Ah, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits: home to one of the very best names in all of hockey. The South Carolina-based team changed their name from the Road Warriors to Swamp Rabbits just this past season, and it's been awesome. And meaningful! Via the team itself and CBS Sports:
First known as the Carolina, Knoxville and Western line, and later becoming the Greenville and Northern railroad, the intent of the railroad was to connect Greenville with the rich coal fields of Tennessee, providing the Carolinas with a direct line over the mountains and access to cheaper coal. The railroad received its nickname, the "Swamp Rabbit" by locals who would use the freight train as a means of transportation to picnic in northern Greenville County. Completion of the rail line proved to be more of a financial commitment than expected, leaving the project at a halt near the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today you can find this railroad marker located beside the "Swamp Rabbit" Pedestrian Bridge, which crosses over the Reedy River just off of South Main Street.
"After much thought and consideration, we determined that we wanted our new identity to honor a piece of Greenville’s history while also being relevant within the community today," said Fred Festa, owner of the Swamp Rabbits. "Several factors were taken into account when deciding on what that representation would be. Ultimately, we selected the Swamp Rabbits because the name holds dear to a variety of residents, businesses, popular recreational areas and the historic landmark, the Swamp Rabbit railroad, dating back the 1920s in Greenville."
Of course, the logo doesn't quite reflect that, but it's awesome on its own other level. A rabbit playing hockey with a carrot stick? Hell yes.
The New York Rangers have been affiliated with them since the ECHL club moved to Greenville in 2010, and that's a partnership that's going to continue for at least two more seasons, as they've extended their affiliation until 2017-18. Via the Swamp Rabbits, Rangers Assistant General Manager Jim Schoenfeld said:
"The Swamp Rabbits are a top notch organization and have been a great partner. We are happy with how players have developed during their time there and look forward to continuing to utilize this affiliation as a means of preparing our prospects to play at the American and National Hockey League levels."
A handful of prospects with Rangers contracts played for the Swamp Rabbits this past season, most notably Mackenzie Skapski, who posted a .901 save percentage through 27 games. Cam Talbot previously played for them as well, although they were still the Road Warriors back then.