Wednesday, July 31, 2013
July by the Numbers concludes with a stop on the shores of Lake Michigan for jerseys #31.
The Milwaukee Admirals were founded as an amateur club in 1970 known as the Milwaukee Wings. The next season the team was sold to a group of investors, one of whom owned an appliance store and renamed the team the "Admirals" after a brand of appliances sold in his store. Thankfully the club adopted the naval aspect of the Admirals name and did not use a washing machine for their logo!
For the 1973-74 season the team joined the United States Hockey League (USHL), which at the time was a senior league. They won the USHL championship in 1976 and continued to play in the league for one more season prior to the league evolving into an amateur junior hockey league.
For the 1977-78 season, the Admirals joined the International Hockey League where they would play for 24 seasons. It would take five seasons for the Admirals to post a winning record and six for them to win their first division title in 1982-83.
While they would finish second in 1983-84, they would set a new team record with their first 100 point season with 101 with a 46-30-6 record. After a last place finish in the then nine team IHL in 1984-85, the Admirals would rebound immediately with a team record 102 point season. Their roller coaster ride up and down the standings continued with a 32 point drop in the standings and a further 19 less in 1987-88, leaving the club with a mere 49 points from 82 games and a distant last place in the IHL. The Admirals again rocketed up the standings with a 64 point increase in 1988-89 to set another new club record of 113 points, which still stands today.
During the remainder of their time in the IHL, which rapidly grew from 10 teams in 1991-92 to 19 teams in 1995-96, the Admirals won division titles in 1993, 1995 and 1996. Playoff success eluded Milwaukee though, as, while they qualified for the playoffs in 22 out of 24 seasons, they only made it past the first round of the playoffs just five times and won only two of those series. Their second round playoff victory in 1983 propelled them into their only appearance in the Turner Cup Finals, where they fell in six games to Toledo.
With the IHL now falling on hard times, having shrunk from 19 teams in 1996-97 down to just 11 four seasons later, the league eventually ceased operations altogether, and the Admirals were one of six clubs to join the American Hockey League in 2001.
After two seasons of finding their way in the AHL (which already had a member club named the Admirals!), Milwaukee reached 100 points for the first time in 11 seasons during 2003-04 with 102 to gain their first AHL division title. In the Calder Cup playoffs, they outlasted Cincinnati in seven games, downed Chicago in six, ousted Rochester in five and continued their string of playing one less game each round by sweeping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in four to capture the franchise's first Calder Cup and their first championship of any kind since 1976, a 28 year wait.
A 103 point season preceded a 108 point campaign in 2005-06, the Admirals best so far while in the AHL, and a second trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2006, although Milwaukee fell in six games to Hershey. The Admirals are currently riding a eight season playoff streak through 2009-10 and have three division titles in their nine AHL seasons.
The Admirals have retired five numbers throughout their history, those of #9 for Phil Wittliff, #14 for both Mike McNeill and Fred Berry (the Admirals all-time assists leader with 379), #26 for Tony Hrkac, #27 of Danny Lecours (whose nine seasons are a club record, as are his 360 goals and 642 points) and #44 for Gino Cavallini and Kevin Willison.
Today's featured jerseys show the evolution of the Milwaukee Admirals from the early 1980's to their modernization in the late 90's and move to the AHL and finally their recent redesign in the early 2000's.
First up is a 1996-97 Milwaukee Admirals Danny Lorenz jersey. This simple style is a solid blue jersey with a single red waist stripe trimmed in white with white anchors repeating around the waist. It's decorated with the cartoonish skating Admiral logo and has no secondary logos and just a basic block font for the name and numbers. This classic Admirals jersey can be traced back to the 1970's and remained in use until 1998.
While still members of the IHL, the Admirals jerseys underwent a much needed modernization in 1998, which led to our second featured style, a 1999-00 Milwaukee Admirals Mike Buzak jersey. This jersey was much more in-your-face, with it's overly dramatic wave treatment of the waist striping and more tempered sleeve waves. The new main logo was an iron-jawed, very stern looking Admiral head with a giant chin and an enormous drop shadow on the left. The overall effect was a quite mean looking character who was difficult to embrace. The jerseys received secondary logos in the form of a saber appearing on each shoulder and a new stylized number font which was reminiscent of the sabers on the shoulders.
All of this was rendered in a new color scheme, with the basic blue and red evolving into a classier navy blue and dark red with copper and silver accents.
The jersey remained the same through the Admiral's move to the AHL, save for the league logo on the rear hem, as seen on this 2002-03 Milwaukee Admirals Brian Finley jersey.
This jersey style lasted until 2006, when the Admirals underwent a complete redesign, changing their team colors once again and introducing an all new, more juvenile skeleton pirate theme clearly aimed at moving more merchandise to younger fans.
This jersey introduced a new light blue, grey and black color scheme and all new, modern fonts for the names and numbers. After one season with a standard jersey cut, the AHL changed over to the new Reebok Edge System of jerseys, resulting in a slightly new jersey with the "apron strings" piping cutting across the chest of the jersey as shown in this 2008-09 Milwaukee Admirals Mark Dekanich jersey.
The Admirals also went against convention with their unconventional grey road jersey, a choice perhaps influenced by their recent ownership change, led by the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, Mark Attanasio, as baseball teams historically wear grey on the road, a color seldom, if ever, used for hockey jerseys, especially in the professional ranks.
Today's video segment begins with the Milwaukee Admirals winning the 2004 Calder Cup while wearing their "second generation" jerseys.
Here, Brewers announcer Bob Uecker shows his love for the Admirals.
Finally, a look at the Admirals light blue alternate jerseys in some typical minor league fisticuffs.