One of the ECHL’s 2021-22 expansion teams is now official. The team slated to play in Coralville, Iowa beginning next season will officially be called the Iowa Heartlanders, the league announced today. The team debuted a buck logo that also implies a gold, black, and gray color scheme. The Heartlanders, on obvious nod to their Iowa locale, will also use the local wild prairie rose as a secondary logo. While Iowa finally has a name and logo, their yet-to-be-named expansion companions in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec have the all-important NHL affiliation, having linked up with the Montreal Canadiens. Iowa has yet to strike a deal of their own, however the obvious link would be to the Minnesota Wild, whose AHL affiliate also plays in the state. The Wild were affiliated with the Allen Americans this past season, but there has been no word on whether that relationship will continue or if Minnesota will instead recruit the newfound Heartlanders.
- Ian McKinnon made quite a name for himself in just a short time in the AHL this season and has now been rewarded. On loan from the Jacksonville Ice Men to the Providence Bruins for ten games this year, McKinnon racked up a whopping 81 penalty minutes. It was enough to finish third in the league in total PIM while obviously taking the PIM per game crown. McKinnon was a physical force and unafraid to drop the gloves, but also contributed three points in those ten games as well, including his first AHL goal in the Bruins’ division title-clinching season finale win. It was enough to earn him an AHL deal for next year, as the Providence Bruins have announced a one-year pact. The junior-level journeyman has finally found his stride in the pros and the Bruins are looking forward to seeing what he can do moving forward with some experience now under his belt.
- One player who may not be as thrilled about playing in the minors is New Jersey Devils goaltender Gilles Senn. A restricted free agent this summer, the 25-year-old played exclusively with AHL Binghamton this season – and poorly at that – after seeing NHL action last year and doesn’t seem to be happy with that career progression. Word out of Senn’s native Switzerland is that the netminder is “on the market.” The GM of National League squad HC Davos, Marc Gianola, claims that his off-season plans to make a change in goal shifted when he heard that Senn could be available. Senn played six seasons with Davos prior to making the jump to North America and could be eyeing a return, especially with the GM publicly acknowledging his interest. However, if Senn does choose to return to Switzerland, there will be no shortage of interest. Is that enough to convince him to abandon his NHL pursuits? A decision will be made one way or another shortly with the off-season coming up quickly.