What is the identity of a team? Is it the players you cheer for? Is it the colors they wear? The city or town in which they reside? Is it steeped in tradition? Minor League hockey is its own animal, filled with shifts and changes in the team that can baffle anyone who knows only the dynamics of the NHL. In the span of two weeks, the San Francisco Bulls have in a way gone through an identity crisis. They have lost part of their soul as last minute transactions swirl before the trade deadline. In some respects, the Bulls had their first blow to their identity when Justin Bowers, the player who gave us the iconic bull horns and the team’s first Captain, was traded to the Gwinnett Gladiators, back in early January.
The last weeks of February saw the Bulls lose grit in Kris Belan to Manchester, an AHL call-up, and Alex Tuckerman, Martin Lee and Rylan Galiardi to trades. The start of March has not been any easier as two more of the original core Jordan Clendenning and Jonathan Lessard finish out the season with Utah along with more recent players Cody Carlson and Sebastian Trudeau. Each one of these players has given something of themselves to the identity of this fledgling team. The new players who have joined the team to make the playoff push will each leave their mark on the ice. Some will capture our hearts in the fleeting moments that they don our colors and call our city home. Some will even create traditions that will live on in our barns long after their skates have left ice. Ultimately, the love of the Game is what binds us all, whether we are cheering in the stands or lacing up the skates for that late night game. It is Hockey.