It happens every January. The kickoff of Icethetics' annual NHL JerseyWatch. Every month or so, we collect in one place all of the news on uniform changes working their way through the league's pipeline. As we saw, 2012 was an off year. No big changes to speak of. Not so in 2013.
The reason we always premiere the NHL JerseyWatch in January is because it coincides with the release of Reebok's yearly planning catalog — the document sent to retailers outlining new sweaters that will be available in the new year. Icethetics has gotten wind of the teams on that list — and some of them may surprise you.
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
Just yesterday, 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? 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'm surprised to hear Black says the final designs are still being worked on 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 late 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.
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 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 leaving 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.
New look expected to be 'drastically different'
Earlier this month, Dallas Morning News beat writer Mike 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.
Team may unveil redesign before this spring
Over the weekend, Heika engaged readers in a web chat and answered a couple of questions about the logo and uniform redesign. Here's an excerpt from the discussion:
What do you know about the new jerseys?
I know they were all over the map, and had all sorts of color choices, but that they made a late decision to stick with green. I heard they were very interested in "Eagles" green for a while, but that this prototype is more "Celtics" green. Other than that, I have no idea. I don't know what the new logo looks like, but that will probably make it or break it for a lot of fans.
Will the Stars introduce the new logo and uniform during the season (like Tampa did a few years ago) or wait until the draft?
To be decided. I know Jim Lites is chomping at the bit with all marketing he wants to do, so the guess is they will show you the new uniforms at some point during the 2012-13 season and then start wearing them during the 2013-14 season.
So it looks like we may not have to wait long to see the new designs. Hopefully by now they're completed and just going through the final approval process.
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 updating road sweater only in the fall
Just after Christmas, word leaked out that the Minnesota 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.
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 ready for yet another third jersey, says Reebok
Guess the Pittsburgh Penguins are ready to have an alternate sweater that didn't originate at the Winter Classic. At least that's what Reebok has slated for the 2013-14 season.
The Pens were featured in the 2008 and 2011 outdoor games — with different blue jerseys each time. And the in seasons following each Winter Classic, the jerseys were adopted as alternates and used another dozen or so times per season. Now it looks like the latest (dark blue) one is getting retired this year in favor of a new design.
I can't imagine we'll get another blue jersey or that Mario Lemieux's Penguins will do anything crazy and super modern. If I were to bet on it, I'd say they 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. But that's all just wishful guess work. It could be anything at this point.
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?
Winter Classic staying in Michigan in 2014
Since the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs didn't get to play their big game earlier this month, the NHL Winter Classic at The Big House will likely just shift a season to 2014 — giving the two Original Six clubs another shot at an outdoor match-up.
That means we should get a look at the jerseys planned for this game next winter. In fact, just recently we got a sneak peek in the form of a couple of t-shirts that were leaked by an online retailer.
If nothing else, this probably tells us what the crests and sweater numbers will look like. Though obviously one of these teams will have to wear white — I'm guessing that'll be the Leafs.
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.
This means Columbus will have to wait until 2015 at the earliest to get its hosting duties back. 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.
That's all for the first edition of NHL JerseyWatch 2013. Check back for regular updates on the blog as they're available.