(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.) Last season, as the top affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, the Lake Erie Monsters missed the post-season by five points in the tough Western Conference. But the Monsters’ affiliation has shifted to Columbus, where they’ll inherit a roster that missed the post-season by one point in the East as the Springfield Falcons. There have been a number of notable changes, however. Gone are top scorers
Sean Collins and
Luke Adam, as well as rookie sensation
Marko Dano, who was dealt to Chicago in the
Brandon Saad trade.
Dana Tyrell also hasn’t been re-signed, so Springfield’s top 10 scorers from 2014-15 won’t all be coming over to Lake Erie for the new campaign. There’s good reason to be excited about some of the young guns who could suit up in the AHL, though. After two consecutive 100-point seasons in the WHL,
Oliver Bjorkstrand should be in Lake Erie this season. If 2014 first-rounder
Sonny Milano doesn’t make the Blue Jackets, he’ll be down in the AHL. And after a 12-goal, 33-point rookie season,
Kerby Rychel will be back for his sophomore campaign. One area that will be improved for the Monsters by virtue of the affiliation change is between the pipes.
Anton Forsberg would have made an excellent case for rookie of the year had it not been for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s
Matt Murray. In 30 games in 2014-15, Forsberg posted a 2.01 goals-against average and .927 save percentage and was easily a top-five goaltender in the league last season. It has been four seasons since the Monsters have appeared in the playoffs and the post-season is very clearly the goal in 2015-16.
Team History: The Monsters have spent the past eight years in Cleveland, but it was the IHL-AHL merger that first brought the franchise to life. Before entering the AHL, the franchise spent six seasons in the IHL as the Utah Grizzlies, but when the IHL folded in 2001, several teams, including the Grizzlies, were absorbed by the AHL. The Grizzlies didn’t last long in the AHL, however. After four seasons, the Grizzlies voluntarily suspended operations and were subsequently purchased by Dan Gilbert, the owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. By 2007-08, the club was moved to Cleveland and rebranded as the Lake Erie Monsters. Over the past eight seasons, the club has been consistently getting stronger, but they’ve only managed one playoff appearance — a seven-game, first-round defeat at the hands of the Manitoba Moose in 2010-11. Andrew Agozzino is the franchise’s leading scorer in goals (67), assists (98) and points (165). Justin Cox, who played 259 games with the Grizzlies, is the franchise’s leader in games played.
Logo History: There aren’t many teams that use realistically drawn animals as mascots and with good reason. Sometimes the drawing can look strange or out of place, but the Utah Grizzlies logo wasn’t one of those cases. With the mountain backdrop and snarling grizzly bear snapping a stick, the Grizzlies logo was a good crest.
The color scheme also worked well. The darker, deeper red looked nice against the backdrop and it helped an already interesting word mark standout more.
Current Logo: The Monsters’ mascot is Bessie, which is the name of a legendary monster which allegedly occupies the waters of Lake Erie. Bessie has become a piece of local lore, having first been “sighted” in 1793. When the AHL club came to Cleveland in 2007, they were given the moniker, and the logo depicts Bessie’s snakelike head emerging from the water. Recently, the club added a Cleveland word mark underneath the Monsters mark.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)