(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 Texas Stars’ Calder Cup championship defense didn’t quite go as planned this past season, as the Dallas Stars’ affiliate came into the post-season as one of the hottest teams in the league but were swept in three straight games by the Rockford IceHogs. Can the Stars get back to championship form in 2015-16? One area of interest will be how the club fares without defenseman
Maxime Fortunus, who had been a fixture of the Stars blueline for the past six seasons. On top of Fortunus’ departure, the Stars will also be without defenseman
Cameron Gaunce, who signed in Florida, and
John Klingberg, who will be once again spending an entire season in Dallas. However, the Stars may have gotten a boost from the trade that brought rearguard Stephen Johns into the organization. The AHL could very well be Johns’ destination in 2015-16, which would be a boon for Texas. The AHL Stars also brought in
Jesse Blacker and
Brennan Evans to round out the backend, so maybe the loss of Gaunce and Fortunus won’t hurt at all. Up front, veteran
Travis Morin will be back to lead the way offensively with the same crew of
Brendan Randford, Derek Hulak,
Greg Rallo and
Radek Faksa. Gone, however, is
Scott Glennie — or at least for now. Glennie is currently an unrestricted free agent and has yet to sign a deal for the upcoming campaign. A return to Texas would give the Stars depth scoring that could really help. In goal,
Jussi Rynnas has left North America for a job in Europe, so
Jack Campbell could get his first full season as the sole starting netminder in the AHL. However, he’ll have competition from
John Muse, who posted better numbers in 29 games with the Charlotte Checkers in 2014-15.
Team History: The AHL Stars’ franchise history started off on a strange foot and continued down that path. The AHL awarded an expansion club to Louisville, Ky., in 1999 which would become the minor league affiliate of the Florida Panthers. But the venture into Kentucky would be incredibly unsuccessful — after two seasons, the Louisville Panthers locked their doors and the franchise was inactive for the next four years. After the four-year absence, the club was purchased by two businessmen, one hailing from Dallas, who then inked an affiliation agreement with the NHL’s Stars and moved the club from Louisville to Des Moines, Iowa. In Iowa, the club would be rebranded as the Stars. In Iowa, the Stars would make the post-season in each of their first two seasons, but missed the playoffs in both 2007-08, after which point Dallas announced they would be moving their affiliation to the Texas Stars upon completion of an arena in Cedar Park, Texas. This led to the third rebranding and affiliation change for the franchise, as they became the Anaheim Ducks’ farm team, named the Iowa Chops. The Chops would be a short-lived and controversial AHL club, as they missed the playoffs in their inaugural season before having their operations suspended by the AHL board of governors in 2009-10. It was reported by the Des Moines Register that the suspension came as the result of a $1.99 million loan taken out using the franchise as collateral. “The Iowa franchise has unfortunately been unable to remedy certain violations of the provisions of the league’s Constitution and By-Laws,”
said American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews. The club was suspended for the entire season, and in May 2010 the Chops were purchased by the Texas Stars and relocated to the new Cedar Park arena, where they have resided for the past six seasons. Since coming to Texas, the club has appeared in two Calder Cup finals, winning the 2013-14 title in fives games over the St. John’s IceCaps. Texas has only missed the post-season once in their six seasons in Cedar Park and have only accumulated fewer than 90 points in one season. Travis Morin is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (408), goals (121), assists (237) and points (358).
Logo History: Save its time as the Chops, the Stars franchise has always mimicked its NHL affiliate when it comes to logos and nicknames, but there has generally been a slight alteration made from NHL to AHL. For the two seasons in Louisville, the Panthers used a basic word mark with a Panther leaning in over the text. With the move to Iowa, the Stars logo was adopted, but made to look as if the logo itself was a shooting star.
From there, the club rebranded as the Chops, which gave birth to the angry hog logo that lasted only one season. Finally, the club came to Texas, where what looked to be an ornamental star adorned the original Dallas Stars crest.
Current Logo: This upcoming season, the Stars will introduce a new logo with a color scheme that better reflects that of the current NHL stars. But while Dallas uses a D with a star behind is as their primary logo, Texas has taken things one step further an actually incorporated the star into a word mark. The updated logo isn’t a giant departure from the past logo — you can see the same details on the new star as there was on the past one — but the new color scheme is fantastic. We’ve already seen how great Dallas’ ‘Victory Green’ looks in action and we imagine it will look just as great in the AHL.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)