SMALLVILLE, Kan. – Here at Field Pass Hockey, we are committed to providing the best, most professional coverage of minor league hockey. It’s a very serious endeavor we undertake for the love of the game. In the earnest, adept pursuit of perfection, a power imbalance shifts the hockey universe, and a well-intentioned, uncontrollable force seeps through the gaps in coverage: Chaos.
To compensate for this imbalance, a small – but mighty – contingent of writers, photographers, and a graphic designer has banded together to harness that chaos for good.
The American Hockey League is the direct feeder for the National Hockey League. Nowhere is chaos kept in better check than in the ranks of North America’s premier development league. Every now and again, it unleashes a taste of its wrath on aspiring prospects and waters the seeds of mayhem for those who offer insight and analysis on the sport we love.
Holding the chaos at bay, however, is a perilous task. That’s why we’ve decided not to stand against it but rather to lean into it.
To accomplish this, we’ve created the Field Pass Hockey Chaos League, an ongoing exercise in pandemonium. Our first order of business: Divisional Realignment! Specifically, creating our own divisions based on arbitrary criteria and vibes. Inspired by TikToks of creative realignments in American football and basketball, The Harbingers of Chaos’ first step in harnessing the havoc created – what we feel to be – an alignment that better passes the vibe check.
Without further ado, the FPHCL is proud to introduce: the 2022-23 FPHCL AHL Divisions!
The Weastern Conference
The Department of Parks and Recreation
The teams in this division were chosen for their ability to be governed by the United States Department of the Interior. That is, their likelihood of being found in a National Park. In alphabetical order:
Besides being the name of giant cargo planes in the new installments of Gears of War, a condor is what we commonly call two species of vultures native to the Western Hemisphere. The condor we’re most likely to encounter in the United States is the California Condor. I’m not an expert on the wildlife in every National Park, but condors have wings which means, if they really wanted to, they could take up residence in whichever one they liked best. (The National Parks Service website says that there are indeed California Condors in National Parks across the American west, so points to the Chaos Crew for that educated guess.)
The good news for residents of Chicago and the surrounding area is that these are just regular wolves and not werewolves, which – admittedly – would be infinitely cooler. Ordinary, boring, not supernatural wolves inhabit what is arguably America’s favorite National Park, making them the perfect candidate for this division!
Aside from being the symbol of America and an iconic moment of bromance in the greatest medical sitcom of all-time, an eagle is a bird. It turns out there’s a significant population of eagles in Yellowstone National Park! One eagle in a National Park anywhere in the United States was enough for me; add them to the division.
Are you sensing a theme? Bears, for the uninitiated, aren’t just cute little travelers in raincoats that are friends with British monarchs! Revolutionary information, I know. Bears are actually apex predators found in something like a third of all American National Parks. That puts them squarely under the purview of the National Parks Service and this division.
Oh, say can you see… all the people taking in the federally protected wonder in the country they call home!? Americans aren’t the only visitors to National Parks every year, but most of us have witnessed the majesty this land has to display from their pathways and observation decks at least once in our lives. Aside from visitors, Americans actively work in National Parks. To be honest, the Americans should have been the first team in this division, but they were added second, behind the Bears, so silver’s still a podium finish, I guess. Also American: Ron Swanson, Leslie Knope, and company.
MEEP, MEEP! Shockingly, a final bird rounds out the Parks and Rec. division. Unlike the other birds on this list, they don’t fly too often, but they do run at like 20 miles per hour, so even if you wanted to chase them out of your National Park, they’re about two miles per hour faster than the average human. Personally, I’ve seen roadrunners at White Sands National Park, making them confirmed parks creatures and a member of this division.
Ctrl C + Ctrl V Division
Can I copy your team name? Sure, just change it a little, so nobody knows. These teams copied and pasted their parent clubs’ nicknames. As far as brand recognition goes, that’s an easy way to do it! In reverse alphabetical order:
Flightless birds are really in this season! Other than the apparent steroid use – how does a bird that can’t flap its wings and generate lift get that jacked without PEDs – and the striking red eyes and gloves that look more like the Russian Red Penguins from the 1993-94 IHL season, the Baby Pens’ mascot looks like the store brand version of Pittsburgh.
Based near the state capital in Austin, Dallas’ baby club tries to encompass an entire state instead of just one city… by looking exactly like the team from a city the rest of the state loves to hate. Texas has a way cooler logo than Dallas does, with the star replacing the x in the middle of the word “Texas,” but you could put both teams on the ice at the same time and confuse one for the other.
Down to the spoked P, the Providence Bruins are the most carbon-copy team in the league. AHL teams wear their NHL teams’ logos on the shoulders of their sweaters, and from afar, it’s hard to tell that Providence isn’t just wearing their own. Honestly, that would be a major power move, and we definitely need more unabashed narcissism in professional hockey.
The Wild exist in this dichotomy where the NHL team is today’s iteration of the club, and the AHL team looks like a vintage version of the same one. The Wild weren’t always in Iowa; they used to be the Houston Aeros. They’re a cut-and-paste version of the big club if they were cut and pasted and then frozen in time. I love that for them.
I’m gonna say the thing we all know to be true: Sound Tigers was a much cooler name. The rebranding to Islanders to match the big club was a smart business move, but when you’ve got a name as cool as “Sound Tigers,” Islanders is kind of a step-down. Not cool that they were kind of named after the known horrible person P.T. Barnum, but cool aesthetically.
Oh, look! It’s the other team that looks like the old-time hockey version of the NHL team. They have the same name and colors, but that’s where the similarities end. The Belleville Senators, like the Iowa Wild, are the time capsule version of the Ottawa Senators.
Singular Plural Division
When you use the same noun to mean more of that noun, it’s an irregular noun. We’re making it more fun and calling them singular plurals because it rolls off the tongue a little more fun. Teams in this division have names that follow that same convention. In no particular order:
They made a Hallmark movie about the Wolf Pack, so naturally, they’re the coolest team in the division. Chicago may have some scattered wolves; Hartford has a whole pack. They’re still not werewolves, though, so that’s a bummer.
I cannot be convinced that the chain of gyms with the same name and a similar logo isn’t an offshoot of the hockey team. Props to the only team in the world who can nickname their captain after a breakfast cereal: Cap’n Crunch!
I take back what I said. Being named after one of the most recognizable players in the history of professional hockey in North America, that just so happens to have spent his entire career with their parent organization, makes you pretty cool, too. Maybe Hartford and Laval are tied on coolness for the division.
The Moose really had no choice in the plural form of their name; the English language made that choice for them. The Moose do lead the league in the most interesting font choice. The numbers on their backs are made of moose antlers!
The Reign have one of the best logos in the league, hands down. They’re the farm team of the Los Angeles Kings, and the family resemblance is unmistakable. Reign is a tricky word to turn into a team nickname, but for an organization with the nickname of a specific genre of monarch, Reign is top-tier.
Hockey has a long history of traveling the open oceans; at least, that’s what I’ve extrapolated from some of their names and mascots. The teams in this division sailed across the seas to take up residence in their current hometowns, and that’s the lore I’m sticking to. In the order we added them to the division:
It’s not actually about the Checkers, but their mascot is a polar bear, and some shipbound explorers saw polar bears on expeditions, for sure. It’s also about a historical parent team they had and the dangers sailors face in the weather phenomenon they’re named for: Hurricanes.
You can’t become an admiral without being an exceptionally skilled sailor, so how do you get to be named the Admirals without first being comprised of seamen of the highest caliber? If anyone belongs to the Seafaring Division, it’s a team made entirely of the best seafarers in the world.
Why do seagulls fly over the sea? Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels! I refuse to apologize; you get what you get. Listen, gulls and sailors go together like peas and carrots, so naturally, they belong in the division where they’d be most comfortable.
Before modern technology made computers responsible for navigation, sailors used the stars. According to a Google search I conducted, the direction a shooting star travels may have some insight into the way the wind’s gonna blow. Comets aren’t the same as shooting stars, but they’re similar enough that maybe they could be confused for one another, so we’ll conscript the Comets into the Hockey Navy.
Bear with me: knights had to have used boats at some point, right? There had to be at least one knight – or knight-adjacent – in the history of the world that used a ship. Let’s say that Spanish conquistadors are as similar to knights as possible without being knights (suits of armor, horsemen, conquering forces, etc.). We know for a fact that they used boats to get to the Americas, so checkmate!
Nightmare Fuel Conference
Fables and Myths Division
We grow up on once-upon-a-times and stories of faraway fantasy lands, with mythologies and folklore, but we outgrow the belief that those stories and the fantastical creatures and characters within them exist. This division proves that they exist, if only in the AHL. In alphabetical order, by the fourth letter in the second word:
They have a lion’s body and an eagle’s head and wings. They’ve appeared in mythologies and symbolism since ancient times, symbols of prosperity, wealth, strength, power, and majesty, guardians of the divine and buried treasure. Now me, I’ve never seen a griffin, and that’s the sole reason they’re in the division of fabled and mythological creatures.
Firebirds are iconic cars; let’s be honest. It’s tough to beat a Trans Am, and the late ’70s Firebirds are *chef’s kiss* classics. Unfortunately, that’s not the firebird we’re discussing here. Slavic cultures have firebird myths. Coachella Valley has written its own mythology for its mascot, Fuego. That alone qualifies them for the Fables and Myths Division.
Travel Channel has a slew of shows dedicated to proving that – contrary to what Fred Jones says on Spooky Island in the 2002 masterpiece Scooby-Doo: The Movie – there is such a thing as ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and monsters. Not sure why they go through all that effort when there are real-life phantoms right there in Allentown, PA.
Thunderbirds are powerful spirits in Indigenous North American cultures. Thunderbirds watered the earth and helped vegetation to grow; lightning shot from its beak, and its wings flapping represented the rolling thunder. As mythological birds go, thunderbirds are high on the list of the coolest yet least represented. For that reason, we’re giving them the recognition they deserve.
Let’s circle back to that Fred Jones thing from earlier: Fred knows what he’s talking about; he makes a living out of unmasking monsters. For another thing, the most famous monster of our time lives in a quiet lake in Scotland and yet! There’s no credible evidence that Nessie exists! The scandal of it all! On the other hand, noted hockey enjoyer Jay Baruchel played an active role in creating a deep universe centered around the nameless monster in the logo, so maybe he knows something we don’t. Either way, the Monsters take their place alongside worthy peers in this division.
Walk Down the Street Division
Picture it: you’re an AHLer, and you get called up to the big club. Would you rather catch a plane, drive and risk ending up in Ohio instead of Michigan, or call an Uber to another arena in the same city? This division is dedicated to the teams who get call-ups within the same metropolitan area. In order of their AHL debut:
Coca-Cola Coliseum is a six-minute drive from Scotiabank Arena via the Gardiner Expressway. That’s a short Uber or a decent walk, depending on how you feel about carrying your own bags (or stealing a bellhop cart from a hotel to shuttle your equipment).
The Barracuda recently moved to Tech CU Arena, a place of their own, and out of mom and dad’s house at SAP Center. They’d never admit that they miss home, but the fact that they took up residence less than five miles away makes it easier to accept the new digs.
It doesn’t get much closer than the same building! The Wranglers play out of the same arena as their NHL counterparts, the Scotiabank Saddledome. If I were being recalled to the NHL, my preference would be to just have to scooch my stuff down a few hallways and into a new locker room.
Last but not least:
Absolutely Horrifying, and It’s Past Halloween, Yet the Mascot is Still Here Division
Yeah, it’s wordy, but it was the most concise description we could come up with. If you’ve been keeping track, there’s only one team left:
I usually don’t hold grudges over things mascots can’t control, like how they look. Hammy recently got a makeover and wasn’t received very positively. In fact, he’s the reason the conference is named the way it is. Both the live-action mascot costume and the logo hog have no right to be as terrifying as they are. Maybe the division name is long, but it’s accurate*.
*Pending potential – but highly unlikely – realignment to the Fables and Myths Division
So, there you have it! The Field Pass Hockey Department of Shenanigans has future plans for the FPHCL, but you’ll have to follow along to see what those plans may be. Until next time, yeehaw! And remember to ride the chaos before it crashes on the shore.
This article is brought to you by Deanna McFeron of the Field Pass Hockey Chaos League, a subsidiary of the FPH Department of Shenanigans. The Department of Shenanigans is staffed by Deana Weinheimer, Deanna McFeron, Andrew Rinaldi, Zach Martin, Corey Swartz, Zack Power, Rebecca DaSilva, and James Hamilton. Weirdly, all eight of them have been named co-commissioner of the league. It is currently unclear whether the title of commissioner holds any actual weight outside of looking pretty on a letterhead—more details to follow.
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