Thursday, 25 June 2009

Get Your Suitcase

It wouldn't be an off-season without major changes in the world of hockey. Specifically, there are a few professional teams that are changing addresses or building new as they prepare for the 2009-10 hockey season. The AHL has two teams that have moved into new cities while another team has been accepted as an expansion franchise for next season. No longer will the Dallas Stars be sending their draft picks and young players out into the unknown with a map. Instead, they'll have a team of their own they can build. Today, we look at the new locations, jerseys, and teams of the AHL: the Abbotsford Heat, the Adirondack Phantoms, and the Texas Stars.

It has been announced some time ago that the Calgary Flames were moving their AHL franchise from Moline, Illinois to Abbotsford, BC in order to have their farmhands closer when needed. They allowed the fans in Abbotsford to select the name of the team, and the Abbotsford Heat were born. Shortly thereafter, Jim Playfair, former head coach of the Calgary Flames, was named as the first head coach of the Heat. Today, the team unveiled their jerseys and logo at a corporate breakfast for local business owners.

Honestly, I was a little underwhelmed to find out that the Heat's logo was actually their full-time, everyday logo and not just a wordmark. With the history of the Calgary Flames' franchise beginning in Atlanta, it's hard to fathom why they wouldn't attempt to use the old Atlanta Flames logo. Especially when you consider how good this looks. In fact, I wouldn't have any clue that the Heat were a hockey team if that puck wasn't part of the logo. It's such a generic logo that it may be better suited for roller hockey than ice hockey.

Their jerseys are nothing more than a copycat of their NHL franchise with the exception of the switch in accent colour and shoulder flag. The Flames go with yellow, but the Heat will go with gray as their accent colour, and the Heat will wear the British Columbia flag instead of the Alberta flag for obvious reasons. Nothing too radical here, but nothing that endears me to the Heat either. If you aren't a fan of the way Calgary looks, you more than likely won't like Abbotsford's look.

Overall, nothing too exciting in the fashion and branding departments. So what about their home? Well, the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre will seat 6653 fans along with 12 boxes, 20 private suites, and 2 party suites. The arena's total seating can expand to 8500. In this writer's opinion, the Abbotsford Sports and Entertainment Centre is probably the perfect size for the AHL for a new team in a new location.

From Abbotsford, British Columbia, we cross the continent to Glens Falls, New York where the Adirondack Phantoms will play this season. The Phantoms were formerly a minor-pro team in Philadelphia, but, with the Wachovia Spectrum being demolished this summer, the Phantoms needed a new home. So they packed their bags and headed north into New York. This is the second AHL franchise for Glens Hills, NY as the Adirondack Red Wings used to call the city home from 1979-1999.

The Phantoms are keeping their logo as it is, so that's a positive. It's a fairly recognizable logo... even if no one can explain what it is. However, they have eliminated the purple out of their jerseys, opting to go with black, white, and orange in the same fashion as their NHL affiliate in the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Phantoms will make their home in the Glens Falls Civic Centre, a 4806-seat multi-purpose arena. The arena itself really has an old-time feeling to it with its natural brick exterior and old-time box office. While the arena's seating capacity seems small, the Phantoms should attract fans so that they play near capacity each night. And that's precisely what any franchise wants.

From the Empire State, we head to the Lone Star State where the Dallas Stars are laying ground for their AHL franchise. The Texas Stars will set up shop in the suburb of Cedar Park located in Austin, Texas in the brand-new Cedar Park Center. The Cedar Park Center is a beautiful, 6800-seat arena being completed over this summer that will house the expansion AHL franchise for the 2009-10 season.

No surprise here in that the Texas Stars' logo takes the same colours and design as their NHL parent franchise. If the trend is followed, the Texas Stars will most likely wear the same jerseys as the Dallas Stars, except the logo will be that of the AHL franchise.

So there are the three franchises who have moved and/or put down roots in a new community. For more information, please check out each team's respective website: Abbotsford Heat, Adirondack Phantoms, and Texas Stars.

In other major moving news, soon-to-be NHL free agent Sergei Fedorov has signed a deal with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. Fedorov signed a two-year deal worth a reported $4 million per season. After taxes in the Siberian city, Fedorov will bank approximately $3.8 million per season, far more than what he was guaranteed here in North America.

The three-time Stanley Cup winner with Detroit will suit up alongside his brother, Fedor Fedorov, in Magnitogorsk next season.

"I spoke with Sergei this morning," agent Pat Brisson told The Canadian Press. "He's indicated to me that he is finalizing everything in order to join his brother in the KHL this summer.

According to reports, having both Fedorov boys playing for the same professional team was a wish their father always wanted to see, and now it will happen.

Call this a victory for the KHL as they get a big-name Russian player to come home in the same way that Alexei Yashin returned to Russia to play. While his leadership will definitely be missed in the Capitals' dressing room, there was no guarantee that he was going to be re-signed either. Good luck to Sergei Fedorov next season in the KHL!

That's all for me tonight. Tomorrow, I'll post a quick video as there are a number of things going on in my life that will limit my computer access. Don't worry - lots of draft recap action on Saturday, and I'm working on that Bears-Stingrays profile for Sunday. Make sure you check back for these features!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

JTH said...

That Abbotsford logo is so bad I didn't even realize at first that it was a puck with "motion lines" (or whatever). I thought it was a feather.