Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Wild Changes

I try to scour as many news sources as I can when looking for a good story, but there were two surprising pieces of news tucked into Michael Russo's Star Tribune article from yesterday. These pieces of news were not good in my view, but I'm not involved in the running of the Minnesota Wild franchise, so there isn't a lot I can do other than voice my opinion. Even that doesn't carry much weight.

Russo wrote,

The Wild plans new white road sweaters next season.
Personally, I like the current white road sweaters, and I really see no need for a change. I'm not really a fun of clunky "Wild" wordmark on the shoulder, but the jersey is solid. The logo is sharp, the white is crisp and clean, and the team looks good. Overall, no complaints here.

Some have speculated that the Wild may go with a white or wheat-colored version of their alternate dark green uniform. I'm not really a fan of that idea, and would like them to maybe mirror their red uniforms. Personally, I'd prefer they go white over their wheat color and actually wear their logo n their chests like a true hockey team, but we'll have to wait and see what they roll out with when they debut these new jerseys.

Either way, Minnesota will have new road uniforms when they travel to Winnipeg for a divisional match-up with the Jets next season.

In what I found to be bigger and more startling news, Russo wrote,
Expect an announcement in the next couple of weeks that the Wild’s long relationship with the Houston Aeros is ending. The Wild has not been able to come to terms on a new lease at the Toyota Center.

The Wild is expected to relocate its American Hockey League affiliate to Des Moines, where it will play at Wells Fargo Arena.
Excuse me? Maybe Minnesota hasn't been keeping tabs on recent AHL developments, but the Iowa Stars and the Iowa Chops were both horrible failures in Des Moines. Moving the team from Houston where they have a solid following and a great arena to play in seems like an idiotic idea.

Houston is seventh-best in the AHL when it comes to attendance. You can't do much better than that when talking hockey in Texas. Combine their good attendance with local rivalries in the Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage, and this is a perfect situation for being profitable while having a team that plays in front of something more than crickets. The Aeros have a deep and rich history in Houston - including an AHL Calder Cup Championship - and Houston has been in the top-ten in terms of attendance over the last number of years, something not many AHL teams can claim.

If we look at Iowa's most recent years in the AHL, the Chops ranked 17th in 2008-09, 26th in 2007-08, 15th in 2006-07, and 13th in 2005-06. Overall, they were in the middle of the pack when it comes to attendance while they weren't very good in the standings. Perhaps the only carrot that Des Moines is dangling is a sweet arena deal that would make the operation of the franchise in Des Moines very attractive.

Personally, this seems like a rash move by an NHL franchise who spent money like it was nothing over the last few years. Haggling over an arena deal in Houston seems pointless when it comes to ruining a great thing in the Houston Aeros. Pulling the franchise from a money-making market where people come watch the team play and inserting them into a place where they may not be the top draw seems dumb.

Again, I don't make these decisions, but it would be akin to yanking the Wolves out of Chicago because the guys who run the arena want a bit more money for their operations. The Aeros make money, they have a rich history, they are loved in the community, and they provide excellent hockey action for a reasonable price. I don't think an arena lease would be the only reason to move unless the Toyota Center management team is in the extortion business.

Two major changes for the Wild are coming. What do you think of them?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


JeffB said...

I can see why Minnesota wouldn't mind having their minor league affiliate closer to the parent club, but for some reason, Des Moines really seems to embrace their junior hockey team, the USHL's Buccaneers, while at the same time seeming very indifferent to the AHL level of play.

Since the Wild own the Aeros franchise, it would be a shame to see the Aeros leave Houston after such a long run, rather than having Minnesota just switch affiliates.

Meanwhile, the Wild have cultivated a brand based on the ol' time hockey look, so I'm surprised the modern looking home white has lasted as long as it has. They need a fresh new jersey everyone wants to buy in order to cover a few of Parise and Suter's paychecks.

mtjaws said...

I am someone who just loves the Wild bear head logo. Combining the wild animal and the scenic landscape is a perfect blend, and far more creative than most other teams and their logos. I hope it never changes.

PK said...

It seems it comes down to a lease issue according to SBNATION:

I agree Iowa is not a hotbed or a good place for hockey...but neither is Utica, NY IMHO.

Next AHL season is going to have at least 4 new locations/'s been pretty stable the last few years....but this does come with the AHL...