(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 past decade hasn’t been a great one for the Rochester Americans and one of the AHL’s most storied franchise’s missed the post-season in 2014-15, marking the fifth time that has happened in the past 10 seasons. As the farm club for the Buffalo Sabres, it’s not hard to understand why things were so difficult for the Amerks in 2014-15. After all, when the parent club is utilizing most of the organization’s AHL talent in the NHL, the farm team is going to be left with the scraps. That’s essentially what happened to the Amerks this past season. But as Buffalo rebuilds, there’s potential for Rochester to see some of the changes impact their fate as they head into their 60th season. Most of the club’s top scorers are back this season, but the Amerks are also going to get a great boost from some of Buffalo’s off-season acquisitions. The club brought in Cal O’Reilly (10 goals, 61 points in 2014-15), Jason Akeson (23 goals, 50 points) and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti (16 goals, 40 points). That should have a big impact. For young guns, the Amerks will have Nick Baptiste and Justin Bailey joining the fray and both could have great rookie seasons. And goaltender Matt Hackett is gone, but 22-year-old Linus Ullmark could challenge 22-year-old Andrei Makarov and 24-year-old Nathan Lieuwen for the starting role in Rochester. It’s going to take time for Rochester to get back to the top of the mountain, but the Sabres’ rebuild is going to benefit the Amerks, too.
Team History: The Americans have been in Rochester since 1956 and only the Hershey Bears have a longer history in one city. Over their tenure in the AHL, they’ve become one of the most storied franchise’s in the league. Rochester got its team thanks in part to Toronto’s Conn Smythe and Montreal’s Frank Selke, who backed a group that owned 55 percent of the club. Both the Maple Leafs and Canadiens were the first affiliates of the franchise and in the very first season, the Amerks made it to the Calder Cup final, losing in five games to the Cleveland Barons. The Amerks underwent their most successful period from 1964 to 1968, over which time they captured three Calder Cups and appeared in four consecutive Calder Cup finals. However, the stretch of four championships would be immediately followed by the sale of the team to the WHL’s Vancouver Canucks the longest post-season drought in franchise history — a four-year struggle over which time the Amerks finished in last place in the AHL for four consecutive seasons. After four years in the basement, the team was purchased by local businessmen, and the turnaround began in Rochester. Five years after their post-season drought, the Amerks were back in the Calder Cup final, but fell to the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. Even though they failed to capture the franchise’s fourth title, the foundation was set for the team to get back to its winning ways. In 1982-82, Rochester was back atop the AHL, winning the Calder Cup in a sweep over the Maine Mariners, and it would begin one of the most dominant runs in the AHL history. Over the next 17 seasons, the Amerks appeared won eight conference championships and appeared in the Calder Cup finals eight times. Unfortunately, however, Rochester walked away with just two additional titles, capturing their fifth in 1987 and their sixth in 1996. Since the 1996 victory, the Amerks have won two more conference crowns, 1998-99 and 1999-2000, but lost in the final both times. They haven’t reached the Calder Cup final since. Jody Gage, known as ‘Mr. Amerk,’ is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (351), assists (371) and points (728). No player has suited up for more games in Rochester than Gage, who played 653 contests with the Americans over 11 seasons from 1985 to 1996.
Logo History: The Americans have operated under the idea that simple is what works best, and it’s hard to argue with anything they’ve done. It would be fair to put the Americans’ logo up against any of the iconic crests from the NHL, as the red, white and blue shield has stood up since 1959 as one of the best logos in hockey.
There was one error, however. In 1971, the team decided to go with a new mark: a circle with two sticks and a simple word mark below. That logo wasn’t long for the AHL, though, as it was out of use by the following season.
The Amerks returned to the shield in 1972, but added a word mark to the mix. That logo stayed the same for 40 years before a change in 2012-13.
Current Logo: The logo underwent the slightest of changes in 2012-13, as the club went with a brighter blue in both the shield and word mark. But the rest of the logo remained the same, as it should.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)