NHL JerseyWatch 2012: Rumor Edition

February Edition By this time last year, Reebok had already released its planning catalog to retailers for the new season. But so far, I haven't heard a peep about it this year. I could chalk it up to the fact that I've been out of the loop for about a month. But then I haven't seen it on any other websites yet either.

Regardless, that hasn't stopped rumors from percolating about what NHL uniform changes are in store for the 2012-13 season. And while you know I'm usually not a fan of rumors, I'm making an exception in this case. Because how could my first post in a month not be a JerseyWatch report?

All right, so without Reebok, everything you're about to read is speculation, but put through the filter of my experience covering this sort of thing on Icethetics. Still, nothing is official until team/league announcements are made. Until then, feel free to add your speculation in the comments.

Buffalo Sabres

Sabres "black ice" jersey / NHL.comNew alternate jersey At least one source has suggested the Sabres will drop their 40th anniversary blue third in favor of a new one. A black one.

I find that difficult to believe as well, when you consider the team's new ownership seems intent on solidfying the visual identity of a club that's struggled to find one over its history. This would not serve that purpose.

Essentially, the rumor says the black jersey will bear some slight resemblances to the Sabres' "Black Ice" jersey (right). Black Ice is a line of NHL fashion jerseys launched last year.

Again, I'm not sold on this particular rumor. But it's out there and worth a discussion. Black third jerseys were all the rage in the 1990s, much to the irritation of many Icethetics readers. The Sharks, Flames, Flyers and Capitals all immediately come to mind.

Keep in mind the Islanders' new third jersey is black for apparently no reason. Good or bad, are we about to see a resurgence of that trend? Let's hope not.

Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks 2008 third jersey / NHL.comNew alternate jersey The Blackhawks have spent this season without a third jersey. But that could change next fall.

Chicago previously used their 2009 Winter Classic uniform as an alternate over the last two years. But it was apparently unpopular with club management — albeit loved by fans and Icethetics readers.

It sounds like they will have a third option next season, but they'll be resurrecting a classic rather than reinventing the wheel. It's been reported the black jersey from 2008 may return.

The design was first seen on the ice in 1996 when the NHL began its third jersey program and continued to be worn until the Reebok Edge overhaul in 2007-08. It was subsequently brought back the following season when the league began allowing alternate uniforms again.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see this jersey return. It was well loved by fans, and if I'm being honest, it looks great. And heck, remember what I just said about black jerseys with regard to the Sabres?

Dallas Stars

New alternate jersey In last year's JerseyWatch, we talked a lot about the Stars introducing a green alternate uniform. But the ownership issues and subsequent sale of the franchise shelved those plans.

Stars TV color analyst Daryl Reaugh went on the record via Twitter last July. He told fans: "[A] new third [jersey] was in the chamber but got shelved in deference to impending new ownership."

That was really a shame. We were all hoping the Stars would get the chance to add a little more color. But with the change in management, perhaps now is the time to reinvigorate the team's rather dull look. It happened in Tampa Bay last year.

Looking back, Dallas may have been the hardest hit by the transition to Reebok Edge in 2007. They went from having a beautiful and unique set of sweaters to some of the blandest in the league. And green — already in short supply around the NHL — disappeared almost entirely.

It may be a stretch to think that the home and road sweaters could get an overhaul, but we can dream. I do think a new third jersey is much more likely, however.

Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings 1992 retro jerseyNew Winter Classic jersey Technically, it's not official yet, but reports strongly indicate the Detroit Red Wings will host the next NHL Winter Classic in 2013.

If the 2012 Winter Classic told us anything, it's that both teams involved will don special uniforms, even if they have only the slightest connection to the team's actual history. And for a team like the Red Wings, who haven't really changed their uniforms since 1934, theirs should prove especially hard to predict.

In 2009 when they played outdoors at Wrigley Field, the Wings wore replicas of a uniform used by the franchise when it was shiny and new — way back in 1926. Though then they were known as the Detroit Cougars. The Penguins and Flyers have both played in multiple Winter Classics but neither recycled a Winter Classic jersey. 

During the NHL's 75th anniversary season in 1992, the Wings sported a throwback to the late 1920s with lots of red and white stripes — and DETROIT written across the front. If you want my best educated guess, they'll pull those suckers out again in 2013 when the host the Maple Leafs in the elements. If it's not that, I'm out of guesses.

Edmonton Oilers

Oilers third jersey / NHLNo alternate jersey Oilers fans were happy last summer to see the club add a new retro road jersey. Now it seems the last vestige of an awful uniform era will be disappearing.

In 2007, the Oilers were one of the hardest hit teams of the Reebok Edge era. Their home and road uniforms were plainly terrible and it didn't take long for the team to realize and set into motion some necessary changes.

In 2008, the Oilers launched their royal blue retro third jersey. In 2009, it became the home jersey, relegating the 2007 home jersey to alternate status. In 2010, status quo. In 2011, a white version of the blue jersey replaced the 2007 road uniform, but the navy alternate remained.

It seems that finally, in 2012, that jersey (right) will go away for good (until it becomes a hip retro jersey 40 years from now). In so doing, Edmonton will probably go without a third jersey at least a year or two — not that they'd need one anyway.

More than a few fans have called for a orange Alberta Oilers-inspired third — a throwback to the club's WHA era. I'm not sure the team is willing to go that far at this point. And for what it's worth, I really don't think they should. But only time will tell.

Florida Panthers

Panthers third jersey / NHLNo alternate jersey It's no secret the Panthers brass have fallen out of love with their 2009-debuted "JetBlue" third jersey. And we'll see the last of it this season.

Not long after the Florida Panthers announced a partnership with the airline came a new alternate sweater bearing a color scheme that resembled a certain plane design more than the identity of the hockey club that was wearing it.

Fans didn't like it and lots of comparisons were drawn to the Pittsburgh Penguins' powder blue alternate jersey. But a commitment is a commitment. And after the three long seasons, the Cats are relegating this one to history.

In September 2011, Panthers assistant GM talked to Miami Herald writer George Richards about the sweater and didn't really have anything nice to say it. "As soon as we can rid ourselves of those things, we'll be a happier bunch," said Santos.

He went on to talk about how the Panthers were bringing back the red home uniforms for this season and how their successful years were highlighted by their red uniforms. That still seems to be the case, much to the chagrin of this Lightning fan.

As for the future, the Panthers may once again look to navy blue for another third jersey. But for now, I think they'll be joining the ranks of the two-jersey teams for a while.

Tampa Bay Lightning

New alternate jersey This is another rumor I'm not ready to buy into yet, but some think the Lightning are on the verge of replacing their third jersey in 2012.

In fairness, for a team like the Lightning, it doesn't really make sense to have two blue jerseys. It works for Toronto (it's their only color) and the Blue Jackets (because a team called the "Blue" Jackets can't wear a red jersey). But Tampa Bay isn't yet ready to give up black as a part of the color scheme.

After getting feedback from fans on the new identity, Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke did say that black would be reincorporated into the team's look — though it was too late to substantially change the logo or home and road uniforms that were launched this season. It makes me think a black alternate sweater could be on the horizon here. (And that "black" theme continues...)

So though I'm not convinced it's a real likelihood for 2012-13, it does make sense in a lot of ways.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs 2002 retro jerseyNew Winter Classic jersey The Leafs launched a new third jersey this season. But maybe it was a year too soon if the Winter Classic rumors prove true.

It's been reported the Maple Leafs may be the Red Wings' opponent in a Michigan-based 2013 outdoor game. It would be the first interconference Winter Classic since the event began in 2008.

The third jersey Toronto added this year was inspired by a sweater worn in 1967. The one before that had been in use since 2000 (barring 2007-08) and was based on a much older jersey.

Looking back at their history, the Maple Leafs have a few more options than the Red Wings. But perhaps the most interesting would be their green Toronto St. Pats jersey (right) which was worn for a game in February 2002.

Because the Winter Classic is meant to draw a massive American TV crowd, iconic colors are important. So perhaps the Leafs in green wouldn't be the best of ideas. If you look at the late 1920s and '30s, it's clear the Leafs have some retro designs to work with. Therefore, like Detroit, it may be awfully hard to predict what they go with next winter.

Winnipeg Jets 

New alternate jersey It'll be only their second season in Winnipeg next fall, but can you really be surprised the Jets are already considering third jersey options? Of course not.

It might seem a little soon, but folks, there's money to be made on Jets jerseys in Winnipeg right now. Why shouldn't the team keep cashing in? And as cash cows go, could you imagine a better one than a retro sweater for this club?

A proposed design by Jacob Barrette was posted here on Icethetics a few months ago. It got mixed but generally positive reaction. And if I were to bet on it, I'd say the Jets go with something similar, if not an exact replica of what the old Jets wore in their earliest NHL days.

That is, obviously, assuming the team is ready to add a third uniform. They may not be. Again, we'll have to wait and see what happens.

NHL Special Events

The NHL All-Star Game will be hosted by the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time in 2013. That was announced prior the 2012 event in Ottawa. Will the NHL recycle their all-star threads a third time or come up with something new? Guess it all depends on what Reebok wants to market.

Before I go, I should point out I've heard rumblings about the possibility of the Ottawa Senators replacing their white road jersey. That could be baseless, but so could a lot of the aforementioned rumors. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.

And that's the first edition of NHL JerseyWatch 2012. More updates should continue through the spring and over the summer. As always, keep an eye on the blog for the newest information.