May Minor League Report

All this work on the IceHL's 13 Weeks of R&R project has kept from doing my real job on Icethetics — updating the blog with actual news. In other words, there's a lot to catch up on.

Hartford Wolf Pack officially return to AHL

Well that didn't take long. After playing parts of three seasons as the Connecticut Whale, the Hartford Wolf Pack identity has made a glorious comeback — thanks to their NHL parent club, the New York Rangers.

The Wolf Pack were established in 1997 when the Binghamton Rangers moved to Hartford. Then in 2010, Howard Baldwin happened. His effort to recapture Hartford Whalers failed miserably with the rebranding of the franchise as the Connecticut Whale.

Connecticut Whale, 2010—2013

We applauded the judicious use of green but not the name or the terrible logo. Within two years, Baldwin was gone — which probably says more about his management style than his taste in sports branding. But we're all grateful nonetheless that the Pack is back.

And not for nothing, but the New York Rangers' AHL affiliate is now operated by the parent company of the Philadelphia Flyers, is it not? Global Spectrum is running things these days and it would seem they have two masters. Interesting.

The Rivermen are dead, long live the Rivermen

Speaking of the AHL, some craziness took place on Monday. The Vancouver Canucks who recently acquired the Peoria Rivermen franchise from the St. Louis Blues, announced the team would not operate out of Illinois next season. They don't know where exactly yet. Just not Peoria.

So it seemed the end of a brand that has existed for nearly 30 years. But the Rivermen are plucky. They won't go quietly. After 12 years in the IHL between 1984 and 1996, the franchise transferred to the ECHL for about a decade. Then in 2005, they got the upgrade to the AHL. In 2013, they move down — way down — to the SPHL, that's the Southern Professional Hockey League. (It exists!)

The SPHL is home to teams like the equally plucky Columbus Cottonmouths and the Pensacola Ice Flyers. And now it's also home to...

Bloomington Blaze switch from CHL to SPHL

The Bloomington Blaze are jumping the sinking ship that is the Central Hockey League for the equally crummy SPHL. A lateral move at best. But one they apparently feel is necessary.

The Blaze were founded just two years ago after the folding of the IHL's Bloomington PrairieThunder. (All these minor leagues you've probably never heard of.) They begin play in their new league this fall.

Now that we're on the CHL, we might as well talk about their newest expansion team.

Brampton gets Beast to replace lost OHL team

Earlier this year when we learned the OHL's Brampton Battalion were moving to North Bay, Ontario, it seemed like the good people of Brampton would be without a team. But that's when the Central Hockey League jumped in, expanding into Canada for the first time.

On April 27, the Brampton Beast were revealed to the world. Along with a very vanilla CHL-like logo. I won't pass judgment too hard since somebody was obviously trying. (I just don't know what they were trying for.) In any case, the Beast begin play in the fall. Like Peoria, hockey fans of Brampton won't miss a beat.

For the record, the North Bay Battlion also begin play in the OHL this fall. They will keep the same logo they had in Brampton.