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NHL announces plans for three outdoor games in 2016

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NHL announces plans for three outdoor games in 2016

Image from NHL Network

Image from NHL Network

The 2016 NHL Winter Classic and two 2016 NHL Stadium Series games were announced by commissioner Gary Bettman from Columbus this afternoon.

The eighth Winter Classic will return to Boston. The third one took place in 2010 at Fenway Park. This one will happen Jan. 1, 2016 at Gillette Stadium — home of the NFL's New England Patriots, who will play the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX.

The Boston Bruins will host the Montreal Canadiens in the epic outdoor battle Icethetics concept artists have been hoping for. In fact, just two weeks ago I posted a great concept from Jamie Robertson featuring the two storied franchises. 

The NHL also announced two Stadium Series games to take place out west.

On Feb. 21, 2016, the Minnesota Wild will host their first ever outdoor game as the Chicago Blackhawks come to town. The game will be played at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus — Golden Gophers territory.

I'm a bit irked by this draw as it'll be the Hawks' third outdoor appearance in three seasons — Stadium Series in Pittsburgh (2014), Winter Classic in Washington (2015) and now the Stadium Series in Minnesota (2016) — and fourth overall since they hosted the second Winter Classic in 2009 against Detroit. Spread the love a little.

I understand TV ratings (particularly since I work in TV marketing) and what drives audiences. So I get the decision. But it would've been nice to see a team like the Blues get a shot at wearing a throwback jersey in the snow.

Six days later, on Feb. 27, 2016, the Colorado Avalanche will play in their first outdoor game as they host the Detroit Red Wings for a match at Coors Field — fitting since Coors Light remains the major sponsor of the NHL Stadium Series.

I almost want to watch the alumni game more than the main event here. Think about all the guys from that epic '90s rivalry who will take the ice again. Sure, it won't be as intense as it was back then, but it'll be fun to watch nonetheless.

All in all, six teams will play outside in 2016, but only two will be doing it for the first time — Minnesota and Colorado. Don't forget Montreal played in the original Heritage Classic in Edmonton back in 2003 and again in Calgary in 2011.

Speaking of the Heritage Classic, Bettman said at the press conference that there were plans to hold a Heritage Classic in Winnipeg in 2016. But a deal couldn't be worked out in time to nail down the stadium, so it was postponed.

It's likely the league will keep working and secure a date for the 2016-17 season. But who the Jets will play is still unknown for now. Maybe the Oilers could get back in on the action? The Maple Leafs are marking their 100th anniversary that season so they'll probably stick closer to home for any big events. Could Quebec have a new team by then? Who would you pick?

Obviously no logos have been released yet for the Winter Classic or Stadium Series games. They're probably still in the design process at this point in the calendar. I'd expect to see something in the summer.

As for jerseys, what are you expecting and/or hoping for? Send along your concepts and I'll post some in the coming weeks and months.

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No shortage of branding for NHL All-Star Weekend

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No shortage of branding for NHL All-Star Weekend

The 2015 NHL All-Star Game takes place on Sunday. But it's more than just a game. It's an entire weekend of festivities put on by the league and the host city which, this year, is Columbus.

The whole thing, it turns out, is a dream for lovers of logos too. More than a dozen unique designs represent and promote the many events surrounding the All-Stars. The primary logo you see above is merely the tip of the iceberg. Keep scrolling for the rest of the iceberg.

This year's game is being sponsored by Honda, so in recent weeks a version of the mark turned up containing the automaker's logo.

Then for the NHL's French-speaking fans, there's another one.

All-Star logos are used in many different ways, so you've got to have options. Say you just need a simple, horizontal wordmark. They've got you covered.

And let's not forget the francophones.

Maybe including the host city is still too much detail for you. Can we go simpler? You bet.

There's a French version of that too, but you get the picture by now.

And we're still just talking about the game with all these logos. Don't forget that there's an entire weekend the league is promoting. So there's a logo for that.

Check that. Two logos.

Since the debut of the new All-Star format in 2011, NHL All-Star Weekend kicks off Friday night with the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft in which the players are split into two teams.

Interestingly, very little about the Fantasy Draft logo has changed since its inception in 2011. Colors have been adjusted, the star in the center stylized, and the sponsor has varied, but the overall design — typeface included — has remained. 

It actually causes this mark stand out in a bad way from the rest of this package. It doesn't help that the Draft Kings logo sticks out like a sore thumb with that color scheme. Ouch.

What else? Apparently there's something special about Saturday so it gets a custom logo.

Or two. (We should know that by now.)

Oh and it seems a version of those little sticks and stars can be their own thing too.

Exciting stuff. But no All-Star Saturday is complete without a good old Skills Competition.

And that little shooting puck at the bottom also does its own thing.

Yeah, we're not even close to being done. NHL All-Star Weekend usually involves a special fan experience called NHL Fan Fair — so that means another logo.

If that's not enough, there's an All-Star Winter Park open all weekend featuring a giant snow slide and an outdoor ice rink. Sounds cold. (The forecast low for Sunday is 18° so...)

That pretty much does it, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out a few other minor icons and insignia used throughout the weekend for promotional items and merchandise.

Anyone else starting to feel like the NHL All-Star Game is a bit over-branded?


UPDATE · Jan 24 · 12:05 AM · Almost forgot one! New to the All-Star proceedings this season is the first ever NHL Mascot Showdown. Team mascots from around the league will split into two teams and actually play a short game before the Skills Competition.

And of course there's a logo.

It's very cartoony, but that's kind of the point.

Have you spotted any other logos I may have overlooked?


UPDATE · Jan 24 · 9:10 AM · Ha, yeah I thought we were done. Who was I kidding?

Earlier I said All-Star Weekend kicks off on Friday night with the Fantasy Draft. But in fact, it begins in the afternoon with NHL Media Day where journalists hobnob with the players.

The logo is plastered all over the wall behind the media tables.

Another All-Star-related event that took place this morning to open "All-Star Saturday" was the All-Star 5K Race. And naturally, that gets a special logo.

asg2015-5krace.png

Through all the excitement of the weekend, I forgot about a logo that was used quite a lot during the lead-up to the big weekend. The all-important NHL All-Star Fan Vote!

And don't forget about the horizontal version.

There was even a subset of fan voting which including selecting a player for the Breakaway Challenge at the Skills Competition. So there's a Breakaway Challenge Fan Vote logo.

That's all I have to add at the moment, but I'm not ready to say that's everything. Let me know if you guys spot anymore All-Star logos not included here.

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Gwinnett Gladiators celebrate Atlanta hockey with third jersey

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Gwinnett Gladiators celebrate Atlanta hockey with third jersey

Life after hockey goes on in Atlanta. But the answer to how lies in a suburb.

We're four seasons into a post-Thrashers NHL. It was the second time the ATL lost a franchise to a Canadian town. But signs of the city's hockey history — though perhaps unsuccessful — are beginning to re-emerge.

Back in the fall, the AHL welcomed a new franchise and a familiar logo. The fiery A that once represented Atlanta took on a new meaning in Adirondack with the arrival of the Calgary Flames' minor league affiliate.

Now in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth — in Gwinnett County — an ECHL club has unveiled its own homage. The Gwinnett Gladiators will take the ice on Friday night wearing Atlanta Flames colors for the first time. Behold their new third jersey!

Photos by Dale Zanine

"The new jersey will be worn at all home games for the remainder of the 2014-15 season," according to the Gladiators' press release, "except for Sundays, when the team’s traditional black uniforms will be worn."

When the sweater will makes its debut — a night dubbed "Flashback Friday" — a few former Atlanta Flames — Tim Ecclestone, Eric Vail, and Willi Plett — will be honored with a ceremonial puck drop and more.

The Gladiators made their debut in 2003 and was affiliated with the Thrashers from their inception until the NHL club relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. They are now the only pro hockey team representing the Atlanta area.

But the seeds for this new sweater were planted well before that happened.

Christi Johnson is the director of media, game operations and merchandising for the Gladiators and is credited with designing this new third jersey. She told me the Atlanta Flames throwback has been in the works for a while.

"When Steve Chapman — Gladiators president and general manager — and I met early in the 2008-09 season to discuss ideas for our specialty jersey, we knew we wanted to pursue a Flames theme," Johnson said.

"We began the process of getting approval of the concept — which we did — but then decided instead to go with an Atlanta Knights-themed jersey."

The team wore those black Knights sweaters in Feb. 2010. (Find more photos on Facebook.)

As it happens, that was the same season the Calgary Flames introduced their throwback third jersey — which was identical to the old Atlanta uniform apart from the crest. Johnson didn't say whether that was a factor in their change of plans.

Anytime I get the chance to talk to a someone in charge of designing hockey sweaters, I always have to ask about the process. It's interesting to see what designers go through and how it varies from team to team.

Johnson explains:

The process is one that’s worked for Steve and I for many years — we meet, decide on a theme, and he gives me a rough idea of what, if anything, he has already visualized in his head.
Then I hole up in my office to draft a few different looks. As with anything creative, sometimes the ideas come quickly and sometimes I have to go in search of inspiration. Fortunately, with this design, I knew where we wanted to head and it was just a matter of actually creating the two logos.
We went through a few variations of the crest along the way, but all in all it was a painless process. It was definitely one of the quicker design timelines I’ve experienced. We had final artwork within a week, if I remember correctly. 

This isn't Johnson's first foray into jersey design. She's been creating specialty sweaters for the Gladiators since the 2006-07 season, including the Knights jersey mentioned above. 

I’m responsible for our Salute to Atlanta Traffic, Pink in the Rink, Relay for Life, Glads Margaritaville, 10th Anniversary, and last season’s Arctic Camo Jerseys. I also did our two other alternates — the gold fifth anniversary jerseys and our most recent maroon retro incantation.

It's not the last she'll put together either. I asked her what lies ahead.

I actually just wrapped up our specialty jersey for this season. It’s a Valentine’s Day theme but with a design I created — not a stock look. The key with anything pink related is to find that nice balance between achieving a Valentine’s (or breast cancer) look without making it something full on crazy pink.

That is definitely the trick. Some teams find it and some do not. I'm eager to see what Johnson has put together for next month.

For now, what do you think of the Atlanta Flames throwback?

(Major stick-tap to Gladiators broadcaster Nick Bove for his help with this story!)

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Florida Panthers reveal logo for the 2015 NHL Draft

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Florida Panthers reveal logo for the 2015 NHL Draft

The Florida Panthers will host the 2015 NHL Draft in about five months. For now we're getting a look at the logo that will represent the event.

It showed up recently on the Panthers' official website.

This logo continues a design standard for NHL Draft logos which launched in 2010. Logos typically feature four key elements — the draft wordmark with the host location and three bars capped with stars, a silver shield with a unique shape year to year, an accent color usually representing the host team, and an image at the bottom that represents the host city.

Flip through the mini gallery below to see the other draft logos from the series.

NHL Draft Logo Timeline

  • 2005—2009 · Draft logos vary in design from year to year.
  • 2010 · Los Angeles · New design standard implemented. Circle shield, blue accent, and palm trees. The Kings still used purple at this time, but the league chose a more neutral blue for the accent color.
  • 2011 · Minnesota · Medieval-shaped shield with green accent, featuring a lake surrounded by trees to represent the Minnesota wilderness.
  • 2012 · Pittsburgh · Shield capped with a bridge with gold accent, featuring the city skyline beneath.
  • 2013 · New Jersey · Shield in the shape of the state of New Jersey and accented in red. Because the shield shape does double duty in this case, there is no other city-specific iconography.
  • 2014 · Philadelphia · Shield shape evokes Liberty Bell, accented in orange, featuring Independence Hall silhouette.
  • 2015 · Florida · Wavy shield contains sunrise to represent city and tropical location alongside palm trees. For the first time in the series, this logo breaks away from the standard black design, instead capturing the Panthers' three-color palette — navy blue, gold and red.

The 2016 NHL Draft has been awarded to the Buffalo Sabres, so it's likely we'll see another navy and gold draft logo next year.

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Coyotes show off 1996 throwback jersey set for March

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Coyotes show off 1996 throwback jersey set for March

Photo from Coyotes via Twitter

The Arizona Coyotes are planning a special throwback night for March 5 — when they'll be wearing their original uniform.

The team tweeted the above image on Wednesday, confirming the design of the jersey, which appears to to be adapted to the Reebok Edge cut.

Rumors surfaced in our JerseyWatch series over the summer with this photo of a custom-designed pants shell by Warrior Sports featuring the team's old logo. 

Photo source unknown

The last JerseyWatch post in the fall included a poll asking readers which of the Coyotes' three classic jerseys they'd prefer to see for this game. More than half voted for the black jersey the team will using.

So are you excited to see it back in action? Is one game enough or should they keep it around as a third jersey?

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