Buzzards muck up name but aren't out to pasture

Hockey team changes name on fly, but be warned: Poke-check at your own risk

Sports Plus

March 11, 2001|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

The El Paso (Texas) Buzzards of the Western Professional Hockey League have been struggling at the gate, so their owners decided to throw a new team nickname out there and see if it would stick.

Meet the Cow Pattys.

The new logo shows a cartoon cow holding a hockey stick and wearing a helmet, and behind it is a steaming pile of cow manure. Honest.

"This team was out of business two weeks before the season started," vice president and general manager Tommy Benizio told the San Francisco Chronicle. "That's when we came in. Our staff was working hard, but midway through the season, people still didn't know we were here. That was last week. Now, [with the name change] everybody knows we're here."

Here being the El Paso County Coliseum, affectionately and appropriately known as The Barn.

How did the team's brain trust come up with the new name, which became official last month and, amazingly, remains in effect? Benizio told the Chronicle that he and marketing consultant Josh O'Bryne "got our thinking caps on and after a while, it was like we just stepped in it!"

He added on the team's Web site: "I never knew you could come up with so many great ideas on Dollar Longneck Night."

Before announcing the name change, team officials leaked clues to the local media in the form of bad-tasting chocolate chip cookies, chocolate milk and toilet paper.

O'Bryne defended Cow Pattys as a good, natural name.

"Hey, cow patties are biodegradable," he wrote on the Web site. "They nurture the earth around them.

"Cow patties are even round and flat like hockey pucks! They smell a bit, but hey - the first time Tommy showed me through a hockey locker room - hoo-boy!"

Bovine madness

The figure in the team's logo bears a striking resemblance to one of the title characters of the Cartoon Network's "Cow and Chicken" show.

Threatening legal action, network vice president Laurie Goldberg sniffed: "This is badly drawn enough for me to be certain that we didn't license this."

"When it comes to litigation," wrote Tom Fitzgerald in the Chronicle, "our advice to the Cow Pattys is this: Watch where you step."

Checking the fluids

Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway has a race May 12 called the Ideal Cesspool Super Pro Trucks.

Riverhead, if you're wondering, is 65 miles from Flushing.

Promotional misfire

When the defunct Fort Worth Fire began operations as a Central Hockey League team, it wanted fans to have a catchy number to call for tickets and information, so it included its nickname.

After receiving complaints from fans and the Fort Worth Fire Department about wrong numbers, the team changed the number.

Catching some Z's

Utah is the home of the Jazz of the NBA, the Starzz of the WNBA, Freezz of the Western Indoor Soccer League, the Pioneerzz of the Western Baseball League and the Catzz of the Professional Indoor Football League.

But the Salt Lake Buzz of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League has changed its name to the Stingers.

"It has ties to the old names, it works with the Beehive state and it's exciting," team owner Harry Drammis says. "It suggests the crack of a bat, a real stinging hit."

So why not the Stingerzz?

"We did a lot of research, and a lot of people just didn't like it [the `zz' fad]," said Dorsena Picknell, the Stingers' assistant general manager. "Unless it fit the word like it did with Buzz, the majority said go away from it."

They're Nuts

One of the first teams to choose a name out of left field was the Lansing (Mich.) Lug Nuts, who began play in 1996.

The name celebrates the city's automotive history.

The mascot is Big Lug.

The T-shirts say, of course, "Let's Go Nuts."

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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