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Blues plan to reveal new look on Aug. 25

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Blues plan to reveal new look on Aug. 25

Mock-up of Blues' 2014 home jersey by Icethetics

The St. Louis Blues have set the stage to unveil their new home and road uniforms at a special fan event on Mon., Aug. 25.

From the team's press release today:

Fans are invited to join the St. Louis Blues on Monday, Aug. 25 at 6 p.m. at Ballpark Village for the Blues Ice Breaker event.

Join us as we welcome back our captains and St. Louis native Paul Stastny, who will wear the Blue Note for the first time.
Fans will also get to preview the Blues' new on-ice look and have opportunities to win great prizes!

The release and associated tweet specifically mention the club's "new on-ice look." I take that to mean uniforms — especially since we know new ones are coming anyway.

Last month, I got a peek at the new home sweater. I created the graphic representation above based on that. A concept by Nick Burton posted July 9 is probably a good guess at the road jersey design.


For details on other changes around the league this season, check out NHL JerseyWatch 2014.

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NHL JerseyWatch 2014: August Edition

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NHL JerseyWatch 2014: August Edition

Halfway between hockey seasons, it's time to update NHL JerseyWatch 2014

Ducks

THE FACTS
On draft day, the Anaheim Ducks unveiled new home and road uniforms to debut in the 2014-15 season. And they were just as expected.

The third jersey introduced in 2010 has been promoted with a slight change to the color. And a white version has been added for the road.

Both are a huge improvement.

THE RUMORS
If you're wondering whether a new third jersey is in the cards for Anaheim, check back next summer or the one after. I'm sure it's coming.

Coyotes

THE FACTS
The Arizona Coyotes used the NHL Draft in June to officially change their name. That's it for Phoenix.

As part of the name change, the club introduced new secondary and wordmark logos. The shoulder patch on the jerseys now reads "AZ" instead of "PHX."

In addition, the Coyotes' black third jersey has been retired. But that doesn't mean they're completely wiping away the Phoenix era. Far from it, in fact. The club's original 1996 jersey will return for at least one throwback night this season.

Special pant shell produced by Warrior Sports for Coyotes throwback uniform. / Photo origin unknown

THE RUMORS
Prior to the draft, 3TV sports anchor Tyler Baldwin suggested the team may consider a new logo for the 2015-16 season. I'd consider that a long shot but it's something to keep an eye on for JerseyWatch 2015.

Kings

THE FACTS
The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings will have a new sweater in their arsenal this year.

After wearing its "Forum blue" — purple — retro jerseys on special occasions over the last four seasons, the team will switch to the gold version in 2014-15. The change was revealed on March 12 by LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, a writer for the Kings' website.

In Rosen's report, Kings exec Luc Robitaille weighed in on the delay in debuting the new colors.

As Robitaille shared with LA Kings Insider, the process of incorporating new jerseys is a two-year process that includes gaining league approval, and then having the jerseys made. As such, the first Legends Night in 2014-15 won’t be held until the second or third week in December.

I'm sure it'll be well worth the wait.

THE RUMORS
The purple may be gone for now, but there's a big year coming up soon. The 2016-17 season will mark the 100th anniversary of the NHL as well as the 50th anniversary of the Kings.

I have little doubt we'll be seeing more than a few flavors of retro jerseys make an appearance during that season.

Islanders

THE FACTS
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 that it "or something very close to it, will be the Islanders' third jersey by 2015."

Islanders 2014 Stadium Series uniform

Three months later, Isles' much-maligned black third jersey was officially retired. It made its curtain call on March 23 in a 2-0 shutout win over Columbus.

This will be the Islanders' final season at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and it's possible the team will wear a special shoulder patch to commemorate this. They will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for 2015-16.

UPDATE · Aug 20 · In fact, they will wear just such a patch. The team is slowly revealing the design through teaser images on Snapchat.

THE RUMORS
For now, the only real question is whether the Isles will go without a third jersey this season or expedite the timetable on bringing back the Stadium sweater.

But that's not all. Last fall CEO Brett Yormark said the club's "new third jersey in Brooklyn will be black and white." An article published in June by Arthur Staple, Newsday, confirmed this is progressing.

Expect a new third jersey that looks more like the black-and-white Brooklyn Nets jerseys; Yormark said he's met with the Adidas/Reebok apparel makers to start the third jersey design process.

I have no doubt the Islanders will be part of NHL JerseyWatch 2015. Stay tuned!

Senators

THE FACTS
New! A source has confirmed the Ottawa Senators have retired their 2014 Heritage Classic jersey — which they wore against the Canucks in March. We won't be seeing it again in 2014-15.

2014 Heritage Classic uniform

This seems to go against what Sens owner Eugene Melnyk said on Twitter in April (right). However, bear in mind that the Senators also refer to their black third as a "heritage" jersey. That will return.

In fact, I'm told the team will market special "Throwback Thursday" games this season where those sweaters will be worn.

THE RUMORS
In recent months, retail discounts have raised questions about the future of Ottawa's red and white jerseys. But a sale isn't always indicative of a uniform redesign. In fact, it hardly ever is. It's usually just a way of increasing sales.

While I'm not expecting any major changes for the Senators in 2014-15, they're worth keeping an eye on in the seasons to come.

2011 "Heritage" third jersey

2011 "Heritage" third jersey

Flyers

THE FACTS
In July, the Philadelphia Flyers confirmed a new third jersey will be released this season.

Flyers COO Shawn Tilger stated as much at an event for season ticket holders, but that's about all we know. The team has kept quiet on the details of the design for now.

THE RUMORS
I've heard rumblings that management is amenable to incorporating Philadelphia's Liberty Bell into its uniform symbolism. Maybe this new sweater will offer the prime opportunity?

pit80.jpg

Penguins

THE FACTS
Rob Rossi, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, reported June 9 the Penguins will bring back their classic yellow in the form of a new third jersey.

The Penguins expect to introduce an alternate jersey to be worn for select games next season. One confirmable detail about the third jersey is the return of Pittsburgh Gold to the team's uniforms for the first time since 2001-02 season.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said he has ordered yellow leg pads and gloves to be worn when the Penguins' don the alternate jerseys.

This only adds to a previous report from Rossi and Josh Yohe on Dec. 13.

There are tentative plans for a new alternate jersey that could debut next season. 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.

It's the news Pens fans have been eager to hear!

THE RUMORS
What's still unknown is whether the new sweater will be an exact replica of one the black or yellow jerseys worn by Pittsburgh in the 1980s and early 90s. There are certainly a few for them to choose from.

Believe it or not, I expect a yellow jersey is very possible. Decades from now, we may look back on this era with some eye rolling, but yellow has been on the upswing in recent years.

The Bruins got the trend started with their 2010 Winter Classic threads — the NHL's first gold jersey since Boston's original third was retired in 2006. In 2011, the Nashville Predators introduced their gold home jersey. The Sabres launched a controversial gold third last fall. And as you saw above, the Kings are switching to gold for their Legends Night look.

Everybody's investing in gold right now. Why shouldn't Pittsburgh?

Penguins road jersey, 1988—1992

Penguins home jersey, 1988—1992

Blues

THE FACTS
The St. Louis Blues will sport redesigned home and road uniforms this season.

While the team has been extremely tight-lipped about that fact alone, I was able to get a peek at the new home jersey — the rendering seen above.

The team is going with a more traditional design, dropping the apron-string piping that has been the subject of much mockery.

It's expected the navy blue third jersey will be back.

UPDATE · Aug 14 · The new uniforms will be unveiled at a special fan event on Mon., Aug. 25.

THE RUMORS
I haven't yet seen the new road jersey, but I'd be surprised if it's anything other than a white version of what you see above.

This concept by Nick Burton is probably a safe bet.

Blues primary uniforms, 2007—2014

Lightning

THE FACTS
The Tampa Bay Lightning will debut a brand new third jersey next season. This has been revealed through the announcements of special season ticket packages — which began on TV in March.

New! Since the last JerseyWatch update, I've been told the sweater will be black. According to reporter Erik Erlendsson, Tampa Tribune, it's unlikely we'll get a look at it before September.

UPDATE · Aug 18 · While an unveiling date has yet to be revealed, the dates when the jersey will be worn this season were leaked by the team.

THE RUMORS
A Lightning prototype jersey from 2006 showed up on ebay back in April. It was black. But don't worry. It was consigned to the scrap heap for a reason.

Will the Lightning dig into their history for a throwback jersey from the '90s? Or will they buck the retro trend in favor of a fresh new design?

Canucks

THE FACTS
New! Despite what you may have heard, the Vancouver Canucks will not have new uniforms this season.

A radio interview with Canucks president Trevor Linden in late July prompted speculation that  the team was considering new uniforms with Johnny Canuck replacing the orca.

In fact, if you listen to the brief portion of the interview in which Linden discusses sweaters, he mentions it almost in passing — not to say that it's a direction they're determined to go.

To me, it sounds like they considered the idea the way they would consider any idea. The wise dismiss nothing out of hand, but it wouldn't take long to figure out this is the wrong way to go.

THE RUMORS
While a Johnny Canuck jersey isn't in the cards for 2014, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Canucks in NHL JerseyWatch 2015 or 2016.

This franchise has always struggled with its identity, but it still hasn't quite nailed it. The Haida orca may represent Vancouver well, but not a "Canuck."

Winter Classic

THE FACTS
The 2015 NHL Winter Classic will see the Washington Capitals hosting the Chicago Blackhawks in D.C. on New Year's Day.

However, a venue has not yet been announced. Nor have any uniforms or logos.

Both teams have played in previous outdoor games. The Blackhawks hosted the second Winter Classic in 2009 at Wrigley Field and faced Pittsburgh in a Stadium Series game last season. The Capitals also played the Penguins in 2011 at Heinz Field.

THE RUMORS
The best part of any Winter Classic for many Icethetics readers is the sweaters. It's a chance to see teams to dig into their histories a bit.

New! According to a source, the Capitals have considered at least two design options. The first was described as a red version of the jersey that featured the U.S. Capitol building logo.

The second was another red sweater with the "Weagle" front and center — the Caps' secondary logo and shoulder patch.

In 2011, the Caps wore their original white jersey from the 1970s. It wouldn't surprise me to see them simply go with the red version this time around.

And imagine the possibility of white pants! They were a blip in Caps history but will never be forgotten.

As for the Blackhawks, they had a great jersey in 2009 which they later adopted briefly as an alternate. Maybe they could go back to their very first black and white jersey from 1926?

I'm excited to see where both teams end up!

Stadium Series

THE FACTS
The San Jose Sharks will make their first outdoor appearance in the 2015 NHL Stadium Series when they host the Los Angeles Kings.

On Feb. 21, 2015, the clubs will meet at the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

The Kings join the Blackhawks to become the second NHL club to play outdoor games in back-to-back seasons, having faced the Ducks at Dodger Stadium in January. Way to spread the love, NHL.

THE RUMORS
It's believed the NHL has more up its sleeve for the Stadium Series — after all, how can you have a "series" if there's only one game?

Among the rumors are the Canadiens and Bruins at Gillette Stadium and even the Avalanche and Red Wings at Coors Field — the perfect place to revive Colorado Rockies hockey sweaters.

Looking beyond this season, it's been reported the Minnesota Wild will host an outdoor game in 2016 while the Winnipeg Jets are expected to have the Heritage Classic the same year. But all that is for next year's JerseyWatch series.

THE FACTS
In July, we learned the NHL may introduce neon green and black jerseys at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio.

Reebok's spring 2015 catalog spilled the beans on that bit of info. The document showcased designs for various apparel such as T-shirts. The player shirts, specifically, featured the striking color scheme as well a chrome version of the All-Star jersey shield.

The league has yet to officially unveil any jersey designs at this point. But since the game is set for Jan. 25, 2015, I wouldn't expect them anytime soon.

Until then, the Columbus Blue Jackets will wear an All-Star Game patch on their jerseys this season, as seen in the photo above.

THE RUMORS
Presumably, the NHL will continue to employ the fantasy draft format introduced in 2011, where two captains choose their teams.


Final Thoughts

This week, we're halfway between the end of last season and the beginning of next season. While we wait, we have plenty of speculation ahead of us. There's always a lot out there but I do my best to separate fact from wishful thinking where possible. History has shown the JerseyWatch series to be pretty reliable. Hoping it continues!

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NHL unveils 2015 Stadium Series game and logo

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NHL unveils 2015 Stadium Series game and logo

I've been working on the August edition of NHL JerseyWatch this week but had to take a break this morning to mention the NHL's announcement of the first 2015 NHL Stadium Series game.

The game will feature the San Jose Sharks and Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 at Levi's Stadium, the new home of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

With the announcement of the event came the logo, of course, which has been updated for this season. Jerseys were not revealed, though you'll recall the "Chrome Collection" featured in the four outdoor games of the 2014 Stadium Series.

Apart from the Winter Classic in Washington, D.C., the league has yet to announce any other outdoor games for 2015, but you can't really call it a Stadium "Series" if there's only one. One big rumor out there has the Bruins hosting Montreal at Gillette Stadium.

For now, feel free to speculate on jersey design. I'm sure I'll have no shortage concepts to share in the coming weeks. The Sharks will have something new, but should the Kings bring back the greys?

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Calgary Hitmen bringing back a classic pink jersey

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Calgary Hitmen bringing back a classic pink jersey

Back in April, the WHL's Calgary Hitmen unveiled a new 20th anniversary jersey to be used next season. It was inspired by their original uniforms from 1995.

Yeah, I can't seem to escape the 1990s these days, so I've just decided to own it.

The franchise was named after co-founder and WWF wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart. They even wore his distinctive black and pink color scheme early on.

From the press release:

The limited edition throwback jersey, black with grey and pink, includes two shoulder patches; one that features Hart’s famous words, ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be’, while the opposite shoulder is dressed with the historic Hitmen starburst logo.

In 1998, the pink was traded for a red and bronze look — think the late '90s Edmonton Oilers with black instead of navy blue. They've worn those colors ever since, breaking out the pink from time to time for throwback and cancer awareness nights.

The Hitmen were dreadful in those first couple of seasons while wearing pink. Of course, as soon as they dropped it, they won their first WHL championship in 1999. Go figure.

For more photos of the new retro sweater, click here

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How the timeless Hartford Whalers logo came to be

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How the timeless Hartford Whalers logo came to be

A lot of you have been enjoying my series of NHL logo origin stories from the 1990s. Many of those designs were short-lived. Those that weren't are anything but uncontroversial today.

But roll back the clock and we find one of the most universally admired logos of all time.

In 1979, the WHA folded and the New England Whalers were one of only four teams absorbed into the NHL. The franchise was renamed and in need of a new logo. Peter Good was the designer hired to create a new identity for the Hartford Whalers.

On June 29, WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn. aired an interview between Face the State host Dennis House and Good — from the Connecticut design firm Cummings & Good. During the 9-minute conversation, the two talked about the genesis of the logo and all things Whalers.

If you can't watch the video above, I've transcribed the good stuff below.

Things kicked off with an image of the old New England Whalers logo.

Peter Good: This was given to me as the starting point really. They wanted a new, fresh identity. They just moved to Hartford. There was a lot of excitement in the community. 
Like any project, I meet with them. In this case Howard Baldwin, Bill Barnes and I think Jack Kelly was the manager at that time.
Dennis House: And so you started sketching?
Still frame from WFSB-TV

Still frame from WFSB-TV

PG: This is where all design projects start. Those are the original designs that I presented not as a design solution but as a way of thinking about the identity.
Curiously, when I did these, Howard Baldwin actually said, "I like the lower right one." Shown here. With the trident. The trident was a reference to the harpoons.
I said, "Why do you like that one?" He said, "The 'H' is there." So I said, "Wait a minute, that was a not a requirement. It was just an idea that I had. But now that I know that it limits the field. So let me have another three or four days to play with it, to go back and rethink this given the idea it should have the 'H' integrated.
DH: And you came up with this?
Still frame from WFSB-TV

Still frame from WFSB-TV

PG: This is how it started. I was bothered by the idea of harpoons anyway because their mascot is a whale. So why would you have a symbol that suggests killing your mascot? That seems contradictory.
So I said, what do we have to work with? I have the letterforms 'W' and 'H' and I have a whale. And whales are kind of amorphous creatures. They're not like a tiger where you could characterize it very simply. But the whale's tail is very, very formally interesting. It's symmetrical. So you have three symmetrical elements to play with. This was a gift.
hfd79.jpg
PG: I call it a marriage of convenience between a whale's tail, a letterform 'W' and the offspring is essentially the negative 'H'.
DH: What was the public's reaction when it was first unveiled and first showed up on uniforms?
PG: They liked it. My wife Jan and I designed the first uniforms. There was overwhelming support. I think a lot of it had to do with the idea of Hartford having a professional team. 

From there, the two discussed the process of designing a logo in today's climate. The video on WFSB's website becomes choppy at this point, cutting out parts of the conversation. It's impossible to know what they were saying but it seemed insightful. There's mention of focus groups and other things that tend to water down great designs.

Peter Good, Cummings & Good // Still frame from WFSB-TV

Peter Good, Cummings & Good // Still frame from WFSB-TV

Then came the question a lot of fans are curious about.

DH: Who owns the rights to the logo?
PG: Aha, well. This has been controversial since a long time ago. The NHL is licensing it and it's really been a cash cow for them. They are making a profit. We have started doing some things of our own in that we never did sign the rights over. We were asked but we never signed the document. It was never work-for-hire. I still have the check for a dollar that I never cashed to make it legal.
DH: So where do we go from here? Can you sell items?
PG: We're doing some shirts. The products that we're doing are quite different from what I've seen in the marketplace. When we first started this, Jan and I designed a lot of items. It was called the Designer Series and we sold them through the Whalers shop and it was umbrellas and tote bags and shirts and aprons. But they were very sophisticated. Beautiful embroidery. Very subtle. And to tell you the truth, it wasn't successful because sports fans like it big and brassy.

In wrapping up the conversation, House and Good mused on the possibility of the NHL returning to Hartford and whether the name and logo could be resurrected.

DH: How would you feel if the team came back and they hired someone else to change the logo completely?
PG: Believe me, that's happened before. Logos are things that every designer likes to think are timeless and enduring but some that I thought would last for many, many years tend to change.
There's so many factors. The team starts losing games, everything's on the table. Change the uniforms, change the logo and so forth.

Good may be referencing the fact that for their final five years in Hartford, the Whalers used an altered version of his logo with grey added to the color scheme. That came about in 1992.

hfd92.jpg

Seriously, what is it about the '90s?

FURTHER READING: A Tail of a Whale · Aug 21, 2010

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