The near-unbeatable Manchester Monarchs have become the Pacific Division’s Ontario Reign, and with the move to California a classic logo has been brought back to life. If the team can maintain its success, California could have another championship team wearing the Kings’ black and white.
(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.) It’s going to be hard for the Ontario Reign to top what the franchise accomplish in 2014-15 before the move to California. This past season, as the Manchester Monarchs, the franchise won its first ever regular season championship, a fourth division title, the Eastern Conference championship and dominated the final three rounds of the post-season en route to a Calder Cup victory. So, again, it’s going to be hard to live up to expectations. The thing is, though, the Monarchs might be well positioned to do it all over again. While three of their top 10 scorers won’t be back — defenseman Colin Miller and wingers Zach O’Brien and David Van der Gulik are gone — they’re heading into the 2015-16 season with the potential for a big year from 18-year-old top prospect Adrian Kempe, a great sophomore campaign from Michael Mersch and the AHL debut for Valentin Zykov. That’s not mention the club added veteran Kris Newbury, who scored 18 goals and 48 points this past season in Hershey. It’s worth wondering, however, if this could be the year the Kings’ farm system loses Jordan Weal to the big club. Weal has been a steady 70-point scorer over the past two seasons and could be ready to make the full time jump to the NHL. If he does, his production will be hard to replace. The biggest issue for the Reign could be in goal, where Jean-Francois Berube and Patrik Bartosak will be the tandem tasked with taking Ontario back to the promised land. The duo was average last season and without improvement, it’s tough to say whether the roster can again be the dominant force it was in 2014-15.
Team History: The team was founded in 2001 when the Los Angeles Kings set out to put an AHL franchise is New Hampshire. The new team, playing out of Manchester, became one of the most consistent playoff contenders in the AHL over the past 15 years. Since entering the league in 2001-02, the Monarchs only failed to make the post-season once — in 2008-09, they were six points out of a post-season berth when the regular season ended. But the very next season, the Monarchs were back into the playoffs and came the closest they ever had to a Calder Cup, making it all the way to the conference final before a six-game defeat at the hands of the Hershey Bears. Throughout its existence, the Monarchs saw a number of present-day Kings come through its ranks. Players such as Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson all suited up for the Monarchs before becoming integral parts of the Kings 2013-14 Stanley Cup victory. As part of the AHL’s Californian expansion, the Monarchs franchise relocated to Ontario, Calif., to become the Reign, which was the name of a former ECHL club in the area. The ECHL’s Reign relocated to Manchester, where they will continue on as the Monarchs.
Logo History: If the Manchester Monarchs original logo was a part of this ranking, it would easily have been in the top 10. The logo was spectacular and easily one of the best marks in the AHL. It looked classic but still felt modern, much like the great logos that hold up today such as the Red Wings’ winged wheel and Bruins’ spoked ‘B’.
However, the jerseys and logo were even better when the gold and purple were still around. The greyscale version of the crest is still great — that’s the mark of a solid logo — but it was even better when it had the hints of color mixed in with the grey and black.
Current Logo: Remember the Kings’ beloved shield logo? It was often referred to as Los Angeles’ ‘Chevy’ logo — the resemblance to the car company’s logo is uncanny — and was used from 1988 to 1998. The logo is maybe most recognized for being the crest the Kings had during Wayne Gretzky’s years in Los Angeles. Well, it’s back. The Reign have taken a piece of Kings history, changed the text and slapped it on black and white jerseys. Also of note is the crown, which used to resemble the classic Kings’ crown logo, has been updated to the new style crown Los Angeles used as a primary mark in the 2000s. It’s the classic case of what’s old becoming new again, and it looks great on the Reign.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)