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ECHL Opens All-Star Jersey Voting

Three finalists selected; voting ends Monday

Polls have officially opened on the 2015 ECHL All-Star Classic jersey design contest hosted by the Orlando Solar Bears. Last week, the Solar Bears began accepting submissions from fans. Today, the three finalists were revealed as voting began. Take a look at the options presented to voters.

Image from Orlando Solar Bears

According to the press release, the Solar Bears received more than a hundred entries and the finalists were selected by "a group made up of individuals from the ECHL, CCM, the Joe Bosack Design Co. and the Orlando Solar Bears."

Polls close Mon., Dec. 23 at noon ET so VOTE NOW!

Icethetics contributor's design among finalists

Unfortunately, the Solar Bears elected not to include the designers' names with their entries in the poll of finalists. However, we do know "C" was designed by frequent Icethetics concept contributor Matt McElroy, who tweeted about it earlier today. It also showcases his IceBorn concept template, which is featured here on Icethetics. Good luck to Matt!

For a look at some other all-star jersey submissions which were not among the finalists, check out yesterday's post on the Concepts page.

What do you think of the finalists? And which one will you be voting for?

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Frozen Frontier Sweaters Shine

All photos by Micheline Veluvolu

AHL's Americans and Monsters meet at Frontier Field

The first outdoor game of the hockey season happened Friday night in Rochester, New York. The Rochester Americans hosted the Lake Erie Monsters in a game with a very distinct look. In typical outdoor fashion, the opponents sported throwback jerseys.

The Amerks were dressed to look like they did back in the late 1950s. The Monsters, meanwhile, took on the look of an even older team that preceded them in their hometown of Cleveland — the Cleveland Barons.

A photo gallery posted on the Amerks' Facebook page allows us to enjoy the aesthetics of the game in all their splendor. I recommend spending some time there.

What do you think? Are you over the throwback trend? Or is it a welcome relief from the onslaught of modern Olympic and NHL Stadium Series jerseys?

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Minor League Anniversaries

It's been a busy summer with a lot of changes in the NHL. While I work on the next edition of NHL JerseyWatch, how about some new anniversary logos to hold you over? The AHL alone has at least four that I know of. Let's take a look at them here.

The Syracuse Crunch will mark their 20th season after arriving in upstate New York in 1994. (The franchise was actually founded as the Hamilton Canucks in 1992.) This logo was unveiled Aug. 14.

Also in 1994, the Springfield Falcons joined as an expansion franchise. So this season marks their 20th in the AHL as well. Although, I don't know what to say about this logo, which was released just last week. There's just too much going on and none of it good.

Fifteen years later, a couple more teams arrived on the AHL scene. The Abbotsford Heat are celebrating their fifth anniversary with this neat mark. It was unveiled almost two months ago, back on July 11. This is what most anniversary logos should be, actually. It cleverly incorporates an aspect of the team's primary logo with a unique type treatment for the number.

Here's what not to do. The Texas Stars are also marking five years, but in a much less interesting fashion. Hey, it's an anniversary logo. They can't all be winners. It was unveiled way back on June 28.

I'll wrap this up with a league anniversary. Can you believe the Southern Professional Hockey League has been around for almost a decade? But I think an intern made the logo. (Does the SPHL have interns?) Regardless, the execution is poor even if it's not a bad concept.

See any minor league anniversary logos I missed? Drop me a line and I'll update this post.

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Providence Bruins Update Uniforms

P-Bruins tout tweaks to all three kits for 2013-14

Back on the minor league beat this weekend, the AHL's Providence Bruins launched a new mini-site to promote and explain the updates they've made to their uniforms for the coming season. And because they did it in three elegant graphics, that makes less work for me.

The big takeaway from the new home jersey is that the P-Bruins will no longer wear white at any time. (I think they did a bit of that last season, but now it's official.) The AHL is going to prove that you don't always need one team to be wearing white to tell the opponents apart. When will the NHL get on board? We're looking at you, Nashville.

The road jersey is pretty close what we see with their NHL affiliate in Boston. Unfortunately, they've gone with that awful opposite-color name plate. This is a terrible trend that doesn't seem willing to die.

Finally, there's the black alternate jersey. It's a bit plain — not unlike what Boston's third suffers from — but I like what they've done with the collar. It's different. And I really like the complete lack of white in this jersey. There's a bit in the logos, but no white stripes. This is totally a black and gold sweater and it looks great.

What do you think? Did Providence hit the mark with their updates?

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AHL Announces Frozen Frontier

Outdoor event will pit host Amerks against Lake Erie

On Tuesday, the league announced the Frozen Frontier, a 10-day outdoor hockey festival to be held at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y. It kicks off Fri., Dec. 13 with a game between the Rochester Americans and the Lake Erie Monsters. Later in the weekend, Sun., Dec. 15, there's a Sabres/Amerks alumni game.

And as to why the Monsters will join the Amerks outdoors:

Rochester’s opponent for the game, the Lake Erie Monsters, are based in Cleveland, Ohio, a city with a rich history in the American Hockey League and a long-standing rival of the Amerks. The Cleveland Barons were an original AHL franchise and went on to win nine Calder Cup championships. The Amerks and Barons twice met in the Calder Cup Finals, with Cleveland winning in 1957 and Rochester taking home the Cup in 1966.

So we can probably bet on throwback jerseys for the big game.

The logo, unfortunately, looks sloppy and rushed. The one creative thing about it that I like is the large snowflake that seems to be made out of hockey sticks. But more than half of it is hidden. And I've never seen anyone successfully cram 10 words onto one logo. Back to the drawing board.

The AHL has been putting on outdoor games since the 2009-10 season. And in case you were wondering, yes, the Frozen Frontier has its own website.

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Blaze Become Bloomington Thunder

Central Hockey League forced name change

Back in May we learned the Bloomington Blaze were leaving the Central Hockey League for the Southern Professional Hockey League beginning next season. Seems that may have ruffled some feathers because the CHL's lawyers said the club would have to give up the Blaze name.

For that reason, according to the Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., the franchise renamed itself the Bloomington Thunder in late July. The move also helped the team align with the local youth hockey organization, also called the Thunder.

These teams are not to be confused with the Bloomington PrairieThunder which formed in the International Hockey League in 2006 and joined the CHL with the league merger in 2010. A year later, the PrairieThunder dissolved and a new group brough the Blaze to town in 2011.

I'm not sure why the CHL is so tied to the Blaze moniker considering the team only existed for two years. Unless they're just being petty because the team decided to switch leagues. This low-level minor leagues can be interesting. But nonetheless there's another new logo in the hockey world so it gets a place here on the blog.

For now, I'll leave you with a last look at the old Blaze logo.

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Iowa's Wild New Logos

Back in April, the Iowa Wild unveiled their new logo and home uniform. Since then, we've gotten a look at some other elements of the franchise's visual identity. For one thing, the graphic above shows how the logo is colored on a dark background. It's been seen on the backdrop at recent press conferences.

Previously, we'd only seen the green version used on white backgrounds, including the white jersey that was shown to us. (We still haven't seen a road or alternate jersey yet.) Here's a reminder of what the green version of the logo looks like.

But that's not all. A few weeks ago, the Wild tweeted this photo of new T-shirts fans can get their hands on. And it showed yet

Photo from Iowa Wild (via Twitter)

On the right you can see a modified version of the logo Minnesota uses on their home sweater. Does that mean Iowa could be taking a similar route? Might not be the worst thing if they did. I know it's easy to complain when a minor league team takes on the branding of its NHL affiliate, but sometimes it's cool to see the variations.

I believe that covers all of the Iowa Wild's logos for the 2013-14 season. But there is one more thing I wanted to mention. Obviously, this team has yet to take the ice, yet you can already find "photos" of the new uniforms in action — all thanks to Photoshop.

Images from Iowa Wild (via Instagram)

The image on the left was featured in an Instagram promotion and the one on the right was part of splash page graphic on the team's official website. (They have a different splash screen now but are still using a similarly Photoshopped player.)

It's basically just the old Houston Aeros alternate jersey with the new logo pasted on. Not a terribly complex solution, but at least fans get the feel of seeing the new Wild in action, right?

What do you think of teams Photoshopping new jerseys onto their players in the offseason? We've also seen it a lot with NHL teams given all the player movement since free agency began. Does it bug you? Could you care less?

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Trio of New Jerseys at Q Draft

The 2013 QMJHL Draft was held in Chicoutimi, Quebec on June 8. And those interested in junior hockey jerseys got treated to a few new ones at the event.

Islanders reveal black jersey at draft

Of course we have to begin with the recently rebranded Charlottetown Islanders, previously known as the PEI Rocket. Their new black sweater was on display at the draft and also given to their draftees. I haven't seen the white one so I'm not sure if it's the same style.

This is a bit disappointing. It's not like they knocked it out of the park on the logo, but why go even blander with a black text jersey? Charlottetown could've learned a thing or two from the mistakes of their NHL friends in Dallas. And what is with all the crazy piping?

Tigres switch from yellow to black

The Victoriaville Tigres have apparently dropped their yellow sweaters in favor of black. Seems like an odd move considering the trend in hockey jerseys these days, but these actually look pretty solid.

Photos from Victoriaville Tigres (via Facebook)

The Buffalo Sabres Edge template we're all quite familiar with, but it is an improvement on the Pens/Sens template they used to wear. And overall, it works.

Lastly, the Shawinigan Cataractes apparently have a new alternate jersey. I say "apparently" because they only seemed to give it to one player at the draft. And because almost everything written about all these teams is in French — a language I don't speak.

Photo from Shawinigan Cataractes (via Facebook)

Maybe some of my bilingual readers might have some more information to pass along. Keep an eye on the comments for updates from those in the know.

As for me, I'm taking a step back from the blog for a little while. Not to worry, if there's news to report, it'll be here. But I need some time to get the next IceHL yearbook together and that means making the time for daily blog posts will be difficult.

That said, I'm expecting jersey news from Buffalo, Minnesota, San Jose, Montreal and possibly Calgary over the next few months. So as soon as I know anything, I'll be sure to let you guys know.

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Lethbridge Hurricanes Unveil New Logo

WHL team forced to rebrand by Washington Capitals

Back in March, we learned the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes would need to come up with a new logo. The NHL's Washington Capitals decided the Lethbridge logo was too similar to their own to continue being used.

That report came from CTV reporter Darrell Romuld, who then said that the Hurricanes would simply promote the logo being used on their alternate jersey at the time. That look was created by former IceHL GM and CanesCast founder Joshua Schroeder.

However, it seems that was not the case as Lethbridge unveiled an entirely new logo at a special event on Thursday. You can see it at the top of this post.

Photo by Patrick Burles (via Twitter)

Despite dumping the Caps-style wordmark, the Hurricanes will still basically be wearing Caps jerseys. This is probably a Reebok thing. The new logo has two variations. The stylized H is in blue on the red jersey and red on the white one, as you can see below.

The Hurricanes have struggled with identity issues for as long as I've known them. This logo is an improvement on the ugly wordmarks they've used in the past. It's simple and bold. And original. Well, mostly original. Some readers have claimed similarity to the Hilton Hotels brand, but I think they're really just reaching.

The Hurricanes posted another article on their website about AKQA creative director Chris Polychronopoulos, who I'm assuming led the rebranding efforts for Lethbridge — assuming because article doesn't say so specifically. And all it really is is a bio. It outlines his credentials.

Photos from Lethbridge Hurricanes

Anyway, if you want to see more photos of Lethbridge's new look, a number of people were tweeting from the unveiling event, including Cody Nickolet (WHL From Above), Joshua Schroeder (CanesCast) and Patrick Burles (Country 95 News).

What's your take? Is this an upgrade for the Lethbridge Hurricanes or not? (Head over to this post to see the original logo.)

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Checkers Get New Uniforms

Following the lead of their NHL parent club in Raleigh, the AHL's Charlotte Checkers unveiled new uniforms on Wednesday. The redesigned sweaters are based on those of the Carolina Hurricanes, who revealed their look to the world on June 4.

Photos from Charlotte Checkers (via Flickr)

On first glance, it looks like they duplicated the Canes and swapped out the crest. But first glances can be deceiving. There are more differences than that and some are key to making this uniform work for Charlotte in a way it didn't for Raleigh.

By now you've probably read my review of what Carolina did. Overall, it wasn't great. But the Checkers have changed some details that really make their version easier to swallow. So let's go through them. The Checkers have made this very easy, outlining the differences on their website.

Some differences between the Hurricanes and Checkers' new jerseys

First, and most obvious is the black stripe on the red Checkers jersey. Come on Carolina, how hard would that have been? It wouldn't saved all the Team Canada grief you've gotten over the last week and a half. Then there's the lace-up collar on the white jersey. This isn't a big deal for me. A lot of folks bemoaned the non-matching home-and-roads in Carolina. I kind of liked that.

The Checkers also have a shoulder patch, something the Canes went without. Of course it's the standard Hurricanes logo, but at least it's something. Other changes pointed out on the Checkers' website include the Checkers retaining the shiny silver on the crest while Carolina opted for a matte finish. And, naturally, the collar doesn't have a row of storm flags like it does for the Hurricanes.

Photo from Charlotte Checkers (via Flickr)

The reason I like Charlotte's version better is quite simply the black stripe on the red sweater and the shoulder patches. Seemingly minor details can turn out to be important.

And there's something else. The Checkers identity dates back to the 1950s in the old Eastern Hockey League. That's about 60 years of history there. Because of that, a traditional-style hockey uniform works for them in a way it doesn't for the 16-year-old Hurricanes. Plus, it never made sense for them to wear those storm flags around their waist like it did for their parent club. Moreso now that the Canes themselves stopped using that particular feature.

So for Charlotte, this is an impressive upgrade to the look. They will be one of the AHL's best-looking teams in 2013. How can two teams wear jerseys so similar and yet look so different? Now you know. 

More photos of the new Checkers uniforms on Flickr

The Checkers have posted a series of artsy shots of their new uniforms on Flickr. I highly recommend taking a peek. There's also a video if you're interested in seeing the jerseys in motion.

Your turn. Did the Checkers make the right move? Share your take in the comments.

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Introducing the Utica Comets

Canucks' AHL affiliate unveils name, logo and uniforms

The AHL's Peoria Rivermen have been searching for a new home over the last several weeks after the Vancouver Canucks purchased the franchise and announced it would be leaving Illinois. This afternoon at a press conference in Utica, N.Y., the team officially became the Utica Comets.

The new logo was first to be unveiled. Its shield design gives it an almost soccer-like quality. But the flying puck leaves no doubt this is New York's newest hockey team. The crest is styled after the look of the Canucks, the club's owner and NHL affiliate. Which is good because the jerseys belong to Vancouver too.

Utica Comets home, road and alternate jerseys (via Canucks website)

Comets to wear modified Canucks sweaters

Also unveiled at today's news conference were the new home and road uniforms, which are essentially Canucks jerseys with a different crest. And rather than using the Canucks' primary logo on the shoulders, it's the secondary mark — the stick in the rink. 

This has naturally led to questions from readers about whether it "means something" for the Canucks' future. I think it has more to do with aesthetics (the orca logo doesn't have any green) than anything else. And they're actually not alone. The Worcester Sharks wear on their shoulders the same shield logo the San Jose Sharks wear on their pants.

I like the simple carryover from the Canucks on the home and road designs. But that third jersey doesn't do it for me. There's clearly an effor there to call back to a Comets jersey from an earlier era, but text and numbers on the front rarely find favor with me.

Comets announce name, logos and uniforms at press conference (via Facebook)

New name a nod to the region's hockey history

Today's announcement marks the return of AHL hockey to Utica. The city had previously been home to the Utica Devils (who are now, somewhat ironically, the Abbotsford Heat) but that was 20 years ago. The franchise left town in 1993.

The name Comets has a long history in the area. Nearby Clinton, N.Y. was home to the Clinton Comets starting way back in 1927 — though they didn't pick up the Comets moniker until 1949. The team played in a number of leagues over the years but they made their name after joining the Eastern Hockey League in 1954. Can you name the other EHL team that's now a member of the AHL? It's the Charlotte Checkers.

The Canucks posted a neat infographic on their website that delves into the history a bit. It explains how the new logo was inspired by the old Clinton Comets logo. The mixture of Canucks elements really brings it all together if you ask me.

It's a great, simple design that accomplishes everything it needs to as far as establishing an AHL franchise in a new city. Sure we'll hear complaints about the text in the logo, the puck, and probably even cracks about the lack of creativity in the jerseys themselves. But consider the amount of time the organization had to put this all together.

The Canucks bought the Rivermen franchise in April. That's just two months to get logos designed and approved and put jerseys and other merchandise into production. That's a very fast turnaround for something like this. And it's rather impressive to see what the end result was.

Comets to begin play in Utica this fall

The Comets will hit the ice in October and have this inaugural season logo to mark the occasion. Looks familiar, right? Like the Canucks' 40th anniversary logo from a couple years ago? Certainly a logo design time-saver if I ever saw one. That said, it's well executed.

For more on the new Utica Comets...

There was a lot put on the web today about the Comets, especially through official channels. So if you want to learn more, how about a nice link dump? 

After you get your fill, drop back by and share your thoughts on the new Utica Comets.

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Texas Stars Introduce Sweaters

Dallas' AHL affiliate reveals redesigned uniforms

While we eagerly await the unveiling of the Dallas Stars' new branding, their AHL farm club just pulled the trigger on some new sweaters. On Thursday the Texas Stars revealed their updated threads — which I would've posted here sooner if not for all the NHL craziness of the last few days.

Photo from Dallas Stars Inside Edge

From the team's press release:

In preparation for the fifth season of AHL hockey in Cedar Park, the Stars will make a significant shift in their road jersey colors. Texas is replacing the all-black away uniform with a primarily dark green jersey, the same dark green that is featured in the team’s logo, and the crest patch will feature the team’s secondary logo.

The shoulder cap is white with a primary logo patch on each side. The collar is gold and includes a white lace tie-up. The sweater will also have thick white bands on each sleeve and along the bottom hem, trimmed with black and gold. The matching socks will be principally dark green with three bands of black, gold and white just below the knee.

The Stars' new home white sweater is simply their old third jersey, unveiled back on Oct. 5, 2011. No surprises there. But the new road sweater is now green instead of black — more in line with what Dallas is reportedly planning for their rebrand.

Francis Wathier and Toby Petersen model the new Texas Stars jerseys

As wordmark-based uniforms go, this one isn't at all that bad — even if it is set in the Batman Forever font. And if you're curious about who designed the new unis...

The new jerseys were designed by the Texas Stars in conjunction with Reebok, the official and exclusive jersey supplier to the American Hockey League. The jerseys will be available in both replica and authentic versions at the Texas Stars merchandise stands beginning this Fall.

Reebok is always involved now. We just need to accept that.

Photo from Texas Stars official website

The newer of the two jerseys also has a more traditional look — which is again in line with what we expect to see from Dallas on June 4. Even if you think Texas should've come up with all new logos — and I count myself in that group — this is hard not to like. Especially the added emphasis on green, a color that was more of an afterthought on the old jerseys.

Photo from Dallas Stars Inside Edge

I am concerned for the play-by-play guys, though, as the gold name on green jersey will be rather difficult to read if you're far away. Probably should've stuck with the safter white — but then I do like this color combination. More now that it seems Dallas won't be using it anymore.

That's all I've got. I'll leave you with this graphic the Stars put on their website.

Image from Texas Stars official website

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Rivermen, Raiders Unveil New Logos

Peoria's new SPHL team reveals logo, uniforms

On Saturday, the latest incarnation of the Peoria Rivermen franchise — now a member of the Southern Professional Hockey League — officially unveiled its logo and uniforms.

Peoria Rivermen new uniform designs (via Facebook)

I briefly went over the history of the Rivermen in Friday's post. The new look came just a day later via the club's new Facebook page, where they also posted the progression of Rivermen logos over the years.

Rivermen logo progression, 1984—present (via Facebook)

The branding efforts are an attempt to capture history and tradition of the Rivermen franchise which has existed in some form for nearly 30 years. That's quite a run. For a deeper look, I recommend this article from Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal Star. The write-up mentions that the logo and uniforms were designed by Carie Hanawalt.

The old Rivermen franchise of the AHL was recently purchased by the Vancouver Canucks and will no longer play in Peoria. So there will be a new name and a new location for the team at some point but nothing has been announced yet.

WHL's Prince Albert Raiders start "green movement"

The other big logo unveiling last week happened in the Western Hockey League. The Prince Albert Raiders decided to highlight their green and introduce all new logos and uniforms.

New jerseys modeled at Raiders unveiling (via Facebook)

Take a good look at those jerseys. They're Reebok Edge, but a brand new template we've ever seen. Factor in the colors, and what are the odds we're looking at the next Dallas Stars uniform with a different logo on the front? It was an IceHL GM, Mike Kelly, who first mentioned this via Twitter. And I have to agree.

Then again, it would be surprising for a couple of reasons. First, if Reebok is going to go out of its way to generate an entirely new sweater template, why would they do it for a junior league team. It's more likely that it'd be for an NHL club — like Dallas. But then if all that is true, why allow the junior team to hold its unveiling first — three weeks before the NHL club?

It could be a simple solution, like maybe Reebok works up new templates every year — some of which may or may not end up in use in the NHL. It could just be a way of expanding their own product line. In any case, it's something worth talking about.

What's your take? Both on the Raiders' new look as well as the possibility that they're a preview of the Stars' redesign. And how about the new Rivermen?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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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Lethbridge Forced to Change Logo

Starting next season, the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes will have a new logo and uniforms. The change comes after the Washington Capitals told the junior club their current logo and uniforms were a bit to similar to the NHL club's.

CTV reporter Darrell Romuld tweeted this last week: 

He followed up by pointing out that the logo currently used on the Canes' third jersey would be promoted to "full time" use next season. It's the logo you saw at the top of this post. The real story is in how this new logo came to be and its designer's connection to Icethetics.

But first, we should compare the offending logo with that of the Capitals.

The Hurricanes made this their primary logo in 2011. At first, it looked like a bad mix between two Southeast Division NHL teams. But after two seasons, the Caps have had enough.

We all know what their logo looks like. The similarities are obvious but, to be honest, the Lethbridge logo is just a poorly-designed rip-off. No one should be disappointed to see it go.

The new one, however, is a breath of fresh air. It was designed by Joshua Schroeder, who was named GM of IceHL's Calgary Cavalry in the fantasy league's inaugural season in 2010. He departed last summer. But his connection to the Hurricanes is what's interesting here.

Photo courtesy Joshua Schroeder

Josh writes:

I've got a bit of a history with the Hurricanes, starting in 1999 when I was invited to training their training camp. That's me sitting on the boards in the middle. As you can see, we were wearing an old set of the team's jerseys. I was on my way home by the time the veterans reported to camp.

The Hurricanes' actual logo at the time was the infamous Tasmanian devil, or "Twister" logo, since that's the name of our Tasmanian devil mascot. (Yeah... twister, hurricane... apparently we're pretty confused about weather around here.)

Fair enough. Speaking of which — here's that "infamous" logo.

Josh tells me he moved to Lethbridge a few years later to attend college. He stuck around, became a season ticket holder, then founded CanesCast, the official social media partner of the Hurricanes. He bemoaned the bad logos the team endured over the years. And in 2010, he got inspired.

In March 2011, the Hurricanes launched a design contest for the team's 2012-13 alternate jersey — which was more than a year away at the time. So he started putting together a concept.

Artwork and photo courtesy Joshua Schroeder

Josh explains:

I also put together a full proposal package explaining the symbolism that was worked into the design and sent that off to the Hurricanes.

Right around the time I learned that my design had been selected, the new Winnipeg Jets logo was leaked. Another hockey team logo with an aircraft in an RCAF emblem-inspired design. I was a little discouraged at that point, since I figured that by the time my jersey was unveiled it would look like I had just copied the Jets (who, remember, were still the Thrashers when I created my logo).

I got over it, and I still like that I managed to work the symbolism into my logo a little more subtly than the Jets did.

Artwork courtesy Joshua Schroeder

As you can see, Josh put a lot of thought and research into this design. Never has one team worn so much meaning and history on their uniforms. Great to see it will be getting full time use starting next fall.

Photo courtesy Joshua SchroederMore from Josh:

Anyhow, that's pretty much where my involvement ended. I'd been told I'd won, but couldn't make it public knowledge.

The next summer I got a sneak peek at the jersey, and again had to keep it a secret. Unfortunately, the final design the team went with abandoned the striping pattern from my concept, which again was a bit disappointing, but it still looked good.

Early in the 2012-13 season the logo was leaked on our veteran goalie's new mask, and finally (FINALLY!) we got to unveil it in November.

I was able to talk about it and enjoy doing the media rounds for a couple of days. And of course, as winner of the contest, I got my own customized jersey, presented to me at centre ice by captain Graham Hood (photo above).

Sounds like any hockey concept artist's dream!

Josh said a handful of the jerseys were made available in the team store and — despite a higher price — sold out in two nights.

I'd heard a rumour earlier this season about the current Capitals-style jerseys needing to be replaced.

While it sounds like they haven't made a decision on what to wear next year, the indications point toward them adopting the Hawker Hurricane logo full time. The third jerseys were in heavy rotation by the end of the season.

And check out the carpet in the locker room (even Curtis Joseph thinks it's awesome!).

CTV Lethbridge has speculated that the team will add a blue version of the jersey and promote the third jerseys to full time use. As you can imagine, that would suit me just fine. I do work pretty closely with some of the Hurricanes' front office staff on game days now, so they know where to find me if they wanted to get me involved with the design process again.

To this point, though, I haven't been invited to be part of the process.

I know that's a lot of information to digest, but if you're interested in even more background on the forthcoming changes to the Lethbridge Hurricanes branding, I've got a couple more links.

Pat Siedlecki, the play-by-play voice of the Hurricanes, talked on his blog about how this will be the team's fourth primary logo in seven years. (He even used an old graphic I made for NHLToL years ago.) And on Yahoo! Sports' Buzzing the Net blog, Cam Charron compares the looks of other junior teams to NHL clubs. (Those pesky Reebok templates are generally to blame for this.)

Hope you found all this as interesting as I did. And I hope it makes up for both the lack of posts recently and the lack of posts to come while I'm busy moving to a new place this week.

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