The hurricane warning flags that act as the trim for the new Albany River Rats' uniforms could also serve as a warning to other American Hockey League teams that these rodents aren't going to be pushed around anymore.
Within the first 10 minutes of last Saturday's home opener against Hamilton, Albany scored a power play goal and got into two fights, including a multi-player scrum near the Rats' bench that sent two Rats and one Bulldog to the locker room with game misconducts.
Fortunately for the River Rats, they held on for a 3-2 victory over Hamilton in front of 7,396 fans at Pepsi Arena the second-largest for a home opener in team history.
I think it was huge because we've all been talking about how we want to change the culture of this franchise and get them back to their winning ways," said Rats forward Matt Murley. "We can say all we want, but we had to go out and show them in that first game that we're a new team, we're a new organization and we're going to get a lot of wins for them."
Murley knows better about the culture surrounding the River Rats than any other player on this year's roster. He grew up in Troy and played his college hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as the Rats began their slide from AHL power to cellar dweller. He also helped to administer several Albany losses as a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins the last four years.
"I'm excited to be back," Murley said of his debut as a River Rat. "I was away a lot when I was younger. I came back for four years and I went away again for four years. It's great to be back. All my family and friends got to come to the game tonight, they know they had a good time and they're going to enjoy having me around."