Top 14 Concepts of 2014

Jerseys unveilings and blogger vacations conspired at the outset of 2015 to delay our annual countdown of the highest rated concept art of the year. So without further adieu, let's get this show on the road. Keep scrolling to learn Icethetics' Top 14 Concepts of 2014!

#14 · Nick Burton
/ Predicting the 2015 Winter Classic

Our countdown begins with the most prolific concept artist on Icethetics today. On Oct. 11, Nick Burton took a stab at predicting the 2015 Winter Classic.

By that point, we'd already seen what the Capitals had in store, but the Blackhawks' look was still a mystery.

Nick may have missed the mark as far as predictions go, but many readers would likely argue he ended up with the better design — giving his concept a better overall rating than either of the actual jerseys.

#13 · Ross Taylor
/ Quad City Trio

Ross Taylor has been somewhat absent from the Concepts page recently, but his work still garners major respect when he has the time to share it with us.

On Dec. 2, Ross was featured along with two other designers who submitted work to a jersey design contest put on by the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.

Not only was it voted the best of the group, its inclusion on this list proves it was one of the best overall designs of the year!

By the way, Icethetics trivia buffs may recall the Mallards' logos were originally designed in 2010 by our original powerhouse concept contributor Matt Kauzlarich (aka GhettoFarmBoy) — a shining example of a real talent finding professional work after being featured regularly during the site's early days in 2007 and 2008.

#12 · Nick Burton
/ What's in Store in St. Louis

For the second time early in the countdown, we feature the talented Nick Burton.

On July 9, two days after Icethetics revealed an exclusive first look at the St. Louis Blues' new home jersey, Nick was among three artists who attempted a road version.

Not only was it the most accurate, it was by far your favorite — and a preview of the many accolades to come for the Blues' new and improved primary uniforms.

#11 · John Elbertson
/ A Minnesota Winter

Falling just shy of our top 10, John Elbertson made waves creating a Winter Classic match-up featuring a team that would later be named host of a 2016 Stadium Series game!

Does he have a crystal ball or what?

On Oct. 4, John created unique throwback jerseys for the Colorado Avalanche (as the Quebec Nordiques) and the Dallas Stars (as the Minnesota North Stars).

Your votes leave no doubt this would be one popular outdoor meeting. Unfortunately, the odds of it ever happening are not great.

#10 · Asle Tømmerstrand
/ Norway By a Norwegian

As the world eagerly awaited the first puck drop of the Sochi Olympics, a Norwegian jersey designer named Asle Tømmerstrand was preparing to wow us with a gorgeous concept for his home country.

Norway had arguably one of the more boring uniform sets at the 2014 Olympics, but on Jan. 26, we got a glimpse of how great it could have been.

Asle's design was brilliant and we can only hope to see something as good on the international stage in the future.

#9 · Al McCready
/ 8-Bit Sochi

Here, concept art isn't always about creating a new jersey. Sometimes it's about finding a creative way to present an existing one.

Back in 2012, Al McCready's 8-bit style NHL sweaters rocked our world as it ended up as the highest rated concept of the year.

On April 6, Al went back to the well, giving the 2014 Olympic sweaters his trademark 8-bit treatment.

Once again, the designs went over extremely well with Icethetics readers, earning it a place among the best concepts of the year.

#8 · Bastian Schmülling
/ Year-End Wish

Sometimes the best concepts are the ones that don't try to reinvent the wheel.

In the last concept of the year, posted Dec. 31, the prolific and talented Bastian Schmülling showed us just how easy it would be for the Buffalo Sabres to once again take its seat among the best-dressed teams in the NHL.

His redesign of the Sabres' uniforms didn't alter the jersey's template, but rather its color palette. He traded navy for the classic royal blue and eliminated that unnecessary silver trim — reverting to the look we all love.

If only our year-end wish could come true.

#7 · Matt McElroy
/ Merry Christmas From McElroy

An Icethetics Christmas tradition continues its tradition of turning up among the best concepts of the year.

Matt McElroy's annual "Ugly Christmas Sweater" concept, posted on Dec. 25, comes in at No. 7 this year — the same place it finished in 2012. (His 2013 design was No. 2!)

Matt's creativity never ceases to amaze and what made this concept particularly special is that he created it well before the unveiling of the similar and uniquely half-and-half Stadium Series jersey designs the Sharks and Kings will wear outdoors later this season.

Impressive stuff!

#6 · David Kerr
/ The Future in the Past

On Sept. 17 — two days before the Penguins revealed their new throwback third jersey — David Kerr shared a premonition.

Looking beyond this season, he imagined the Pittsburgh team returning to its Pittsburgh gold roots on a permanent basis.

On his first attempt, he didn't feel a white jersey was necessary, but after requests from readers, he added one — which ended up with an even higher rating than his original black and gold concepts!

Now that's how you impress a crowd!

#5 · Christian Legault
/ Classic or Modern?

Christian Legault was a newcomer to the Icethetics Concepts page in 2014, but he absolutely left his mark.

Following rumors the NHL would introduce neon green to its All-Star uniforms, Christian posed the question, "Which is better? Classic or modern?"

On Aug. 7, he placed two extremely different concepts side by side — traditional versus futuristic. Unsurprisingly, the classic design was by far the more popular one.

In fact, the red and blue jerseys earned a place on in the top five concepts of 2014. Looks like Christian's off to a strong start in his career as a concept artist.

#4 · Thierry Dick
/ Fixing the Sens Seems So Easy

In a year marked by some staggeringly amazing Ottawa Senators concepts, Thierry Dick stood out from the pack with a simple yet superb redesign posted Sept. 1.

It made us wonder why the Sens still have yet to fix those dull, cookie-cutter jerseys of theirs — especially when so many artists have made it look so easy.

Based on the incredible rating, I think it's safe to say we're all hoping for the day when these turn up on store shelves.

#3 · Nick Burton
/ WHA Revival, Part 1

Nick Burton completes the unprecedented trifecta in the top concepts of the year with this third design on this list!

His modern update for the Quebec Nordiques came at the beginning of a 4-part series in which he attempted to create revitalized looks for a handful of expired WHA teams.

The high admiration for this concept proves there are a lot of hockey fans both in and out of Quebec that would love to see the Nordiques back on the ice.

#2 · Bastian Schmülling
/ Whale Reborn

Bastian Schmülling impressively makes his second appearance in the top 10 concepts of 2014 with a gorgeous rethink of the old Hartford Whalers.

The classic design earned him many accolades ranging from "WOW!!!!" (Alexandr Petruk comment) to "Holy WOW!!!!!! 5/5!" (Keven Vaytch comment).

I think we all echo those sentiments and wish more than ever that the Whalers could once again take the ice — if only to wear the most beautiful hockey sweaters on the planet.

That leaves us with the most highly-rated concept of the entire year...

#1 · Matt McElroy
/ NHL Soccer Crossover

In a stunning twist, the greatest, most popular concept featured on Icethetics in all of 2014 was NOT even a hockey uniform!

Featured on Sept. 28, it was a set of 30 soccer kits by Matt McElroy!

The McElroy part should surprise no one, but his jaw-dropping creation of beautifully-crafted soccer uniforms for every NHL team should be viewed as an exercise in sports design mastery.

There's no question Matt has earned his place among the greatest concept contributors in the history of Icethetics. And it's clear from the votes that most of the community shares my undying admiration.

A job well done, Matt!

That is an impressive list of concepts. Did your favorite make the countdown? Were there any designs from 2014 you think should've made it? Comment away!

By the way, this the third year we've counted down the best concepts of the year. If you'd like to take a look back at previous years, here are the links you'll need: