(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.)
The Milwaukee Admirals missed the post-season in 2014-15, but that could be in large part thanks to playing in what was arguably the toughest division in the AHL. No team in the Midwest Division finished with fewer than 80 points, and Milwaukee’s 81 — which put them six points out of the post-season — were fifth in the Midwest.
Divisional realignment for 2015-16 won’t make the Admirals’ post-season goal any easier to achieve, either. While bringing in the Iowa Wild, Charlotte Checkers and Manitoba Moose (2014-15’s St. John’s Ice Caps) should give the division some lesser teams, all five Midwest teams will be in the newfound Central Division.
Gone are three of their top-10 scorers in Brendan Leipsic, Triston Grant and longtime Admiral Mark Van Guilder, but the Predators signed Cody Bass and Conor Allen this off-season, and that should trickle down to help the Admirals.
Colton Sissons and Austin Watson continue to grow in the minors and could have big years for the Admirals, while AHL rookie sensation Viktor Arvidsson is preparing to attempt to better his 22-goal, 55-point freshman season. They could have another top rookie on their hands in Vladislav Kamenev who spent last season playing against men in the KHL.
Goaltender Jusse Saros is coming over this season and should battle for the backup spot while Marek Mazanec will try to build off of a subpar sophomore season in 2014-15.
Team History: The Admirals have been part of North American minor-league hockey since 1977 and were one of the five longest serving franchise’s in IHL history before the league went under in 2001. At the time the IHL folded, the Admirals joined the AHL. Though there was already an AHL club called the Admirals playing in Norfolk, Milwaukee was allowed to keep their moniker.
During the Admirals’ IHL days, the club was steady, but not altogether exceptional. That changed quickly upon their arrival in the AHL. They missed the post-season in 2001-02, their first year in the league, but proceeded reach the post-season in 2002-03 and made the playoffs in each of the subsequent 12 seasons.
In 2003-04, with a roster led by Darren Haydar, Simon Gamache, Tony Hrkac and Mathieu Darche, the Admirals snuck through the first round of the playoffs in seven games and then went on a Calder Cup run that culminated with a finals sweep of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Two years later, in 2005-06, the Admirals would return to the final before falling in six games to the Hershey Bears.
This past season was only the second time in the franchise’s AHL tenure that the team missed the post-season and only the fifth time since their inaugural season in the IHL.
Haydar is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (110) and points (276), with Cal O’Reilly taking the franchise crown for assists (197). No player has suited up for more games than Van Guilder, who played 383 games for the Admirals over seven seasons.
Logo History: Upon entering the AHL in 2001, the Admirals held over their crest from the IHL. The logo, which featured an admiral’s head underneath a word mark, spent five seasons as the team’s primary crest, but in 2006-07 the Admirals underwent a massive change.
Not only did the new redesign include a change to the logo, but the color scheme was entirely altered. Gone were the red, blue and gold that made up the IHL crest and in came black, white and baby blue. The club also did away with the human admiral in favor of a skeletal pirate.
The color combination of the new logo made it one of the most visually appealing in the AHL and the cartoonish feel led to some great alternate logos, including the skeletal pirate using his leg as a hockey stick.
Current Logo: The pirate has undergone another change, however. The Admirals have done away with the overly cartoonish feel and made the pirate look much more gaunt and giving it a more fearsome look. The new logo also brings back some pieces from the classic IHL logos, including the ‘A’ on the hat and the jacket and epaulets from the logo that was used through most of the 1980s and 1990s.
The hard angles on the updated font are excellent and making the crest come down to a point at its base gives the logo a nice shape instead of an abrupt end at the bottom of the new Admirals word mark.
A number of logos have changed in the AHL this summer, but the Admirals’ redesign takes the cake.
(All logos courtesy of Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net)