, standing around and catching up and stuff,” he remarked.
“I love it when somebody posts and says something witty and makes me laugh. I think that’s awesome, so of course I’m gonna comment about it and we’ve got such a passionate fan base that’s active on social media. It’s been great to connect with them, get their inputs and their ideas. You can feel that they want to start this tidal wave in the city that will give us the biggest season opener that we’ve ever had in history.”
Ticket drives and helmet reveals are just a small part of that, with much more community engagement to come according to Cui. The Elks have spent much of the past few years ducking one controversy or another, but the once dynastic franchise is ready to be bold once again beneath some familiar letters.