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.

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!

Heat Unveil New Logo

Words I love to write: "unveil... new... logo." Always exciting.

Yes, legitimate Icethetics news coming in today! The Abbotsford Heat, the newest addition to the American Hockey League unveiled their new logo this morning. And despite my hype in the previous graf, it is rather unremarkable. I mean, I looked at it, started writing this post, and had to look at it again to remember what it looked like.

See for yourself.

Now then, some of us may need a quick history lesson (I know I did). Who are the Abbotsford Heat and when did they join the AHL? The Heat is just another in a long line of aliases for a team I'm not entirely convinced isn't in witness protection.

This franchise began life in 1987 as the Utica Devils, the natural minor league farm club of the New Jersey Devils. That lasted only six years, until Calgary Flames took over the team in 1993, moved it to Saint John and shared its own moniker. The Saint John Flames lasted a full decade before it all hit the fan.

In 2005, following two years of absence from the league, the club was reestablished in Nebraska and were re-dubbed the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. ("Ak-Sar-Ben" being "Nebraska" with some hyphens in your rear view mirror.) After two seasons, the franchise was relocated to Moline, Illinois and reunited with their parent club's nickname. Known then as the Quad City Flames, they were responsible for the immediate death of the UHL's Quad City Mallards, who had occupied the same arena for the 12 years prior.

Now for the worst part. After just two seasons in Moline and two stints in the American Midwest, the Flames ultimately decided that it really wasn't for them. This fall, the AHL's globe-trotting club returns to Canada once again after a zig-zagged trek across the continent. For the record, it's been 4,888 miles of relocations and counting. (If you're really bored, I've mapped it out for you.)

Now, about the logo from before that by now you've forgotten about. Go look at it again real quick. Responsible for the rather banal basketball-esque logo is a local company called Domain7.

The alleged lead designer Stephen Bau excused the drabness by saying, "We wanted to capture the essence of hockey and position Abbotsford as a destination for world-class hockey in the logo and branding."Before you assume he's about to follow up with an apology for failing, he goes on by saying "and I think we were able to do that." Out of curiosity, do you think he's actually seen it?

Furthermore, I was ready to express my sympathy for the fans of Abbotsford before I read that they voted for the name! Really? The Heat? Miami can get away with it. Your average high for the year is 74 degrees. Unless it's irony. And then it's funny. But I think we all know you aren't that clever, Abbotsford.

Not that you'll necessarily want to see it, but Heat's web site is claiming to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the new brand. Someone actually wrote the following line describing this logo: "the movement of the puck looks somewhat like a flaming comet." Really playing it fast and loose with the phrase "looks somewhat like," aren't we?

Not even joking about that.

Anyway, I apologize if I've been a little harsh this afternoon on this, my first logo unveiling since the return of Icethetics. But I'm just unimpressed. I will say one thing in its favor, however. I'd sooner buy something with a "flaming comet" on it than that horrible Quad City Flames logo.

Anyone else have an opinion?

Thanks to Ian for the tip.