(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.) Success has been hard to come by for the Iowa Wild over the past two seasons and, unfortunately, there’s not much reason to believe the 2015-16 campaign is going to be any different. For the Wild, one of the biggest troubles has been a lack of top-tier prospect talent making stops in Iowa before continuing on to Minnesota. Even in the past few seasons, when the Wild organization has had some good prospects in the pipeline, they’ve jumped over the AHL level or had shorter stays than would have been expected. And with the off-season the Wild have had, it doesn’t project to be much different this time around. Gone is defenseman
Jonathon Blum, who in only 66 games last season finished second in scoring for Iowa with 12 goals and 37 points. Also out are defenseman
Stu Bickel, goaltender
John Curry, left winger
Jason Gregoire and veteran
Stephane Veilleux. In their place will come
Maxime Fortunus, a veteran AHL defenseman with a knack for putting up points, and 36-year-old left winger
Ruslan Fedotenko. Other additions will include
Tyson Strachan and
Matt Carey. There doesn’t look to be a star sniper on the club, and for a team that had 50 points and were far and away the worst team in the AHL this past season, those aren’t improvements that are going to solidify the club. The struggle is going to continue in Iowa this season and the only hope to stop it is some incredible seasons by young talents like defenseman
Gustav Olofsson and center
Team History: The Iowa Wild’s history goes all the way back to the now-defunct IHL, when Houston was granted an expansion franchise to be called the Aeros in 1994. The nickname came from the former WHA team of the same name, which rose to fame with the likes of Gordie Howe and Mark Howe suiting up for the club. The Aeros would play seven seasons in the IHL before the league was absorbed by the AHL, joining the Chicago Wolves, Grand Rapids Griffins, Utah Grizzlies, Manitoba Moose and Milwaukee Admirals as the newest clubs in the AHL. The Aeros entered the AHL in 2001-02 as the Minnesota Wild’s AHL affiliate, and within two seasons of entering the league, the Aeros had appeared in a Western Conference final and followed it up with a Calder Cup victory in 2002-03. The Aeros Calder Cup victory made for back-to-back former-IHL teams winning the Calder Cup, as Chicago had won it the year prior. They would appear in a second Calder Cup final in 2010-11, but came two wins shy of the league title. For 12 seasons, the Aeros called Houston home, but difficulties securing a new lease agreement with their home building, the Toyota Center, led to the Wild choosing to move the club to Des Moines, Iowa, where they took up the Wild name in 2013-14. In the AHL, the club’s all-time assists and points leader is Curtis Murphy, who notched 154 assists and 213 points with the Aeros. Jon DiSalvatore is the franchise’s all-time goals leader with 77. However, including the club’s IHL history, Mark Freer holds all three marks with 132 goals, 210 assists and 342 points over six seasons in Houston.
Logo History: Houston’s history includes one of the strangest logo changes in AHL history, when the club ditched it’s much beloved crest in favor of a much simpler jet-based logo. The original logo, which featured a B-23 bomber aircraft flying through a circle and a Houston Aeros word mark above the plane, was a staple of the team when they switched to the much simpler — and much more bland — airplane logo.
However, the updated mark would only last for four seasons before the club decided to ditch it and go back to its IHL roots with a modernized, Minnesota Wild-themed version of the IHL logo. Gone were the WHA’s Aeros colors and in came the dark green that has been a staple of the Wild since they entered the NHL in 2000.
The Aeros name wouldn’t follow the franchise to Iowa and the logo was retired following the 2012-13 season.
Current Logo: Like the Providence Bruins and Albany Devils, the current logo is a slightly modified version of what the NHL affiliate uses. In the Wild’s case, it’s a take on the beautiful off-white word mark the Minnesota Wild have been using for several seasons. The thing about Iowa’s use of the word mark is that it doesn’t look nearly as great as the NHL’s Wild because the script is so short and abrupt. The Minnesota word mark works because the cursive flows for a while, the tail with the red “Wild” is a perfect touch and the off-white looks incredible on a green background. Iowa has none of those features and the logo looks like one that would have been created overnight without much thought. The alternate, off-white Iowa logo looks better than the primary mark, but the real shame is that Iowa didn’t adopt the Aeros name. It’s a much more unique logo and one that we favored greatly over the AHL Wild logo.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net (http://www.sportslogos.net))