Springfield Hockey, LLC announced today that the new name of the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in Massachusetts would be ‘Thunderbirds.’ The new name and logo both come after the team ran a campaign a couple of weeks ago allowing fans to submit ideas and help out with the process.
The Thunderbirds name is said to be symbolic of many things, including local Air Force bases, an allusion to two previous AHL teams in the area – the Indians and Falcons – and a Native American legend which describes the bird as creating lightning and thunder by moving its wings. The team’s jersey’s have yet to be unveiled although that is expected to happen soon.
“The Springfield Thunderbirds’ name represents the strength and pride of western Massachusetts. It is a nod to our hockey past, a tribute to the men and woman of the Air Force who are so vital to this region, and a symbol of the new energy and spirit that is palpable in Springfield,” said Nathan Costa, the Thunderbirds Executive Vice-President.
The Panthers entered a multi-year affiliation agreement with Springfield Hockey, LLC after their previous affiliate, the Portland Pirates, was sold to a new owner who then moved the team to Springfield, Massachusetts. The area was previously the home of the Falcons who were bought by the NHL’s Coyotes and moved to Tuscon, Arizona. We’re told that the Panthers had several options with regards to where their AHL players could play and locations for an AHL team, however they preferred to stay in the northeast and Springfield fit the bill.
As announced last week, Geordie Kinnear will serve as the Thunderbird’s head coach with the team’s former AHL head coach, Scott Allen, being promoted to the role of assistant coach for Florida.