The San Jose Sharks finally unveiled the name and logo for their AHL franchise, set to relocate from Worcester, MA to San Jose for the 2015-16 season. The move comes with the formation of the AHL West, five teams in total will form the new division in the Western Conference. The San Jose Barracuda will join the Stockton Heat (Calgary Flames), Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers), Ontario Reign (LA Kings) and the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks) as part of the shift west, meeting for 68 games over the regular season.

The Barracuda will play their home games in the same building, SAP Center as their NHL brethren, being one of only two teams who will do so. The AHL St. John’s Icecaps, affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets will  relocate from Newfoundland and share the MTS Iceplex and Centre along with the Jets in Winnipeg for the upcoming season. It is an unconventional move, the only comparison is the Toronto Marlies who play in the same city as the Maple Leafs but have their own arena.

“We are thrilled to add the San Jose Barracuda to the sports fabric of San Jose,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Hosting another hockey team at the SAP Center will bring more sports fans to our booming downtown and allow more people to take advantage of our excellent restaurants and nightlife.”

With both teams sharing a practice facility at Sharks Ice and playing games at SAP, renovations will need to happen over the summer to expand dressing rooms and other equipment needs. The teams will share several Saturday dates over the season, creating a “Hockey Day in San Jose” with the doubleheader AHL matinee/ NHL evening schedule. Fans will be seated at SAP Center in the lower bowl and just the middle sections of the upper bowl, with the rest being curtained off to create a more intimate fan experience. Of course for giveaway nights when more tickets may sell, the curtains can be drawn back to accommodate the larger crowds. Despite the logistical challenges of two professional hockey teams sharing the same practice facility and venue, the player and team development angle far outweighs the scheduling juggle.

“I cannot overstate the importance of having our prospects play in the same time zone as the parent club and available to our team without a cross-country flight,” said Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our organization to amplify our player development program by providing our staff access to these players on a daily basis. It’s also a chance for our fans to watch the growth of these prospects as players and see the ‘Future Sharks’ in action.”

Indeed, the prospects will be literally down the hall from one another on any given night. A callup may just mean a brief stint in Bay Area traffic if the AHL team is traveling.

The Name and Logo

The San Jose Barracuda will adopt the Sharks colors and as per AHL rules, will wear whites at home and teal on the road. They will also debut a third jersey in orange. Orange has been an accent color for the San Jose Sharks and it was the color of the now defunct ECHL San Francisco Bulls, a one time affiliate of the Sharks.

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photo (sharks.nhl.com)

So where did the name come from, the San Jose Barracuda? The name Barracuda was among the names originally considered for the NHL expansion team granted to George and Gordon Gund in 1990. The organization ultimately selected “Sharks” as the name of the franchise. This is a nice bit of history but ultimately the name Barracuda is more business driven. Barracuda Networks is a long time staple in Silicon Valley and has been a sponsor for the San Jose Sharks for many years. Welcome to corporate hockey, “the San Jose Barracuda, presented by Barracuda Networks.”

“We are extremely excited about this innovative partnership with Barracuda Networks, a long-time supporter of our organization and a company who is aggressively active in the field of sports marketing,” said Sharks Sports & Entertainment Chief Operating Officer John Tortora. “We have loved the name Barracuda since the start of this process and it was a natural fit for us to approach Barracuda Networks in regards to this unique partnership. ”

There is no doubt that the logo featured on the jerseys is Barracuda Networks.

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“At Barracuda, we take pride in our local communities and have a long-standing relationship with the Sharks organization,” said Michael Perone, co-founder, EVP and CMO at Barracuda. “When we heard the AHL team was moving to the Bay Area, we immediately explored the opportunity to further our partnership with the Sharks to include the AHL franchise. It’s exciting to integrate the Barracuda brand with the team in such an innovative way, and we look forward to a winning season with our new San Jose Barracuda.”

There is only one other team that is so closely tied to its sponsor, the Hershey Bears, whose history with the Hershey chocolate bar company goes back to the 1930s, to a series of amateur hockey matches. With their growing popularity, amusement park owner and chocolatier Milton Hershey partnered with John B Sollenberger to bring a permanent pro hockey club to Hershey. The Hershey B’ars began play in 1932. Facing criticism by New York sportswriters that the B’ars name was too commercial in 1936, Hershey became the Bears.

At the cutting edge of technology, it is no surprise San Jose will boast a hockey team intimately connected with Silicon Valley tech and money, much like the oil and gas industry drive the Edmonton Oilers and their new AHL affiliate Bakersfield Condors and AEG Entertainment, a Hollywood powerhouse underpins the LA Kings and affiliate Ontario Reign. With the Barracuda, there is no subtlety, the corporate ties are out in the open, flashing their teeth on team sweaters. Only time will tell how long the partnership lasts and if the team remains viable alongside its NHL roommates, but certainly having a big name partner gives the franchise a bit of security going into uncharted waters. After all, that is what Barracuda Networks is known for.

A West Coast girl, born and raised in the Bay Area in the most non-traditional Hockey Market you could imagine for a long time... When the Sharks came to town it changed the Bay Area hockey landscape forever. Her first love will always be the Red Wings but she has embraced the Sharks since their debut in 1991. She has a passion for minor league grind-it-out-in the-corners hockey. Her heart broke when the ECHL Bulls folded , but luckily the Stockton Thunder are still close enough for her to get her gritty-hockey fix. Besides watching hockey, she is an American Tribal Style belly-dancer and trolls the blue-line, playing defence in a local rec hockey league... A somehow strange but balanced juxtaposition.

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