Time for another educational post from the Media Relations Department!
We here in the department (so myself and my intern Dustin) are busy at work creating a Media Guide from scratch. Many of you may not know what that is, or even care to know…truth be told it’s very geeky, but we are, in fact, hockey geeks.
A Media Guide is distributed to local media members to help make their articles, on-air stories, or broadcasts more enjoyable for you, the fan. It’s those quips and anecdotes that help make things more interesting. How else would we have known that Garet Hunt became the all-time leading scorer in Thunder team history last season? Someone has to do the research and keep track of it all.
That’s where Dustin and I come in. It’s a big, massive project when it comes to updating it every year. It’s a bigger and more massive project this year because we’re building from scratch.
Now here’s where the education comes in. You will hear us refer to a few different paths going forward. The easiest to understand is Stockton Heat or “team” history. This is simply the history that happens in Stockton from here on out.
For example, Louick Marcotte just happened to be the first player signed in team history. However we obviously know that he’s not the first player ever to sign with the franchise or Calgary’s top affiliates.
This is where things though start to get murkier. Franchise history (to me) is the next easiest to understand and comprehend completely. This team that currently resides in Stockton began in 1977 as the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers in the AHL as the Maine Mariners. It was taken over by the New Jersey Devils in 1983 who kept the Flyers color scheme and team in Maine until 1987 when they moved to Utica, New York to become the Utica Devils.
The team was then purchased by the Calgary Flames in 1993 and relocated to Saint John, New Brunswick to become the Saint John Flames. The NHL organization has owned the franchise ever since.
So when when we talk about the Franchise history we’re talking history from 1977 to present day. To illustrate it on a timeline:
So when we talk Franchise history those teams above are the ones I’m referring to.
Now we move on to our final tree, the Flames Top Affiliate. In this tree, we talk about the teams and players that made up Calgary’s Top Affiliate. The reason this is important is because the Flames have been around since 1980 (when they moved from Atlanta). It’s also important to note how much different Minor League Hockey was back in those days because the AHL wasn’t the only “top dog” around.
Lets slow it down though. Since we know that our franchise has been owned by the Flames since 1993 it is safe to assume that the Saint John Flames through Stockton Heat are also part of this Top Affiliate timeline. However I can tell you that the franchise went dormant from 2003 to 2005 so there will be one team added in the more current half of the timeline.
Before Saint John however it’s vastly different and includes some of the best players to ever suit up for Calgary and the NHL. If we start from the beginning, the first top affiliates of the Flames happened to play in the old Central Hockey League. This isn’t the Central Hockey League you’ve come to know as a fan of Double-A hockey, but an older and more competitive league. The Flames first affiliate was the Birmingham Bulls (not to be confused with the other Birmingham Bulls that would eventually become the Stockton Thunder, however interesting that both Stockton hockey franchises had a stop in Alabama).
From Bama, the top affiliate bounced around in the Central, stopping in Oklahoma City for one year before heading to Colorado for the next two. Then it moved into the American Hockey League as the Moncton Golden Flames but it’s important to note that Moncton was a shared affiliate between the Flames and Boston Bruins. This isn’t so common now (however in the ECHL the Florida Everblades are shared by the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning), but has occurred in the history of the AHL (another recent example in the AHL was when the Rochester Americans were split between the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers).
After three years in the AHL, the affiliate was then transferred to another “Triple-A” league, the International Hockey League (IHL). The IHL’s Salt Lake Golden Eagles were actually the Flames secondary affiliate for some time but the top prospects moved from Canada to Utah in 1987. This was the last “different” stop prior to the Flames purchasing the Utica Devils from New Jersey and relocating the franchise to Saint John.
The only difference for the Flames in the time after Saint John came directly after it when the franchise went dormant. It was at that time that the Flames shared the Lowell Lock Monsters with the Carolina Hurricanes.
For you visual learners check out the timeline:
Here’s an interesting thought though when looking at these timelines. Calgary has dabbled in keeping their affiliates closer but never has it been in the Pacific Coast and with really no other western competition. I think the Flames often moved their top prospects around in an effort to find a suitable environment to groom their talent in a way that’s worked best for them being in Western Canada. Nebraska, Illinois, and Vancouver Canucks territory (aka Abbotsford, an hour and 16 minute drive from Downtown Vancouver) were never suitable options because the competition was still a long plane trip away.
Things are different now with the newly formed Pacific Division and the concerted effort by multiple teams to move west. So for the first time in the history of minor league hockey, the top affiliates of western NHL teams are now in the west with plenty of competition out west to help keep operating budgets down. That, to me, is the biggest key. The fact that we can hop on a bus and get to every team in the Pacific Division (sans Texas and San Antonio) on a one-day bus trip is something that has never been the case when any NHL team tried to move their farm team out west.
Now lets get back on track with the point of this educational exercise. We have three paths to choose from, team, franchise and top affiliate. Let’s see an example of this with Calgary Flames captain, Mark Giordano.
An undrafted free agent, “Gio” as he’s known, kicked off his pro career in the lockout season of 2004-05 with the Lowell Lock Monsters, scoring 6 goals and 10 assists in 66 games played.
He then spent parts of the next two seasons splitting time with Calgary and the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights (want to know what Ak-Sar-Ben is? Spell it backwards…), playing 78 games in Omaha registering 16 goals and 44 assists.
If we’re talking Gio’s numbers from a Calgary top affiliate perspective, we add his Lowell numbers to his Omaha numbers to see that as a member of the Flames top affiliate, he’s played in 144 games scoring 76 points. That is good enough for the 15th most points by a defenseman as a member of the Flames top affiliate.
Now lets look at Mark’s stats from a franchise perspective. Remember, the dormant years after Saint John? Well that’s where Lowell came into play, so we don’t include any of Mark’s numbers with Lowell and instead just include his Omaha numbers, meaning he has 78 games played and registered 60 points. That puts him 25th in total AHL points by a defenseman as a member of the franchise (which again includes the Flyers and Devils prospects from 1977-1993).
So it’s confusing but I want to make sure when we refer to these things, everyone understands. What happens if we set a new franchise record? What happens if a Calgary affiliated player tops the most PIMS in the history of the top affiliate? It’s little things like this that we find interesting.
Hey…I’m not going to leave you hanging though. You did all this work reading and comprehending this boring dreck, I want to reward you with a few cool stats from our research. I’ll try and throw a couple on Twitter every now and then and maybe do another short blog in the future with a couple fun things.
I can’t give you any cool team facts yet since we haven’t had a season but how about one franchise fact, one top affiliate fact, and one wildcard!
FRANCHISE FACT: A total of 199 players have played their top amateur hockey exclusively in the NCAA, however, 55 more players have at least some NCAA experience, meaning that 254 players have played for a NCAA team. Curious as to which program sends the most players to our AHL franchise? Did you guess Boston University? Boston College? Minnesota? Michigan?
You’d be wrong on all of those accounts as 17 players have come from Providence College! Who’d have thought! (Michigan is second though with 15 players.)
TOP AFFILIATE FACT: Do you know what John “Bah” Harrington and Mark Wells have in common? If you guessed they both played for a Flames top affiliate you’re only half right, as Wells played for the Oklahoma City Stars of the Central League and Harrington suited up for the Colorado Flames, also, of the Central League.
Both hold the distinction as being a part of the Miracle on Ice Team that would eventually win gold at the 1980 Olympic Games held in Lake Placid!
Wells scored 2 goals and added an assist in 7 games during the tournament while Harrington had 5 assists (including a secondary assist on Mike Eruzione’s game winning goal during the Miracle on Ice…he’s wearing #28) in 7 games at the 1980 Olympic games.
WILDCARD FACT: Sticking with the 1980 Olympic Game theme, there were two members of our FRANCHISE that were on the receiving end of that Miracle on Ice loss. While both Sergei Starikov and Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov won Silver Medals, it wan’t enough to spare them the embarrassment of losing to a group of college kids from America in 1980. However their loss has given Americans the greatest sports moment in the history of sports in our country.
Both Starikov and Fetisov were members of the Utica Devils. Fetisov, who’s a Hockey Hall of Famer (Class of 2001), played for the Red Army until heading to the USA to play for the New Jersey Devils. He played just a single game for Utica in 1990-91 and managed a goal and an assist.
Starikov also played years for the Red Army before heading to, where else, New Jersey. Unlike Fetisov he spent far more time in Utica, playing parts of two seasons in New York. He finished with 94 games played and registered 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points with Utica. After his time in Utica, he went to the IHL’s San Diego Gulls to finish out his career. Where do we know that team from…
I’m closing out all of my blog posts with a jersey or logo in the sports world. I love sports jerseys (I collect them) and I love logos and what goes into making a brand.
This is a first for the blog, but I’m going outside of hockey for my featured logo and instead going with one that I just stumbled upon today on Sportslogos.net. It happens to be in Minor League Baseball (there are some good ones there) in the Eastern League…the Hartford Yard Goats who revealed their name and logo two days ago.
The name first…just wow. I love out there names and this one is a bit out there. Goats can be a bit territorial and they can headbutt like the best of ’em, but such an odd name for a sports team. Because of it’s uniqueness though, I’m quite in.
One thing you may not know about me is I hate wordmarks but that one is pretty cool. The curves in the logo are neat because they are like the horns and the beard of the goat.
As far as the goat goes, is that a stick in his mouth? Why is part of his beard green? Did he get a grass stain?
Lastly, I can’t help but think the same guy who designed this logo designed this Stockton Ports logo…. does it not seem so similar?!?!?!
Brandon Kisker is the Heat’s Director of Broadcast & Media Relations and is entering his third season as a broadcaster in Stockton. Follow him on Twitter @kiskerbc or email him at email@example.com with comments or questions.