Sweater Switch was an annual tradition on Icethetics going back to 2009 — until I accidentally skipped it last year. No one asked for it and I quite simply forgot about it. Not this year.
Now that we're several days into NHL free agency, teams are starting to hold press conferences to introduce their newest members. So I'm gathering up photos to give us all a first glimpse at a handful of big names who will be sporting new sweaters in the fall. Enjoy.
Flyers add Lecavalier, Streit and Emery
This has got to be the most bizarre one of them all. And I'm not just speaking as a Lightning fan here. Vincent Lecavalier wearing anything but the bolt is just not right. Even if he is on the downswing of his career. Trading blue for orange. Four for forty. And temperate Tampa for chilly Philly. Just bizarre.
Lecavalier was forced to dump the No. 4 jersey he wore for many years in Tampa since it was retired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975 for Barry Ashbee. But here's a fun fact: Lecavalier wasn't always No. 4. After being drafted by Tampa Bay in 1998, he actually wore No. 8 since his Jean Beliveau-inspired jersey was taken by previous Lightning draftee Cory Cross. However, the following season, Cross was traded for Fredrik Modin, freeing up the number we all associate with Vinny. I'm hoping he's the last Bolt to wear it.
Mark Streit also had retired-number problems. His standard No. 2 was raised to the rafters in Philly just last year for Mark Howe. For Ray Emery, on the other hand, Tuesday's media event was all very deja vu. He held up that same No. 29 Flyers jersey for pictures when he was signed four years ago.
By the way, the Courier-Post has a neat shot of the trio wearing their new threads.
Stars welcome Seguin and Horcoff
Also on Tuesday, two new Dallas Stars players got to model two new Dallas Stars jerseys. Shawn Horcoff, in green, will wear No. 10 next season as he has for nearly all his years in Edmonton. (I believe he had No. 36 briefly as a rookie.)
Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin, donning white for the media, was forced to swap digits as his No. 19 was retired by the North Stars for Bill Masterton in 1987. They still honor Minnesota's retired numbers in Dallas. He'll now wear No. 91 in Dallas.
By the way, don't forget that this franchise will be retiring another number next season. On March 8, 2014, No. 9 goes up for Mike Modano, a fact made public last month when the Stars unveiled these new uniforms.
Nathan Horton joins Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets wasted no time getting their biggest free agent signee in front of the media. Nathan Horton met the cameras on July 5, the first day of free agency and the day he signed his new deal. As you can see, he'll take on No. 8 with R.J. Umberger occupying No. 18.
But this is the last time we'll see Horton in a Blue Jackets jersey for a while. He's about to undergo shoulder surgery, which will put him out of commission for four to six months. Meaning we probably won't get to see him in action until November or December.
By the way, speaking of Horton and Seguin, I was amused by this photo from 2010, depicting the pair showing off their new Bruins jerseys. Just goes to show how futile these things can be sometimes.
Anyway, I'll leave it here for now. There will be more of these press conferences as the summer goes on, so I'll just keep adding updates to this post.
By the way, I know the the Minnesota Wild already introduced Keith Ballard, but I understand they're doing Matt Cooke on Wednesday, so I'll post their pictures together once that happens.
Wild sign Ballard and Cooke
The Minnesota Wild jumped on the free agent train last week, adding Keith Ballard and Matt Cooke. On July 5, Ballard — a Minnesota native — met with local press. The team confirmed he will wear No. 2 next season. He most recently wore No. 4 in Vancouver but previously used No. 2 in Florida and Phoenix.
Devils turn to Photoshop for new arrivals
Turns out if you don't want to hold a big press event to introduce your new players, you can just Photoshop their heads onto your jersey. At least that's what the New Jersey Devils did. Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Cory Schneider and Rostislav Olesz are currently appearing on the splash page of the Devils' website as seen above.
By the way, when I saw this graphic I had to wonder whether it really counted for this post since these guys aren'tactually wearing the jerseys. I'd like to hear your take on this — if you have one.
I haven't seen anything official regarding sweater numbers yet, so let's make some guesses. First, Cory Schneider should easily keep his No. 35. But the rest of these guys could have number problems. Clowe wore No. 29 during his many years in San Jose but Mark Fayne currently occupies it in New Jersey. Could Clowe claim seniority?
Meanwhile, Ryder (73) and Olesz (85) both wear high numbers, something that seems to be frowned upon in Jersey. Have you ever noticed how almost nobody wears a number much higher than Marty Brodeur's 30? Eric Gelinas is No. 32 and some guy named Alexander Urbom is listed as No. 33 (but he doesn't even have 15 games of NHL experience yet). High numbers are a rarity for the Devils.
So will Ryder and Olesz get to keep their numbers or will they be forced to make a change next season? And what is it with the lack of high numbers on the Devils roster? Anyone know the story?
Let me know if you guys spot any other photos that belong in the Sweater Switch post. I plan to keep updating it throughout the summer.
A lot of Sweater Switch news came out yesterday, but I was obviously a little busy with the Buffalo Sabres, so I'm taking care of it now. Let's start on the Island.
Islanders announce numbers for new trio
The New York Islanders didn't hold any press conferences with their newcomers, but they did take to Twitter to reveal their uniform numbers for next season. Cal Clutterbuck will have No. 15 after five seasons in Minnesota with No. 22 — which the Isles retired for Mike Bossy.
Peter Regin will sport No. 16. In Ottawa he used No. 43 and No. 13. Colin McDonald wears No. 13 on the Island. And finally another longtime member of the Wild heads to New York in Pierre-Marc Bouchard. He will continue to wear No. 96.
In a follow-up tweet, the Islanders pointed out that this will be the highest number every worn in club history. The previous record holder? Ryan Smyth had No. 94 for a handful of games in 2007.
Ryan, MacArthur and Corvo head to Ottawa
The Ottawa Senators grabbed a pair of solid forwards with Bobby Ryan and Clarke MacArthur. On Friday, the team revealed the players' numbers. They also Photoshopped jerseys onto the guys for their website's splash page — just like New Jersey.
After an odd build-up, the Sens "unveiled" Ryan's new number as 6. Then they shared a photo of his red jersey on a mannequin in the team store (above). Early on with Anaheim he wore No. 54, but later changed it to No. 9. In Ottawa, Milan Michalek has No. 9.
MacArthur, meanwhile, is sticking with the No. 16 jersey he wore most recently in Toronto. But in order to keep it, he had to take it from Mark Stone, who will now wear No. 61. (By the way, I liked his Twitter pun about the number switch.) Anyway, prior to his days as a Leaf, MacArthur was No. 41 with the Sabres. Not sure what the significance is of either number.
And lastly for Ottawa, Joe Corvo returns next season. This time he'll wear No. 77. In his last stint with the Senators between 2006 and 2008, he had No. 7. Since the arrival of Kyle Turris, that is no longer available to him. Corvo began his NHL career in 2002 with the Kings and has worn a number of numbers. He started with No. 26 as a rookie in L.A. and switched to No. 27 the following season. Then after the lockout he switched again, this time to No. 6.
In 2006 was when he first joined the Senators and as No. 7, he had a fourth number for his fourth NHL season. Amazingly he kept that number when the 2007-08 season began, a career first. But it wouldn't last. He got traded to Carolina before the end of the season and switched to No. 77 (five numbers in five season). Seems like at that point, he finally found a sweater number he liked. Sort of. He kept it when he was traded to Washington two years later.
This story isn't over yet. The next season, in 2010, Corvo went back to the Hurricanes as a free agent, keeping No. 77. But again they traded him. This time he went to Boston where Nos. 7 and 77 were obviously unavailable. So he went with No. 14 (add the 7s together, right?). Then he began a third stint with the Canes last year. This guy's been around. But, you know, mostly to the same places.
By the way, Corvo was born in 1977 so that's probably the significance. Boy, that was a long story.
Maple Leafs sign David Clarkson
The Toronto Maple Leafs informed the world that newcomer David Clarkson will be sporting No. 71 in the fall. Wihat's odd is no one has the No. 23 he wore for many years in New Jersey. But there you have it. By the way, here's a fun fact. Clarkson actually wore No. 27 for about seven games during the 2006-07 season. Scott Gomez, who had No. 23, left the following summer after which Clarkson played his first full NHL season as No. 23.
Mike Ribeiro introduced by Coyotes
Also on Friday, the Phoenix Coyotes put Mike Ribeiro in front of the local media, a week after his signing and announced he's going back to his trusty No. 63 sweater. Ribeiro wore No. 9 last season in Washington but had No. 63 for six years before that in Dallas. However he was No. 71 in Montreal for the first half of his NHL career going back to 1999.
And I think I've covered it for now. More updates to this post as they come.