(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 has been three seasons without a playoff appearance for the Sound Tigers and after consecutive 64-point seasons, it’s hard to picture the club actually taking a giant leap forward in 2015-16. In fact, it’s possible they could be even worse. The first problem is finding out where the offense is going to come from in Bridgeport. Of their top-10 scorers in 2014-15, only two remain with the team — Alan Quine and Ryan Pulock. And even Pulock could be up and down between the AHL and NHL. Gone are Dustin Jeffrey, Kael Mouillierat, Aaron Ness, Harry Zolnierczyk, Colin McDonald, CJ Stretch, Cory Conacher and Griffin Reinhart. That’s a significant number of experienced AHL players that have left the Sound Tigers. The big guns this season will have to be new additions, such as Joe Whitney and Justin Florek. But two players won’t replace the offensive production of eight. That’s not a good spot to be in for the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport is likely in a transition period: the Islanders have a number of young stars who are ready to make the jump to the professional ranks and they’ll need some AHL seasoning before becoming NHL ready. That could mean 2016-17 is the year when an influx of Islanders prospects suit up in the AHL and that could be when the Sound Tigers’ resurgence happens. Or at least Bridgeport fans should hope so, because all signs point to another tough year in 2015-16.
Team History: Talk about a debut. In the Sound Tigers’ very first season, 2001-02, the club was the best in the entire AHL. They captured a division title, regular season title, and won the Eastern Conference championship in their inaugural season. But in the Calder Cup final, the Chicago Wolves toppled the Sound Tigers in five games. They haven’t been back since. As far as consistency goes, the Sound Tigers have been back-and-forth between a post-season team and a club on the outside looking in. There have been a number of seasons when Bridgeport finishes among the top of the conference, but only once have they been back atop their division. In the past three seasons, the Sound Tigers haven’t been able to get back to the post-season and have only one playoff appearance in the past five years. Even with that one trip to the playoffs, the club hasn’t actually won a post-season contest since 2009-10, when they were ousted by the Hershey Bears in five games in 2010. The franchise’s all-time leader in goals is Jeff Hamilton, who notched 89 over three seasons with the club. However, when it comes to points and assists, Jeremy Colliton is the franchise’s leader with 126 and 203, respectively. No player has suited up for more games in Bridgeport than Mark Wotton, who skated in 368 games for the Sound Tigers over five seasons.
Logo History: Bridgeport came strong with its first attempt at a logo and the mark hasn’t changed much since the franchise first took the ice in 2001-02. The logo, a tiger baring its teeth, has only been altered in color over its time in the AHL.
The first iteration of the logo featured an all-blue crest, but the club moved away from that logo in 2005. Changing the logo was a strange decision considering the franchise is owned by and has always been affiliated with the New York Islanders, so why not go with Islanders colors from the start?
Current Logo: When the Islanders updated their jerseys in 2010-11 to bring back the classic feel of the blue and orange, the Sound Tigers followed suit. The only real issue with the logo is that it now looks like it has a slight white hue to it. If the logo was exactly as crisp and clear as the Islanders blue and orange, it might have been ranked even higher than seventh spot.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)