Hockey is returning to Oklahoma City once again, this time in the form of the Oklahoma City Barons.
As Prodigal LLC owner Robert Funk Jr. addressed the standing-room-only crowd at the official unveiling of the Barons, he said the search for a new team name from 20,000 submissions from hockey fans was long and strenuous, and keeping the name quiet was even harder.
"Naming a team is not the easiest thing in the world, and we didn't want to make any mistakes and you want to get it right the first time," Funk said. "I never knew how hard it was to keep a secret in Oklahoma City. It's such a big city and such a small town at the same time."
The Barons are the American Hockey League affiliate for the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers " a step up competition-wise from the now-defunct Central Hockey League's Blazers.
Funk said his group's goal was to find a name that would represent Oklahoma City the way it deserves.
"A name that was clean and crisp and representing a new renaissance that is going on in Oklahoma City, and something that represents change, but harkens back to our traditions," he said. "We felt like the Barons was a great match for us and a great identity for Oklahoma City."
Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations for the Edmonton Oilers, said his organization was looking for the ideal place for its AHL affiliate, and Oklahoma City fit the bill.
"The people are wonderful and warm and they have a great appreciation for sport," Lowe said. "The athletes that come to play in this city and (Edmonton) really feel accepted and a big part of the community, and that translates into a great relationship and translates into great things on and off the ice."
Lt. Gov. Jari Askins said the name Barons represents success, and that she feels there will be more of that to come for Oklahoma City.
"When hockey was going strong and has continued to capture the heart of Oklahoma City and capture the heart of so many Oklahomans," Askins said. "You are the reason that this hockey team is able to be here now." "Adam Kemp
photo above Prodigal LLC owner Robert Funk Jr. and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins unveil the Barons' jersey.
photo below Funk speaks at the unveiling ceremony.