By: Alex Quevillon

Ottawa SkyHawks owner Gus Takkale and Councillor Bob Monette unveil the new logo and team name for the expansion basketball franchise. They presented their new team identity at Algonquin as part of their Rising Stars basketball showcase.

Following a naming controversy in February, Ottawa’s National Basketball League of Canada franchise opted for a re-do, as they announced the new name of Ottawa’s first professional basketball team at Algonquin before the Rising Stars basketball showcase.

The team will officially be nicknamed the SkyHawks, barring any copyright or trademark issues.

On 23, team owner Gus Takkale unveiled the name Ottawa TomaHawks, a reference to the “tomahawk slam dunk” maneuver in basketball.  Unfortunately, some found the name insensitive to aboriginals, and the name was pulled the next day.

“SkyHawks has a very similar look to it with the hawk wings so we can keep our mascot and everything,” said Takkale shortly after the unveiling.  “We wanted to keep that aerial aspect to it too, we want to be a team that plays above the rim.”

Thursday, the group came to Algonquin, hosting the Rising Stars challenge for 40 of the best high school players from in and around Ottawa, and releasing their new name.

“We wanted to keep it at a neutral site,” said technical director Merrick Palmer.  “We liked the intimacy of Algonquin, smaller and loud, so it was very attractive for us to get back here.”

Takkale agreed, saying “I thought it would be a great place to unveil the name.”

Already faced with competition from several successful post-secondary basketball teams in the Ottawa region, re-naming the expansion squad was just another hurdle to overcome.

“We have fantastic basketball programs in Ottawa, we’re blessed to have a very strong base for basketball fans,” added Takkale.  “We’re going to work with Algonquin and the universities and even the high schools to be able to identify our grass roots.”

Palmer looks forward to working with the schools and their programs.

“We’re going to work in conjunction with them.  We want those students to come to our games.  It’s a big city with lots of people here, and it’s not as though basketball fans are only going to go to see one team and not another.”

Takkale hopes that his response to the negative publicity can eventually turn into a positive result when his team hits the court in November.

“We’ve had so much support from our fanbase.  We have so many fans that we didn’t think we could get by April.  On the contrary (to negative response), we acted with respect and have a lot more fans.”

When asked how the group was welcomes by Algonquin, Palmer said “with open arms,” adding that he hopes students will come out and cheer on the new franchise.

“Come out and show your support.  We want to work with as many Algonquin people as we can.”