By Bill Vilona
Pensacola News Journal
PENSACOLA, Fla. – The Pensacola Ice Pilots hope a retro look can signify a new beginning.
Listening to majority opinion from their loyal supporters, the team unveiled a new jersey logo and color scheme, both elements which renew franchise optimism to regain past success.
“This is a fresh start for the team, myself, everybody,” said Ice Pilots coach George Dupont, after Monday’s news conference to show off the attire. “I look at this as a step to developing our own identity.”
Jerseys, of course, don’t win games. But image sells.
The Pilots sought to provide visible proof the team is committed to the community and producing a winning team in the ECHL.
After winning the Brabham Cup for the best regular-season record two seasons ago, the team fell from first to worst, finishing last in the American Conference’s Southern Division.
The offseason has buoyed spirits. Season-ticket sales are up by 150 fans. Dupont has stayed busy signing players like forward Dwayne Hay, a burly winger who was a popular leader during the Pilots’ record flight two years ago.
“I think anytime you go through a season like last year, you want a clean slate, and you want to start over,” said Hay, 29, who spent last season playing for Rio Grande (Texas) in the Central Hockey League.
“That’s what they’re trying to do here.”