MOLINE, IL – Many great things are happening with the Quad City Mallards this season, the team’s 20th in the four cities. For the celebration of 20 years of Mallards hockey, the team unveiled a new specialty logo, third sweaters, and other specialties for the team, the team announced Tuesday. This season will see an even greater connection between former glory days and the present days of expected victories.
One of the biggest connections between the past and present will be the new third sweaters. These will be worn mostly on Friday nights, debuting on Opening Night October 14 against the Fort Wayne Komets. The new throwback sweaters hearken back to the inaugural Mallards season from 1995-1996, with the original colors and logo. The sweaters feature the original color scheme of forest green, black, burgundy, and gold; the torso is white, with the colors trimming the bottom hem, shoulders, and the cuffs of the sleeves. The new anniversary logo is on the left of the chest, where a letter is normally placed; the Pepsi logo is opposite the anniversary logo.
“We’re about to embark on our twentieth season of Quad City Mallards in the Quad Cities, and we’re thrilled about this. We’re going to celebrate the rich tradition, the winning franchises, and hopefully Terry (Ruskowski) can bring a winner this year at the end of the season we’ll play well in the end of May and early June,” President and Alternate Governor Bob McNamara said at the beginning of the press conference this morning.
About the new logo, McNamara said, “we wanted to highlight the past history, as well as one of the landmarks in the area.”
The new logo is a burgundy shield with a black square within the center of the shield. Atop the black square sits the number 20 in the foreground; the word seasons is beneath the number 20, inside its own black rectangle. Both the number 20 and the word seasons are in silver. The classic logo of the Mallard head holding a stick within his mouth is above the number 20, centered between the spans of the I-74 bridge in silver silhouette.
As part of the celebrations, an alumni weekend is scheduled for January 13 and 14, 2017. The weekend will kick off with former Mallards being introduced before the current Mallards face off against the Indy Fuel. The former Mallards will be signing autographs during the game. After the Friday night game, there will be a celebration event open to the public. The next day, an alumni game will take place before the present Mallards take the ice against long-time rivals the Komets. Former Mallards will be available during Saturday’s game as well. More promotions and celebration events will be announced at a later date, McNamara said.
Owner Jordan Melville had nothing but praise for the Mallards and the community. “What a difference four years makes,” he began his address. “I was reminiscing a little bit with the team back in the office this morning, about where we were and where we’ve come,” Melville said. “It wasn’t that long ago we were doing almost the exact same thing and I was saying ‘Okay, here I am, I’m excited to be taking over ownership in an official capacity’ and I started really working with the community and try to bring this team back to where it was.”
Melville then went on to speak of how the crowds are better, how he enjoys spending time in the arena with the crowds, and how different this offseason is from when he began. There were a few shaky offseasons before Melville and his group bought the team, where fans and office alike wondered where the players were and whether there was going to be a season. But with Melville, the speculation has stopped.
“I just can’t say enough about what the community’s done for this team. You guys challenged me,” Melville said. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job as owners here, but we couldn’t have done it without the front office staff, the iWireless Center, but especially the community, the community groups, and the corporate sponsors. It really solidified my belief in this market.”
Melville mentioned how last season the Mallards were named the best minor league sports market by the Sports Business Journal last August. “Maybe the world we’ll do next,” he joked.
Next, Executive Director of the iWireless Center, Scott Mullen, spoke about some of the new additions to the arena for this season.
First, a new video-wall is currently being installed.
“It’s going to be almost five times bigger than the old one, higher resolution, more energy efficient,” Mullen said. “To put it in perspective, the old one was about 13 (feet) by 18 (feet); the new one is 25 (feet) by 45 (feet).”
New high-definition cameras are being installed as well. The new wall and cameras cost a total of about $633,000 dollars, with the cameras costing a little over $80,000. The display can either show advertising around the video as it had been on the old wall with the matrix and tri-vision panels, or display video on the 1,125 square foot board when needed. The installation is expected to be completed on September 22.
The final speaker of the event was coach Terry Ruskowski.
“When I came in yesterday, it felt like I never left; it just seemed like it’s home,” the Mallards head coach said. “Now that Scott’s coming up here, showing how he’s got a new thing going on the wall to show referees how bad they do make calls. To show it and show it and show it until they actually have to look at it.”
Ruskowski went on to call the iWireless Center “one of the most amazing arenas.” He also praised Kerry Toporowski and Steve Gibson, who were both seated at the two ends of the dais, for setting up the foundation for hockey in the Quad Cities.
“They don’t get enough credit for what they’ve done. I know their job was to play, but what they’ve done off and on the ice just set the groundwork for our organization,” Ruskowski said. “To say we’re in the 20th season of Mallards hockey is a true credit to the game of hockey, a true credit to these two guys, and the teams they had. Winning 50 games a year, it’s freaking outrageous what they did, incredibly good. They set the foundation, and we’re truly grateful for that.”
From there, attention turned to the team Ruskowski and assistant coach Phil Axtell are building for next season. Ruskowski said he is currently working on signing another big player, who will “make my 5’9, 5’10 guys 6 feet tall. He’s a tough kid, no one will mess with us.”
The goaltending looks great this season, according to Ruskowski. Some tough decisions loom when it comes to the defense corps, and some even bigger decisions need to be made when it comes to the forwards. He says after the Traverse City tournament in Michigan later this week, Minnesota will be sending between three and five forwards to the Mallards. There are already seven forwards signed by the Mallards announced so far.
The announcement of who will don the letters for the Mallards will be made after training camp. Ruskowski says he wants to see who works hard, listens hard, who communicates well with him and the rest of the guys, and who the guys like.
“All those things will equal a great captain this year,” he said.
The Mallards open their 20th anniversary season on October 14 against the Fort Wayne Komets.