(via Arizona Coyotes/NHL)
The Tucson Roadrunners will debut in the AHL in 2016-17 as the Arizona Coyotes brought their farm team closer to home and revived a minor league moniker. The Roadrunners name has a long history in the region, dating back to almost 50 years.
The Coyotes’ purchase and subsequent relocation of the Springfield Falcons to Tucson brought Arizona’s AHL affiliate closer to home, and it has also brought a longtime minor league moniker back from the grave. Tucson’s new AHL club was officially dubbed the Roadrunners, harkening back to the minor league teams that have used the name over the past 50 years. “We are very proud to name our AHL affiliate the Tucson Roadrunners,”
Coyotes president Anthony LeBlanc said in a release. “The Tucson Roadrunners will build on the great traditions of hockey in Arizona dating back to 1967. Roadrunners was the overwhelming fan favorite during our ‘Name the Team’ contest, and we thank the thousands of fans who helped us select a great name that creates a strong connection to the City of Tucson, reflects our state pride, and extends the reach of the Coyotes brand.”
The Roadrunners’ history in Arizona began in 1967 in the WHL, where they remained until 1974 before joining up with the WHA. After three seasons in the WHA, the Roadrunners joined the PHL, but disappeared for 10 seasons following the 1989 campaign. The name was again used for an IHL team in 1989, where they remained for the next eight years. The last use of the name came in 2005 for an ECHL club, the Phoenix Roadrunners, which ceased operations in 2009. The Roadrunners’ new logo bears the colors of the Coyotes, and also brings in elements of the past Roadrunners logos. Per the official release, the head, tail, gloves and striping the mascot’s jersey, pants and socks are all copper to pay homage to Arizona’s ‘Copper State’ nickname.
Don’t go getting the Roadrunners confused with the Wile E. Coyote adversary, though. The real roadrunner can be vicious, and is known to fight off scorpions, tarantulas and even rattlesnakes by snatching the prey and “slamming it repeatedly against the ground.” It’s been a good year for Arizona hockey with Auston Matthews projected to go first overall in the upcoming draft, the University of Arizona Sun Devils set to begin this upcoming season as an NCAA Div. 1 team and the Coyotes in the midst of what appears to be a proper rebuild with great young talent. Bringing back the moniker and giving new birth to the Roadrunners name is a great move for a state that is increasingly adopting hockey.