13 years ago in 1999, the Orlando Solar Bears made one of the most remarkable runs in hockey history, they came back from a 0-3 deficit to win the Eastern Conference Championship against their hated rivals, the Detroit Vipers. But just like most people will forget the 2011 USA Women's Soccer National Team's great comeback against Brazil and the refs in the World Cup, as well as why people still remember the USA defeating the Soviets in the 1980 Olympics, most people outside Orlando forgot about this historic comeback because of one thing they share with the 2011 World Cup team, they did not win it all. The Solar Bears made it to the Turner Cup Finals that year and came very close to winning it all, however, the Houston Aeros defeated the Solar Bears 5-3 to win Game 7 and the 1999 Turner Cup.
Fast forward to 2012, the Aeros will again be part of the history of the Orlando Solar Bears after being named the first, along with its parent team in the NHL the Minnesota Wild, affiliates of the Solar Bears since the Atlanta Thrasher (May Thrash rest his soul) partnered up back in '99. Many people in attendance as well, everyone were shocked to see that the Solar Bears partnered up with a team so high up north like the Wild. A lot of people on hockey boards and on the street speculated that either the Florida Panthers, with Bob Ohrablo previously worked for them, or the Tampa Bay Lightning who are, of course the closest NHL team to the Solar Bears. In a statement released by the Solar Bears, Ohrablo stated "We want to win" "We strongly believe that affiliating with the Wild organization will provide us with a solid core of players from which we can build a competitive and exciting team for our fans."
I kind of saw this coming, mostly because of the Aeros since they were one the few AHL teams that didn't have an ECHL affiliate. Originally, I thought that it would be the Aeros and the Panthers, but I then realized that Minnesota Sports, which owned the Wild, also owned the Aeros, meaning of course that if Aeros were chosen, the Wild will have to come as a package deal. Either way, the Wild and the Aeros have a solid farm system. The Wild are a young team, in a few years, they will most likely be a force in the NHL. Despite a first round exit this season, the Aeros made it to the Calder Cup Finals a year ago.
Now that the Solar Bears have secured their NHL/AHL affiliates, (Take that San Fransisco!) they will now focus on acquiring a GM and head coach to finally begin filling in their roster. Let me start a new rumor: Todd Richards on the possibility of being named the Head Coach of the Orlando Solar Bears! Why? Hello! Old Solar Bear favorite, was the head coach of the Wild a year ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets maybe not retaining him. Who knows? But I will end with the new tagline which I believe is a perfect fit for the affiliation: