Once fans got over the initial shock (or excitement, depending where you live) of news related to the AHL’s planned invasion of California, the two most commonly asked questions have centered around team names and jersey designs.
Coming out of the multiple press conferences last week, only one of five teams heading to the West Coast publically shared their team name – the Ontario Reign will remain, exactly as is.
We can also now report, the Anaheim Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego is expected to be called the Gulls, exactly as most had hoped after first hearing of hockey’s return to the southern part of the state.
For quite some time, the issue has been legal ownership. As one NHL executive connected to the AHL West plans told us last week, “All of the sudden, several people were saying they owned the name.”
Since 2008, a San Diego Gulls Junior-A team (Western States Hockey League) has operated out of Ice-Plex in Escondido, located in northern San Diego County. Yet, the Gulls name actually has ties to the area going back to the ‘60s and has been used with multiple incarnations of various hockey teams – including clubs in the IHL and ECHL.
MayorsManor has learned that negotiations have taken place between all parties, including the ECHL (who last had a team using the Gulls name in 2006), to reach a compromise that would satisfy all parties. From what we’ve been told, the entire ordeal has been quite the undertaking; a complicated mess that might make for a good case study in a future law school textbook.
For their part, the Ducks have planned a HockeyFest event in San Diego on Feb. 22 to officially unveil the team name and new jersey design.
Meanwhile, hockey fever looks to be rekindled in San Diego, as the Ducks have reportedly received nearly 1,000 season ticket deposits for games that will be played at the Valley View Casino Center. The team’s lease with the San Diego arena is said to run through the 2020 season and several renovations are planned prior to the Gulls’ first game there in October. Further, Ducks’ management have confirmed they are looking for the new team to practice and train at a state-of-the-art facility currently under construction in Poway.
In related news, here are some other tidbits about names for the three remaining franchises making up the AHL’s new Pacific Division:
– It looked like the Oilers’ new AHL team in Bakersfield was going to keep the Condors name after this tweet surfaced…
Hearing AHL California announcement Friday. Edmonton Oilers relocate in Bakersfield. Condors keep name. Adopt Oiler colors.
— Terry Jones (@sunterryjones) January 26, 2015
That is not the case, though. The team has opened up a ‘Name the Team’ contest, with entries being accepted here through Feb. 15.
In the past, Patrick LaForge, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Edmonton Oilers, has not hidden the team’s interest in supporting the oil and gas industry that plays a key role in the parent clubs community. “We like oil. We like the petroleum business,” LaForge said, when asked if a name change was coming when they first purchased the Condors in January 2014. “This city (Bakersfield) is built on oil. A lot of companies here are guys we do business with in Oklahoma and Edmonton. I can’t answer your question. I’m not trying to create a controversy. I’m trying to be honest with you. I don’t have an answer.”
Thus, a strong guess says the new name will be somewhat oil-based. And that’s really too bad because who doesn’t like jerseys with wings on the sleeves?
— Bakersfield Condors (@Condors) January 31, 2015
– Similar to the Bakersfield situation, Calgary is expected to hold a ‘Name the Team’ contest for their new affiliate in Stockton. The ECHL team that plays there now is called the Thunder, but that name will not be used, nor will the name Flames – which was the tentative plan early on in the AHL West discussions. [UPDATE 2/4/2015: The contest has officially kicked off now, details here.]
– San Jose is putting their AHL club in the SAP Center, the same building where their NHL team plays – a story first mentioned on MayorsManor in December. Obviously they can’t keep the Sharks name currently being used by their AHL team in Worcester, as that would be way too confusing in a marketplace shared by two teams. While they haven’t set a date for a follow-up press conference to unveil the name or jersey for the San Jose AHL club, many people seem to agree with our suggestion of Seals. Given the history of the name in Northern California hockey circles, it seems like a no-brainer.
@mayorNHL Love it, with white skates????
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 29, 2015
— Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) January 29, 2015
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) January 29, 2015
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