(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.) As part of the AHL’s big shuffle for the 2015-16 season, the Springfield Falcons lose their affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets and a squad that missed the post-season in the Eastern Conference by one point. In their place, the Falcons join up with the Arizona Coyotes and a club that made the post-season by in the Eastern Conference by one point. That’s quite the interesting swap. Because of the affiliation change, there are obviously going to be a lot of changes to the Falcons lineup, but considering the amount of turnover in the Coyotes’ minor league system, there’s the chance this isn’t even a post-season team anymore. Really, it’s hard to tell what they’ll be. This off-season alone, the Coyotes’ affiliate lost goaltenders
Mike McKenna and
David Leggio, forwards
Phil Lane and defensemen
Joel Hanley and
Matt Lashoff. That’s more than half of a decent AHL team. That said, reinforcements were brought in. Most notable of the new faces are
Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman
Dylan Reese, but there’s also the chance that should
Anthony Duclair not make the Coyotes roster — which seems like a slim chance, at this point — he could end up in Springfield. This is a young, young roster. Only two players are 30 and not a single goaltender is over the age of 25. One player who could make an impact, however, is
Brendan Shinnimin. The 24-year-old finished second on the Coyotes in scoring with 22 goals and 47 points, but has improved his production steadily each year. He’s not a lock to spend the season in Springfield — he played 12 games for Arizona this past season — but he could breakout offensively this season.
Team History: The Falcons may have only come to be in 1994, but only the Hershey Bears and Rochester Americans franchises have stayed in one location longer since inception. Older teams, such as the Providence Bruins or Portland Pirates, had homes before their current locales, but the Falcons have always been in Springfield. After the Springfield Indians were moved to Worcester, a local arena owner locked down a deal to bring an expansion team to Springfield. The club affiliated with the Hartford Whalers and Winnipeg Jets when they first came into the AHL, and the Jets/Coyotes franchise remained affiliated with the team through 2004. From there, the Falcons were the affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers and, most recently, the Blue Jackets. Success has never come easy for the organization. During the 2003-04 to 2011-12, the franchise went on a nine-year playoff drought, and the Falcons have missed the post-season in 13 of their 21 seasons. Even in any season they have won their division, they have failed to advance beyond the second-round of the playoffs. The closest the club came to a Calder Cup was in 1996-97, when they fell in seven games to the eventual Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears. The club’s all-time leader in goals and points is Jean-Guy Trudel, who scored 90 goals and 242 points with the franchise. But the indisputable face of the Falcons was Rob Murray, who played 501 games with Springfield over eight seasons, the most of any player in franchise history. His 157 assists are the most in team history, edging out Trudel by five.
Logo History: The Falcons tried to do something that’s rarely done with logos in sports with their first crest: instead of going the cartoon route, the Falcons went with a lifelike image of a peregrine falcon carrying a puck in its mouth. It was an interesting attempt, but the logo fell a bit flat. The falcon didn’t look fierce and by year six the club had changed it up.
The new Falcons crest embraced the more cartoony side of things, but had the edge of a bird attacking and grasping a stick in its talons. It was a much better attempt than the first falcon and, with a slight alteration, the logo has remained for more than a decade.
Current Logo: The Falcons updated their logo in 2010 to go along with their affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The new mark added red to the word mark, darkened the blue, muddled the yellow and put it all atop a grey background. The thing is, the logo might have been better before the change. While white and blue are a tried and true combination, the Falcons used a nice shade and it went well with the falcon’s yellow features. The newer logo doesn’t stand out quite as much and the colors feel more muted. If the Falcons had stayed with their blue and white bird, there’s a good chance this logo comes in higher on the countdown.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)