AHL: San Diego Gulls Hockey Fest Report

Gulls San Diego AHLThe Anaheim Ducks hosted “HockeyFest” in San Diego on Sunday to unveil the official name and logo of the new team that will compete in the AHL’s recently announced Pacific division.

As MayorsManor reported back on February 2, the Ducks new affiliate will be called the Gulls, a name with a longstanding history in San Diego – a theme the team’s management repeated throughout a press conference held during the three-hour festival.

The announcement was the big draw at the event, attracting 8,500 fans to the Valley View Casino Center, the new home of the Gulls. Ducks owner Henry Samueli smashed down a wall of ice with a sledgehammer to reveal the new Gulls logo, which is a modified version of the team’s WCHL/ECHL logo, but featuring the distinct fighting seagull and the orange and blue color-way that fans are very familiar with.

The Ducks also used the event to announce the expansions of their Learn-To-Play Hockey program in two of the five current San Diego rinks and discussed plans to expand their high school hockey program, which has seen great success in Orange County.

A continued theme during the announcement was making Gulls and Ducks hockey part of the fabric of the city, and part of that was bringing in popular Gulls alumni as special guests for the event. One such special guest was hockey legend Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player and who made a name for himself as a San Diego Gull and has become something of a local hero.

“The fans deserve it, there has been no hockey here for nine years, and they supported the team back in the 60’s and I just think it’s great the Anaheim Ducks are putting a team in here and they are going to see a good brand of hockey and I am looking forward to going to many games,” O’Ree stated.

After the team’s name and logo reveal, many fans had expected to see the sweaters they would wear for the upcoming 2015-16 season. However, per Ducks senior vice president of hockey operations David McNab, the jersey design will still take some time and there is currently no ETA on its release [note: a possible mock up of the jersey was previously posted here].

Still, McNab seemed rather gleeful to be standing in San Diego taking part in the team announcement, and he has reason to be given his family’s long history with the Gulls. McNab’s father, Max, was the Gulls original general manager and head coach from 1966-72, and later served as general manager of the Washington Capitals.

“We played around with a lot of [ideas], but we came back to what was synonymous with the area,” McNab said, explaining that other names were given consideration. “A lot of people had a lot of influence on the name, and if we should take the name in a new direction.”

He also added they believed going in a different direction would upset local fans, something they saw no point in doing.

A statement provided by Henry and Susan Samueli, said, “While we initially considered several options, it quickly became clear that the obvious affinity and affection the fans have for the Gulls name. We enthusiastically embrace the history and tradition of hockey in this market and plan on adding to its legacy with a community-first organization and winning product.”

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