The 15th spot on our AHL logo ranking goes to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The crest has been a staple of the organization since it entered the AHL as an expansion franchise in 1996. After capturing two Calder Cups in nine seasons, the Phantoms have fallen on some tough times.
(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 been a while since the once dominant Phantoms franchise has found its way into the post-season. Can 2015-16 be the year they make the jump from AHL pretender to Calder Cup contender? Since 2009-10, the club has failed to make the playoffs and there has been quite a bit of change to the Phantoms roster in time for the new season. Gone are 12 regulars from last season’s lineup, including top-10 scorers Jason Akeson, Blair Jones and Zack Stortini. On the backend, Adam Comrie, Steve Delisle, Oliver Lauridsen and Brett Flemming are all off to new opportunities for the upcoming campaign. The big names coming in are Chris Conner and Colin McDonald, who scored a combined 87 point in 101 games this past season. That should make up for the production lost this off-season and there’s also some youth that could be on its way to town. Young defenseman Samuel Morin, one of the Flyers’ top prospects, could start his campaign in the AHL, and Tyrell Goulbourne and Pavel Padakin might be able to provide some scoring up front as first-year AHLers. In goal, the addition of veteran Jason LaBarbera provides some stability in goal, especially with how much Anthony Stolarz struggled this past season. It’ll likely be the combination of 35-year-old LaBarbera and 21-year-old Stolarz defending the net for the Phantoms in 2015-16. Entering their second season in Lehigh Valley, a playoff berth would be a pleasant surprise for the Phantoms.
Team History: The Phantoms franchise began as a way for the Comcast Spectator to justify keeping the Philadelphia Spectrum open. In 1995, with the Flyers set to move across the street to a new building, the organization purchased an AHL expansion franchise, named it the Phantoms and gave it a home at the Spectrum, across from the Flyers’ brand new building. It didn’t take long for the franchise to become a success in Philadelphia, as they captured three straight Mid-Atlantic Division titles. In their second year as a franchise, the Phantoms dismantled competition in the post-season and picked up the Calder Cup in a 4-2 series victory over the Saint John Flames. The following season, the Phantoms would come two wins shy of returning to the final, and then came a brief period of struggle. It wasn’t until the lockout season that the Phantoms rose to the top once again. In 2004-05, with a roster that featured Patrick Sharp, Dennis Seidenberg, R.J. Umberger and was aided by Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in the post-season, the Phantoms swept the Chicago Wolves in the final to capture their second Calder Cup in franchise history. Things haven’t gone well since then, however. Four seasons after the second Calder Cup, it was announced that the Spectrum was to be demolished, and the Phantoms were subsequently sold and moved to Glens Fall, N.Y., where they became the Adirondack Phantoms with the intention of being moved again upon completion of an arena in Allentown, Penn. The Phantoms spent five seasons in Glens Falls, never finishing higher than third in their division. The 2014-15 campaign was the franchise’s first season in Allentown and the club finished more than a dozen points out of the post-season.
Logo History: The Phantoms logo has been one of the few that hasn’t changed much, if at all, over the past 19 seasons. When they first came into the league, the Phantoms had a crest with fiercely focused eyes placed atop a shadowy figure. That logo has followed the organization since inception.
For the most part, the only changes have been to the word marks surrounding the logo, but there was one interesting alteration made during the Phantoms’ time in Adirondack. For the final three seasons in Glens Falls, the Phantoms used a round logo, much like the style that has become popular throughout the league. The new circular crest featured the traditional Phantoms logo inside a round border with the club’s name around the outside.
Current Logo: The circular logo didn’t make the move to Allentown with the team. The same crest is still front and center, but little details make all the difference. The word mark in Lehigh Valley isn’t clean. There are rough edges along several of the letters, most notably on the final ’S’ in Phantoms. But the subtle nod to the Flyers organization is also a nice touch. The logo has the same four-tiered wing design on the right and left side as the Flyers have on their crest.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)