The off-season AHL shuffle began in April when the Springfield Falcons were purchased by the Arizona Coyotes, their parent club, and relocated to Tucson. One month later, Springfield once again had AHL hockey when the Portland Pirates were sold and subsequent moved to Massachusetts. And less than one month after the Pirates relocation was announced, the new Springfield franchise has a name.
It was formally announced Wednesday that Springfield’s AHL club will be called the Thunderbirds and fans were given a first glimpse at the logo in a short video that displayed the rich AHL history in Springfield, which dates back to the league’s first season in 1936. The Springfield Indians, Kings and Falcons have all been part of the city’s AHL history, the latter of which played in the city for the past 22 seasons.
“The Springfield Thunderbirds’ name represents the strength and pride of western Massachusetts,” said Thunderbirds executive vice-president, Nathan Costa, in a release. “It is a nod to our hockey past, a tribute to the men and women of the Air Force who are so vital to this region and a symbol of the new energy and spirit that is palpable in Springfield.”
According to a release, the Thunderbirds name also ties the Indians and Falcons monikers together. The Thunderbird is a “Native American legend that creates thunder and lighting by flapping its massive wings,” and it’s a bird of prey, like a falcon. Of course, there’s also the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, which is fitting considering the Panthers new logo is based on the Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
The logo incorporates many of the colors of their parent club, the Florida Panthers. The blue, red, white and gold are all used by the Panthers, though the Thunderbirds’ palette is different from that used in Florida’s new logo set.
One interesting note about the design is that it was created by Matt McElroy, a graphic designer who was contacted by the Springfield franchise because of his work on hockey design blog Icethetics.
McElroy told Icethetics’ Chris Smith that he was approached by the Thunderbirds because of a design he had submitted to the design website nearly three years ago. McElroy added that more logos for the team are coming — think secondary marks, inaugural season and shoulder patches — and they’ll be released as the season nears.