Entries in minors (159)


Confirmed: Wolf Pack Coming Back

It was first speculated two months ago. Now multiple sources are reporting that the AHL's Connecticut Whale will once again become the Hartford Wolf Pack next season.

The news turned up online Tuesday morning, via WTIC's Scott Gray, who cited team sources saying the league has approved the name change. Later, the Hartford Courant said Connecticut Wolf Pack was a possibility for the club's rebranding, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers didn't like the idea.

Apparently an official announcement could be coming within a week.

Neither report was clear on whether they'd also go back to the old Wolf Pack logo, created in 1997 with the team's arrival from Binghamton, New York. But if you ask me, they'd be insane not to. (It was on my list of the best AHL logos last year.)

What do you think of the imminent return of the Wolf Pack?


Iowa Wild Unveil Logo and Sweater

Relocated AHL franchise holds press conference

That happened fast. Today, the Iowa Wild (still known as the Houston Aeros until the Calder Cup Playoffs end) unveiled their new logo and home jersey for the 2013-14 season. And it looks familiar.

Iowa Wild jersey via TwitterThe new logo is not surprising. It's based on the script font found on both the Minnesota Wild and Houston Aeros third jerseys. It was shown off today on their new website.

It's really not that great of a uniform or logo design so I'm a little stumped as to why this organization keeps coming up with new versions of it. What worries me is that the NHL Wild are working on a new road (white) jersey for next season. Is this a preview of what's to come for them?

I'm also a little annoyed at the name change. I don't mind Iowa Wild the way some folks do. What I mind is them using "Wild" in the first place as now every time we mention the name we'll have to specify NHL or AHL.

At least with the other instances of the NHL/AHL name duplication, there are easy ways of distinguishing them — B-Sens, P-Bruins, Baby Pens (though I know a lot of folks hate that). But with this team? The I-Wild?

It's also disappointing that one of the great minor hockey identites of the last two decades is going away. We'll miss the Houston Aeros and I'm not sure anyone would miss the "Iowa Wild" even if they'd been around 20 years.

All right, enough complaints from me. I'm just disappointed by the lack of creativity of this team's new branding. I'll get over it, but first I'll take out my frustrations by whining here on the blog.

What do you guys think of the new look of the Iowa Wild? Am I being too hard on them?


Official: Aeros Becoming Iowa Wild

It is official now. Two decades of Houston Aeros hockey has come to an end. But their loss is the gain of hockey fans in Des Moines, Iowa. Yesterday, the Minnesota Wild received permission from the AHL's Board of Governors to relocate and rebrand the franchise, starting in 2013-14, the Iowa Wild.

It all came down to the club's inability to secure a new lease at their arena. But Houston is one of the biggest markets in the U.S. so I can't imagine they'll be without pro hockey for too long. For now, though, they are.

The press release made no mention of a timetable for the introduction of new logos and uniforms, but obviously they'll come before the fall. Sometime this summer I'd imagine. Definitely something to keep an eye on. (UPDATE) The Minnesota Wild haven't officially announced the renaming of the Aeros but the Minnesota Star-Tribune is reporting that right now.

Rocket hold off on becoming P.E.I. Islanders

In other rebranding news, the QMJHL's P.E.I. Rocket were supposed to officially unveil their new logos and uniforms on Thursday. They were to be renamed the P.E.I. Islanders for next season. However, the owners suddenly put the team up for sale, according to The Guardian, taking the rebrand off the table for now.

Unless a local group can come up with the money to keep the team on Prince Edward Island, it will be sold to a group planning to relocate to Sorel, Quebec, where they'd be rebranded as the Sorel Eperviers — a team that played there from 1968 to 1981.

Either way, this team will get a new look before the start of the 2013-14 season.

Thanks to Matt M. for the tip on the Rocket story.


AHL Calder Cup Playoff Logos

Over the last couple of weeks, the American Hockey League has been revealing Calder Cup playoff logos for each team as they clinch their spots. As of this writing, 9 teams have clinched. Here are the logos we've seen so far.

I'll keep an eye out for the rest as they're revealed.


The AHL Will Look Different Next Fall

In this post, I'm hoping to catch us all up on some recent AHL news I haven't had a chance to write about. There will be new affiliations and some relocations and just general upheaval.

Canucks buy Rivermen, could move them to B.C.

We start in Illinois. Earlier this month, the Vancouver Canucks agreed to purchase the AHL's Peoria Rivermen from the St. Louis Blues. The deal, announced April 1, means starting next season, we'll have a couple of NHL/AHL affiliate swaps.

Obviously, the Canucks will be aligning with their new asset in Peoria. Only they don't appear to be staying in Peoria. According to the Vancouver Sun, the club will pack up and find a new city closer to the west coast. Where might that be?

Heat may leave Abbotsford for Utica, N.Y.

The Abbotsford Heat and owner Calgary Flames are in a spot of trouble. Things aren't really working out in B.C. See, British Columbians don't seem all that eager to cheer on the future of their enemy. Most of them are Canucks fans after all.

So where does that leave us? The Flames are apparently content with nearby Abbotsford, but clearly a Canucks-affiliated team would be a better draw. If the Rivermen find themselves in B.C. next season, where would the Heat go? I can't say, but it would be the franchise's fifth home in a decade.

From 1993 to 2003, the Saint John Flames played in New Brunswick. After that, there was a two-year suspension of the franchise followed by relocations every other year from Omaha, Neb. in 2005 to Moline, Ill. in 2007 and finally to Abbotsford in 2009.

UPDATE (4/16): A number of you have correctly pointed out that Utica, N.Y. is apparently the most likely place for the Heat to move given a February report that the Flames may sign a 10-year affiliation agreement with the city. What's funny is that Utica is where the franchise was based 20 years ago — prior to being in New Brunswick. Only then, then were affiliated with New Jersey and known as the Utica Devils. Will they keep the Heat moniker or go with something better?

Blues likely to enter affiliation with Wolves

So back to the Rivermen. They'll be ending their arrangement with the St. Louis Blues, who'll presumably pick up the Canucks' sloppy seconds, the Chicago Wolves. Geographically, it makes sense too. So no surprise there.

Aeros may leave Houston for Des Moines, Iowa

What is surprising, however, is that we could be witnessing the end of a 20-year run of pro hockey in Houston, Texas. The Houston Aeros apparently can't come to terms on a new arena deal. You know what that means. Relocation, relocation, relocation.

Word is, they've been eyeing Peoria — should the Rivermen be moved by the Canucks. In which case, my money says the storied Rivermen identity never skips a beat. The Aeros become the "new" Rivermen and the "old" Rivermen get a completely new identity in Abbotsford or elsewhere.

But if the Canucks can't get the Rivermen out of Peoria, the Aeros would still have to find a new home. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune believes Des Moines, Iowa could be a good possibility. It's closer to NHL affiliate Minnesota Wild but less convenient when it comes to air travel and call-ups.

So there you have four AHL teams that could look very different next fall. But they won't be alone.

Other leagues will look different, too

Elsewhere, other changes are in the works:

  • The OHL's Brampton Battalion are on the move. The league approved the relocation to North Bay, Ont. back in November. It doesn't appear their name or logo will change — they have already been renamed the North Bay Battalion, according to the team's official website.
  • Brampton, Ont. loses one CHL for another. The Central Hockey League swooped in with an expansion team for 2013-14, which recently got its official name — the Brampton Beast. (Think the IceHL's Boulder Beasts might have something to say about that?) The club doesn't have a logo yet, but this is the CHL's first foray into Canada.
  • The CHL will also welcome the St. Charles Chill this season. You may recall the team named a winner in its logo design contest back in November.
  • UPDATE (4/16): JanBan (comments) reminded me that the QMJHL's P.E.I. Rocket will be rebranding this summer. Their new name, announced last September, is P.E.I. Islanders. You can currently get 50% off Rocket merchandise from the team store.

If I've overlooked anything, please let me know. We'll have a lot to keep an eye on this summer as teams move around and new logos get unveiled. Stick around!

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