Prior to the AHL All-Star Break, the Cleveland Monsters decided to turn back the clock and embrace the city’s rich hockey history with one of their many promotions. The Cleveland Lumberjacks, who played in the now-defunct International Hockey League, called Cleveland home from 1992 to 2001. During that stretch, the Lumberjacks only had four losing seasons and the furthest they reached was the Turner Cup semifinals during the 1996-97 season. They also impersonated the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1995 action hockey movie Sudden Death, which starred Jean-Claude van Damme, as well.
While the latter is just an interesting fun factoid, the Lumberjacks left a lasting impression on Clevelanders despite their brief time in Northeastern Ohio. That’s why it made perfect sense for the Monsters to embrace the past and celebrate the legacy the Lumberjacks left behind. In both games against the Chicago Wolves, the Monsters were at maximum capacity due in part to the Lumberjacks-focused theme. Anything that could be bought that was Lumberjacks-related was also practically sold out both online and within the confines of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Clearly, it was a hit with the fans. But, if you ask the players, it was just as special for them as well.
“Oh, they’re awesome,” said Cleveland centre Josh Dunne to Right Down Euclid. “We’ve been saying these jerseys are awesome. Whoever designed them did a great job.”
To culminate in the Lumberjacks celebration, the Monsters organization also retired Lumberjacks legend Dave Michayluk’s number as well. Overall, Milchayluk spent twelve years as a member of the Lumberjacks, with the final five seasons of his career taking place in Cleveland. He was a part of the 1992 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins as well, playing in 7 of Pittsburgh’s 21 games en route to a championship.
After the game, Dunne told Right Down Euclid that it was exceptional to be part of a moment like that and expressed that he, along with any player on Cleveland’s roster, would love to have a similar opportunity one day. While he and his teammates won’t have a chance as the Lumberjacks this season, plenty of unique promotions are coming over the remainder of the Monsters’ season, which is plenty to get excited about.
Starting on Saturday, March 4, the Monsters will head to the great outdoors to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at First Energy Stadium as part of the Cleveland Monsters Outdoor Classic. The first iteration of the event will be the first-ever outdoor hockey game played in Cleveland and will, of course, feature uniforms unique to the event, per sources.
The Cleveland Monsters Outdoor Classic is a celebration and culmination of events as well, with Ohio State’s hockey team facing the Michigan Wolverines at First Energy Stadium a few weeks prior, which will be the first-ever hockey game played there. Thankfully, the promotions don’t stop there for the Monsters either. A few weeks after the Outdoor Classic, it’s Denzel Ward bobblehead night, where the Cleveland Browns star decided to work with the Monsters organization to raise money for heart health awareness. There’s also the annual Fan Salute at the end of the season as well, where, clearly, the team celebrates those who support them every time they take the ice.
But, in regard to jersey-related promotions, the most important has yet to come. The UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Night is on April 1, when the Monsters host the Hershey Bears. The collaboration between the Monsters and UH Rainbow Babies will include moments of recognition for the children who have become a part of the Rainbow family and the hardworking staff in the unit. Cleveland’s players, meanwhile, will wear special jerseys that are themed to match the event. Not only that but, they’ll all be wearing custom nameplates as well, which were designed by the patients at UH Rainbow Babies.
“We are excited to be able to bring our UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Night to life this season,” said Ben Adams, Monsters Vice President of Marketing and Communications. “The Monsters have a longstanding relationship with University Hospitals. Our team always appreciates the opportunity to connect with patients at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s through hospital visits and other initiatives. This night will give us a great platform to recognize the amazing team of medical professionals at Rainbow, connect with patients, and tell their inspiring stories.”
Clearly, there’s still a lot to come for the Monsters as they exit the AHL All-Star break. Cleveland came back strong, defeating the Belleville Senators 6-2. Monsters head coach Trent Vogelhuber shared with Right Down Euclid recently that the focus and approach will always be on a game-by-game basis with the playoffs in sight. With so many fun-filled promotions and action to come, the Monsters are set up for an exciting second half of their season.
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at [email protected] He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.
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