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This Is The Best And Worst Idea I've Ever Had

From 1998 through 2000, the American Hockey League had what was known as the Empire Division. It consisted mostly of New York teams (hence "Empire"), and the not-even-from-America Hamilton Bulldogs. 

I like to make the case that now is the time to bring back the Empire Division. There's more teams in New York than there were in the late 90s, and for some reason years and years of AHL realignment leaves both Charlotte, NC, and Rochester, NY with Western Conference teams. Then again, there was also one year where the entire Empire Division was in the West (beforehand it was an unbalenced setting of 3 in the East and 1 in the West). Rochester, Albany, Syracuse, and Binghamton are still around, plus now you have Utica, and a new team in Glens Falls, since the Phantoms bolted for (Le)high(Valley)er grounds (that was painful but necessary). This new team is the former Abbotsford Heat, affiliated with Calgary, which should make for a GREAT rivalry with the nearby Utica Comets, affiliated with Vancouver. But lets get to the point here. The Heat need a rebrand, and I have just the idea for them. I hope you're listening, Flames.

I propose that the team be named the Hacksaws. Glens Falls Hacksaws has a little more oomph than Adirondack Hacksaws, but every AHL to play in Glens Falls has used "Adirondack". 

Where does this name come from? Glens Falls' most famous son, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Sorry, but you can't name a hockey team after Jimmer Fredette. Of course, Glens Falls is also home to former Bruins legend Lionel Hitchman, but that's not the point (and also a million years ago). We're naming a team after Jim Duggan.

For those of you not familar with Duggan, he was one of the more popular wrestlers in the WWE and WCW during the late 80s and early 90s. He always marched to the ring either with the American flag, or his signature 2x4, and played the ultimate patriotic character, aside from that one brief period Vince Russo turned him into an evil Canadian sympathizer.  Also known for inciting U-S-A! chants at a moment's notice and probably more known for his yell of "HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!", Duggan wrestled through and defeated kidney cancer in the late 90s. While many wrestlers have a whole story and background for their character, Hacksaw wrestled under his real name, and was always announced as hailing from Glens Falls. In his earlier years, he represented the city by winning a high school state wrestling championship, and went on to captain Southern Methodist's football team, pre-NCAA death penalty. 

So we have a minor league team with the ultimate gimmick: Being named after a patriotic wrestler from 20 years ago. You can keep the Flames'/Heat main color of red, but replace the black and yellow with white and blue trim. Somewhat like their theoritical division rival Rochester Americans, but way better. 

You could cartoon that up a little bit, and there's your jersey crest. Stick the Flames logo on one shoulder, and either a thumbs up patch, or the New York flag (a nod to the Flames wearing the Alberta flag) on the other. A blue version is your alternate jersey, and because all minor league teams have a weird themed night, your specialty jersey is tan, with sublimated muscles and hair. 

Look at that, Flames. I just rebranded the Heat for you. That wasn't hard, and now you have one of the funnest teams going. Use Duggan's signature "HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" yell as your goal horn, and his entrance music as your goal song. A perfect team to cap off a new Empire Division. I'm sure he'd show up a few times a season to drop the puck at the beginning of games.

Plus, I'll bet Vince has boxes and boxes of foam 2x4s sitting in a warehouse somewhere. A perfect giveaway. 


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