(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 St. John’s IceCaps are getting a different look thanks to a brand new affiliation with the Montreal Canadiens, and along with the change in affiliate could come a return to the post-season after a disappointing 2014-15 campaign. In their third season in St. John’s in 2013-14, the IceCaps came three wins away from the franchise’s first Calder Cup, but in 2014-15, the team fell off hard. In a tough Eastern Conference, the IceCaps, then affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets, fell off hard and missed the playoffs by a dozen points. And a team that was offensively gifted in 2013-14 fell apart as they scored more than 70 fewer goals in 2014-15 than they had the year prior. In 2014-15, the Hamilton Bulldogs, who will become this season’s IceCaps, missed the post-season by six points. That said, they packed significantly more offensive punch and are getting a number of fresh, young faces who could score in droves. Having the young players come in and score will be important, too, as five of their top-10 scorers from 2014-15 are gone.
T.J. Hensick, Nick Sorkin,
Drayson Bowman and
Davis Drewiske have all moved on, but in their place come young players such as
Jeremy Gregoire and
Brett Lernout. The IceCaps will be one of the youngest teams in the league and it could be boom or bust in 2015-16.
Team History: Prior to the affiliation with the Canadiens, the IceCaps history wasn’t quite as storied, but the Montreal affiliation gives the franchise a new history. The franchise’s new roots begin in Montreal, where the Canadiens kept their farm team, the Voyageurs. AHL hockey would only last in Montreal for two seasons before relocation in 1971 sent the Voyageurs to Nova Scotia. It was in Halifax that the Voyageurs found their most success. In the first season in Halifax, the club captured the Calder Cup and would go on to nab two more over the next five seasons. However, by 1984, the club was again on the move. The relocation this time sent the club from Nova Scotia back to Quebec, where they established themselves as the Sherbrooke Canadiens. In what was a repeat of the first relocation, the AHL’s Canadiens won the Calder Cup in their very first season in Sherbrooke. Even with success, the team would only spend six seasons in Sherbrooke before relocating a fourth time, this time back to the Maritimes to play as the Fredericton Canadiens. Over a nine-year stay in Frederiction, the club would make the Calder Cup final in 1994-95, but were swept by the Albany River Rats. Four years later, in 1998-99, the club packed up to move to Quebec once again. The franchise would take on the name Quebec Citadelles, but the time in Quebec City was short-lived — after three seasons, a multi-million dollar investment was made by the Hamilton Bulldogs to purchase the Citadelles and move them to Ontario. By 2002, upon Edmonton leaving their affiliation with Hamilton, the Bulldogs became the AHL affiliate of the Canadiens. By 2006-07, the Bulldogs/Canadiens affiliation had produced a Calder Cup championship team for the first time in Hamilton's AHL history. However, eight seasons later, with the Bulldogs missing the post-season for four consecutive seasons, Montreal’s AHL affiliate was sold back to the Canadiens and the club relocated the team to St. John’s. The leading scorer in franchise history is Don Howse with 251 points, although he holds neither the franchise goal scoring nor assist record. The leading goal scorer is Pierre Sevigny with 106 goals and Wayne Thompson has the most assists in franchise history with 163. No player has suited up for more games than Jim Cahoon’s 371.
Logo History: There wasn’t much creativity in the logos of the Canadiens’ AHL affiliates to begin with. The Voyageur’s logo, for instance, looks less like a professional sports team’s logo and more like a doodle thrown together while waiting on hold with the cable company. And when the team went to update its look in Sherbrooke, they simply borrowed the big club’s crest and called it a day.
The move to Quebec City, however, gave birth to the beautiful Citadelles logo. The moniker takes its name from the Citadelle of Quebec, and the logo is the mascot of the Regimental Band which inspects the guards during the changing of the guard ceremony. If that’s not deep enough meaning, the tuft of hair that curls into a ‘C’ on the goat’s chin is a clever piece of work by the logo designer. Unfortunately, the logo was only around for three seasons before the Canadiens became affiliated with the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs logo was one of the most recognizable in the AHL and always stood out. Now, the mark belongs to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, which will begin play in major junior this coming season.
Current Logo: The IceCaps current logo is a touched-up take on the previous IceCaps mark, and there’s a lot to like about the mark. While the name isn’t exactly the most fearsome, the logo design does enough to make it look like a unique and professional crest. The giant text might be a bit much, but there are subtle touches that really make the logo standout. For instance, the peak of the ice cap in the logo. It’s hard to believe it’s coincidence that the white shading at the peak bears a striking resemblance to Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a subtle detail like that which puts the IceCaps logo ahead of others on the list.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)