(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.) The San Jose Barracuda will have their work cut out for them in 2015-16, especially after losing almost every player who finished top 10 in team scoring this past season. When the new campaign is underway, Evan Trupp, Matt Taormina, Taylor Fedun, Daniil Tarasov, Freddie Hamilton and Willie Coetzee will be playing in new locales. On top of missing those six, Chris Tierney is likely to get a full-time roster spot with the San Jose Sharks, so while he’ll be in the organization, a full year with the Barracuda won’t be happening. It’s a pair of young guns who are most interesting among the new Barracuda. Nikita Jevpalovs, a 20-year-old winger who spent the past three seasons with the QMJHL’s Bainville-Boisbrand Armada, is one of the most notable new faces. This past season, he netted 49 goals and 100 points in 64 games as an overager, but he was a consistent producer all three years in junior. The upcoming season will also be the debut for Julius Bergman, the 19-year-old blueliner who was drafted 46th overall by the Sharks in 2014. The smooth-skating defenseman played 60 games for the OHL’s London Knights this past season and racked up 13 goals and 42 points. He appears ready for the AHL and he could bring a boost to the backend.
Team History: It will be interesting to see how long the Barracuda last in San Jose considering the franchise’s history of moving shortly after putting down roots in a new city. The franchise began in 1996 when the AHL gave an expansion franchise to Lexington, Ky. The team, named the Thoroughblades, only stuck around for five seasons, however. By 2001, the Thoroughblades, regardless of their two division titles and on-ice success, were relocated to Cleveland. Once in Cleveland, the franchise took on the name of the now-defunct NHL Barons. Even though the club had made the post-season every year during its five campaigns in Kentucky, the AHL’s Barons stumbled out of the gates and only managed to make the post-season once. By 2005-06, with the team averaging fewer than 3,600 fans per game, the Barons were relocated by the Sharks to Worcester, Mass. The struggles from Cleveland carried over to Worcester, however. Even though they made the playoff in three of their first four seasons, including two straight appearances in the second round, Worcester proceeded to go on a four-year playoff drought that began in 2010-11. The pull of the new Pacific Division uprooted the team from Massachusetts and they’ll begin play at the SAP Center in 2015-16.
Logo History: It shouldn’t be too shocking that the new franchise is called the Barracuda, especially considering how unique the logos have been leading up to this point. The Thoroughblades crest was a musclebound thoroughbred — with Kentucky’s horse racing history, it was a fitting moniker and logo — but the team really had a hit on its hands in Cleveland.
The Barons logo, a shark wearing a jacket, top hat and monocle, was actually based off of a secondary logo which was created for the NHL’s Sharks. While cartoony, the logo was and is fantastic. It could hold up against a number of the current logos in the league and it’s too bad the Barons weren’t long for Cleveland. In Worcester, the logo felt phoned in. Using the classic Sharks crest with a word mark slapped over top felt like a massive downgrade from the Barons and Thoroughblades logos.
Current Logo: The Barracuda logo is unique, looks angry and mixes in the NHL color scheme with a brand new mark seamlessly. Really, there’s a lot about the logo to love, but it’s hard not to feel as if the corporate tie-in was shoehorned in and could have been left out. The background of the Barracuda logo is the same as the logo of Barracuda Networks, a computer security and data storage company which signed a corporate sponsorship with the club. Putting the logo in the background isn’t egregious, but it was already added in on the barracuda’s lower lip. Putting it twice feels like overkill. Without the background, this may have been a top-five logo.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)