A yearly Icethetics tradition takes the form of this week's Cover Story. What changes in the world of NHL uniforms and logos can we expect next season? I'll let you know what I know as of now in the first edition of NHL JerseyWatch 2014.
As usual, a lot of new information in this article comes by way of the planning catalog Reebok sends to retailers each winter to help them get stocked for the next season. It denotes jerseys that may be changed as "TBD," meaning a change is likely but not definite. I'll be referencing that catalog in this article.
The Ducks' home and road jerseys are listed TBD; the third jersey is unchanged.
Eric Stephens, Orange County Register, tweeted Dec. 3 that the "plan is for current Ducks third jersey to become main home sweater, perhaps next year."
Stephens' report and the Reebok catalog are inconsistent. If the Ducks were planning to promote their third, it's likely Reebok would also list it as TBD — even if they were just planning not to have a third at all.
A rumor, then, that makes sense has the Ducks sticking with their existing jersey designs but changing the crest from the wordmark to the webbed D seen on the alternate. That alone would be a welcome change and allow for the current third to remain in place.
The third jersey may be replaced; the home/road are unchanged.
The team officially announced Jan. 29 it will change its name from Phoenix Coyotes to Arizona Coyotes to start the 2014-15 season. The uniforms will not change, though the club will add "a new shoulder patch for their home and road jerseys."
In addition, Craig Morgan, FOX Sports Arizona, reported Jan. 29 the Coyotes will wear a 1996 "throwback jersey for at least one game next season." He also said the Coyotes might consider new uniforms "down the road."
The Coyotes did say they only plan to update the shoulder patch on the home and road jerseys — making no mention of the shoulder patch on the third.
Before, I would've chalked it up to semantics. But with Reebok calling the third "TBD," I'm not so sure. Maybe they're changing more than just a shoulder patch there.
I imagine three possibilities.
- A team name change could be a great launch pad for a new alternate jersey — something to really cement the brand. Don't be surprised if it says ARIZONA across the chest.
- Perhaps the throwback Morgan mentioned is more than a one-off. Maybe the Coyotes follow the Maple Leafs and Canucks with a retro-inspired third.
- Or it could be that the Coyotes are simply done with the third they've been wearing since 2008 and plan to go without an alternate jersey for a while.
New York Islanders
No changes are expected.
Chris Botta, Sports Business Journal, tweeted Dec. 31 that we'll "be seeing more of [the Islanders' Stadium Series jersey] in coming seasons." He followed up saying it "or something very close to it, will be the Islanders' third jersey by 2015."
On Jan. 25, Howie Rose, MSG TV, suggested the team may drop the black third jersey in favor of that new Stadium Series look.
Again, there's inconsistency. Reebok says the black jersey will be with us at least another season while Rose thinks it's already kaput. However, it's possible circumstances have changed since the catalog was printed.
Given the fan reaction to the black jersey, it's possible the Isles are looking to make a change. The Stadium jersey is already in the mix and receiving better feedback from fans.
The Flyers may introduce a new third jersey.
The Reebok catalog is the first I've heard of the Flyers considering a new sweater. Philly's previous third jersey was introduced in 2008 and became their home sweater the following season.
The Flyers used a black jersey from 2007 to 2010. Could they be planning to try black again next season? Stay tuned for updates.
Expect a new third jersey for the Penguins.
Rob Rossi and Josh Yohe, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, noted that the Pens have "tentative plans for a new alternate jersey that could debut next season." They added, "a design is not finalized, but under consideration is a jersey similar to the ones the Penguins wore during their 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup runs."
Fans have long begged the Penguins to bring back those late '80s sweaters with the classic gold hue that was dropped in 2002. After a few years of blue thirds — and this season without a third — there's no better time for this to happen.
St. Louis Blues
The home and road jerseys are listed TBD; the third remains unchanged.
This one was a big surprise as I don't often see a lot of complaints about the Blues' uniform set. The bigger surprise, perhaps, is the rumor that the Blues are making a change to their primary logo. Imagine that.
The "Blue Note" is consistently a favorite in any Icethetics logo tournament — and it actually won the last one — so why would they change it? Fans seem to like the third jersey crest with the Gateway Arch featured prominently, so maybe that could become the team's new primary mark.
Or maybe the change is something entirely new.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts' third jersey is marked TBD.
The only surprising thing about this change is that it hasn't been previously reported. The Lightning introduced new blue and white uniforms in 2011. They kept their blue "BOLTS" third even though it never made much sense as part of the new set.
Rumor has it the team will reintroduce a black jersey into their repertoire with a new alternate jersey. This is welcome news to fans who criticized the rebrand's lack of black. (The Lightning responded to that criticism by adding black trim to the sweater numbers and lightning bolts on the pants.)
For this new sweater, will Tampa Bay resurrect the white shoulders they wore while hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2004? Or will they go in an entirely different creative direction?
2015 NHL Winter Classic
On Sept. 20, the Washington Capitals announced they will host next year's big outdoor extravaganza. They have not said who their opponent will be nor in what venue the game will be played. And, of course, uniforms were not mentioned.
Facts are thin here as it's still early. Rumor has it the Philadelphia Flyers will visit the nation's capital for their third Winter Classic appearance in five years. The NHL says it's too soon to say. It could also be the Boston Bruins, who played the Flyers at Fenway in 2010.
Either way, it's all repeat visitors in the conversation, which is disappointing for those of us seeking variety in the NHL's signature event.
As far as jerseys, the Capitals could sport a red version of their retro third — which debuted at the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. But it's also possible they go the "fauxback" route we saw with the Rangers and Flyers for the 2012 Winter Classic.
2015 NHL Stadium Series
Nick Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports, on Jan. 24 quoted league COO John Collins as saying the NHL will have "definitely less than six" outdoor games in 2014-15.
One of those games could go to Glendale, Ariz. — who will also be hosting Super Bowl XIX next winter — according to The Canadian Press. Another may be held at Gillette Stadium between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, says Chris Botta.
Ad Age reported Jan. 29 that Stadium Series sponsor Coors is lobbying the NHL to stage a game at Coors Field. The NHL said Denver is being considered.
In addition, Hockey Buzz reported Dec. 22 that St. Louis, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Jose and Tampa were also candidates to host an outdoor game. The San Jose rumor got more juice when David Pollak, San Jose Mercury News, tweeted Jan. 24 about three outdoor venues the Sharks are looking into.
Regardless of what Coyotes owner Anthony LeBlanc tweeted — which may or may not have been tongue-in-cheek — Arizona seems like a good bet for a game. He'll be looking to do as much as possible to generate new excitement around his team next season. (Maybe they can host the Stars?)
Boston and Montreal seem like better foes for a Winter Classic battle in, say, 2017 for the NHL's 100th anniversary. So I'm hoping everybody can just hold their horses on that. And if, as the NHL says, the Stadium Series is more about looking forward, perhaps some of the non-traditional markets might be better fits anyway.
I'm not one to blindly trust Eklund, but it would be great to see San Jose and St. Louis host games, perhaps against the Avalanche and Wild, respectively. Though it would also be fun to see one in the Rockies.
And speaking personally, I'd love to watch a game between the Lightning and Panthers at Raymond James Stadium or — in a clever twist — Tropicana Field, the indoor venue in St. Petersburg where the Bolts played from 1993 to 1996 when it was called the ThunderDome.
That gets me thinking. Were the Lightning actually the first NHL team to play in a baseball stadium? Anyone know?
2016 NHL Heritage Classic
This entry goes beyond the 2014-15 season, of course, but it's worth talking about now since it's unlikely there will be a Heritage Classic next season. They've previously been held in 2003 and 2011. The next one will take place this year on March 2.
Given the Free Press report, it's probably all but official at this point. After the 2014 Heritage Classic takes place in Vancouver, the Jets will be the only Canadian team still awaiting its first outdoor appearance. And who wouldn't love to see some throwback Jets jerseys?
Looking farther down the road, the Ottawa Sun reported Dec. 23 that Canada's capital has been promised an outdoor game, possibly in 2017, the Sens' 25th anniversary season.
Reebok & Adidas
Elliotte Freidman, CBC Sports, reported Jan. 6 that Adidas was planning to approach the league about replacing the Reebok branding on its NHL jerseys and gear. Adidas is looking to focus the Reebok brand on running to better compete with Nike.
The New York Post expanded on Friedman's report, saying that a change could come prior to the expiration of Reebok's contract at the end of the 2016-17 season. That article also said Under Armour may compete for the contract at that point. Other reports have said Bauer is interested as well.
What name will be on the back of your hockey jersey in 2017? That's the real question. It may not matter much. I can't imagine we'll see the sort of sweeping changes we did in 2007. That was likely more a product of the NHL consolidating all of its team jerseys in one place.
Ultimately, this is a question for a few years down the line. For now, the only real question is whether "Adidas" replaces "Reebok" under the collar next fall. It will probably happen, but not that quickly.
Upon the debut of the year's JerseyWatch, there are always questions that come up related to teams that weren't mentioned. So I'm anticipating some and addressing them in advance.
Everyone's going to ask about the third jersey. So far, they've only skipped one of their published dates (Feb. 5). If they skip the next one on March 16, then I'll get concerned as to whether it comes back next season. For now, I'll assume we get one more year. The NHL prefers teams wear new thirds for at least two seasons.
The Flames also skipped a third jersey night (Feb. 1). Coach Bob Hartley chalked it up to superstition. The next scheduled date is March 5. Again, if the skip another, then we can get concerned. Until then, let's reserve judgment.
Will the Hawks bring back the black third jersey like the one they're wearing for the Stadium Series game on March 1? No word yet. Let's let them play the Soldier Field game first and then discuss it.
Last season, Reebok made it look like they were revamping their home and road sweaters. But they're not on this year's list so I would assume those plans were completely scrapped as opposed to delayed.
New York Rangers
Will the Rangers wear their Stadium Series jerseys again in 2014-15? I have no idea.
Every year since 2011, fans want to know if the Sens will upgrade their black third to the home jersey. It's even more relevant now with the matching vintage white (road) version slated to be worn at the 2014 Heritage Classic.
But alas, Reebok indicates it's not happening. At least not this year. Keep your fingers crossed though. The 100th anniversary of the NHL is just a couple years away.
I have to admit I'm surprised the Jets haven't yet taken advantage of the market to launch a third jersey. As I mentioned in the 2016 Heritage Classic section, a throwback would probably sell like crazy. But, of course, it doesn't seem to be in the cards for 2014-15.
These early JerseyWatch articles are always tricky. Things are so far from being final — sometimes certain decisions still haven't even been made — and I try to do my best to make sure the information I post is accurate. But history has shown the NHL JerseyWatch to be pretty reliable. Fingers crossed for another good year.
So after all that, what do I think? I think the Ducks should come up with all new home and road sweaters, the Coyotes should make a '96 throwback third, the Isles should swap black for blue, the Pens should go full Super Mario, the Blues should change nothing, and the Lightning should go wild with an all new black third.
I think the Caps should host the Hurricanes, who should wear Whalers jerseys, and Phoenix, San Jose and Tampa/St. Pete (100% homerism) should host Stadium Series games in 2015. But that's just me.
What do you think?