The Syracuse Crunch are the Eastern Conference Champions

Pride: (noun) a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated.

It can be hard to create an organizational identity in the American Hockey League, and it can be even harder to sustain. Teams can change colors, logos, affiliations, and even cities multiple times throughout their existence.  The AHL is a league of constant change, and creating an environment of fun and excitement around that is challenging, to say the least.

The Syracuse Crunch has much to be proud of. Every member of the front office, past and present, every player that has ever pulled on a Crunch sweater, and every fan that has walked through the doors of the Onondaga County War Memorial has contributed to a specific feeling that surrounds the organization. Some refer to it as this essence of being a part of the Crunch Family. Others, like me, just think about it as what it feels like to be home.

Throughout the years, Syracuse has developed a reputation that is much different from the oft-discussed “Hockey Graveyard” it once was.  A quick look at the history of professional hockey in Syracuse reveals many teams, most of whom didn’t last more than a few seasons. It seemed impossible that hockey at the professional level could last in Syracuse before the Crunch arrived in 1994.

Twenty-four years later, the feeling surrounding the Crunch isn’t just one of merely existing, of just holding on before moving on like so many other teams before them. No, the feeling surrounding the Crunch is one of excitement, of flourishing, of living in the now and fully enjoying whatever the present moment gives.

The Crunch’s front office has become known as an organization that can initiate and see through big events and creative marketing initiatives. Their players, both former and present, have become known as men that are fully prepared to step into bigger roles in both the AHL and the NHL when they leave Syracuse. Their fans can be seen in buildings all over the league, proudly wearing the white and blue of the organization, supporting their team through thick and thin. The team itself is becoming known for fostering a winning atmosphere, and it now has three divisional championships and two conference championships to show for it.

The one thing, the one remaining thing the Crunch hasn’t been able to be known for, is a Calder Cup championship.

If given a choice of any of the teams in our history to entrust that goal to, I would pick the current group of guys we have in our dressing room every single time. They’ve faced an incredible amount of adversity this season, and they’ve risen to the occasion every single time. They’ve become a team through sweat, blood, and tears, through a kind of trial-by-fire that is rarely seen in this league. They’ve overcome all of the odds.

They’re ready.

So, here’s to the 2017 AHL Eastern Conference Champions!

And here’s to what comes next.