Leeds Knights gives ice hockey new identity ahead of new NIHL National season

FIRST there was a new team owner. Then there was a sprinkling of player signings. Soon after, came the new head coach and GM.

NEW ERA: Leeds Knights' team owner, Steve Nell, pictured at Elland Road Ice Arena. Picture: Steve Riding.

Now, there is a name.

Leeds Knights will be the new identity by which the city’s senior ice hockey team based at Elland Road Arena will be known when the 2021-22 NIHL National season gets under way - as hoped - in September.

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Whistle happily embraces challenge of helping ice hockey take hold in Leeds
The new Leeds Knights logo.

Owner Steve Nell stipulated soon after taking over the franchise last month that the name ‘Chiefs’ would be one of the elements from the original team run by rink owners Planet Ice to be disposed with, in a desire to usher in a new era for the sport in the city.

It is the latest development in a fast pace of change which has been sweeping the club since Nell - owner of NIHL National rivals Swindon Wildcats for the last 17 years - took hold of the reins.

A new website is expected to be launched within the coming days, while further player-signing news is expected before the end of the month.

Head coach Dave Whistle will remain at his home in West Kelowna, in British Columbia, until early July but is already working closely with Nell to make some further additions to his Knights’ roster.

Dave Whistle will be Leeds Knights' first head coach and GM after being appointed by Steve Nell on Friday. Picture courtesy of Richard Murray.

The thinking behind the new identity originates from Leeds’s city coat of arms, which features a knight’s helmet within it, a move in keeping with Nell’s desire for the team name to have some kind of connection with the city it will be representing.

“We’ve tried to come up with something that is synonymous with the city, or what it has been involved with over the years and link it with the team,” explained Nell.

“There were various things that came up, such as the cotton industry, mining was mentioned, the armouries also was at some point and then we were looking at the Leeds city crest - or coat of arms - the knight was on there and it kind of evolved from there.

“I’m hoping we’ve come up with something that people love. It’s another important step in the development of the team and the organisation - we’ve now got a name and we’ve got a brand that we can move forward with now.

Forward Kieran Brown is one of three player signings made so far by Leeds Knights. Picture courtesy of Andy Bourke/Podium Prints.

“It’s about creating that identity, which is a massive part of everything that we’re trying to do here. We’re looking at a new era for hockey in Leeds and we thought it was a great time to go with a new name from the start.”

The team logo, of a knight’s helmet within a shield, and the letters ‘LK’ underpinning it sittimg atop a white Yorkshire rose, is also revealed today.

It has been weeks in the making but, again, Nell is happy with the outcome.

“We were looking for a logo that was clean, simple and authentic and I believe we’ve got that,” he said. “That was the brief for the designer - something fresh and modern, but with a hint of the classic about it which is the link to the City of Leeds crest, or coat of arms.

“It was about trying to bring all those elements together and I think we’ve achieved that. The colour scheme and the rose in particular are symbols of Leeds and Yorkshire and I wanted to make sure they were at the heart of what we were doing.”

On the progress made since taking over the Leeds hockey operation on April 23, Nell added: “We’ve got a name, we’ve got a logo, we’ve got some players signed up and announced and we’ve got a great head coach and GM in the shape of Dave Whistle coming in so, to do all of that within that timeframe, I’m very happy with where we’re at.”

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