NHL JerseyWatch 2012

May Edition Reebok's 2012 planning document for retailers has finally made its way to Icethetics. There weren't really any surprises in it but I thought I'd get it all on the record here just the same.

As with every NHL JerseyWatch update, this post contains all previously gathered information from past JerseyWatch posts. All your 2012 NHL uniform news in one simple blog update. That's how we roll.

Just mind my usual disclaimer that nothing here is official. The team or league will make public announcements when the information is ready to be made official. Until then, this is what we have and your speculation is welcome in the comments below.

Sabres: Anniversary Alternate Retired

The Buffalo Sabres have sported an alternate jersey for the last time — at least for the foreseeable future.

Buffalo News beat writer Mike Harrington tweeted following the game on March 14 that the sweater, which debuted in 2010, was being permanently retired.

At 11:36 PM ET, Harrington wrote, "Alternate blue jerseys with 'Buffalo' script on the front were retired tonight. Won't be worn again."

He then replied to some reader queries, saying, "To all asking: Alternates are done forever, not just this year. Sabres spokesman said team has no plans for an alternate jersey next year."

Harrington's final quote of interest to us read, "It's an anniversary jersey. You have to wear an alternate two years and they've gone their two years."

A little confusing, but what he meant was that the alternate uniform was launched as part of the Sabres' 40th anniversary celebration in 2010. And NHL regulations require a team to use the third jersey for at least two seasons before retiring it. (Though, last I heard it was three years. Maybe that's since changed.)

This team has had its share of identity troubles over the years. In the decade-and-a-half between 1995 and 2010, the Sabres wore four completely different uniform sets. Not the way to build a successful brand. So it makes sense that going forward, the Sabres will not have a third jersey. Maybe things will change down the road, but for now, this is it.

Blackhawks: No Third Jersey

Previous reports had the Chicago Blackhawks resurrecting their old black third jersey after retiring their Winter Classic-inspired alternate in 2011. According to Reebok, that is not true.

Reebok's message to retailers is that the team will continue to sport its standard home and road jerseys and nothing more, just as they did this past season.

It's unclear whether the Blackhawks intend to bring back the third jersey at some point in the future. But at the moment, they're sticking to their brand.

Stars: No Changes in 2012

In last year's JerseyWatch, there was talk of the Dallas Stars introducing a green third jersey. But the team's ownership change forced those plans to be put on hold for a while. Now it seems we may get a whole new look in 2013.

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."

Then this year, on March 15, Dallas Morning News writer Mike Heika engaged readers in an online live chat. Someone asked, "any news or whispers about a new alternate jersey coming down the pipe?" To which Heika simply replied, "Nope. I think they will study a completely new uniform in the summer, and then we will see the results of that study with a whole new look in 2013-14."

I, for one, can't wait.

Red Wings: New Winter Classic jersey

Red Wings 1992 retro jerseyThe Detroit Red Wings are hosting the NHL Winter Classic in 2013. So they'll need a new sweater.

If the 2012 Winter Classic told us anything, it's that both teams involved will don special throwback-inspired 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 good guesses.

Oilers: Alternate Jersey Retired

Edmonton Oilers fans were happy last summer to see the club add a new retro road jersey to match its home option. Now the last vestige of an awful uniform era is gone.

In their planning documents for retailers, Reebok indicates no third jersey option for the Oilers. However, there is a mistake in the version I've seen. It lists this jersey (right) as the home version. Here in reality, this jersey is being retired, not to be manufactured ever again (hopefully).

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.

Now in 2012, that jersey 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. Personally, I've always liked the one Todd McFarlane designed in 2001, but that might be too much to hope for.

Panthers: Alternate Jersey Retired

It's no secret that Florida Panthers brass had fallen out of love with their 2009-debuted "JetBlue" third jersey. And we've now seen the last of it.

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 airline branding 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.

Additionally, Richards said in March the team has absolutely no plans to launch a new third jersey next season. However, it's not out of the question for 2013-14. Jokingly (I hope), he writes, "Expect a dark blue jersey with a different Cat-in-a-Circle logo. Or perhaps the Sunshine/Palm Tree/Hockey Stick logo. Something."

Islanders: Alternate Jersey Mystery

Are the New York Islanders giving up on their new black third jersey already?

There was one surprise as I was perusing Reebok's 2012 retail information. When I got to the Islanders, there was no third jersey. It just read "TBD" in the space where it should've been.

I thought that seemed pretty strange considering the jersey just launched in November. And league rules mentioned in that post say teams have to use them for three years before they give them up. (Of course Buffalo dropped theirs after just two.)

Could it possibly be that this jersey was so hated by fans who refused to buy them that the Isles are ready to throw in the towel? If Reebok and the NHL aren't cashing in, I could see them allowing this one to be retired early.

Again, I'm not exactly sure what's happening yet. Reebok says "TBD." Maybe it means they're considering dumping them. Maybe not. But apparently the decision hasn't been finalized.

Whatever the case, it's something we'll definitely keep an eye on this summer.

UPDATE 5/10 We already have an update on this story. On Wednesday morning, the Islanders replied to a fan on Twitter questioning whether the black jersey was going away. They said, "The Isles will wear their black 3rd jerseys during the 2012-13 season."

I have no reason to doubt an official team tweet, so it seems like this "TBD" business was merely an error on the part of Reebok. So if you like the black jersey, you're in luck. If you hate it, well, sorry.

Lightning: New Alternate Jersey

According to Reebok, the Tampa Bay Lightning may be replacing their third jersey in 2012.

Those retail planning documents I've been referencing show a nice, big "TBD" where the Bolts' extra sweater should be displayed.

Granted, that could mean anything. Perhaps they're dropping the third jersey option for a year while they come up with a new design. Maybe they're still on the fence about whether to bring back the blue BOLTS jersey. But I doubt that.

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 hockey fans aren't yet ready to give up black as a part of the color scheme.

After getting fan feedback on the new identity last year, 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 in 2011.

It makes me think a slick black alternate sweater could be on the horizon here. Stay tuned.

Maple Leafs: New Winter Classic Jersey

Maple Leafs 2002 retro jerseyThe Toronto Maple Leafs just launched a new retro third jersey this season. But it was perhaps a year too soon as they'll need another one in January.

The Leafs will be the Red Wings' opponent in the Michigan-based 2013 outdoor game. It will 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 (minus 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 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.

Perhaps of note to concept lovers, the Toronto Star recently held a contest asking fans to submit their suggestions for a Maple Leafs Winter Classic jersey. Turned up some pretty ridiculous designs. I think whoever was in charge of assembling this gallery was just having a little fun with all of us.

Jets: No Alternate Jersey Yet

I speculated in previous editions of the JerseyWatch that the Winnipeg Jets might introduce a third jersey as early as their second season in existence. However, according to Reebok, that was just wishful thinking.

It might've seemed a little soon, but there's money to be made on Jets jerseys in Canada these days. 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. Of course team management seems to want to distance themselves from the previous incarnation of the Jets so that might be less likely even if fans are begging for it.

NHL Special Events

In 2013, the NHL All-Star Game will be hosted for the first time by the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was announced prior the 2012 event in Ottawa. Then on April 27, the team hosted an event to unveil the All-Star logo.

The jerseys, however, remain a mystery for now. Will the NHL recycle their All-Star threads, using them a third time? That hasn't happened since 1997. Or will they create something entirely new for this one? It probably all depends on what Reebok is in the mood for.

Final Thoughts

Are you getting the feeling that 2012 will be a quiet year with regard to new NHL jerseys? A lot of this year's JerseyWatch is talking about what's going away, as opposed to what's on the way. I wish I had better news, but after five straight years of seemingly incessant uniform changes at the hands of Reebok, I think a bit of a lull is probably in order.

That being said, 2013 sounds like it could be a heck of a year on this front. Assuming the Mayans were wrong and we all survive to see it, we'll have a pair of new Winter Classic jerseys, and — if we're lucky — maybe even a new set of All-Star Game jerseys. On top of that, the autumn could bring us new home and roads for the Stars, new alternates for the Panthers and possibly even the Jets.

Finally, and this may just be wishful thinking, the Blues could make a push to give their third jersey the primary treatment. Perhaps even the Flames and Ducks could join that club. The Predators might add a third jersey, though it would be very soon after their rebranding this season. And I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for the Senators and Penguins, who I think could both use a complete uniform overhaul.

By the way, an earlier rumor about the Senators replacing their road jersey next season has been squashed by Reebok. Status quo for Ottawa.

And that's the third 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.