2013-14: Season of Change, Part 2

One of the reasons the 2013-14 season was marked by so many new uniforms was the expansion of outdoor games in the form of the 2014 NHL Stadium Series. That in combination with the the Winter Classic and the third Heritage Classic gave us six separate games and nine all new jerseys.

Here in Part 2 — the continuation from last week's Season of Change cover story — we're focusing on this season's special event jerseys, all of which saw action during a two-month span from Jan. 1 to March 2. Enjoy!

Detroit Red Wings

NHL Winter Classic

The season's outdoor madness kicked off on Jan. 1, 2014 with the NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. — after being delayed a year by the 2012 lockout.

The Red Wings, in their second outdoor game since 2009, hosted the Maple Leafs. It was an unusual sight in today's NHL — color-versus-color. Neither team wore white and we still managed to tell which team was which — even in the snow! How about that, NHL?

Detroit's fauxback jerseys were not inspired by anything specific from the club's history but were sort of an amalgam of traditional hockey sweater elements. One of the unique features of this jersey was the captain and alternate captain patches placed low on the sleeve rather than high on the chest.

A new wordmark was featured on the pants of the uniform, but unfortunately I haven't been able to get a decent look at it. The best I can offer is what you see in the photos above.

Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL Winter Classic

The Maple Leafs' inclusion in this year's Winter Classic marked the first time a Canadian team was involved in the event. And with this year's realignment, the Leafs and Wings are now divisional rivals, making the game that much more interesting.

Toronto's uniforms were inspired by the first blue sweaters the team ever wore, after changing its name in 1927 from St. Pats to Maple Leafs. The jersey and socks together featured 42 distinct stripes. And the chest was emblazoned with the original leaf design.

A shootout was needed to decide the big game at the Big House, but the Leafs did come away with a 3-2 victory in their first outdoor appearance.

Los Angeles Kings

NHL Stadium Series · Los Angeles

Three weeks after the Winter Classic, the NHL held its first outdoor game in the Sun Belt region. The Kings hosted the Ducks at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25.

Los Angeles became the first team in NHL history to skate in grey sweaters. The league used the Stadium Series as a platform to launch more futuristic uniform designs — which included a new jersey template from Reebok, used by six of the participating teams.

Special to the Stadium Series jerseys were logo crests treated with a chrome effect, which were printed rather than embroidered like standard jersey crests. In addition, the numbers on the back were lengthened while the sleeve numbers were angled — all for improved visibility for fans seated far away from the rink.

Anaheim Ducks

NHL Stadium Series · Los Angeles

It seemed only natural that the Kings' nearest rival in Anaheim would face them in California's first outdoor NHL game. And like the Winter Classic a few weeks earlier, this one saw no need for any white jerseys.

Contrasting the dull grey of the Kings, the Ducks skated in bright orange sweaters. After resurrecting their classic Mighty Ducks colors earlier in the season, it was fun to see the Ducks take their current identity in another direction.

Anaheim's first outdoor appearance proved extremely successful as they held the Kings scoreless in a 3-0 shutout victory. Despite that, they currently have no plans to wear the orange  jerseys again.

New York Rangers

NHL Stadium Series · New York

The excitement continued the next day as the Rangers played in the first of two games at Yankee Stadium. Even though the venue was technically in their market, the Rangers were designated the visiting team — which helped immensely with jersey logistics.

The Rangers wore white so the Devils could wear their red throwbacks, which were relaunched in 2010 after being replaced in 1992. New Jersey, ironically, was the only Stadium Series participant not to wear a new jersey.

New York, on the other hand, wore a new sweater for both of its games. On Jan. 26, the Rangers routed the Devils 7-3 and won again on Jan. 29, beating the Islanders 2-1. The victories gave the Rangers the best outdoor record in the NHL at 3-0. 

New York Islanders

NHL Stadium Series · New York

The Islanders made the biggest waves in the Stadium Series by being the only team to introduce a new logo. Technically, it's really just a separate piece of their existing primary mark, but it had never been used on a jersey before.

The team was so enamored with the new look that they've worn the new uniform two more times since their Yankee Stadium appearance — Feb. 8 against the Avalanche and March 1 against the Devils. They lost those games 5-2 and 6-1, respectively. If they're superstitious, we probably won't see them again.

However, it's been reported that the Islanders may bring this jersey back to replace their maligned black alternate when they move to Brooklyn to start the 2015-16 season. Fingers crossed!

Chicago Blackhawks

NHL Stadium Series · Chicago

The NHL took a break through most of February to allow players to represent their home countries at the Sochi Olympics. But that first weekend back was a doozy, packed with two more outdoor games.

The Blackhawks hosted their second outdoor game, this time against the Penguins at Soldier Field on March 1. They previously faced the Red Wings at Wrigley Field in the 2009 NHL Winter Classic. But this one had a much better result. After that 6-4 loss to Detroit, they trashed the Pittsburgh 5-1 in this one.

Chicago's jersey was a Stadium Series version of the black third they wore from 1996 to 2007. But for the most part, it looked like a standard Hawks sweater.

Pittsburgh Penguins

NHL Stadium Series · Chicago

If the previous Stadium Series games had been a bonanza of colors and interesting designs, the Chicago game was decidedly not. Boring old black-versus-white. And the least colorful jersey of all was Pittsburgh's — white with black and little bits of Vegas gold.

At least things were a little more fun on Marc-Andre Fleury's end of the ice. His gold pads and Steelers-inspired helmet stole the show in terms of visuals. Of course the the game itself was barely visible with all the snow that was constantly falling.

What a way to end the 2014 NHL Stadium Series.

The Penguins are really the only ones I feel the need to editorialize about here. I really, truly, sincerely hope they never wear these jerseys again. They're just so bland. That's why I'm particularly excited to hear they're planning to resurrect their early '90s Cup-era jerseys as thirds next season.

Vancouver Canucks

NHL Heritage Classic

The NHL's final outdoor game of the season saw the Canucks host the Senators at B.C. Place on March 2 — two first-timers in such an event. Unfortunately, rain kept the stadium's small roof closed. So it's up for debate as to whether this one really was "outdoors."

Nevertheless, the Canucks wore their Vancouver Millionaires maroon throwback jerseys for the game. But while we're talking technicalities, I should point out that this sweater actually debuted last season as part of the 100th anniversary of hockey in Vancouver.

So why am I including it if I'm not including the Devils? The Devils' throwback is well-documented on the blog. The Millionaires jersey was kind of a blink-and-you-missed-it deal during a shortened season. Vancouver fell to Detroit 5-2 while wearing last year. They lost to Ottawa 4-2 this year.

Still, it's a great looking sweater. (Heck, I bought one and I'm not a big jersey buyer.) Hopefully the Canucks see their way to keeping it around for special nights every now and then.

Ottawa Senators

NHL Heritage Classic

Like the Canucks, the Senators took the simple route for the Heritage Classic by creating a white version of their black Heritage Jersey, which launched in 2011. Of course with all this "heritage" talk, it couldn't be white-white. They call it "vintage white." It's beige.

The jersey was such a hit, it had an encore on Saturday night when the Sens visited Montreal. Unfortunately, the success didn't care through as they fell 5-4 in overtime. Still it might be nice to see this jersey stick around for special occasions when the black one can't be used.

After the appearances of Vancouver and Ottawa at the Heritage Classic, the Jets are now the only Canadian team yet to play in an outdoor NHL game. Perhaps their time is coming soon, though. Reports have them hosting the Heritage Classic in 2016.

But wait... there's more!

It's easy to forget the other minor events the NHL builds up around these outdoor games. We're usually treated to alumni games or gatherings that also get special jerseys. So to wrap up this week's cover story, I thought we'd take a quick look at some of those.

Winter Classic Alumni Showdown

On the day before the Winter Classic, some former members of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs got together for some friendly retirement hockey. Well, more than some. So many players accepted invitations, they had to split them into two separate games.

The first game saw the Wings Alumni in white throwback jerseys. In fact, they were the same jerseys Detroit wore for the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. For the second game, the Wings wore reverse red versions of that sweater.

The Leafs Alumni wore blue 1970s throwbacks for both games.

L.A. Celebrity Game

As soon as the ice at Dodger Stadium was ready for skates, a pick-up celebrity game formed featuring a handful of hockey-loving actors and a few familiar faces from past Kings and Ducks teams.

The Anaheim side wore Mighty Ducks throwbacks — like the ones the Ducks wore themselves for a night back in October. The Los Angeles side donned retro Kings sweaters from the 1980s — the gold ones!

While the players at least had matching jerseys the incredible variety of colors found in their gear — gloves, pants and socks — was hilarious.

1994 Canucks Team

At the Heritage Classic, the Canucks reunited the 1994 team on the 20th anniversary of their Stanley Cup run. They may have lost to Mark Messier's Rangers in the end, but fans still remember that team fondly.

None of them took the ice, but the players did walk out on the B.C. Place field in those classic jerseys to be honored by fans. Anyone think that should be Vancouver's next throwback?

I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of the Season of Change cover story. I have a couple of follow-up blog posts planned for this week.

  • Icethetics' 2013-14 NHL logo guide, in which we look at all the new logos that were introduced during the season
  • Recap of my experience at the Heritage Classic in Vancouver, including lots of photos and my take on the NHL's stadium games

What did you think of this year's crop of outdoor jerseys? Any that you'd like to see stick around? Any you'd like to throw in a fire immediately? Leave a comment.