I sit here at 9:00 Friday night typing up this blog post, less than one day away from game five of the Blackhawks/Kings series. A Blackhawks win will send them to face the Bruins in the first all-Original Six Stanley Cup finals since 1979. Here's hoping.
Now then, as it pertains to the new uniforms/logos unveiled this week, I'm somewhere in the middle of the road. To put it in simple terms, the Hurricanes didn't need to change their uniforms and the Stars didn't need to change their logo. The Hurricanes have had a great uniform design since the team moved from Hartford. Now they've decided to play Team Canada/New Jersey dress-up and it looks terrible. It was an entirely unnecessary change. The only change the Canes needed was to remove the phantom yokes from their jerseys. Instead, they ruined what was a great uniform, especially since the warning flag motif is now gone. Blech.
On the other hand, I actually like what the Stars did with their uniforms. They got rid of a bad uniform and replaced it with something good. I like them going back to a brighter shade of green and making the green the predominant shade on the uniforms, but I'm not sold on the logo change. The Stars' logo is a modern classic and has looked good ever since the North Stars adopted it. They definitely could have used the new colors on the logo and it would have looked just fine. It's times like these that I'm glad to root for a team that, barring some massive catastrophe, will likely never change their uniforms. Some things never change, but fortunately, as we saw this week, not all change is inherently bad.
Toronto Maple Leafs Untouchables Contest
Chicago Blackhawks/Pittsburgh Penguins (by Adam)
Under normal circumstances, I'd criticize Adam for creating a sweater out of thin air for a team, but considering the Blackhawks have been wearing (in large part) the exact same sweaters since 1955, he's allowed to have some creative liberty here. I like the modernized 90s Penguins sweater as well, and thank God you didn't use the wordmark jersey. I've always disliked that one. My biggest critique of this one is the logo choice. I would have kept both teams' modern logos. The current Indian head is far superior to ones used in the past and the Robopen needs to be kept to the sidelines and should only be used as a shoulder patch if it's used at all. The skating penguin is much better. Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.
Los Angeles Kings/Anaheim Ducks (by Adam)
Adam's second concept features the other Western Conference home game in the Stadium Series to be played at Doyer Stadium between the Kings and Ducks. A part of me really wants to see a matchup like this happen but I know it's not going to look this good. The teams need to bring back the 90s looks but it's just too much to ask, especially since both teams have won Stanley Cups in their current looks. I just don't see it happening, especially so for the Ducks since they seem to want to distance themselves from the Mighty Ducks look. Regardless of that, it's a great-looking concept. Nothing really needs to be said about either jersey. Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.
Pittsburgh Penguins (by Austin)
Austin's Penguins concept takes a striping pattern from one of Pittsburgh's other sports teams, the NFL's Steelers, and applies it to a hockey jersey. Wow. This is absolutely stunning. The striping pattern is perfect for hockey. It looks fantastic and fits so well. Really, though, anything is an improvement over the Pens' current sweaters. My biggest issue with these is with the road sweater. Right now, it seems too bright. The gold stands out well against the black on the home but I would have reversed the black and the gold on the road stripes. Overall, I'll give it a 9/10.
Team Finland (by Bobby)
Bobby has three international concepts in today's post and we start with Finland. This concept is a definite improvement over Finland's current jerseys which, unfortunately, are a pretty bad demonstration of all that's wrong with Nike's hockey program. The dark jersey is definitely better than the white, so Bobby took that design, fixed it and applied it to the white. It looks great, especially since he removed the wordmark from the front of the jerseys and just used the logo. The logo/wordmark combination is quite redundant for Finland anyway, since the logo says "Suomi" and is placed right over a "Suomi" wordmark. The wordmark is entirely superfluous. I don't like that, once again, the mesh on the colored jersey remains white. I really wish people would recolor it on Nike jerseys. It always stands out so much. Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.
Team Russia (by Bobby)
Bobby's second international concept is a set for the Russian national team and much like Finland, there isn't much to complain about. It would be weird for a country like Russia with such a rich hockey history to wear anything non-traditional and Bobby delivers with this one. It's simple and effective. My only complaint is the same as the last one - the mesh on the red jersey. Fix it! Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.
Team Slovenia (by Bobby)
Slovenia's current jerseys are like Finland's current white jersey - weird stripes running down only part of the sleeve and strange striping patterns all over the place. It seems like very few teams get the respect they deserve from Nike's design department. It's why I wish Nike would take over the NHL because working within the boundaries of the NHL would likely give Nike some inspiration to do international hockey some justice. Anyway, Bobby's design takes a cue from Slovenia's national soccer team and uses a mountain design. This is definitely something that would - with some work - look good on the Avalanche. It really works here. My only complaint is the low amount of red. It's barely even a trim color on this concept. I'd add more and make it more prominent. Same mesh comment from the last two applies as well. Overall, I'll give it a 7.5/10.
Abbotsford Heat (by Gerard)
I'll be very frank: the current Heat jerseys are an absolute mess. They're typical Edge screw-ups with random piping and strange striping patterns. Gerard's concept puts them in standard Flames colors and makes their design much cleaner, and in that regard, he has succeeded. This looks much better than what they currently wear. It's too bad that the Heat may not be around in Abbotsford for much longer. I wonder how the Canucks' AHL affiliate will deal with being the only western AHL team once they take the Heat's place when they move to Utica. My only critique about this is the name outlines. I'd get rid of them because they just don't look good and they seem unnecessary. Overall, I'll give it an 8/10.
Anaheim Ducks (by Gerard)
Gerard's second of three concepts today is an Edgeified Wildwing jersey. Sorry to say it, but I've never been a fan of this jersey. The logo doesn't belong on a hockey jersey and the name and number font are bad. There's a reason why this jersey didn't last very long. The design of the jersey itself could work but it would need to be significantly overhauled. That being said, Gerard has done a good job to Edgeify it. The fact that the Wildwing jersey is not a good design is not his fault. Overall, I'll give it a 7/10.
NHL All-Star Game (by Gerard)
Gerard's final concept is an All-Star Game concept with a distinct vintage look to it. It combines elements from several past ASG uniforms, most notably the 2002 and 2004 uniforms. I love it. It's a really good design that the NHL would do well to use in the future. If only Gary Bettman read this page. C'est la vie. I've got no complaints about this one.
New York Islanders (by Jets96)
And we close today with two New York concepts by Jets96. The first is for the Islanders and is a modern version of what they SHOULD be wearing as their dark jersey. Why is that, might you ask? Their current uniforms are a throwback to their inaugural uniforms. They did not wear that same blue jersey during their early-80s Stanley Cup run. The striping pattern was different. The white jersey was the same, though. The Islanders definitely need to bring this jersey back and Jets' concept looks great. If the Stadium Series involved the home team wearing white and the road team wearing dark colors, I'd love to see the Islanders wear this. Overall, I'll give it an 8.5/10.
New York Rangers (by Jets96)
On the other hand, this one I'm not sure about. It's almost like the Rangers' Heritage third with their standard color scheme and a normal collar. Really, though, it's a fauxback to the jerseys worn in 1946-47. I just don't think this one works. The wordmark/number look just doesn't belong in the NHL. It's something that should be restricted to the college ranks. Hockey jerseys should not have a number on the front. The design itself is not bad, though. There's a reason why the Rangers' look has been essentially the same since the team began playing: it's a damn good design. No need to change it much. Overall, I'll give it a 7.5/10.