The Toronto Furies have changed the logo on the front of their jerseys; hopefully the new logo will be just the first step in ushering in a new era.
The team unveiled their logo re-design in September, but struggled last year to jump into the top tier of the CWHL. Last season's step back is surprising, as the Furies started the year as the reigning Clarkson Cup champions. The new-look Furies come with fresh optimism after a 5-13 season they would rather forget.
Toronto's main off-season concerns were addressing scoring and bolstering the defence so the team won't need to rely so heavily on goaltender Christina Kessler. The two-time Clarkson Cup winner also topped all goaltenders in games played (19), minutes played (1089:19) and saves (561).
The Furies will try re-invent themselves on defence this season. Three of the seven blue-liners have jumped ship in the past year: Team USA's Megan Bozek left for a roster spot of the NWHL's Buffalo Beauts; Lexie Hoffmeyer retired; and Tessa Bonhomme went on to the small screen as a TSN host. There are many unanswered questions about what Toronto's blue line will look like this season, with several rookies in the mix.
One of those rookies is Sena Suzuki, one of four Japanese players drafted into the CWHL this past August. Prior to joining the Furies, Suzuki played for the Seibu Princess Rabits in the J-league in Japan, and also represented her country at the 2015 IIHF World Women's Championship. It should be interesting to see what she brings to Toronto.
Suzuki wasn't the only Japanese player that the Furies drafted in August, with Tomomi Kurata coming over to North America as well. She'll play up front for Toronto this season.
Only two of Toronto's top 15 leading scorers ended the season on the right side of the plus/minus stat: leading scorer Jenelle Kohanchuk and rookie Tanis Lamoureux. The Furies targeted that weakness in the 2015 draft by selecting Emily Fulton and Laura Brooker in the first two rounds.
Fulton is coming out of Cornell University where she was the Big Red's leading scorer in the competitive Ivy League group of Division I ice hockey.
Brooker was an integral part of the Laurier Golden Hawks two OUA championships. She ranked top-five in all scoring categories at Laurier proving her versatility; something desperately needed on the Furies roster. She is a five-time OUA All-Star, with five consecutive 20-point seasons playing a large part in those honours.
The youth movement is seen as a sign of hope, however the Furies will likely rely on their group of core veterans to steer the ship this season. Kohanchuk, Carolyne Prevost and Natalie Spooner were the team's leading scorers last year.
While the Kohanchuk-Prevost-Spooner trio topped the scoring stats for the Furies, they weren't able to crack the top 10 in the league's goal-scoring ranks, something they'll try to change this season. Head coach Sommer West will need to work some magic to make this team a Clarkson Cup contender again.
Last season, the Furies finished fourth out of fifth, but while the top three teams were in close contention, the Furies trailed a full 10 points behind the third-place Montreal Stars (now Canadiennes). Toronto finished fourth in the CWHL in 2013-14, the same year that they would go on to win the Clarkson Cup, proving that winning the big game is all that counts.