St. John's IceCaps set to move to Thunder Bay

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St. John's IceCaps set to move to Thunder Bay

Owner True North helping to build new arena in Ontario

In my continuing efforts to catch up on news overlooked in the last several weeks, here's one. The AHL's St. John's IceCaps — formerly the Manitoba Moose before the Winnipeg Jets ran them out of town — will depart Newfoundland for a new home in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The news broke a couple weeks ago that True North Sports and Entertainment — owner of the IceCaps and Jets — are part of a consortium planning to build a new arena in Thunder Bay. That paired with the IceCaps' travel challenges — being located way out in the Maritimes — made the dots easy to connect.

And for what it's worth, IceCaps management has been apprised of the situation every step of the way. So at least no one's getting the rug pulled out from under them.

Club has at least two more seasons in St. John's

The Thunder Bay deal is nowhere near final at this stage, but obviously wheels are in motion. That said, if the IceCaps do end up leaving St. John's, it will not be with any haste. According to a CBC report, the soonest the franchise could relocate is the 2016-17 season.

Bear in mind, once the deal is finalized, the arena still has to get built. But True North CEO Mark Chipman does want to move the IceCaps to Thunder Bay. So it likely means the countdown is on to the end of another chapter in St. John's hockey.

Team CEO determined to keep pro hockey around

If the franchise does move, however, the next chapter could start immediately. The same CBC report said IceCaps CEO Danny Williams is dedicated to keeping the AHL in town — even if it means getting a new franchise.

"Over the course of the last three or four months, we as an organization have put together a prospectus on the city and on the team, and marketed the province and the city to the AHL and to some other AHL teams. So we're way ahead of this," [Danny Williams] said.

"We're optimistic that we will get a replacement team here, and if necessary, I'm quite prepared to go out and buy an AHL franchise in order to keep hockey here in the city."

Williams said the new team will have the St. John's IceCaps name and logo.

Now that's commitment.

This is something to keep an eye on. Sounds like we may have another new AHL team to track in a year or two.

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Hershey Bears kick off 2014 with pair of specialty sweaters


Hershey Bears kick off 2014 with pair of specialty sweaters

Groundhog Day marked with unique jersey

Here in Seattle, today was all about a certain football game. It was impossible not to notice. By the way, congrats to the Seahawks on their domination!

Apart from being Super Bowl Sunday, a look at the calendar reminds us that today was also Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil says more winter remains, and the Hershey Bears celebrated their fellow Pennsylvanian with specialty jerseys.

I recommend checking out Sweetest Hockey on Earth for more great photos from Kyle Mace. The Bears beat the Norfolk Admirals 3-1 wearing these jerseys, which Mace said were designed by the team's trainer, Dan Stuck.

The design is rather cartoony, but it's cute if you take the time to appreciate it. On the front, Phil sees his shadow, predicting an extended winter. On the back, he doesn't, so spring comes early.

That was this weekend. Last weekend also brought a special set of uniforms for the Bears.

Bears break out special jerseys for Winter Olympics

Last Sunday, Jan. 26, the Bears wore their third set of specialty uniforms for the 2013-14 season — this time to celebrate the upcoming Olympics in Sochi.

This design, as you can see, was considerably less flamboyant than what we saw this weekend. In fact, I'd almost call it a bit boring in comparison.

The jersey features sweeping gradients and stripes comprised of symbols representing the various events of the Olympic Winter Games. But at least it has that classic chocolate hue.

For additional photos, hop over to the Bears' Facebook page.

Two more specialty jersey nights remain for the Bears this season. On Feb. 23, they'll represent their NHL affiliate with Washington Capitals sweaters.

Next month, on March 16, the Bears will go green for St. Patrick's Day — a yearly tradition. Check back here for updates on both.


Coyotes planning 1996 throwback jersey


Coyotes planning 1996 throwback jersey

New name to be matched with old sweater in 2014-15 season

Craig Morgan of FOX Sports Arizona elaborated on the Arizona Coyotes renaming with a report that they plan to bring back their original uniforms for a game next season.

You can see Morgan's series of tweets on the side. Hopefully this is more than just wishful thinking.

That's not all.

Coyotes owner may be mulling a future rebrand

Down the road, could the team also be considering a completely new look? Based on an article Morgan wrote Wednesday, it sure seems that way.

Once the Coyotes make the name change they might also consider rebranding. The team changed its logo once already from the old Aztec style Coyote — known locally as the Cubist Coyote — to the current logo when the team moved from America West Arena in Phoenix to Arena in Glendale in 2003.

But the uniforms will remain the same in the short term. 

"Changing uniforms is a considerably longer term process that requires significant lead time with our merchandise partners," [Coyotes president and CEO Anthony] LeBlanc said.

There are two visible changes to the uniform that Coyotes fans can look for next season. The team will introduce a shoulder patch for their home and road jerseys. The patch will be unveiled for the first preseason game next season. 

Will this bring another new logo? The third in less than two decades in the desert?

Even if LeBlanc is happy with the logo and just wants to update the uniforms, that would be big news. The Coyotes escaped the Reebok transition mostly unscathed — except for the disappearance of the waist stripes from their jerseys.

Personally, I've been hoping for an upgrade for the Coyotes for a long time. And not just the name change — though I do prefer Arizona Coyotes.

Anyway, if you're a Coyotes fan and not following Craig Morgan, get to it already!

Focus groups saw unused Coyotes logos in 2003

Since we're talking about the possibility of the Coyotes changing their 11-year-old logo, I thought this might be a good time to look back at its genesis.

Roll back the clock to Feb. 23, 2004 when the SportsBusiness Journal published an article talking about how the Coyotes successfully launched a new hockey brand... in the desert... in the summer.

The piece itself is an interesting read, but most notable were the various logo concepts shown to focus groups. You can actually see the evolution of the original logo into what it became.

The new "howling Coyote" logo, produced by the Adrenalin Design Group, was the most extreme of the four finalists presented to focus groups. It also was the most popular, fitting in with the fans' wishes to get far away from the previous multicolored "masked coyote" logo, yet remaining true to the Southwest identity.

The result was a mark that features a desert sand and red palate [sic] and connotes aggression and speed.

It's always exciting to see some of the drawings and logo designs that didn't make it through to the end of a team rebrand.


Flames ditch third jersey on Western night


Flames ditch third jersey on Western night

Calgary is 0-8 this season in the new threads

Athletes are a superstitious bunch. Everyone knows that. But it seems to have shown up in a tangible way Saturday night as the Calgary Flames made a last-minute decision not to wear their new third jerseys.

After all they are 0-8 this season while wearing them. But this was Western Night — a theme night perhaps tailor made for a jersey with obvious western influences. The "C of Red" became a sea of white cowboy hats while the Flames wore their standard red home sweaters.

As it happens, Calgary won in overtime on a Mikael Backlund goal and extended a home winning streak to five games. Was it because of their jersey choice? We'll never know.

What we do know is the Flames announced the new sweater would be worn for 12 home games during the 2013-14 season. Either that number now drops to 11 or another date will be added.

I have a hunch it's the latter. What about you?


Superstition was definitely to blame Saturday night. During his post game press conference, Flames coach Bob Hartley straight up admitted it.

Reporter: Did you have any say in what uniforms your team wore tonight?

Hartley: Yesterday I talked to Brian [Burke]. I said we're playing so well right now. I said, "Can we just keep going?"

Brian said, "Let me check." He got back with me and said, "Yeah I can help you that way."

Sometimes little superstitions... sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

Thanks to Caleb for the video link!


Monarchs celebrate Kings' original third jersey


Monarchs celebrate Kings' original third jersey

Fan vote determined throwback sweater for Los Angeles Kings Night

The AHL's Manchester Monarchs wore a jersey last Saturday, Jan. 25, that hasn't been seen on the ice in 18 years.

Last August, the Monarchs decided to let fans choose which jersey the team would wear in honor of their NHL affiliate for Los Angeles Kings Night.

The vote featured these three throwback jerseys from Kings history.

Option A was the Kings' original gold sweater, worn for their first 13 years of existence. It's the reverse of the purple Legends Night jersey currently in use by the Kings.

Option B, unmistakably, was the first ever third jersey worn by the Kings for a few games in 1996. And Option C was the Kings' alternate jersey from 2002 to 2007.

The result of the vote was an  overwhelming win for that memorable '96 sweater.

A few months later, the first photos of the Monarchs' version of the sweater emerged.

For more photos, check out the Monarchs' Instagram posts on the side. And in case you need a reminder, below are some shots of how the Kings wore it back in '96.