Following a messy divorce with the Rochester Americans, the Florida Panthers reunited with the San Antonio Rampage a week ago. The Rampage play within the American Hockey League's Western Conference (West Division).
Founded in 2002, the Rampage have made the postseason twice; the first in their debut year - being swept by the Norfolk Admirals - and second in 2008 losing to the Toronto Marlies in seven games as an affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The story of the Rampage beings with the San Antonio Spurs, who were unhappy playing in their current arena, the Alamodome. While the Alamodome, which was built for football, had the highest seating capacity in the NBA, fans often complained about the poor sight lines for basketball and the arena's cavernous feel. With the Spurs increased popularity in the late 1990s, the team began a search for a new arena to play in.
After campaigning for years to get a new arena, the team and the city came to an agreement. A new arena would be built adjacent to the Alamodome, but at the last minute, the team partnered with Bexar County to build a new arena near the Freeman Coliseum, which at the time was the home of the San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League. After the Spurs booking rights were bought out, the club attempted a hostile buy-out of the Iguanas, the owners of the hockey team refused to sell and operations were suspended after failing to find local investors. The San Antonio Spurs made an agreement that the facility would be home to the Spurs, a new hockey team, and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Association's annual events.
Together with the Florida Panthers, the San Antonio Spurs purchased the dormant Adirondack Red Wings AHL franchise and moved them into the newly built SBC Center. The sale was approved by the AHL on May 2nd, 2002 and John Torchetti was named the franchise's first head coach. The team was originally called the San Antonio Stampede, with the logo featuring a rampaging bull with a blue, black and silver color scheme. But after being notified that the name was taken, it was changed to the San Antonio Rampage.
With a strong season from goalie Chris Mason, the Rampage finished the season third in the division and attempted to become the sixth team in AHL history to win the Calder Cup in their first season. However, the season came to end with a three game sweep against the Norfolk Admirals.
The Rampage failed to the live up to the success of their first season, and the team dropped in wins in the following three seasons. On June 30th, 2005, Spurs Sports & Entertainment bought out the Panthers share of the team and entered a multi-year affiliation agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes.
In 2007-08, the team set a record for wins and points in a single season and made the playoffs for the second time in team history. Facing the Toronto Marlies, the Rampage were able to force the series to seven games, setting a franchise first in playoffs wins for both home and away, and shutouts after the teams 3-0 win in game six. The Mariles won game seven, 2-1. The next season, the Rampage finished with the franchise's third best record, but failed to make the playoffs.
After six seasons with San Antonio, the Coyotes came to an agreement with the Portland Pirates after the end of the 2010-11 AHL season. On June 29, 2011, the Rampage and Panthers became affiliates for the second time.
The Rampage are the third hockey team in San Antonio, the first being the San Antonio Dragons of the International Hockey League from 1996-98, the other being the San Antonio Iguanas of the Central Hockey League from 1994-2002. Their main rivals are the Houston Aeros and the Texas Stars.