To mark 200 episodes of the DTFR Podcast, Nick and Colby talk about the origin story of DTFR, give podcast advice and share some of their favorite memories from the show or otherwise from the last six years of Down the Frozen River. Also, Lindy Ruff is the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils, more Florida Panthers talk and extended CBA musings.
Andrew Ference was my introduction to many things beyond the hockey world that affect the hockey world, Ken Dryden wrote some of the literature I’ve read and Brock McGillis is one of the many people I follow on Twitter.
That’s just a few of them, but there are many others like Marisa Ingemi, Ryan Clark, Eric Stephens, Amalie Benjamin, Jashvina Shah and Hemal Jhaveri, just to name some more.
I’m sure people will be bringing up the conversation surrounding specialty jerseys and tape in NHL games as they already have and will again someday.
I, for one, have no problems seeing whatever specialty jerseys in warmups and would encourage that players at least use whatever tape they feel like to coincide with that night or support that cause throughout the season a la Kurtis Gabriel’s use of Pride Tape in his career.
(Yes, I know, let’s abandon the traditional “don’t use ‘I’ statements” in op-ed pieces for a moment.)
Want to use Pride Tape? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Want to use camouflage tape on Military Appreciation Night? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Want to use purple tape on Hockey Fights Cancer Night? Use it in game. Not just warmups.
Don’t just put away tape after warmups if tape— of all things— is so often changed from game-to-game, stick-to-stick, broken stick-to-broken stick or whatever.
That said, the league needs to do a better job at distinguishing special nights.
Hockey Is For Everyone Night is nice in theory, but you cannot lump every cause into one, especially if it’s only the causes you’ve yet to show proof you care about beyond the brand image.
Hockey Is For Everyone Night should be a February thing, coinciding with Willie O’Ree puck drop ceremonies and Black History Month.
That is the night when you address why it took 60 years to put O’Ree in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, after he broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958.
Pride Night shouldn’t be slapped under the same banner (or worse, see the St. Louis Blues watch party). The Carolina Hurricanes had Pride Night done right this season and went an extra step on their social media to value the autonomy of every LGBTQ+ human being. Take a page from them.
(I’m not opposed to being bribed for the play-in/playoffs with any leftover Pride scarves you guys might have, Canes, fully knowing that this isn’t the place or time to be asking for free things.)
How can you accomplish these event nights and promote diversity within and without your organization? Hire minority candidates in executive positions and create things like Pride Committees and Black Hockey History Committees.
As we have seen from Akim Aliu, J.T. Brown, Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Kurtis Gabriel, Andrew Ference, Brock McGillis, Ben Scrivens, Braden Holtby, Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler, Logan Couture, Ryan Miller and other allies (I know I did not name them all here, but if you’re one of them I missed out on, please do not feel forgotten— continue to use your voice), I can only hope more players, coaches, front office members and retired players will continue to speak up, speak out and listen.
Racism exists. Fight it. Prevent it. Put an end to it.
Black Lives Matter. Police brutality exists.
Yes, there are good cops, but the current overarching “justice” system negates their spotlight where credit is due. That can be fixed and the good cops that truly serve and protect their communities— their entire community, white, black, Latinx, straight, LGBTQ and all— will rightfully see their time when the system is overhauled.
As long as there is no true Justice, it is an Unjust system.
Please register to vote if you aren’t already registered (U.S., Canada) and, most important, complete your entire ballot. Vote for your executive branch and legislative branch, but do not neglect your attorneys general, sheriff and others.
Nobody should have to die and yet, here we are, addressing murder after murder under the law of “innocent until proven guilty”.
We spend the majority of our days listening rather than speaking, but in actuality, we’re only hearing unless we’re actively listening— and hearing and listening are two different things.
Hearing is knowing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming and you’ll be late to school if you miss it, but you roll over and continue to sleep anyway.
Listening is hearing that your mother is yelling from downstairs for you to get out of bed because the bus is coming, getting up, getting dressed for school and making the bus on time to go to school and learn.
Kim Davis is doing wonderful work as the NHL’s Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs.
Practice doesn’t make perfect and the reality of things is that it often takes many attempts before landing something that sticks.
But practice does make better and with enough practice, things can and will be better— it’s the commitment to that practice and the followup that must follow through that matters.
The National Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.
USA Hockey can do better. Assistant Director, Hockey Operations, John Vanbiesbrouck needs to go.
Hockey Canada can do better.
The American Hockey League and its member clubs can do better.
The ECHL and its member clubs can do better.
The International Ice Hockey Federation can do better.
Beer leagues can do better. EA Sports can do better.
If you’ve ever grabbed a hockey stick, watched the sport or played the video game— you can do better.
That means all of us must learn and grow as we so often do in every other aspect of our lives.
If you’re a player, you once had to learn to skate. That took time, effort and many stumbles, but you got better over the years.
There’s no excuse for not being better as a person.
You’ve already done it in so many other ways, what’s one more important thing that doesn’t just occur on the ice?
Early Monday morning, the Edmonton Oilers jumpstarted the 2020 NHL trade deadline by acquiring Mike Green from the Detroit Red Wings while most fans on the East Coast were likely sleeping.
The Red Wings acquired Kyle Brodziak and a conditional 2020 4th round pick in return.
If the Oilers make the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, advance to the Western Conference Final and Green plays in 50 percent of the playoff games in the first two rounds, then Detroit receives Edmonton’s 2021 3rd round pick instead of their 2020 4th round pick.
Detroit retained 50% ($2.688 million) of Green’s salary in the trade.
Green, 34, has three goals and eight assists (11 points) in 48 games with Detroit this season and was third on the team in blocked shots (63) at the time of the trade.
A Calgary, Alberta native, Green was originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the first round (29th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
He has 10-27–37 totals in 76 career Stanley Cup Playoff games and 150-351–501 totals in 878 career regular season games for the Red Wings and Capitals.
Oilers General Manager, Ken Holland, addressed a need for a durable extra body in Edmonton’s own end with Oscar Klefbom out two-to-three weeks with a shoulder injury sustained in Feb. 19th’s, 2-1, overtime loss against the Boston Bruins.
Green is a pending-unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Brodziak, 35, has not played this season due to a back injury and will remain on the long-term injured reserve for Detroit.
He is in the final year of his current contract ($1.150 million cap hit) and will be a pending-UFA at season’s end and has 129-167–296 totals in 917 career NHL games with the Oilers, St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild.
The DTFR Podcast is back from hiatus as Nick provides a State of the Podcast, reviews a few things from the last couple of months and delves into all of the transactions leading up to the 2020 NHL trade deadline.
Back by popular demand– though a few months later than last season– it’s once again time to rank the NHL mascots.
In January 2017, DTFR began a new tradition of giving props for great efforts made in the community, laughs shared, smiles brought to everyone’s faces and (most importantly) character displayed by every mascot in the National Hockey League.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
31) New York Rangers 31st in 2018-19, 30th in 2017-18
The Rangers still don’t have a mascot, which in today’s day and age is a crime. Just march Brian Leetch around Madison Square Garden once in a while or something. Maybe even let Henrik Lundqvist become the team’s first mascot once he retires.
30) Al the Octopus (Detroit Red Wings) 30th in 2018-19, 26th in 2017-18
It’s a yearly tradition at this point to mention how awesome any Al the Octopus plush toy is and that it’s a shame the Red Wings never made Al the Octopus into a real thing instead of just a prop that ended up being sold for $7,700 at an auction in 2017 after Joe Louis Arena was closed and Detroit moved into their current home, Little Caesars Arena.
29) Spartacat (Ottawa Senators) 21st in 2018-19, 9th in 2017-18
Just like the Senators, Spartacat has fallen on hard times and really needs someone to love him. Unfortunately for Spartacat, he probably needs a haircut first or at least that rebrand to finally come around and give Ottawa a fresh look all-around (with new jerseys, new logos and new players).
Hi #sens fans… the @nhl break is here! @aduclair10 and I are off to St Louis. CATch us showcasing our stuff for #NHLAllStar and the #MascotShowdown respectively. #TwoAllStars #gosensgo pic.twitter.com/FSnFSggX6W— Spartacat (@REAL_Spartacat) January 21, 2020
28) Thunderbug (Tampa Bay Lightning) 18th in 2018-19, 15th in 2017-18
Being as cute as a bug no longer cuts it when you have Gritty running around causing chaos, plus other mascots really drumming up their personality bits. Perhaps Thunderbug has gotten too casual in recent years and that’s the reason why the Lightning haven’t won the Cup since 2004.
27) Nordy (Minnesota Wild) 28th in 2018-19, 24th in 2017-18
Like Minnesota sports as a whole, Nordy is just comfortable where he’s at. Nobody’s really sure whether he’s a fox, a wolf or some hybrid northern animal native to the wild, but the Wild’s mascot might also be on General Manager, Bill Guerin’s, list of assets to move at this year’s trade deadline if he’s not careful.
26) Wild Wing (Anaheim Ducks) 17th in 2018-19, 3rd in 2017-18
Wild Wing would be the perfect mascot for a roller hockey team, which is fitting for his location in southern California– where you could play roller hockey year-round. What might be a better option for the Ducks, however, would be to have legendary surfer, Rob Machado, make more appearances at Honda Center in an Anaheim sweater.
25) Sparky the Dragon (New York Islanders) 29th in 2018-19, 25th in 2017-18
With a new arena in Belmont Park looming, one would think the Islanders would make the natural switch to a horse-based mascot because, you know, horse racing and stuff. Either that or just give Sparky the Dragon a more fish-based appearance. Just add a few cuddly scales or perhaps give him a fishing rod that can also double as a hockey stick. Props go a long way at improving ratings.
24) Tommy Hawk (Chicago Blackhawks) 20th in 2018-19, 14th in 2017-18
Something about Tommy Hawk just feels off these days. Perhaps his contract will be traded in the offseason too while the Blackhawks adjust from their decade of dominance in the early 2010s to life in the 2020s.
23) Stanley C. Panther/Viktor E. Ratt (Florida Panthers) 25th in 2018-19, 20th in 2017-18
The Panthers have what some might call the “Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly of mascots”. Sure their early works were great, but their recent comedy has shown their age. Florida should put all of their focus in on one or the other– or at least give Olli Jokinen a proper display case inside BB&T Center.
22) Hunter (Edmonton Oilers) 26th in 2018-19, 23rd in 2017-18
Hunter’s redeeming quality this year is the new alternate threads for the Oilers. Edmonton’s new third sweaters help take away the scary qualities of this lovable lynx if you could only see through his otherwise terror inducing mane.
Dropping your 🍌 split = 😭— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 17, 2020
70% Super/Split Saturday = 😁
Tomorrow's #Oilers vs. Coyotes game is not only a huge divisional matchup, it's also our next Super/Split Saturday as the 50/50 winner will take home 70% of the total pot!
🎟 https://t.co/CFi44ORLeM pic.twitter.com/ICd7lEomM1
21) Howler (Arizona Coyotes) 27th in 2018-19, 21st in 2017-18
The Coyotes are embracing their kachina sweaters like never before and we can only hope that Howler will have to wear them full-time in the near future. If not, he’ll continue to be average in ranking. Your move, Arizona.
20) Bernie the St. Bernard (Colorado Avalanche) 22nd in 2018-19, 22nd in 2017-18
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Bernie the St. Bernard, since St. Bernard dogs are usually the go-to rescue animals in the event of an avalanche in the real world, but it’s just a little too on the nose compared to the Yeti that once walked the corridors of Pepsi Center.
It was as close to a Sasquatch as you’d see in an NHL arena– until Seattle joins the fray in 2021, that is (hopefully they take our suggestion for a mascot). So yeah… the Avalanche have an average mascot.
19) Youppi! (Montreal Canadiens) 10th in 2018-19, 6th in 2017-18
Look, there’s nothing bad about Youppi!, but has anyone heard from him lately? I mean, is everything ok? First the Tampa Bay Rays jettison their plans for a potential split-season between St. Petersburg and Montreal, then the Canadiens just seem to have really overlooked how much he means to the mascot world lately.
Fear not, this may be a down year in the rankings, but Youppi! should bounce back once the Expos return from their quick run to get bread and milk.
Félicitations à un autre numéro 33 légendaire du sport à Montréal!— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 22, 2020
Congratulations to another legendary No. 33 from the Montreal sports scene!#LarryWalkerHOF | @Cdnmooselips33 pic.twitter.com/TcCwEo2gBa
18) Bailey (Los Angeles Kings) 3rd in 2018-19, 1st in 2017-18
Cranky mascots on Twitter is getting kind of old. We’re just putting Bailey here so he can tweet at us and change our minds.
17) Harvey the Hound (Calgary Flames) 23rd in 2018-19, 18th in 2017-18
Put a shirt on for heaven’s sake. It’s winter! Canadians, man. They’re an interesting breed.
16) Chance (Vegas Golden Knights) 9th in 2018-19, 31st* in 2017-18
We gave Chance a chance, but now the Golden Knights’ mascot just seems average, if not just old news thanks to something we call “the Gritty Factor” in the industry. A good performance at the 2020 NHL Mascot Showdown could boost his ranking.
Happy Thanksgiving. 🦃 pic.twitter.com/rKYXrdfgeB— Chance (@ChanceNHL) November 28, 2019
15) Mick E. Moose (Winnipeg Jets) 16th in 2018-19, 11th in 2017-18
Mick E. Moose looked stunning in Winnipeg’s 2019 Heritage Classic sweater, but unfortunately for the Jets mascot, there’s not much else going for him these days. Maybe next year.
How's that for a Sunday afternoon!?! pic.twitter.com/DgCGypgFup— Mick E Moose (@MickEMoose_00) December 8, 2019
14) Gnash (Nashville Predators) 19th in 2018-19, 17th in 2017-18
Gnash gets some bonus points for Nashville’s 2020 Winter Classic sweater, but he hasn’t done anything out of this world lately to try to capture a few more spots.
13) Slapshot (Washington Capitals) 5th in 2018-19, 4th in 2017-18
Once a rising star in the mascot ranking world, Slapshot lost a little of his edge while the Capitals roll right along with the Metropolitan Division lead. Another Stanley Cup Final run could be the cure for his ails.
12) Victor E. Green (Dallas Stars) 12th in 2018-19, 19th in 2017-18
We’re over the moon for this huggable alien in his Stars 2020 Winter Classic threads. Victor E. Green’s also still got those cute hockey stick ears going for him, but could use another viral video or two to really move him up the ranks. Anyone know if he’s on TikTok?
Finally joined the world of Instagram! Follow me @DallasStarsVic— Victor E. Green (@VictorEGreen) January 9, 2020
Any other account is FAKE! pic.twitter.com/7UwBTmG9ZA
11) Stinger (Columbus Blue Jackets) 15th in 2018-19, 27th in 2017-18
Stinger’s quips with Greg Wyshynski are amusing and have us concerned about just how sentient all NHL mascots have become in today’s world. We’d hate for him to sting us next. The Blue Jackets, in the meantime, are slowly being forgiven over the years for the mistake that was Boomer. Meanwhile, Elvis Merzlikins’ post-win celebrations might merit their own felt-based mascot sometime soon.
10) Louie (St. Louis Blues) 14th in 2018-19, 12th in 2017-18
The Blues win one Cup in 52 years and everyone loses their minds except one being– Louie. Louie will never give you up. He’s never going to let you down (anymore). He’s never going to run around and desert you. Also, he’s just really nice, so let’s reward him with Top-10 status this season.
9) Stormy (Carolina Hurricanes) 24th in 2018-19, 28th in 2017-18
Our biggest improvement this season belongs to none other than Stormy. It may or may not have something to do with him rocking Hartford Whalers gear on Whalers Night for the past two seasons, but the Hurricanes mascot is looking fine as ever in every thread that covers that hog body.
Plus we’ll give bonus points for Hamilton the Pig and free street-cred to the wonderful fans that own and care for Hamilton.
Whale would you look at that 🐋 pic.twitter.com/r3pLoxEBDX— Stormy (@NHLStormy) January 11, 2020
8) Blades the Bruin (Boston Bruins) 8th in 2018-19, 5th in 2017-18
The Bruins almost saw Blades fall in this year’s rankings if it weren’t for how well he’s able to pull off that “B” on their new alternate jerseys. It seems fitting that Blades wears the first letter of his name big and bright on his jersey once in a while. Now if only we could get him to do a backflip or something.
Patrice Bergeron, the #NHLBruins, and @985TheSportsHub teamed up for the 2020 Pucks & Paddles ping pong tournament on Friday, raising $125,000 for Floating Hospital for Children at @TuftsMedicalCtr.— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 18, 2020
📸 Full Photo Gallery: https://t.co/HB8b7UILn8 pic.twitter.com/qf7sLedcki
7) Carlton the Bear (Toronto Maple Leafs) 11th in 2018-19, 13th in 2017-18
The Maple Leafs mascot is in the Top-10 for the first time in our ranking and he is looking classier than ever before for some reason. Did someone say “everything old is new again”? Because he’s old, but never going out of style. Alexa, play “Style” by Taylor Swift while we jam with Carlton the Bear and his friends.
6) Fin (Vancouver Canucks) 7th in 2018-19, 10th in 2017-18
Slow but steady has been the progress of the Canucks over the last few years that this season they might make the playoffs and next season Fin just might make the Top-5 in our mascot ranking. Unfortunately for Vancouver’s favorite orca, he’s just one spot shy of being a certified superstar in the making.
5) Gritty (Philadelphia Flyers) 4th in 2018-19, 29th* in 2017-18 (pre-Gritty)
We swear we didn’t take the easy way out by picking Gritty as this year’s
top 5th place mascot, but would you honestly blame us if we did? We are all gritizens these days anyway and Gritty rules us all. It certainly helps that the Flyers introduced their “Disassembly Room” and continue to go all-in on the chaos that Gritty brings everywhere he goes.
Plus, look at all the props, costumes and sheer grit that Philly’s orange monster has for each and every event, game and everything in between.
(We also wrote this before learning of the current allegations against Philadelphia’s beloved orange ball of fur.)
Am I doing this right? pic.twitter.com/p3EQZzvYbD— Gritty (@GrittyNHL) January 22, 2020
4) Iceburgh (Pittsburgh Penguins) 1st in 2018-19, 7th in 2017-18
Iceburgh won top-dog– er, penguin– in last season’s mascot ranking, but things have cooled off for a bit while the Penguins mascot comes down from the many highs of being the No. 1 mascot. He’s ready to settle down and chill in his nest for a while, then go right back for the krill next year.
3) Sabretooth (Buffalo Sabres) 6th in 2018-19, 8th in 2017-18
Just look at how phenomenal the Sabres’ 50th anniversary sweaters are, then look how much they bring out all the best qualities in Sabretooth to the forefront of this rising mascot in the ranking.
Sabretooth’s a shoe-in for Runner-Up or First Place next season when Buffalo goes back to royal blue as their primary color. The question is, will Sabretooth’s stripes change accordingly?
2) S.J. Sharkie (San Jose Sharks) 2nd in 2018-19, 2nd in 2017-18
For the third year in-a-row, S.J. Sharkie came in 2nd in our ranking. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that we think Sharkie won’t be able to win this competition like how the Sharks always find a way to disappoint their fans before (or during) the Final.
One of these years, San Jose. One of these years. Unfortunately it won’t be this year, as the Sharks are likely to miss the postseason and don’t even have their first round pick.
1) N.J. Devil (New Jersey Devils) 13th in 2018-19, 16th in 2017-18
What’s hotter than hell these days? The N.J. Devil himself.
Seriously, just look at this gorgeous mascot and you too will start questioning if you’re really that attracted to his facial hair or the fact that this guy can bench more than your cousin Tony. New Jersey, your next reason to shutdown your beaches is right in front of you and it looks way hotter.
Also, has there ever been a more relatable mascot that loves pizza just like us?
In all seriousness though, all of the league’s mascots do a great job of being an entertaining part of the game, as well as wonderful ambassadors for spreading kindness and cheer in their community.
Hats off to the people living inside the sweaty costumes and the marketing teams behind them.
Let’s face it, most people over the age of 18 don’t care for the NHL’s annual All Star Game, but it’s still an important part of the sport nonetheless.
For starters, the host city is provided with a boost in tourism for a weekend in January, while the local community receives more attention and support from the league in terms of growing the game for the duration leading up to that weekend and beyond– making it more accessible, more affordable and more inclusive, ideally.
It’s because of the good public relations and the charitable efforts made that the All Star Game should never go away.
That said, it could use some improvements to try to bring back the casual onlookers of the sport or even the diehards that tune out for the night and would rather watch paint dry.
Here’s three ways to try to bring more eyes to the game and at the very least boost its ratings on a weekend when not much else is happening to distract viewers from that season’s best NHLers having a little fun (how dare they).
Make it like the 2016 World Cup of Hockey
Want to further exemplify how the game is continuing to evolve, while getting younger and faster? Look no further than introducing a 23 and under team inspired by the 2016 World Cup of Hockey’s Team North America to the 3-on-3 format of the All Star Game!
Simply go back to naming teams after players and having them select their teammates and/or opponents, then pit the 23-year-olds and younger against the 30-year-olds and older and see if Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Rasmus Dahlin can beat Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin (assuming he wouldn’t skip the game) and John Carlson.
Want an added challenge? Bring back the Young Stars Game for players ranging in age from 18 to 20 and have them take on each other in an East vs. West format or simply throw them into the fire with the 23 and under team, 24 to 29-year-old team and 30 and older team (or something like that).
But seriously, either adopt the World Cup of Hockey teams for a 3-on-3 battle, mix it up with a young vs. old mentality or just pick who goes to the All Star Game and let them create their teams.
Imagine a team solely comprised of goaltenders. Now that’s worth tuning in for.
Better yet, let’s have the Elite Women’s team take on NHLers in a Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs inspired matchup or have Marie-Philip Poulin lace up her skates alongside Crosby, while Hilary Knight suits up with Matthews and unleash the fury that is all of Hockey Canada and USA Hockey coming together for an ultimate 3-on-3 battle.
Make it a weekend of skills
If most fans over the age of 18 are tuning in for All Star weekend festivities just to see who’s the fastest skater, who has the hardest shot, what kind of crazy relay race Gatorade has come up this year or the all-new addition of a 3-on-3 women’s game to the skills competition, then why not make it a two-night main event?
The Hardest Shot competition, for example, wouldn’t get to be featured on both nights with the possibility of players altering their sticks within legal manners to try to get more speed on their shot– unless you wanted to add something like that as a curveball.
If you don’t want to expand the number of events, then get creative and allow a little tampering for players to study what they did on the first night, learn what their competition did better and try to beat that on the second night.
Alternatively, the league could just have have a mixture of traditional skills (Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, Accuracy Shooting) and newer competitions (Shooting Stars, Save Streak, Elite Women’s 3-on-3 game) spread out over two nights with the return of the Breakaway Challenge, Skills Challenge Relay, Premier Passer, Puck Control Relay, Elimination Shootout and whatever you can come with to split each night with six different events.
Bring back the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format or have the divisions compete against each other and award points to the winners of each event.
The squad with the most points at the end of the two-night challenge wins bonus money or something.
Throw in an extra $50,000 for a charity that the winning team was playing for and you’ve got yourself even more good PR.
Don’t announce the All Star rosters until player introductions
Remember the outrage about Team USA’s 2010 Winter Games roster after it was announced immediately following the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park?
This would be like that, but with more people than ever before on Hockey Twitter™ completely freaking out about how Jack Johnson was named to the All Star Game.
Think of the controversy that could be drummed up in real-time without allowing anyone to have about a month to whine about All Star snubs or substitutions.
Even better, it might force players to go to the game instead of using the built-in time off from the bye week as an excuse to skip out on something that’s made for fans to get a chance to see who they might otherwise not see regularly.
(So the NHLPA’s never going to agree to this idea from the start, because time off matters.)
Sure the schedule currently lets every market see players from out of town, but the novelty of the All Star Game has always been that the host city and its fans (or anyone that may have traveled from out of town to the region) can get to see the stars of the game without the barriers of dynamic ticket pricing getting in the way (in theory) for a family of four that might not be able to afford a regular matchup against one of the more superstar loaded teams.
This idea’s the hardest one to pull off given how well secrets are kept in the league (they’re not), as well as due to the fact that people would know by warmups who’s made the team and tweet about it, plus the fact that All Star merchandise with any player’s likeness would still need to be made ahead of time to sell at just the right time leading up to the game and thereafter (which could get leaked).
New jerseys and future Winter Classic venues and teams are constantly being disclosed before official announcements or reveals, which can sometimes take the fun away from the moment when it actually happens or– more often– only further stew angry complaints on social media until fans see it on the ice.
But just think, what if we all agreed to show up to Enterprise Center or watch the 2020 All Star Game on TV without knowing who’s in it only to find out that Brad Marchand was left off the team even though he’s currently 6th in league scoring (with 64 points– 10 points fewer than league leader, McDavid) or that anyone from the Detroit Red Wings or New Jersey Devils even made the team despite the former being on track for the worst regular season since the 2016-17 Colorado Avalanche?
Imagine the drama– then watch them play a 3-on-3 tournament!
Oh yeah, this also assumes that you’d somehow not spoil the rosters with the Skills Competition, but we can work those details out at a later time.
Admit it, you’ve been wondering when this was going to come out and you’re dying to reflect on whether any of your old hot takes still hold up compared to how some of these beauties actually look on the ice.
Once again it’s time for one DTFR writer’s thoughts and ranking of all the newest threads introduced in the National Hockey League for the 2019-20 season and beyond.
NHL teams often try to create a buzz and stick to the brand, but occasionally there’s a few outliers that do the opposite of what the introduction of Gritty as the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers has done that organization, for example.
In other words, remember that Dallas Stars third jersey from 2003-06? Yeah, that one. Beloved by some, but hated by many– nevertheless, everyone wonders the same thing “who gave the final approval for that?”
Please enjoy this year’s light-hearted ranking of the newest threads and fashion sense.
13. Anaheim Ducks (unveiled, Sept. 30, 2019)
In their 26th NHL season, the Anaheim Ducks brought back their Orange County Orange(™) alternate sweaters that were previously worn from 2015-17.
After the mandatory one-year hiatus from the NHL’s third jersey program while the league made the switch from the Reebok Edge to adidas ADIZERO design in 2017-18– as well as Anaheim’s one-year specialty jersey to commemorate their 25th anniversary last season– the current alternate threads have made their official comeback.
While most like the homage of the crest to the original name of the franchise as the “Mighty Ducks of Anaheim”, this sweater just doesn’t really do it for me. Yes, more orange isn’t a bad thing in the NHL, but overall the design is pretty formulaic when it comes to featuring secondary logos, tertiary colors, etc.
It’s nice to see it make its return, but dare I say it, the 25th anniversary alternate sweater was actually… kind of great. Perhaps it should come back.
12. Los Angeles Kings (unveiled, Aug. 31, 2019)
The Los Angeles Kings are living in the past these days– what with Rob Blake as their General Manager and all, plus the reintroduction of their iconic 1988-96 look.
Los Angeles brought out these Heritage sweaters from the closet to appease jersey collectors looking for a little something from the past, but in the modern ADIZERO fit and with names like “Brown”, “Doughty”, “Kopitar” and “Quick” on the back instead of those other guys who never won a Cup in a Kings sweater like “Gretzky” and “Robitaille”.
We live in strange times, indeed.
That said, Los Angeles’ 2020 Stadium Series sweater (leaked in Nov.) leaves something to be desired.
It’s as if someone took one of those pieces from an Othello board, added some streaks from Vancouver’s “Flying Skate” spaghetti stripes and worked in the coolest feature (the checkerboard pattern behind the neck) in the smallest place they could’ve possibly done so just to smite us.
The “Burger King” is dead. May he continue to rest in peace.
But if the Kings ever wanted to go all out on a zany Stadium Series design, think black and white checkerboard with the “Burger King” crest. Now that’s how you get a European feel in an outdoor NHL game.
Anze Kopitar would be proud. Do it for your captain, Kings.
11. St. Louis Blues (unveiled, Sept. 14, 2019)
The St. Louis Blues decided that Los Angeles couldn’t be the only team digging up what they wore when Wayne Gretzky was on their roster, so they dusted off their own 1990s look and put it back on the shelves at Enterprise Center.
There’s nothing original about it, since it’s just their 1995-98 dark sweater, but ADIZERO-fied. Does this mean Gretzky’s going to come back for another 16 regular season games?
10. Colorado Avalanche (leaked, Nov. 12, 2019)
The Colorado Avalanche had a rather conservative 2016 Stadium Series sweater at Coors Field and the Avs paid for it dearly by losing, 5-3, to the Detroit Red Wings.
This time around, Colorado’s looking to take flight at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with what’s already a winning design.
Embrace the chaos.
Traditionally, the Stadium Series is always about taking hockey where it’s never been– whether it’s an outdoor game in Los Angeles or simply in the sweater design. This year’s Stadium Series matchup is certainly living up to the outlandish theme– dare we say futuristic? If only that future involves minimalism combined with the absurd.
9. Vancouver Canucks (unveiled, Sept. 12, 2019)
The Vancouver Canucks refreshed their look for the 2019-20 season and beyond by dropping the “Vancouver” wordmark from above the orca and making their crest logo larger than ever before.
Not to be outdone, the Canucks modernized the stick in the rink logo on the shoulders, cast it in white instead of blue and only committed one jersey foul by not keeping the shoulder patches clad in blue on the white road sweaters for contrast.
A little subtle change in detail from home to road sweaters isn’t a bad thing like how the Boston Bruins home shoulder patch reads as “Bruins” above the bear and “Boston” above the bear on the road sweaters. Again, it’s the little things that really make something feel complete and the Canucks could very well rectify this “existential crisis” in time for the 2020-21 season, but it’s nothing major.
The Canucks really did a great job of reducing their colors to blue and green on their alternate “Heritage” sweaters. Is it perfect? No, but it is something different from what they’ve had and different from their usual look, so that’s better than nothing.
The stick in the rink logo really pops on the alternates and it’s a shame they’re likely only going to be worn for this season unless I can convince them otherwise (do the right thing, Vancouver).
Maybe take a little inspiration from the Vancouver Millionaires sleeve striping pattern and figure out a way to correlate that with the alternate logo and you just might make a certified gold mashup of Vancouver hockey sweaters from over the years.
⚫️🔴🟡 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/yupnGWeLye— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) November 15, 2019
In addition to celebrating their 50th anniversary in style, Vancouver brought back their “Flying Skate” jerseys as throwbacks this year and, well, they’re decent in the ADIZERO design, but unless the Canucks are going to forfeit pacific green and blue to Seattle in 2021, Vancouver shouldn’t switch their colors back to red, yellow and black.
Pavel Bure could pull off the look, but don’t make Elias Pettersson wear those things more than he has to.
8. Calgary Flames (unveiled, Sept. 13, 2019)
Simply put, these 2019 Heritage Classic sweaters should be the Calgary Flames’ road sweaters.
Calgary dug out their 1989 look last season for their current alternate sweater and unless the Flames are planning on bringing back the flaming horse head sweater from 1998-06, it’s probably time to go back to the past for a little while and wallow in the nostalgia of when the franchise didn’t let Jarome Iginla down every year and actually won a Stanley Cup.
7. Winnipeg Jets (unveiled, Sept. 13, 2019)
Not many things from the 1970s have as much staying power as these Winnipeg Jets 2019 Heritage Classic sweaters. Everything about this jersey is sharp and it’s a shame the Jets can’t use them more often.
Winnipeg is cursed with superior design in both their past life as well as in their current iteration. It’s hard to tell the Jets to use these more when their current complete jersey set is as dynamic as it is and underrated.
6. Edmonton Oilers (unveiled, Sept. 12, 2019)
The #Oilers, @NHL & @adidashockey present our #adizero Alternate Jersey for the 2019-20 season!— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 12, 2019
Fusing sport & culture, this special-edition jersey features modern & futuristic design elements that create a clean, sleek & bold new look.
🔶 https://t.co/sSaRJZHuXb 🔷 pic.twitter.com/yXgu38QpM3
When the Edmonton Oilers changed over to their modern orange and navy blue color scheme, I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan at first.
Now, after remembering the days of my youth enjoying the hell out of watching Edmonton’s last great team– the 2005-06 Oilers roster– I want everything to be steeped in the navy blue of Ryan Smyth’s prime.
At first glance, these sweaters look like something you’d find in an intramural floor hockey league, but hey, even if you don’t win the championship, you’d still look better than all the other teams.
They’re bold and daring, but don’t scream “out of this world” in concept. They’re just fun and after all, isn’t that the point of the game? To just “have fun”?
Years from now we’re going to remember Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s prime as such a conflicting era of Oilers hockey.
The Second Coming of Sidney Crosby (McDavid) was forced to abandon the Wayne Gretzky colors for his own identity– this team’s current identity– led by two-time All-Star goaltender, Mike Smith (who’s corresponding pads with the new alternates are phenomenal, by the way), of course.
Ok, really, I got nothing else about this design. It’s plain, but electric. It has just the right amount of marketability to kids who will have their hearts broken by this team.
5. Nashville Predators (unveiled, Nov. 2, 2019)
The Nashville Predators’ 2020 Winter Classic sweater is a timeless look– most notably because it is actually a thing from the past based on the Dixie Flyers’ sweaters from 1962-71, but also because anytime there’s a script involved on the front of an NHL jersey instead of a logo, there’s a 99% chance Hockey Twitter is going to compare it to the old Minnesota Wild alternate sweater from 2009-17 and wish for more teams to try their hand at cursive writing.
In other words, the Preds actually made something good and that’ll sell well, even if fans are going to have to acknowledge that Nashville’s Stanley Cup contender status window may be closing– and fast.
This strikes me as a very good pond hockey jersey to wear for some reason and that shoulder patch should see added mileage on a future alternate sweater, in case the Predators are looking for a starting point (and to avoid whatever mustard yellow sweater Peter Forsberg had to wear in his short Nashville tenure).
4. Boston Bruins (unveiled, Nov. 24, 2019)
The Boston Bruins played it conservatively for the second alternate jersey in a row, simply pulling an old sweater out of the closet, bringing it to a tailor and tweaking a few minor things.
That said, Bruins President, Cam Neely, has a knack for marketing his organization.
Boston’s new alternate is just a throwback from their first full-time road sweater in 1948-49, but with a modernized “B” font from the 2019 Winter Classic sweater and small changes to the stripes.
It’s elegant, but just how daring is it?
“Original Six” franchises are proud to display their history and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s not a one-off sort of thing that pits the organization’s current stars in a weird alternate timeline where things just don’t look right (looking at you, Montreal Canadiens 100th anniversary trio).
Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs occasionally bring out something from their Arenas days or St. Pats days for a game or two each year, but they’re not as hideous as whatever the Habs went through before settling on their tricolor motif a few years prior to the NHL’s creation.
Anyway, you have to give credit to the Bruins for actually taking some things from the past and updating them to modern building codes such that players like Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara can get a feel for what franchise legends like Eddie Shore, Lionel Hitchman, “Dit” Clapper and Milt Schmidt wore back in the day without cheapening the spectacle in a one-time only scenario.
Neely has a history in his tenure for overseeing every aspect in the design of a legacy product– the 2010 Winter Classic sweater featured an updated 25th anniversary spoked-B crest from the 1948-49 season white jersey clad on a 1958-59 gold jersey with brown instead of black accents.
The 2016 Winter Classic sweater was an updated version of their original 1924-25 sweater– exchanging brown for black. And of course, Boston’s 2019 Winter Classic sweater was based on their look from the early 1930s with a modernized “B” and more stripes on the sleeves.
Timeless doesn’t have to mean drab if the players are flying up and down the ice adding their own creativity to the sweater.
3. Dallas Stars (unveiled, Nov. 6, 2019)
Hockey sweaters can never have too many stripes, nor can they ever have too much green– and I’m not just saying that as someone who’s favorite color is green.
The Dallas Stars are paying homage to the 1940s professional hockey team before them– the Dallas Texans– with a “fauxback” of sorts.
Though they’re claiming the identity of a long-gone team in the basic design elements, the Stars brought forth something fresh and clean to the drawing board instead of all the possibilities the former Minnesota North Stars could have ran with for one game.
Dallas wearing a North Stars emblem in an outdoor game in Dallas wouldn’t be very Dallas.
But this sweater is. Plus the old-school colored pants and white gloves really complete the aesthetic. Who could be mad at that?
Bonus points for the State of Texas patch on the sleeve with an ode to “The Big D” inside it.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (unveiled, Aug. 20, 2019)
You may call them “Candy Canes”, but the Carolina Hurricanes are the owners of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and we’re all just trying to be one of the lucky five people with golden tickets.
Perhaps that’s the strangest way of saying this year’s new road sweater is everything that most jerseys aren’t– actually creative. There’s no “copy, paste and invert the colors” involved.
The hurricane warning motif was brought back as a bottom stripe (major style points) and they introduced red gloves to match the red pants, as well as a red-based 3-D Hurricanes logo on the sides of the helmet.
Carolina got rid of the added weight on the shoulders by removing the red yoke and righted a wrong on the previous version of their road white sweaters– the names and numbers are back in red.
Though three distinct jerseys for each sweater style (home, away and alternate) is usually not my thing from a brand consistency standpoint, the Hurricanes made significant improvements to playing within their stormy elements and not trying to blend in with anyone else.
They are their own thing– diagonal “CANES” moniker across the front of the road sweater be damned.
If you don’t like it, then you’re clearly not a Caniac.
(And if– for some reason– you are a Caniac and you don’t like these sweaters, well they’re still doing Whalers Night this year, so please enjoy your “traditional” fix on Jan. 11th.)
1. Buffalo Sabres (unveiled, Aug. 16, 2019)
You can never have too many stripes in soccer, rugby or hockey. Take notes kids.
Also, the Buffalo Sabres really hit it out of the park with the same shiny gold thread that’s prominent in the Vegas Golden Knights’ overall identity.
Much like how the Ducks– in retrospect– nailed their 25th anniversary aesthetic with an element from every jersey in one, the Sabres nailed their 50th anniversary– their golden anniversary– with almost literal gold.
It’s gold in color, but not in carats.
Buffalo’s switching back to royal blue in their home and road sweaters for the 2020-21 season and beyond, so it’s really only fitting that white is the basis for this ode to the team’s inception, growth and existence over half a century.
The Sabres made sure to include all four renditions of their primary logo over the years inside the collar, which is a unique thing about NHL sweaters compared to other leagues– the incredible level of personalization to an organization– no detail is overlooked.
It’s a shame these will only be worn for this season, but it’s a sacrifice many are willing to make for the return to royal blue, I’m sure.
One of these days the Ottawa Senators are due for a rebrand (and with it, new third jerseys), but until then, the Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Nashville Predators may all introduce third jerseys at some point.
Probably not this year at this rate, but maybe next year.