NHL event branding highlights winter debuts

Before I get started, I wanted to thank everyone who left kind words on the previous post. It means a lot. With that said, let's get back to the blog.

I want to start by covering all the big NHL branding stories not seen here on Icethetics while I've been out of action over the past two months — and it's mostly focused on special events and celebrations taking place around the league.

Flyers unveil Stadium Series sweater

We'll begin on Dec. 10 when the Philadelphia Flyers revealed their 2017 NHL Stadium Series uniform. They shared a simple image of a simple black jersey. The large orange stripes and jumbo numbers on the sleeves are par for the course this year. It's very similar to Pittsburgh's design.

Toronto alumni don centennial crest

On the last day of 2016 — a day before the NHL Centennial Classic — the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings staged an alumni game in which former Leafs donned modern jerseys with the club's 100th anniversary crest. Thought that was an interesting use of the logo.

NHL Centennial patch added to all sweaters

On Jan. 1, 2017, a new patch appeared on the right arm of every NHL uniform. To mark the league's centennial celebration, the 100th anniversary logo has been applied just above or below the sleeve number on each player's sweater. A decal is also present on their helmets.

Devils honor original owner with Rockies-inspired patch

On Jan. 6, the New Jersey Devils paid tribute to John McMullen, the man who bought the Colorado Rockies franchise and moved it to the east coast in 1982. As part of the celebration, the players wore white jerseys at home complete with a special shoulder patch featuring a unique mix of the Rockies and Devils branding. McMullen died in 2005, five years after selling the Devils.

Blues wear prototype jersey for special event

Two days later, on Jan. 8, the St. Louis Blues took advantage of the outdoor ice rink still present at Busch Stadium following the 2017 NHL Winter Classic to put on another event. They joined the MLB's St. Louis Cardinals for the One Nation Classic, which included an on-ice skills competition. For that event, the players wore the original prototype jerseys created in 1967 when the franchise was first awarded to St. Louis. Those jerseys, however, had never been worn on the ice until now.

The Blues also added six home dates in which they'll wear their Winter Classic sweater.

NHL unveils four new All-Star jerseys

On Jan. 11, we finally got to see the 2017 NHL All-Star jerseys! For the first time, there are four different colors for the four divisional All-Star teams. And it seems they've come straight from the Icethetics Concepts page!

The NHL was inspired by the host L.A. Kings' own colorful branding history — as they celebrate their 50th anniversary this season. The Pacific Division will wear black with the Atlantic in gold, Central in purple, and Metropolitan in white.

Each jersey features a band of stars that is reminiscent of the uniforms worn in NHL All-Star Games from 1989-91. Each of the 10 stars represents a decade in the 100-year history of the League. Four stars on the socks represent the four divisions in the NHL today.

In addition, the league announced that the winning division in the Skills Competition will get to choose their opponent in the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament. It all happens Jan. 28-29 in L.A.

Lightning retire first number in team history

As a Tampa Bay Lightning diehard, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Friday night the team retired a jersey number for the first time in its history. Martin St. Louis's #26 was raised to the rafters on Jan. 13. Players wore throwback jerseys during warm-ups and a special patch during their game that night against Columbus.

Don't be surprised if Vincent Lecavalier's #4 gets the same treatment in the next year or two. Those two players took this franchise from a basement-dwelling joke to a perennial contender. Both deserve this honor.

Adidas rumors include third jersey hiatus

In addition to everything else, rumors have already begun to swirl with regard to Adidas taking over production of NHL sweaters next season. The biggest is that, like in 2007-08 when Reebok took over, we'll get a one-year break from third jerseys.

More than 80 separate sweater designs are being used in NHL games this season. That's a lot and the new manufacturer will need time to ramp up to that sort of production level. Instead, they'll ease in with a minimum of 62 — with the 31 teams each needing at least home and road threads. I'm sure we'll still have the odd Winter Classic and Stadium Series specialty sweaters, but that'll be about it for the 2017-18 season.

When 2018-19 rolls around, expect third jerseys to be back in full swing. It means this site should keep busy for the next two to three years at the very least. So long as Bettman doesn't suddenly get a wild hair about jersey ads, that is.

Rumors have also surfaced regarding changes for specific teams. My spies tell me that with Lou out of the picture, the Devils briefly considered sweeping changes to their identity but have since scaled back. But look for redesigned home and road sweaters along with a new shoulder patch. And consider them a lock for their first-ever third jersey in 2018-19.

Chris Creamer is also reporting the Oilers plan to go orange full time next season. I can understand that if for no other reason than it puts more separation between their branding and the Islanders' — which has shared a color palette since Edmonton joined the NHL in 1979. Plus, their orange jersey just looks good.

More details are sure to pop up here and there through the end of the season but things will ramp up in a big way this summer. Every team will be affected by the switch to Adidas even if only to adapt a new jersey cut. Stay tuned!

By the way, this blog post is just the first of a number of updates I still need to make. The jersey galleries need some attention, of course, but more importantly, look for the Top Concepts of 2016 to be posted very soon. All the ratings have been tallied up and it's about time we count down your favorite concepts of the year!