Sporting one of the greatest logos in minor league hockey history, the Kentucky Thoroughblades™ first took the ice at Rupp Arena in Lexington for the 1996-97 season. The team's signature colors of teal, purple, and silver were unique in their own right but the angry, muscular horse on skates really made their uniforms one of the most unique in all of pro sports.
The Thoroughblades were the first pro hockey team in Lexington and initially were very popular, attracting nearly 8,000 fans per game. Affiliated with San Jose and New York, the team saw a number of big leaguers come through their ranks including future hall of famer Zdeno Chara as well as Jonathan Cheechoo, Dan Boyle, and Evgeni Nabokov.
Their first season, 1996-97 went well with a 36-35-9 record and the team qualified for the playoffs, something the Thoroughblades would achieve in each of their five seasons. By year three, the team had improved even further with a 44 win season and had two future big leaguers between the pipes in Nabokov and Miikka Kiprusoff. That stud goaltending tandem would become three when Johan Hedberg joined in the 1999-00 season, another with over 40 wins. Both years, they would make it to the second round of the playoffs before bowing out. In 1999, the 'Blades would beat Hershey in the first round before being downed by Philadelphia. In 2000, they knocked out their cross-state rivals, the Louisville Panthers, in four games before losing to Hershey in round two.
By the 2000-01 season, the team was still successful on the ice and racked up 42 wins before another first round playoff exit. Off the ice, attendance was on a downward trend with an average of about 4,500 fans during the team's fifth campaign. At the end of that season, the team was sold to the Gunds, who moved them to Cleveland and changed the name to the Cleveland Barons. The franchise still exists today as the Barracuda and is still affiliated with San Jose.