Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 16

Antler Banter returns for another Wednesday as we do our weekly look at the biggest news out of hockey's second-highest circuit here in North America. The AHL, like the NHL, has shifted into "fairly quiet" mode as the signings slow down into August, but there has still been some notable stories coming out of the league at which we'll take a peek. There was a major unveiling of a new logo and jerseys for one team, a Moose rival added a defenceman and a winger, the Moose re-design their website, and another Moose rival re-signs a big piece of their team for the upcoming season. If you're not fired up for AHL hockey yet, hold on tight because this edition of Antler Banter is just getting fired up!

Brand-New Griffins

I teased about the Griffins' new look last week in this ongoing series, and we did indeed get a brand-new look for the Griffins on Tuesday.
Wow. The Griffins got a lot angrier and a little more Detroit-red. Credit the Griffins for holding on to their own unique identity, though, as they didn't just convert their look to their NHL affiliate's look like many AHL teams have. While they certainly could have gone full Red Wings, they maintained a semblance of being their own team and that will always gain points with this writer.

The new logo itself is very aggressive. I'm not sure that it was necessary for the Griffins to go completely Godzilla in their logo choice, but the aggressive logo itself may spell a new style of play under coach Todd Nelson. There have been other aggressive designs submitted for the Griffins' jersey contests that they hold each year, but this design is the most aggressive "everyday" logo we've seen from the Griffins ever. Whether that changes the way that the Griffins play the game will be seen, but they are a lot more intimidating in this new look.

If there is a downside to the jerseys, they went black after featuring a blue theme over their history. While blue and red are fairly common colours in the hockey world, I always liked the combination that the Griffins used. Yes, I get that a redesign should include a makeover at some point, but the Griffins had worn blue for nearly two decades.

Overall, I would have liked to have seen that original colour scheme remain, but I have to say that these new, aggressive Griffins will look good flying up and down the ice next season. Well done, Grand Rapids!

Wolves Get Defensive

The Chicago Wolves added to their blue line on Friday when they signed Scooter Vaughan to a deal. Vaughan was a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season where he posted nine goals and seven assists in 71 games in his first full AHL season. Prior to joining the Tigers, he was a member of the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays and Wheeling Nailers.

The Placentia, California native was also a member of the Michigan Wolverines team in 2010-11 that won the CCHA regular season championship and advanced to the Frozen Four championship game. What's more impressive, though, is that he and friend Austin Glenn created Jamboo Headphones - headphones made from bamboo that are woven to be tangle-free and are made in six highly-noticeable bright colours.

"People love them," Vaughan told Matt Slovin of The Michigan Daily. "They sound great. There are three different-sized earplugs. They last, too. They don't fray or come apart. I've had my pair for six or seven months now. I use it every day."

Not only is a solid defenceman, but he's an entrepreneur! You're going to like this guy, Wolves fans. He's a gamer!

Wolves Add A Wing

The Wolves also signed right winger Eriah Hayes to a deal on Friday. Hayes skated with the Worcester Sharks last season, scoring eight goals and 17 assists in 59 games. He also saw action in four NHL games with the San Jose Sharks.

Hayes is a solid winger who has shown some excellent flashes of talent on the ice. The University of Minnesota-Makato graduate scored 52 goals and 44 assists in 153 games in his NCAA career, and was named captain in his senior year in 2013 while ranking second in the NCAA with 12 power-play goals and helping Mankato reach the NCAA Tournament.

Chicago always finds good players, and Hayes qualifies as another one.

We Have A Website!

The Manitoba Moose are starting to look like all the other AHL teams! The Moose made a change this week in taking down their standard HTML webpage that contained a lot of info but very little content, replacing it with the AHL-configured template! With this change, Moose hockey feels like it's back in a big way!

For all your Manitoba Moose information, stay tuned here of course, but head over to the Manitoba Moose website for even more in-depth looks at your favorite AHL franchise! Pick up some Moose gear, get yourself tickets to a Moose game, and get ready for the Herd to return because it literally all starts at the revamped Moose website!

Wild Bring Back Olivier

22 year-old Olivier Archambault will be back with the Iowa Wild this season after signing a new deal with the Des Moines-based club. Archambault split time between the Wild and the ECHL's Alaska Aces last season, but performed pretty well in both leagues. With Alaska, Archambault had 20 goals and 18 assists in 38 games where he was named as an ECHL All-Star, and he scored four goals and five assists in 24 games with the Wild.

Archambault was a fourth-round pick at 108th overall in 2011 for the Montreal Canadiens after starring for the Val d'Or Foreurs and the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the QMJHL where he recorded 231 points in 270 career junior games. He was a free agent invitee to the 2014 Minnesota Wild prospects camp after having spending time previous to that with the Hamilton Bulldogs on a professional tryout contract. Surprisingly, the Canadiens opted not to sign him to an entry-level deal, and Archambault actually re-entered the draft in 2013 but was not selected. That allowed him to become a free agent, and the Minnesota Wild took a chance on the former first-overall pick in the QMJHL bantam draft.

It's up to Archambault at this point, but he looks like he's figuring out this pro game. That could be bad news for the other 29 AHL teams.

That's all for today, folks. Sound off on the Griffins' new look in the comments below. I'm always interested in what others think of new uniforms! And sine we're here, GO MOOSE GO!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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