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AHL unveils 2020 All-Star logo from familiar artist

Longtime Icethetics concept contributor Matt McElroy was tapped for the second consecutive year to design the logo for the league's marquee event.

On June 26, the American Hockey League unveiled the logo for the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be hosted by the Ontario Reign. The event will take place on Monday, January 27 at Toyota Arena in Ontario, California. And once again, the league turned to Matt McElroy to tackle the design.

Regular readers will know Matt's work from the Icethetics concepts page as well as the IceHL fantasy hockey league. He was hired in 2016 to design a new logo for the Springfield Thunderbirds following their relocation from Portland, Maine. He went on to design the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic logo when Springfield hosted the event last season. At that time he was working as a graphic designer for the Reign, though he's currently on staff with the Vegas Golden Knights.

If he keeps moving up like this, it won't be long before he's designing NHL logos!

The new AHL All-Star mark is admittedly elaborate, but that’s one of the realities of minor league event logos. Though in the case of the sponsor on this one, Ontario International Airport, it actually works in favor of the design, reinforcing Ontario as a southern California city for those who haven’t heard of it. Unfortunately, it does mean doubling up on the usage of the words “Ontario” and “California” within the logo.

I asked Matt to share with us some background on his process creating this new logo.

“It’s inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, which was a big form of architecture as L.A. was expanding into the Inland Empire where Ontario is,” he said, citing the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland as an example. “Obviously we wanted to tie it in with the Kings/Reign brand,” he added.

Matt also talked about taking some inspiration from the last time Ontario hosted an event like this—the 2010 ECHL All-Star, which featured a logo designed by the inimitable Joe Bosack & Co.

2010 ECHL All-Star and 2020 AHL All-Star logos

“I wanted to have it so when you see them next to each other it’s clear they sort of tell the same story but 10 years later and more grown up,” Matt said.

It’s certainly easy to see some shared iconography and layout between the two. And if you’ve been studying logos as long as I have, you can probably see all the hallmarks of the two designers in particular.

In talking more about the design process, Matt said, “There were two leading options—this one and another more star-shaped one.” He compared the second to last season’s ECHL All-Star logo from Toledo, using “the slanted Reign font but same sort of palm tree mountain [treatment] making the top point of the star.”

The slated font design was part of the placeholder logo the Reign had been using since being named as the All-Star host last September. Here's a look at that.

2020 AHL All-Star Classic placeholder logo

As far as how the final decision was made between the two designs, Matt had a big name to drop.

“Luc Robitaille and his son came in one day,” he said, “and they really loved how the [first] version tied back to the Kings [branding] so we went with that.”