(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.) Life hasn’t been easy for the Binghamton Senators since their championship run in 2010-11. Since then, the Senators have failed to make the post-season twice — including misses this past season and the season immediately following their championship — and have been booted from the playoffs twice in the first round, winning only one playoff game along the way. That’s not exactly the type of sustained success the franchise was after. But things might be looking up in 2015-16.
Shane Prince, the club’s leading scorer in 2014-15 with 28 goals and 65 points in 72 games, should be back for a full season and be looking to build on last year’s successful campaign. Standout defenseman
Chris Wideman will likely spend at least one more full season in the AHL. And this season
Nick Paul, who was rated as the Senators’ best prospect, should be suiting up in Binghamton. Add in
Eric O’Dell and
Mike Kostka, two depth signings Ottawa made this off-season who should contribute on the farm, and the roster is rounding out quite nicely. The one loss that might be felt is that of
Matt Puempel. The 22-year-old played 13 games with Ottawa in 2014-15 and he could be ready to have a full rookie campaign in the NHL. If he’s back in Binghamton, however, expect improvement on his 12-goal, 32-point output this past season. The biggest question for Binghamton will be goaltending, where top NCAA free agent
Matt O’Connor and 21-year-old
Chris Driedger will likely split time. Driedger has a total of eight AHL games to his name, and that’s the most AHL experience any of any of the Senators’ options for the starting job in Binghamton.
Team History: The Senators organization has been in existence under the current moniker for more than 20 seasons, but the franchise spent 20 years in New Haven, Conn., prior to entering their longstanding partnership with the Ottawa Senators. In New Haven, the club went by Nighthawks for 20 seasons, over which time the franchise became a perennial contender but one that could never complete the Calder Cup chase. In three of their first seven seasons as the Nighthawks, the franchise made it all the way to the Cup final, but never did they win more than one game of the best-of-seven championship series. In 1977-78 and 1978-79, the Nighthawks faced off against the rival Maine Mariners in the final, but lost both series, winning only one game total. The partnership with the Senators would begin three seasons after one final Calder Cup appearance in 1988-89, another final series in which the Nighthawks would lose in five games. To begin the 1992-93 season, the club would rebrand as the New Haven Senators, but at the culmination of the campaign, the franchise left New Haven for Prince Edward Island. Over the next three seasons, the club would play out of Charlottetown, P.E.I. While the franchise was successful on the ice, their average attendance remained one of the lowest in the league. Following the 1996 season, the AHL Senators announced they were suspending operations and the franchise wouldn’t resurface until 2002, when a reborn Senators club landed in Binghamton, N.Y.
Logo History: During the franchise’s time as the Nighthawks, the logo underwent two separate alterations, including the removal of the circle, the introduction of red and blue and then a grayscale version of the mark. All three alterations sync up with the three major affiliations the club had.
The yellow and blue mark came at the same time the Nighthawks were the affiliate of the Minnesota North Stars, the blue and red came during the New York Rangers affiliation era and the grayscale logo was a tip of the cap to the Los Angeles Kings.
When the club moved on to become the Senators, it led to the simple adoption of the Senators’ NHL logo with a text alteration. For both the New Haven Senators and Prince Edward Island Senators, this was the case, as New Haven and P.E.I. were represented along the right border of the logo. There were no major distinctions between the logos of the AHL and NHL Senators, and it remained that way until the AHL club suspended operations in 1996.
Current Logo: The Binghamton Senators haven’t changed their primary logo since entering the AHL more than a decade ago, but it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the alternate mark — which appears as the crest on both the home and away jerseys — takes over. As for the primary mark, it’s a welcome departure from the mark the NHL’s Senators use. It does a good job of taking Ottawa’s use of the Roman general and putting a fresh spin on it, albeit a much more cartoony spin.
But take a look at the Senators alternate logo. That’s a primary mark that could be NHL ready and it might be the best alteration of the Senators logo to date. The club isn’t likely going back to the two-dimensional Senator anytime soon, the logo they used upon entering the NHL in 1992, and the Binghamton Senators’ snarling Roman is one of the best logos the franchise has had.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)