Alleged prototype Lightning jersey offered on ebay

Here's something unexpected. A listing recently appeared on ebay claiming to offer a prototype Tampa Bay Lightning jersey from the original Reebok Edge launch. Is it true?

As we know, the Lightning were among a handful of teams to introduce new logos to go with their new Reebok threads. So it makes sense that the Bolts looked at a number of designs before settling on what they did in 2007.

The listing includes almost a dozen photos — all of which can be seen in the slideshow above. The question is, are they legitimate?

The logos seen on this jersey are clearly alternate versions of logo they ultimately went with. And the NHL shield on the neckline is spot on — something knock off artists have never been able to properly master.

There's also a tag pictured that dates the jersey to December 2006 — exactly the time teams would've been looking at prototypes for a summer 2007 launch. So if I had to guess, I'd say it's probably the real deal.

It's a rather considerable leap from Tampa Bay's actual jersey design from 2007 — specifically with regard to the sleeves and number designs, which I actually like better speaking as a Bolts fan. The team was definitely considering a wild new look. Unfortunately, it got toned down a lot and was eventually replaced four years later by new ownership.

As for the listing, the user wants $999.99 for it. Too rich for me, but it would definitely be a unique addition for a major jersey collector and/or Lightning fan.

Don't forget, the Lightning have a new black third jersey in the works for next season. So maybe there's still a chance of seeing something like this.

This is the actual Reebok Edge jersey design the Lightning went with in 2007.

This is the actual Reebok Edge jersey design the Lightning went with in 2007.

U.S. claims Olympic gold with throwback jersey

If they couldn't do it for real in Sochi, at least the U.S. hockey team could earn gold medals in other ways.

A few weeks ago, Icethetics readers decided Jonathan Quick had the best goalie mask at the Olympics. Now, you've selected the Americans' throwback jersey as the best the Games had to offer.

The tournament commenced on March 25 with 30 sweaters — so many that the first round was split into two separate sets of polls. By the end, almost 27,000 votes were cast.

The 18-day tournament wrapped up Saturday night with the white 1960-inspired USA sweater taking top honors. It defeated Sweden's blue jersey with 61% of votes — leaving the Swedes with silver again.

Meanwhile, Canada's red took bronze with 54% against Russia's red uniform. The host country of the 2014 Winter Olympics just can't catch a break, it seems. No medals in hockey. At all.

It's always better to see hockey sweaters in action, so the mini-slideshow below captures the three medal-winning sweaters in all their celebratory glory.

Click bracket to enlarge.

The United States' winning sweater, in fact, was not on the list of jerseys we were expecting to see in Sochi. It made a surprise appearance on the day the Americans faced Slovenia — and went on to win 5-1.

It was worn for just once during the entire tournament but the victory was enough to help it finish fifth overall in the Icethetics Olympic Jersey Standings. Four other jerseys saw action in only a single game — Czech red, Slovenian white, Norwegian red, and Japanse black — but each one lost.

Up next, we're tackling the 2014 NHL Tournament of Logos — the third such tournament since this blog was created in 2007. The Canadiens won then. The Blues won the second tournament in 2011. Who will take it this year?

What's happening on Icethetics this summer?

My lack of blog updates is probably becoming conspicuous at this point. This is the time of year when news disappears. It's playoff time and teams aren't really thinking about jerseys — or next season, for that matter. Because of that, I've been focusing my energy on other aspects of Icethetics.

The Voting Tournaments

Our third tournament — Olympic jerseys — is starting to wind down. We've reached the final four sweater designs and by week's end, we'll have our medalists. So what's next?

The NHL Tournament of Logos makes its triumphant return next Monday! But before we can open the first poll, we need to seed the bracket. In past editions of the NHLToL, the bracket was seeded randomly.

Not this time. The seeding process for this tournament has already begun. The way it works is simple. I set up a Facebook photo album with all 30 logos. You "like" all the logos you like and the ones with the most "likes" get seeded higher up.

So be sure to head over to Facebook and do your part to seed the NHLToL bracket!

The IceHL Expansion

The other big deal around here will be the expansion of our fantasy hockey league, the IceHL. For the uninitiated, the IceHL Project is a league we built from the ground up. Icethetics readers selected cities, named teams and designed logos and jerseys through a series of polls beginning in 2008.

Over the years, we've expanded the league and made improvements through rebranding. This summer, though, two big things are happening. First, our two conferences, IceHL East and West will each swap a team. The Regina Renegades (of the West) were relocated to Philadelphia last summer putting them square in the IceHL East.

But the conference relocation was delayed a year to avoid upsetting the balance of the ESPN fantasy league. It's happening now so one of the East teams needs to move to the West. The IceHL East team that finishes in last place this season will earn that distinction and will then need to be relocated and rebranded.

The other (bigger) thing happening is the launch of the IceHL World — a third conference in our growing fantasy league. We'll be adding eight new teams to the family from around the globe. All of this is explained on the IceHL blog.

Not to worry, I'll still be here to keep up with news coverage on the blog. Just don't expect as many features or cover stories as you saw earlier in the year. I wish I could give lots of time to every section of Icethetics, but I'm only human — and then there's that pesky full-time job, of course.

I'm doing lots of behind-the-scenes work to prepare for this summer's logo tournaments as well as all things IceHL-related. So, in other words, the blog will take a backseat for a while. But rest assured, if there's something worth reporting, I'll be all over it.

Hope you enjoy everything that goes on here this spring and summer!

Texas Stars shine with trio of classic theme jerseys

Our series of features looking at minor league theme jerseys picks up this week with the AHL's Texas Stars. The Stars are celebrating their fifth anniversary in Cedar Park this season.

Primary Uniforms

The franchise was actually founded 15 years ago as the Louisville Panthers, but the team shut down after two seasons. They were resurrected in Des Moines as the Iowa Stars in 2005. The name was changed to Iowa Chops for the 2008-09 season when the club became affiliated with the Anaheim Ducks. In 2009, the franchise was sold and moved to Texas a re-affiliated with Dallas.

During the 2013-14 season, the Stars wore three special theme jerseys. Before we get to those, the mini-slideshow up top will give you an idea of what the team looks like on a regular basis.

The Stars just unveiled this look last May.

Stars & Stripes Military Appreciation Weekend

November 8–9
The Stars held the first of two military appreciation weekends leading into Veterans' Day. Players were decked out in this patriotic mix of red, white and blue for Stars & Stripes Weekend. Be sure to check out all the photos above.

The special sweater was designed by Stars center Taylor Vause, who was featured here on Icethetics two years ago when he created a couple of jerseys for his WHL team, the Swift Current Broncos. Great to see Vause moving up through the ranks both in his jersey design career as well as his playing career.

The Stars wore this sweater for two games against the Milwaukee Admirals. Both were high-scoring outings as Texas won 7-4 and 5-4 on back-to-back nights.

The weekend was sponsored by Sport Clips and the subsequent jersey auction benefited the Texas Stars Foundation.

Pink in the Rink Weekend

February 21–22
Pink-infused jerseys hit the ice in Texas just last month as the Stars hosted their annual Pink in the Rink Weekend, sponsored by Cedar Park Regional Medical Center.

"Our Pink in the Rink sweater was my first stab at designing a jersey," said Texas Stars graphic designer Alisa Kessler. Her black-based cancer night jersey was among the best the AHL had to offer this season, if you ask me.

For more, see this post from Feb. 5 and this one from Feb. 24.

The theme jerseys continued to be hot for the Stars as they defeated the Charlotte Checkers on back-to-back nights, coming out on top 4-1 on Friday and taking a shootout win on Saturday.

Jersey auction proceeds benefited Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas.

Military Appreciation Weekend

March 21–22
Finally, this past weekend, the Stars honored the military once more with these black and white arctic camouflage sweaters. I imagine it'd be easy for the opposing team to lose track of a puck shot at a goalie's chest. Where'd it go?

"I helped design our latest Military Appreciation arctic camo jersey as well," said Kessler. "But the general concept/look didn’t change too much from last year – mostly just the color was swapped out from woodland to arctic."

Round Rock Auto Group sponsored the weekend and auction proceeds benefited the Texas Stars Foundation.

The Stars were successful again wearing special uniforms for back-to-back nights against the Oklahoma City Barons. Texas won 4-3 in a shootout on Friday and 5-3 on Saturday.

In fact, the victories helped the Stars become the first team to clinch a spot in the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs.

In wrapping up, I have to extend a huge thanks to Texas Stars graphic designer Alisa Kessler, who was extremely helpful in putting this story together.

Quick nabs gold for the U.S. with mask design

Icethetics voters have spoken. Jonathan Quick had the best goalie mask at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Definitively.

Quick's design bested 24 other netminders' in the 2014 Men's Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament. Quick joins Canada's Shannon Szabados who earned gold in the women's tourney.

The men's tournament ended Sunday after 18 days and more than 14,000 votes. Quick defeated Henrik Lundqvist with 55% of votes. Just as in Sochi, the Swedes have to settle for silver.

The dark horse, in my opinion, was Latvia's Edgars Masalskis who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim bronze against Jonas Hiller with a substantial 59%.

In fact, both Latvian goalie masks performed surprisingly well in this tournament. Masalskis faced fellow countryman Kristers Gudlevskis in a patriotic showdown in the quarterfinals.

Among those I was surprised to see eliminated so early were Tuukka Rask, Roberto Luongo and the two Norwegian netminders, Lars Haugen and Lars Volden.

Click bracket to enlarge.

The slideshow above celebrates Quick's victory by giving us a look at a few more angles of his mask — which was designed by Steve Nash of EyeCandyAir. Nash even made some Vine videos showing the creation of the mask.

Just because the tournament is over doesn't mean there's nothing left to vote on. I'm kind of curious to see which gold medalist you like better. Also, do you prefer Quick's USA mask to his Kings mask? Vote in the two polls below.

And because this post hasn't been jam-packed enough, I wanted to leave you with one more image gallery. Eleven of the goalies that went to Sochi never played in a game so their masks weren't included in our tournament.

Still, I'm sure we'd all love to get a look at them. To that end, I did a little digging.

Unused Olympic Goalie Masks

Unfortunately, I was unable to track down photos of masks belonging to Rene Swette (Austria), Andrej Hocevar (Slovenia) or Tobias Stephan (Switzerland). If you spot any, please let me know so I can expand the slideshow.

Which of these unused Olympic masks is your favorite? Any you think could've competed with Quick for gold? Let us all know in the comments.