The Manitoba Moose are back in the AHL this season, and so is one of the best logos in the league. Unfortunately, however, the green, black and brown are gone in favor of a color scheme that matches that of the Winnipeg Jets.
(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 Manitoba Moose are back in the AHL after a four-year absence in which they played out of St. John’s, Nfld., as the IceCaps. After a disappointing 2014-15 campaign by the IceCaps, maybe this could be the year the Moose franchise finally gets over the post-season hump and makes good on a trip to the Calder Cup final. If the Moose do have a successful season, they’ll be doing so as the youngest team in the AHL. Should Manitoba not add any more players — especially no veterans — to its lineup before the season begins, they will have the youngest team in the entire AHL at an average age of 21.7. That’s more than a half-year younger than the next youngest squad, which is coincidentally the St. John’s IceCaps. Even if it’s not a great year for the Moose, the club should be exciting. Of the Winnipeg Jets’ top 10 prospects, as ranked by THN’s 2015 Future Watch, the reborn Moose could trot out nine, should Nikolaj Ehlers spend some time in the AHL. That includes Josh Morrissey, Joel Armia, Nic Petan, Andrew Copp, Scott Kosmachuk, J.C. Lipon, as well as goaltenders Connor Hellebuyck and Eric Comrie. Few AHL teams ever contain so many notable prospects at one time. If the Moose have a successful season, it will be because of the kids, especially considering the club lost Eric O’Dell, Will O’Neill, Kyle MacKinnon and Blair Riley this off-season. That’s not to mention 26-year-old John Albert, who scored 16 goals and 42 points this past season, remains a restricted free agent with the season nearing.
Team History: The Moose came to the AHL by way of the IHL in 2001 following the IHL’s collapse. Though they were never a championship team in the IHL, the Moose were building towards a championship squad, and they carried over their newfound success to the AHL. Over the next decade, the Moose would be a perennial playoff contender and, with veterans such as Mike Keane, Nolan Baumgartner and Jimmy Roy, Manitoba only missed the post-season once in their 10 seasons in the AHL. In 2008-09, the Moose made their deepest run into the post-season, downing Toronto, Grand Rapids and Houston en route to the club’s first Calder Cup final appearance. In the final, the Moose would fall in six games to the Hershey Bears. With the rebirth of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets on the horizon thanks to the Atlanta Thrashers’ relocation to Manitoba’s capital, the Moose needed a new home, and before the 2011-12 season began, the franchise packed up and moved to St. John’s. As the IceCaps, the franchise would continue its success, making two conference final and one Calder Cup final appearance in four seasons. They would, however, miss the post-season in 2014-15 as news came that the club would once again be heading back to Manitoba to shorten the commute between the Jets and their AHL affiliate. Jason Jaffray is one of the cornerstone players in franchise history and is the all-time leader in games played (493), goals (158), assists (244) and points (402).
Logo History: The first iteration of the Moose logo came from the IHL’s former Minnesota Moose. The logo, which was then adopted by the IHL’s Manitoba Moose upon moving to Winnipeg in 1996, was then altered when the club was brought aboard by the AHL. The purple color used by the Moose was dropped in favor of black, and the brown, green, beige and black became staples of the logo. Four years after entering the AHL, the Moose unveiled a brand new crest. The snarling moose was one of the best logos in the AHL at that time, boasting a unique color scheme and sharp details that made it a huge hit. Manitoba would keep its new logo for the several years leading up to their relocation to St. John’s, at which time the IceCaps mark — still used to this day by the Montreal affiliated St. John’s IceCaps — was created.
Current Logo: With the move back to Winnipeg, the club has gone back to its roots. The snarling moose is back, but it feels like the logo has been muddled by the use of the Jets colors. What made the original logo so great was the different tones of brown used on the moose’s head, but that’s gone with the new mark.
The logo design still stands up as one of the better crests in the league, though, and it’s exciting to see the Moose come back to the AHL.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)