NHL JerseyWatch 2015

It's coming a little later in the calendar than usual, but the time has finally come to tackle the first edition of NHL JerseyWatch 2015. What changes can we expect for next season?

As always, our preview is based on the planning catalog Reebok sends out to retailers in January. It typically refers to new and changing jerseys as "TBD" rather than detailing any actual designs. It's also very much subject to change. So take all this with a grain of salt and enjoy the ride.


Anaheim Ducks

Let's begin with our returning champion, the Anaheim Ducks, who lead off the JerseyWatch discussion — but only for alphabetical reasons. 

A year after introducing new home and road jerseys, modeled after their most recent alternate, a new alternate is on the way, says Reebok.

Could this finally be the year the team from Orange County gets an orange third? (Perhaps Monday's concept was prophetic!)

The Ducks wore orange for the first time last season during their Stadium Series game against the Kings. Will that jersey make a return, or will they go in a new direction?

More importantly, will the Disney-era logo come back as more than just a shoulder patch? Or could there be a new logo altogether?

So many questions, yet no answers or even solid rumors. Time will tell on this one.

Arizona Coyotes

A year after changing their name, the Coyotes are looking at new home and road uniforms for 2015-16 season, according to Reebok. And that may not be all.

There's at least one report from last June that has Arizona considering a new primary logo for the new season.

Given the heavy promotion surrounding the Coyotes' throwback night last week, perhaps the club is feeling nostalgic. Could that be the inspiration behind the team's new look?

I'm not suggesting they'd return to their old logo and uniforms. But maybe an updated version? Or a hybrid? Current logo and kachina-style striping?

It's hard to imagine them making the sweeping changes we saw with Dallas two years ago. But it could happen.

The Coyotes were featured in an article I wrote last fall about five teams in need of new uniforms this year. It included some interesting concepts.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres will be without a third jersey in 2015-16.

Having served out its two-year sentence, the infamous "turd burger" will be retired at the end of this season — likely never to be seen again. But while Buffalo may be out of the third jersey picture for a year, don't expect it to last.

This team loves alternate uniforms. It's had three since 2008, taking a break only during the lockout-shortened season of 2013.

Now let's get Ted Black a bun.

UPDATE · Mar 15 · Shortly after this story was published, Black went on the radio and confirmed the third jersey is done.

From The Buffalo News:

Black admitted the team did a poor job running the design past focus groups and also said, "we didn't anticipate the amount of 'third-jersey fatigue'" in the market in the wake of the team's 40th anniversary throwbacks.
Black said the Sabres will not have a third jersey next season and, in fact, may shelve the concept of an alternate sweater entirely until 2020, when the franchise will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Perhaps they might be better off waiting until then.

Colorado Avalanche

Reebok has the Avalanche changing up their third jersey.

The blue alternate has been with Colorado since 2009. I'm personally not a fan of text-based jerseys — except for maybe the Rangers — but that's far from this team's biggest uniform problem.

That apron-string piping on the Avs' home and road sweaters simply must go. It just has to. But for now, that doesn't seem to be in the cards quite yet.

As for the change, it could go a couple of ways. First, the catalog may be suggesting that the existing third will be retired at the end of this season.

Either that or a new design is in the works. Third jerseys are meant to accentuate a team's third color — which the current one does well. Should we be worried about a black alternate coming to Colorado?

Lastly, the Avalanche are hosting a 2016 Stadium Series game next February, which usually comes with a special sweater. Are they dumping the third in anticipation of getting extra use out of this one?

New York Islanders

To no one's surprise, the Islanders are planning to launch a new alternate sweater for their first season in Brooklyn.

After this season, the club will move out of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and into the Barclays Center — a home they'll share with the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

The Isles will keep their name, colors and existing uniforms, but a black and white third — Nets colors — is coming.

From a BloombergBusiness article last week:

After the move the Islanders will have a black-and-white third jersey as a way of incorporating Brooklyn, [Barclays Center spokesman Barry] Baum said.

The story was about how the "I" in the team's logo points to the location of the NVMC on Long Island, but that the logo will not change when the team moves to Brooklyn.

NetsDaily, an NBA blog, found in a public records search a couple of trademark applications filed by the Islanders' owner — which also owns the Nets — depicting new "Brooklyn Hockey" logos (tweets to the right).

The logos are styled after alternate marks used by the Nets. Are the Isles planning a Brooklyn-themed third jersey featuring one of these new logos? It's possible.

Or it could simply be that the logos will be used for new arena signage, T-shirts or other merchandise.

By the way, a few black and white Islanders jerseys have appeared on the Concepts page in recent years.

San Jose Sharks

None of the Sharks' jerseys appear to be changing next season — which is a shame — but they will have a new logo marking their 25th anniversary.

It was first noticed by Icethetics reader Kyle Schwartz on his Sharks season ticket packaging in February.

Wearing an anniversary patch often proves difficult for the Sharks, as they discovered during their 20th anniversary in 2011. Because they already have patches on both shoulders and a jersey numbers on the front, they had to resort to placing a logo beneath the numbers on the left sleeve.

Maybe they'll find a better solution this season, or maybe they'll keep the logo off their sweaters entirely.

Photo from Kyle Schwartz

Washington Capitals

A new alternate sweater is coming to the nation's capital, according to Reebok's catalog.

In 2011, the Capitals brought back their original sweater from 1974 for a Winter Classic showdown in Pittsburgh. From then on, it was their third jersey.

The biggest flaw with that jersey is that it's white — which NHL teams wear on the road. If the Caps wanted to wear the jersey at home, it requires coordinating with the visiting team, who is then forced to travel with two sets of uniforms. It's just inconvenient.

This is a popular jersey so I don't see the Caps ditching it completely. Rather, it's more likely they switch to a red version that can be easily used for home games.

In recent years, the Capitals have tended to wear their throwbacks for several games in a row leading some to wonder if they're planning to use it as a full time.

That doesn't seem to be the case as the primary home and road uniforms are not expected to change for now. The high frequency more likely has to do with the team trying to avoid packing two sets of sweaters for long road trips.

2016 NHL Winter Classic

During the All-Star break in January, the NHL announced the Boston Bruins would host the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium for an Original Six outdoor showdown on New Year's Day 2016.

Sweaters, of course, have not yet been revealed, but in a meeting of two storied teams with great uniform histories, there's little doubt this will be epic.

The Bruins played in one previous Winter Classic when they hosted the Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010. They wore yellow sweaters, inspired by a look from the 1940s. For this one, they'd be wise to go all the way back to their inaugural season in 1924 when they wore brown.

As for the Habs, they played in the first two Heritage Classics at Edmonton (2003) and Calgary (2011). This will be their first outdoor game on U.S. soil.

In those earlier games, the Canadiens simply wore their standard primary jerseys — red in against the Oilers and white against the Flames. I'm hoping they're a little more interesting in 2016.

Thing is, Montreal hasn't really been through any significant uniform changes since becoming a founding member of the NHL in 1917. However, they did have a few prior to that — all of which were used during their centennial celebration in 2009. Perhaps one could return for a night.

We're also waiting on the new Winter Classic logos.


2016 NHL Stadium Series

Two more outdoor games were announced for 2016 as part of the Stadium Series, which enters its third season.

Hosting their first outdoor game, the Minnesota Wild will take on the Chicago Blackhawks — who, in turn, are playing their third outdoor game in as many years. That happens at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota on Feb. 21.

Later in the week, the Colorado Avalanche will host the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field on Feb. 27. This will be a first for the Avs, but the Wings have played in two previous Winter Classics in 2009 and 2014.

I hate to be that guy, but don't get too excited about any North Stars or Nordiques throwbacks. First, the Wild aren't interested in wearing a sweater from another team's history (hello, Dallas Stars). And second, the Stadium Series is typically reserved for futuristic jersey styles (with chrome or carbon fiber crests and unusual lines).

As well as retro sweaters would play in Minneapolis and Denver, the NHL seems to prefer using these games as a testing ground for experimental designs.

I would argue that they already do that at the All-Star Game and throwbacks are crowd-pleasers. It should be obvious, but this is the NHL we're talking about.

2016 NHL All-Star Game

Nashville, Tenn. will host NHL All-Star Weekend next season on Jan. 30, 2016.

The logo has yet to be released. We'll probably get our first glimpse around the NHL Draft in June.

As for the uniforms, the last set of All-Star jerseys was used in back-to-back years. Will that happen again with the neon green numbers we got this season?

Needless to say, they were not exactly greeted warmly. Let's hope the NHL tries again in 2016.

MORE Anniversaries

The 2015-16 season could be used to mark significant anniversaries for a few more NHL franchises beyond those noted above. You know what that means... more shoulder patches!

The Arizona Coyotes will mark 20 years in the desert after moving from Winnipeg in 1996. That fact could inform the potential rebrand rumored for next season.

In 1995, the Colorado Avalanche relocated from Quebec. That could be good for a 20th anniversary logo as well. They wore a 10th anniversary patch back in 2005.

The Chicago BlackhawksDetroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers all joined the NHL in 1926, marking 90 years in the league. The Bruins are wearing their 90th anniversary patch this season.

As of the fall, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild will celebrate 15 years while the Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks mark 45 years. No patches necessary here, right?

Other Notes

It should be pointed out that the Reebok catalog lists alternate jerseys for the Flyers, Penguins and Lightning as "TBD." However, since these three teams just launched new thirds this season, I find it hard to believe they'd be changing them again already. But I'll certainly keep an eye on it.

So let the speculation begin. What are your hopes and expectations for 2015?