An iconic, big-name Canadian lacrosse franchise heads back to where it all began.
Last week, the Toronto Rock announced the team is moving to Hamilton. The six-time National Lacrosse League champions will be playing in the First Ontario Centre, effective 2021-22 season.
The news broke Tuesday night via Twitter during the team’s town hall session, and officially announced to the public by team owner Jamie Dawick the following day.
If you are a fair-weathered, casual sports fan, this announcement may not strike as significant as to those who long supported the franchise. The reaction to the move was mixed, but when Dawick mentioned the team will remain Toronto Rock, the social media buzz was mostly negative.
Let’s put it out this way, if you are a Hamiltonian who is familiar with sports, Toronto is the Zod to Hamilton’s Superman. After all, Toronto is the metropolis of Canada, while Hamilton is the underdog city with the national perception equivalent of Rodney Dangerfield. As much as Dawick is invested in promoting the brand in the region, the team name citing as Toronto Rock isn’t a long term stability initiative.
A name change from Toronto Rock to The Rock or Rock City would be ideal if Dawick and the team public relations department wants this brand to survive with efficient support from the Hamilton area. This is not the kind of city or part of the region Dawick wants to alienate.
Just like I gave OHL Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer a chance to integrate the fanbase into the OHL over pro hockey (which turned out well), I’ll give Dawick at least two years to materialize the product. After all, this is the franchise with a loaded roster ready to compete for the 7th league championship next season.