It's back! Icethetics' annual NHL JerseyWatch series picks up today with the May edition. Everything you need to know about NHL logo and uniform changes working their way through the league's pipeline. As we saw, 2012 was an off year. Not the case in 2013.
NHL JerseyWatch 2013 debuted in January as it coincided with the release of Reebok's yearly planning catalog — the document sent to retailers outlining merchandise changes in the new year. Over the past four months, we've gotten a lot of new information, so here it is.
As you dive into this post, keep in mind that it's all subject to change or delay. But as of now, these are the NHL uniform changes anticipated for the 2013-14 season.
Sabres have new alternate jersey in the works for 2013
In the 2013 NHL Season Preview, I mentioned the Buffalo Sabres sending their previous third jersey out to pasture. As it happens, its successor is already in the pipeline.
The news first broke last August when Sabres president Ted Black told Buffalo Business First writer James Fink that a new alternate uniform would be making its debut next fall. "Yes, it will be blue-and-gold and feature the team's beloved original logo," wrote Fink. "What else is on the jersey is still being determined."
Team president says it won't be a throwback
Black has been talking about the new third jersey a little more recently, too. In fact, just yesterday he was on the radio — WGR 550 in Buffalo — fielding calls from listeners when someone brought up jersey designs.
Bruce (caller): Yeah, I was wondering if the Sabres could bring back the royal blue uniforms with the gold stripes and the gold numbers and the original insignia of the Sabres on the shoulders.
Ted Black: We will have a new third jersey for next season. We're still working on the final designs of that. That probably won't be released until the summer. As I say that, it probably leaks out anyway. But, Bruce, it won't look like what you're envisioning. I think that the rest of the jerseys are gonna remain the way they are. From time to time the league does special events and do these retro jerseys so there may be opportunities to showcase the jersey that Bruce is discussing.
Is Ted inviting his Sabres back for a future Winter Classic (or Stadium Series game)? You'll recall Buffalo hosted the first one back in 2008 and did, in fact, where a retro white jersey from way back when.
In any case, while Black doesn't say what the jersey will look like, he does say what it won't look like. For those of you, like Bruce, still hoping for that original royal blue getup, forget it. Maybe the 50th anniversary in 2020. But it's not happening this year.
That may seem to go against what was written in Business First in August, but then that article was pretty vague. Will the jersey be blue? Good odds for the Sabres. Will it have the team's primary logo on it somewhere? Also good odds. That happens to describe the last third jersey as well.
I was surprised to hear Black says the final designs were still being worked on in January when the deadline for these things is typically the end of December. Maybe they got an extension. Regardless, if it doesn't leak first, we should get our first look at this jersey later this summer.
Reebok says Flames are swapping out retro third
This one definitely gets a big question mark from me. According to Reebok's catalog, the Calgary Flames are apparently eyeing a new third jersey for next season — or dropping it entirely. The manufacturer is vague about the change but does indicate a change is coming.
The logical question you have to ask is, why? Why dump the brightly-colored retro alternate in the first place? Are fans complaining about it? Are they not buying them? Can't imagine either of those things are true. Or that a new Flames third jersey would be any color but black. Which will excite almost none of you.
Here's my hope. Maybe the NHL is wising up to the retro trend and allowing teams a "fourth" throwback jersey. That would allow the Flames to keep their 1980s-style red sweater while also experimenting with a new third design. Then maybe they'll add a few "Retro Nights" throughout the season. On those nights, every team that has one gets to break out their throwback.
But that's all just wishful thinking. Would be nice though, right? And for what it's worth, we've had no confirmation yet from the Flames that a new sweater is forthcoming.
Reebok indicates new home/roads for Hurricanes
That's right, 16 years after arriving from Hartford, the Carolina Hurricanes may be getting another uniform overhaul. Or so says Reebok, anyway. The manufacturer is preparing retailers for possible new home and road jerseys. However, the alternate appears to be remaining the same.
There haven't been any rumors about the Hurricanes looking to redesign their sweaters, so it could be that they're just simplifying their designs next season. The fact that the third jersey isn't changing suggests the colors and logos will be left alone for now.
What do you imagine the Canes could have in store for 2013?
Stars changing everything but their name in 2013
The Dallas Stars have been contemplating new uniforms for a couple of years now, but a recent ownership change delayed things a bit. However, all new logos and sweaters are now on track for next fall, according to owner Tom Gaglardi.
During a radio interview back in November, Gaglardi first talked about wanting new uniforms for the Stars. At that point he also mentioned it was possible a new logo would be introduced as well. Around that same time, Stars Inside Edge blogger Mark Stepneski confirmed the team had looked at design proposals.
"Something completely new" coming in early June
Yesterday, Dallas Morning News beat writer Mike Heika revealed some intriguing details via Twitter. He says the new look will be unveiled in just a month from now — first week of June to be specific.
Many of you have asked. Stars expect to unveil new uniform and logo first week of June.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) April 30, 2013
Heika followed up that tweet a couple hours later by saying the team has been keeping the new designs "very hush-hush" and that he hasn't seen it yet. He also said he's expecting "something completely new."
Back in January, Heika provided some details about the forthcoming revamp. For one thing, green will be the Stars' dominant color going forward. Black has had that role for most of the past 20 years. He confirmed there will definitely be a new logo along with a drastically different look from the Stars' current branding.
This has got to be the change I'm most excited about. After all, Dallas has needed a new look for a long time. They're still wearing what the North Stars wore their last season in Minnesota.
Wild road jersey to be "revamped" this fall
During an online chat with readers in early April, Minneapolis StarTribune scribe Michael Russo confirmed the Minnesota Wild will "revamp" their white road jersey for next season (at 2:04pm). He also confirmed the red homes and green thirds will be unchanged.
Just after Christmas, word first leaked out that the Wild were conducting surveys among fans to determine a new design for their road uniforms. They even had mock-ups to show off — some of which were described in that blog post.
According to one Icethetics reader:
One was a white sweater with the large, Wild head crest on the front, vertical stripes are gone. Replaced with two horizontal green stripes on the arms. The "red was gone" from the shoulder yoke, but didn't specify whether the shoulders had any color left.
The other option was basically a reverse of the current alternates. Antique white base with the Minnesota Wild script and green accents.
The first one sounds better. The final design will probably be revealed some time this summer. My bet is they'll unveil it at the draft and hand it to their first pick of 2013. (Well, that or the green one.)
Could new AHL jersey signal direction?
Of note is the fact that the Wild just relocated their AHL affiliate from Houston to Des Moines, renaming them the Iowa Wild. The club's new white sweater was unveiled last week and looks a lot like the alternate uniform the Aeros used to wear.
The question is, was this jersey designed to match Iowa's NHL parent club? It would seem strange given that the AHL team unveiled it first. And technically the look has been around a lot longer in Houston. But it is something to keep in mind while speculating on the new look.
Reebok lists new home/road set for Canadiens
Hold everything. That's sacrilege, right? Could the Montreal Canadiens really be thinking about altering their classic home and road jerseys in some way? You wouldn't think so, but there they are on Reebok's list.
In all likelihood, the changes won't be significant. If anything, it'll probably be nothing more than to add a lace-up collar like they used to have in the old days. I can't imagine changing any colors or striping — uniform elements that have almost never been touched. Ever.
It's been a long time since the Habs made any real changes to their uniforms. The red shoulder yoke was added to the white jersey in 1941. They went with a blue chest stripe and no shoulder colors for a few years from 1944 to 1947 before going back to the design we know today.
And as for the red jersey, it has remained exactly the same since the start of the NHL in 1917 — back when hockey sweaters were actual sweaters. And for whatever it's worth they had the lace-up collar going from 1941 to 1975. (All that info gathered from NHLUniforms.com, by the way.)
Penguins to go without third jersey next season
Reebok listed the Pittsburgh Penguins in January as one of the team's mulling a third jersey change for 2013-14. Then about a month ago we got confirmation from Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Rob Rossi that the team will be skipping the alternate jersey for a season.
Rossi also said there may be a new one in the future. I have no doubt whatsoever that's true. And then just today, something interesting happened.
The NHL officially confirmed its rumored Stadium Series with the announcement the Penguins would take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Soldier Field on March 1, 2014. The league didn't say anything about whether special jerseys would be worn for the game, but what's an outdoor game without them, right?
The good news is that the Penguins still have a lot of options in their historical closet. They've changed their uniforms numerous times over the years. But I know many fans would like to see them roll back the clock a couple of decades to sport something similar to what Lemieux and friends wore whilst leading the team to back-to-back Stanley Cups.
The Pens previous alternate jerseys were born at their outdoor game appearances in 2008 and 2011 — with different blue jerseys each time. And then in seasons following each Winter Classic, the jerseys were adopted as alternates and used another dozen or so times per season.
Reebok indicates Sharks revamping home/road uniforms
Reebok's 2013 catalog has one last surprise for us. Like the Hurricanes and Canadiens, the San Jose Sharks are apparently looking at new or modified home and road sweaters for the fall. And also like the Canes, the black third jersey seems to be sticking around.
This is unexpected because the Sharks just got new uniforms (and a new logo) back in 2007. That leads me to think the changes — if true — won't be significant. So what could they be?
There have been many rumors floating around the past few months. Might they be dropping the orange from the jerseys? Or perhaps simply swapping out new shoulder patches? It would definitely be nice to see them lose the chest number on the front of the uniforms. But real details are scarce fior now.
Winter Classic staying in Michigan in 2014
On April 7, the NHL officially announced the next Winter Classic has been rescheduled for Jan. 1, 2014 at The Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Detroit Red Wings will be hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. The league also took the opportunity to unveil both jerseys.
It'll be the first time in a long time we've seen an NHL game without one of the teams wearing white. Can't wait!
Game to be one of six played outdoors next season
As I mentioned earlier, the NHL also announced today that there will be a number of other outdoor games to take place next winter. The Penguins-Blackhawks game at Soldier Field on Mar. 1 was first to be revealed in the new Stadium Series.
Other sources have reported on four other games in the works, including the NHL's third Heritage Classic, which will have the Vancouver Canucks hosting the Ottawa Senators. Both teams have great jersey histories to borrow from. Additionally, the Ducks, Kings, Rangers, Islanders and Devils are slated to be involved in the Stadium Series but no word yet on whether special jerseys will be used for those games.
No All-Star Game expected in 2014 due to Olympics
Normally, we don't get an NHL All-Star Game in the same year as the Winter Olympics. The league takes a break to allow its players to skate for their countries for a few weeks. In 2014, Sochi, Russia will host the games. And while they're still hashing out the details, I'd be surprised if the NHL doesn't send their players.
This means Columbus will have to wait until 2015 at the earliest to get its hosting duties back — which it lost due to the lockout this season. Though the wait could be longer. During the last lockout, the 2005 All-Star Game was to be hosted by Atlanta. In 2006, Phoenix was slated to get the event — but it was canceled to make time for the Olympics.
Atlanta eventually did get the game in 2008. Phoenix is still waiting. We'll wait and see what happens in Columbus. But it's probably a safe bet that they'll get the next one — whenever that may be.
Hope you enjoyed the second edition of NHL JerseyWatch 2013. Check back for regular updates on the blog as they're available.