Bridgeport Shows Symmetry with Name ChangeMay 19, 2021
By Cory Wright | New York Islanders (@WrightsWay)
As far as AHL affiliates go, the New York Islanders and Bridgeport have always been close.
It’s one of the shortest distances in the NHL from rink to rink, the on-ice style is similar and the team colors have matched and evolved together since 2005.
On Monday, the symmetry between Islanders and their affiliate got even closer, as Bridgeport adopted a new moniker, the same name as its parent club.
Introducing, the Bridgeport Islanders.
"Having the Islanders name associated with Bridgeport, creates a stronger tie between the NHL team and the top development team," Bridgeport General Manager and New York Islanders Assistant General Manager Chris Lamoriello said in a press release. "Every time a player puts on the Bridgeport uniform, he will be putting on the identical uniform the NHL team wears, except for the new logo."
The name change was accompanied by a fresh new look, as Bridgeport unveiled a new crest, with subtle nods to the New York Islanders. While the focal point of the new Bridgeport Islanders logo is the B on the crest, partially formed with a hockey stick, all Bridgeport players will still be wearing “NY” in the form of the tape on the blade. Just the presence of a hockey stick in the logo is a connection to the New York Islanders, whose iconic “NY” has a featured a hockey stick and puck as its stem since 1972.
While it may seem cosmetic, it’s another daily reminder of organizational synergy.
“From a player perspective and a coach and staff perspective, it really reinforces the connection between the two teams,” Lamoriello said. “Everything we try and do in Bridgeport is based upon what happens on what we do in New York, so I think that the players are going to instantaneously see that with recognizing, whenever that transition is made for them, to play in Bridgeport, they’re going to see right away that it's going to be minimal. Both teams are going to carry the same name and it’ll be very meaningful. Now both teams are going to carry the same name, so I think it’s going to be very meaningful and I think they’re going to be very excited about this bond that’s going to be further created now.”
The Bridgeport Islanders unveiled a new website and social media handles in addition to the name and logo changes unveiled on Monday. The phrase We Are All Islanders is featured prominently on the new site and is a mentality meant to be shared across the organization, from players to staff to fans.
“This is more about us moving forward really with the vision of creating that unity every step of the way with our parent club,” Bridgeport President of Business Operations Brent Rossi said. “How we operate in the big club is how we’re operating here and then we’re going to take it to the next level as far as our fan experience.”
The name change is a constant reminder of the We Are All Islanders philosophy. Gone are the days of asking ‘what is a Sound Tiger?’ and having any sort of ambiguity about affiliation. The symmetry between the clubs is also aimed at enhancing the Islanders identity in Connecticut and Metro New York and linking the fans across the Long Island Sound.
“This was really an enhancement,” Lamoriello said. “To create that collective fanbase from Long Island into the Greater Connecticut Region that we’re playing in. That’s what we’re really excited about, trying to bring all of this together so this fanbase can really experience the whole look of the organization. We’ve done NHL exhibition games in Bridgeport, so this is trying to enhance as much as we can in every category.”
For 20 years, Bridgeport has played a role in the Islanders’ success and telling that story of development was part of the team’s rebrand. Seventeen of the current New York Islanders have played for the Isles AHL affiliate. It’s where Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield, foundational pieces of one of the stingiest NHL defense, learned their craft.
It’s where Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin all got their introduction to the organization, before each playing over 500 games – or 600 in Nelson and Martin’s case – with the Islanders. It’s where the next crop is stars is currently developing. The seeds planted at Webster Bank will one day bloom at UBS Arena.
“Ninety-five percent of players who’ve played in the NHL have gone through the AHL,” Rossi said. “So we want people here in Connecticut, kids in Connecticut who grow up to be Bridgeport Islanders fans, to see these kids get drafted, come into our system, and then follow them into the New York Islanders system. Then hopefully, that also helps to expand the fandom of the Islanders within this area, within this market which we see as a huge opportunity for us especially with the UBS Arena that’s opening in the fall and the proximity of that venue to our fans here in Connecticut and Westchester.”
Rossi said the team is planning for game enhancements for next season and hinted at a potential mascot change to accompany the new logo and name. Both Lamoriello and Rossi reaffirmed the Islanders’ commitment to Bridgeport after a successful 20-year partnership, especially with the B being prevalent on the uniform. After Monday’s announcement, the tightness between the organization only appears to be getting stronger.