It's been a busy summer and an even busier fall in the world of hockey sweaters and logos. With the 2016-17 season now less than a week away, I offer you the 2016 NHL Season Preview as only Icethetics can. And there is quite a lot to talk about!
Last week, the NHL rolled out plans for its 100th anniversary, which will be commemorated throughout the 2017 calendar year. The NHL Centennial kicks off with an outdoor game in Toronto on New Year's Day and runs through December, marking a full century since the first ever NHL games were played.
Montreal and Ottawa are being considered for outdoor games as part of the celebration. But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's plenty to address in 2016-17 alone. Settle in for a long read.
2016 NHL Heritage Classic
Five major events dot the 2016-17 schedule, beginning on Oct. 23 with the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic in Winnipeg. The Oilers and Jets will meet in an outdoor WHA rematch for the ages. The game will take place at Investors Group Field, home of the CFL's Blue Bombers.
Uniforms for the game were revealed in August. The Oilers will wear their orange third jersey, launched last year, while the Jets will resurrect a look from the city's WHA days.
NHL Centennial Classic
On Jan. 1, 2017, two of the league's oldest teams will meet for another outdoor game to kick off the NHL's 100th anniversary celebrations. The NHL Centennial Classic is set to feature the Maple Leafs and Red Wings at the recently renovated BMO Field, home to the MLS's Toronto FC and soon the CFL's Argonauts.
Uniforms for the game have yet to be announced.
2017 NHL Winter Classic
A day later, on Jan. 2, the 2017 NHL Winter Classic will be staged at Busch Stadium, home of the MLB's St. Louis Cardinals. The game will see the Blues take on the Blackhawks, who will be making an outdoor appearance for the fourth consecutive season.
While the event and team logos were unveiled in August, sweaters for the game are still to come.
2017 NHL All-Star Weekend
Continuing chronologically, Los Angeles will play host to the 2017 NHL All-Star Weekend on Jan. 28-29. The event comes amid the Kings' 50th anniversary season. Uniforms for the game have not yet been released, but the league will keep the divisional 3-on-3 mini-tournament format introduced last season in Nashville.
2017 NHL Stadium Series
And before the season is out, the league will find time for a fourth and final outdoor game by way of the 2017 NHL Stadium Series in Pittsburgh. Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Steelers, will host the Penguins and Flyers, each celebrating 50 years in the NHL.
Uniforms for the game have not yet been released, but its likely the Flyers will sport their new 50th anniversary sweater — which you'll read more about as you continue.
With all the big events out of the way, it's time to go team-by-team.
Relocated from Winnipeg in 1996, the Coyotes are celebrating 20 years in the desert. This logo will be worn as a patch on the front of their sweaters throughout the season.
The Flames are bringing back the throwback third jersey this year. Rather than just seeing it for one or two special events, the team will sport their classic colors 12 times in 2016-17.
The Blackhawks will participate in the Winter Classic this season for the third time. This logo, an early version of their primary logo, will represent the team for the big game. No word yet on what their sweater will look like.
Detroit Red Wings
A few extra decorations will adorn the Red Wings' uniforms in the new season. They will embark upon their final season at Joe Louis Arena as they embark on their first since the passing of the legendary Gordie Howe. Both will be commemorated with special patches — a simple No. 9 on the chest and a shoulder patch for The Joe.
They're also likely to add another outdoor throwback jersey as they visit Toronto for the first-ever NHL Centennial Classic on New Year's Day.
A new arena marks the start of a new era in Oilers history. Along with a special inaugural season patch for Rogers Place, the club is promoting that orange number from last year to third jersey status. That just means we'll see it more often — including at the Heritage Classic.
Also, they have a new mascot. He's a lynx named Hunter. He's meant for kids. That should be the end of it. But most of the media reaction to Hunter was centered around him being "terrifying" or some similar nonsense. However, it was a bit of Facebook commentary that stuck with me.
One fan suggested the mascot was sure to fuel kids' nightmares. Who picked this? To which another fan replied, the kids picked it, of course. He noted the irony that it was the adults who seemed more frightened of this fluffy anthropomorphic cat than any young hockey fans.
Four months ago, a new era in Panthers hockey commenced with the implementation of a major redesign. While the team retained its colors, it retained little else from its previous visual identity. Fans have been getting a preview of the new look in action during the preseason. It looks good!
For more background on the design process, check out my interview with John Viola.
Los Angeles Kings
One of four teams celebrating a half-century in the NHL this year, the Kings recently revealed a gray third jersey that will be worn throughout their 50th season. It incorporates a hint of gold from their 50th anniversary logo.
The NHL's expansion franchise in Las Vegas won't skate for another year, but we are getting closer to learning about their branding. Team owner Bill Foley expects to unveil the club's name and logo next month. Las Vegas Desert Knights is a distinct possibility.
After a trial run last season, the Predators are fully committing to gold helmets for all home games during the 2016-17 season. It's a bold look for a bold team.
New York Rangers
Continuing their run of commemorating unusual anniversaries, the Rangers will use this logo to mark 90 years in the NHL. While it won't be seen on their uniforms, it has been painted onto center ice at Madison Square Garden.
The Senators are celebrating their 25th anniversary this season but it doesn't appear they'll be wearing a patch on their sweaters. This logo is primarily for marketing purposes.
Also turning 50 this year are the Flyers, who, like the Kings, will sport a special gold-themed third jersey. In addition, the club has implemented a new wordmark, which you can see in the mini-slideshow above. So far I've only seen it used in marketing applications.
Like their Keystone State rivals, the Penguins are also celebrating five decades in the NHL. And they have a lot on their plate for the new season. In addition to their 50th anniversary shoulder patch, the Pens have permanently retired the Vegas gold and returned to the classic Pittsburgh gold — complete with a new retro road jersey.
Beyond that, a T-shirt on sale in the NHL's online store seems to be hinting at the design for the team's 50th anniversary jersey — which will likely be worn at the Stadium Series game. It's light blue and appears to be modeled on the original 1967 sweaters.
Lastly, the Consol Energy Center officially has a new name. PPG Paints Arena is what the building will be called for the next 20 years — or until they sell the naming rights to someone else.
San Jose Sharks
In August, the Sharks debuted a trio of new secondary logos. They are for marketing use only and will not be used on the team's sweaters. At least not this season.
St. Louis Blues
Rounding out this season's 50-year foursome are the Blues. They have two versions of their 50th anniversary logo — one with a yellow 50 and the other with a metallic gold Blue Note. The club has also introduced new wordmarks, as seen above. And a modified version of the classic Blue Note will represent the team at the Winter Classic in St. Louis.
Toronto Maple Leafs
As a founding member of the NHL, the Maple Leafs are marking their 100th anniversary as well, doing so with a new primary logo and uniforms. The 100th anniversary mark is a silver version of that new Leaf. The club will also be hosting its first outdoor game in the form of the NHL Centennial Classic on Jan. 1.
While the Jets never did get a true alternate jersey during the Reebok Edge era, they will don third uniform of sorts when they host the NHL Heritage Classic later this month.
2017 NHL Draft
Finally, the next NHL Draft will be held in Chicago but so far this is all the league has released in terms of a logo. The full version is likely coming soon.
But before the draft is the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Given that this postseason will crown the champion during the league's centennial year, it could be the right time for a refresh of the logo package that has been in use since 2013. We'll have to wait and see though.
That about wraps it up. As you can see, there's a lot that's new and different in 2016-17. But it'll likely be nothing compared to 2017-18 — the year Adidas takes over NHL jersey production.
Adidas owns Reebok, so the changeover shouldn't be as dramatic as it was in 2007 when Reebok first took over, starting from scratch. But don't expect to simply see Edge jerseys with an Adidas logo on the back. Adidas will want to make a splash to give fans a reason to buy the new threads.
New jersey templates may be on the way. In fact, the new uniforms launched in recent seasons, including at the World Cup of Hockey last month, are likely to be the building blocks of the new Adidas hockey sweater. Changes may include a lower profile collar and a straighter hemline.
Rumors even suggest third jerseys may disappear like they did in 2007-08 while Adidas gains its footing in this new market. But they wouldn't be gone longer than a year.
So when will we see the first NHL jerseys from Adidas? If history is any indication, the NHL All-Star Weekend could provide a great stage. The 2007 NHL All-Star Game in Dallas put Edge jerseys on display for the first time. Perhaps the same will happen with Adidas in 2017.
Or will it happen next month in Las Vegas? The new team will reveal its name and logo. Is it too crazy to think the jerseys could be on hand as well?
Beyond that, teams will start unveiling new sweaters throughout the NHL's centennial summer. Who do I expect to undergo big changes? Glad you asked. Ottawa, for one. The Senators are in dire need of a new look if you ask me. The Canucks have got to solve their identity woes once and for all. And the writing is on the wall for the Avalanche. They may start simplifying their look as '90s logos across the NHL continue to circle the drain.
But all that is a discussion best left to the 2017 NHL JerseyWatch — which is still a long way off.
Let's just focus on this season for now. Are you excited?