Artist shares how iconic Sharks logo almost looked very different

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When Sharks fans think of their favorite hockey team, San Jose’s iconic logo likely comes to mind.

But how did it come to be? NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil recently sat down with its creator, Terry Smith, who revealed some surprising secrets about the Sharks logo’s origins.

Before the Sharks’ inaugural 1991-92 NHL season, Smith was approached to design the team’s logo, which didn’t yet have a name. The artist wasn’t known for sports logos -- yet -- but specialized in a style he described to Brazil as “sports fantasy.”

Once the name “Sharks” was decided upon, it was time to get to work. But it took some time to decide on San Jose’s iconic teal hue, Smith explained, and the team’s colors almost were very different.

“One of the early designs, it was green -- like a lime green and black and white, with kind of a tiger stripe,” Smith said, noting the team almost was known as the Tiger Sharks.”... I was probably one of the stronger people in terms of pushing for red, because it made sense.”

Sharks create red blood in the water when they attack their prey, Smith argued, and he viewed the color as one that would stand the test of time.

But the Sharks tried out teal for a football-related reason -- someone in the organization was a huge Miami Dolphins fan, Smith explained.

So, with the team’s name and colors officially set, Smith got to work. And when he was done with the logo, it depicted its namesake perfectly -- a fearsome shark chomping through a hockey stick, just as the forthcoming franchise hoped it would do to its opponents.

But not everyone was on board.

“When it first came out, we caught a lot of heat for it, too,” Smith said, and Brazil noted the NHL took issue with the broken hockey stick at first.

“That’s crazy that that’s a problem,” Brazil said. 

“But think about the time,” Smith replied. “... There are [hockey] traditions that people like to hold.”

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In the end, the Sharks logo went through as planned, with a minor makeover before the 2007-08 season.

Smith takes pride in creating something that not only resonates with fans but also has stood the test of time.

“This is, I think, where we kind of changed the game a little bit for people. I believe a logo should tell a story,” Smith said.

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