Loose Threads: Kings of All Kinds

Haven't done one of these in a while but there's a laundry list of things I need to get on the blog sooner rather than later. I'll try to keep it brief, but no promises.

Kings Dropping Hints About New Road Jersey?

Since being eliminated from the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings have been getting their website in shape for next season. As mentioned over the weekend, the purple has been removed, leaving just the black and white logos.

Frozen Fury promo graphic / KingsThey're now starting to promote the 2011 preseason, which includes the annual Frozen Fury event — which usually pits the Kings against the Avalanche at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

A cursory glance at this home page promotional graphic (right) might have you thinking you're looking at a new jersey! The team's "Insider" blogger has indeed said a white version of the current third jersey will become the new road uniform.

In reality, however, it's just the black jersey with a little color inversion magic via Photoshop. But might that be what the new sweater will look like? Will they wear it for the Frozen Fury game?

LA Kings Hockey Fest logo / KingsBut wait, there's more. A few weeks ago, the club announced this year's LA Kings Hockey Fest will be held on Sept. 11. It's one of those fan-centric events every team holds in late summer to get folks jazzed up about the new season.

Why do we care? Well, for one you have a new logo there. But more importantly, I try to keep tabs on these events because teams tend to use them to unveil new jerseys to fans.

With that new road uniform expected from the Kings for the 2011-12 season, it might not be a bad idea to keep an eye out. I've added the event to the Icethetics calendar (sidebar).

In the meantime, I'll continue to watch for an official unveiling date or event. Until then, this is probably our best bet to see it before the regular season begins.

NHL Premiere: 4 teams, 3 countries

As has become tradition, the NHL will open the 2011-12 regular season with a handful of games in front of European crowds in an event called NHL Premiere. Four games will take place over two days amongst four different teams in three different cities. Did you follow that?

The NHL made the announcement a month ago and, since then, some logos have been trickling out. They're basically the same as the NHL Premiere logos used in 2010, customized for next season.

That graphic should quickly explain who's playing who in which cities and when. So you're welcome. But just for the sake of having it in text form: Helsinki, Finland hosts the Ducks and Sabres on Oct. 7. Stockholm, Sweden will see the Rangers play the Kings (10/7) and Ducks (10/8). And for the first time, the NHL will play a regular season game in Germany as Berlin hosts the Kings and Sabres on Oct. 8. 

NHL Premiere 2011 generic logo / KingsFor what it's worth, this generic logo (right) has been featured on the Los Angeles Kings' website as they try to sell tickets to fans eager to make the journey to watch their team open the season on the other side of the world.

As for the logos above, it's clear they're all built on a standard template that varies based on location. The city name, national flag and dates are customized for each event.

Teams playing in these games have customarily worn the logos as jersey patches to recognize which one they're playing in. Only difference is the sponsor logo at the top is replaced by the NHL shield and the date is moved below the circle. Click here to see an example from 2010.

R.I.P.: Victoria Salmon Kings (2004—2011)

As Victoria, B.C. prepares to welcome WHL hockey, they said goodbye to the ECHL on Friday with the folding of the Victoria Salmon Kings franchise — one of the league's originals. (And really, that title should read 1988—2011. I'll explain shortly.)

For now, I throw it to our friend Woody Wommack who covers the ECHL for the Naples Daily News in Southwest Florida. He writes about the Victoria club's sudden demise:

The Victoria Salmon Kings are no longer a part of the ECHL. The team announced Friday that requested and was granted a withdrawal from the league by the league's board of governors.

From the team's official Facebook page: "The Salmon Kings have officially announced today that the team has withdrawn from the ECHL wit h the unanimous approval from the league's Board of Governors."

Victoria isn't leaving for financial reasons, but rather because the team's owners recently purchased a WHL franchise with the intent of moving the team to Victoria next season. The Salmon Kings didn't have a place to play and therefore don't have a franchise.

Rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of the ECHL adding one or more teams to the Western Conference for next season. With the loss of Victoria, the Western Conference only has seven teams.

Now I have a little history lesson which explains how this is like the NHL losing an Original Six franchise. 

When the ECHL launched in 1988, it was called the East Coast Hockey League and made up of just five franchises. In the 23 years since, all of them have either relocated or folded. And believe it or not, the Salmon Kings are the second to hang 'em up for good.

The Erie Panthers were a founding franchise in 1988. They had one good season in 1989-90 but lost a lot more than they won. In 1996, they left Pennsylvania and moved to Louisiana to become the Baton Rouge Kingfish in an ECHL now made up of 21 teams.

But the losing didn't stop in the new city and people don't usually like to pay for hockey tickets to see the other team win. The Kingfish suspended operations in 2003. By this time, the ECHL had a new name and was expanding west with the demise of the West Coast Hockey League. In 2004, a new arena in Victoria was begging for a hockey team. They got the Kingfish and renamed them the Salmon Kings.

Despite spending the last five straight seasons in the playoffs, no deal could be worked out to keep the team together in a new market when the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins arrived Victoria on April 20.

Victoria's new WHL team has yet to be named. But it's safe to say they're dropping the Bruins moniker.