I'm sure I echo most hockey fans when I tell you this is undoubtedly my favorite time of year. I love the Stanley Cup Playoffs — whether my team is in them or not. So much drama and excitement.
But typically, blog content dries up and I can't be bothered to peel myself away from the TV long enough to care (and now I even have CBC games!). Of course, the playoffs haven't started yet and I need to entertain myself. I don't know how Icethetics "previews" the playoffs, as it's never happened before, but that won't stop me from trying. So forgive me if I start to ramble.
Who's wearing third jerseys?
Obviously the first thing everyone wants to know: Which teams are wearing their dark third jerseys at home for the playoffs? Since the Age of Reebok, the NHL has frowned upon any team sporting more than two uniforms during the playoffs. Not sure why.
Last year the Los Angeles Kings wore the black third jersey throughout their postseason run (all of one round) — a decision supposedly made by the players. I have every reason to believe they'll do it again this year, especially considering it is supposed to become the home uniform in 2011-12.
Speaking of next season, we're all familiar with the rebranding the Tampa Bay Lightning are undergoing. Because the blue BOLTS alternate jersey is the only one of the current set that will carry over, it sort of makes sense they'll wear it this postseason. But there's been not confirmation of that yet.
One team that has confirmed intentions to wear their thirds in the 2011 playoffs is the San Jose Sharks — who did so via Facebook this week. Though it should be noted that technically they said, "Taking a lead from what the players wanted, the Sharks will wear their black jerseys when the playoffs open."
You could take that to mean they'll only wear it for the opening game then switch back to teal, but I doubt it. I think the NHL would disapprove. By the way, that brings us back to the Kings. It seems both teams will wear their black alternates in their quarterfinals series. How dull. But if it's "what the players wanted..."
The only other team I think may do the third jersey thing in these playoffs is the Boston Bruins. I may not like it, but it is popular amongst the fans. The sweater in question has been all over their playoff marketing, especially on their website. Could just be promotional, could be a subtle hint.
As for the rest, the Capitals, Flyers, Canadiens, and Red Wings are all without third jerseys. The Sabres just re-retro-branded (that's what I'm calling it). The Penguins' third is too polarizing. The Coyotes' and Ducks' alts are too blah (biting critique, I know). And the Blackhawks and Rangers are Original Six, and like all the NHL ads say, history will be made. Neither of these teams would be caught dead carrying the Cup in anything but those historic, classic threads. (Nor would we want that.)
That just leaves Nashville and Vancouver. And you know what? I wouldn't mind seeing either the Canucks or Predators in their thirds for the playoffs. Guess we'll find out for sure this week.
Cups by jersey era
The important stuff now dealt with, I asked what you guys what else should be in the "preview" post. Via Twitter on Monday, @NateBrowntown asked, "If tampa wins this year, it's 2 jersey eras, 2 cups. Any other teams that have won a cup for each jersey style?”
Indeed, the Lightning have only redesigned their uniforms once — in 2007. The team won the Cup in 2004 with the original design (except for the number style which changed frequently from 1992 to 2001). This is their last chance to win it before starting a third "jersey era" next season.
But Nate's question is a hard one to answer — whether any team has "won a Cup for each jersey style." All these uniform changes — it's really a recent development born from the marketing world along with the need to sell tickets and pay players millions of dollars.
But instantly Montreal comes to mind. The Canadiens have basically worn the same uniform since the 1920s. And they've won a Stanley Cup in every decade except the 2000s. Like the Habs, the Red Wings have hardly changed their uniform design since the 1930s. They've won 11 Cups since 1936.
The Anaheim Ducks have had two distinct uniform eras with the rebrand that came in 2006. In the first, they made it to the Stanley Cup Final (2003) and in the second, then won it all (2007). The Hurricanes have had only one uniform set since moving to North Carolina in 1997. They won the Cup with it in 2006. The Whalers never did.
The New Jersey Devils began life in 1982 with a red/green color scheme. When they swapped the green for black in 1992, they started winning championships — in 1995, 2000 and 2003. There are so many little things like this you could go on forever. But I'm ready to move on.
Playoff marketing ploys
Another tweeter called @Bazurkk asked, "What [do] teams put on the towels or t-shirts handed out to fans pre-game?"
Obviously I can't answer that myself. I don't even live in an NHL city. But I post the question here so those of you who do can answer. How is your team promoting itself? I know Phoenix and Pittsburgh are going the "White Out" route. The Lightning have a T-shirt with a dumb slogan that says "Hunt It Now." What else is out there? Add it to the comments.
A Retrospective gallery
Nate's question earlier got me thinking. Which NHL uniforms have actually skated around with the Stanley Cup? It can't be that many, can it? So I tracked down some photos. This gallery of grail-lifting captains goes back 15 years.
And let me point out that the winning jersey has alternated between darks and whites every three years like clockwork going back to 1998. This means in 2011, we're due for a dark (home) jersey win. (In 2003-04, the NHL switched the whites from home to road.) Prior to Detroit taking the chalice at Mellon Arena, the Stanley Cup champion claimed their prize on home ice for six consecutive seasons starting in 2001.
The one other thing I wanted to point out is how the reflective surface of the polished Cup seems to take on the colors of the winning team. That's just flat out cool.
Jersey Competition Once we know which jerseys each team is wearing, I'll set up a few polls asking which jersey is better in each series. We'll see if those results are able to accurately predict the winners. But I think that's all I have for now.