Hello Cannoneers! Allow me to introduce myself, as I will be taking over for the 2016-2017 season for your coverage of all things Cleveland Monsters! I’m a hockey fan with Scottish roots, the concept of a Lake Monster immediately appealed to my Loch Ness heritage. I heartily embraced the logo, the team and the city as I fell in love with the entire Monsters experience. (I will spare you the kilt photos.)
During the playoff run, I noticed something a little fishy near Lake Erie... As we bulldozed through the Ontario Reign, the available stock of jerseys available dwindled. (I’m a husky fella, and kept waiting for the XXL jerseys to reappear in the team shop.) Supply ran even thinner as we smashed Grand Rapids- so thin that I commented to a buddy, “Why aren’t they restocking jerseys? Demand is at an all time high!” Come the finals against Hershey- the only Monsters jersey available were the small size. (Congrats to Monsters fans with the now “retro” Lake Erie jerseys! I can’t even find them on ebay!)
It is difficult to sum up how fun the entire run to the Calder Cup was- for everyone involved, be they fans driving up from Columbus, Monsters season ticket holders, bandwagon fans that only showed up during the playoffs or members of the Cleveland youth hockey group- when we scored that goal with one tic left on the clock, not a single soul left Quicken Loans arena. Every last fan stood and screamed and clapped as we spray painted an “X” through the “Road to the cup” on the boards. A sold out Q buzzed with an electricity seldom if ever seen for AHL hockey. Monsters fans- I love you folks.
Awesome as that feeling was, I was ready to open my wallet and buy ALL the Monsters gear. And yet, the web shop and team shop remained unstocked. I suspected something was up, and definitely perked up when the brass announced a press conference for August 9th. With Quicken Loans/Cleveland Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski, Monsters President of Operations John Davidson, Blue Jackets Assistant GM Bill Zito and Monster Senior VP of Franchise Operations Mike Ostrowski on stage, my mind flew to speculation of what the announcement might be. My first guess was based off a source close to the organization who shared with me the extent to which the Jackets’ front office had been impressed during the playoff run. Rightfully so! Cleveland’s support of the Monsters had been phenomenal, and my source suggested it might be possible to see some NHL pre-season games played in the Q. (A hope that I am still clinging to!) NHL hockey in Cleveland... I still believe that even a preseason game will sell out, but could not shake the thought of the merchandise drought during the playoff run. Could it be? They’ve finally read all of my emails, begging them to rebrand the team with the king of all monsters, and will re-brand us as the Cleveland Cthulhu?
I was half right. To celebrate the Calder Cup coming home to the CLE, and in concert with the 10th anniversary season, we will do away with “Lake Erie” and will henceforth be known as the “Cleveland Monsters”. The Monsters were glad to share an advance look at the jerseys for the upcoming season, which feature the familiar “Don’t call me Nessie” Monster rising from the water, but adds a new “Cleveland” jersey that features the familiar and beloved Cavaliers wine and gold colors splashed for good measure. I’m sure the black base with wine and gold accents will be a fan favorite, and the Monsters agree- as a part of the new name and uniform launch, fans will have access to a limited-time “CLE Pack” (http://www.clevelandmonsters.com/CLEpack)
Hockey returns to the Q Friday, Oct 14th as the CLEVELAND Monsters take on the Rockford IceHogs. The Monsters will feature 23 weekend home games this season, including 12 Friday night games. I think I speak for everyone in the CLE when I say- I hope to have Quicken Loans arena staff moving in light speed during the 2017 playoffs, as they have to change from Cavaliers home court for basketball to Monsters ice rink every other night. For an entire month, the staff at the Q had to walk that tight rope- and with one of the best home team advantages in the AHL and a loaded pool of talent coming in for the season, I fully expect they’ll have to rely on the experience from last season: the Monsters show no signs of slowing down.
I will be lurking around the locker room looking for quotes from coaches, players and staff. Stay tuned to the Cannon and SBNation for the best coverage of Monsters hockey!