So you may have noticed there are no concepts to review this week, as Ryan is welcoming the birth of his daughter. Congratulations to him and his family!
As I mentioned last week, I wanted to celebrate my year (and a little bit) of being a writer of the blog, so I thought I'd do something different this week and showcase my 10 favourite concepts featured on my post from the past year. I'm sure I missed some that I'd given a better score or review to, and I could name dozens of concepts that really had a lasting impact on me, but I'll limit it to 10. In no particular order:
Colgate Autism Awareness - Antonio Calisto (Reviewed October 17, 2013)
Not only was this concept beautifully done, but it was done as a tribute to his son, who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. He shared this message along with this concept:
"This one is special! I dedicate this jersey to my son William who's turning 4 years old along with his twin brother Frank on OCT 14. He was diagnosed with "ASD" autism spectrum disorder last fall of 2012. Since then I am ever so blessed and proud to see my child take such great strides of improvement, to understand and communicate with his family and surroundings. He is a great kid Daddy loves you William"
Sometimes design goes beyond colours and shapes. Sometimes design has a meaning, which is very true of this concept.
Philadelphia Flyers - Dallas K. (Reviewed March 13, 2014)
I'm a sucker for old-school designs, and always loved the look of the old Quakers uniforms. While many have tried this sort of design, this concept by Dallas really stood out to me as a believable and awesome alternate.
Calgary Flames - Dylan Wonka (Reviewed February 6, 2014)
Being my favourite team, I had to include a Flames concept somewhere on this list, and this is definitely my favourite one to be featured on my posts. The old school colours and new yoke and stripe styles blend perfectly.
1994 Winter Classic - Jordan R. (Reviewed February 20, 2014)
Presentation is a very under appreciated component of concept designs. Here, the jerseys are perfect throwbacks to the appropriate uniforms. But beyond that, the template looks great, and the logo is extremely realistic for the era and event. Having the Hasek-cage on the Buffalo template is an awesome touch.
AHL All-Star Game - Robb C. (Reviewed January 23, 2014)
Gradients never work on jerseys, unless they want to be overly-flashy. Luckily, ASG jerseys thrive on being flashy, so this beautifully designed concept looks perfect, gradients and all! The little details, the fantastic striping, and the great colour scheme look make this a beauty of a concept.
Team Russia - s2dio (Reviewed July 10, 2014)
s2dio could be all over this list, but I'm picking this as my personal favourite of his. Russia always had great uniforms (yes, even the funky one they had at the Olympics), but they've kept fairly consistent in their design for a long time now. This would be a very refreshing, new look for them, and every detail looks perfect!
AHL All-Star Game - Scott M. (Reviewed September 26, 2013)
This was one of the first great concepts I reviewed. I never really liked this arm style, but it was executed so perfectly on this concept that I couldn't help but love it. Remember my comment on flashy ASG jerseys? That applies here as well. While it's a little less flashy than the concept above, it fits the AHL brand perfectly.
St. Louis Rams - Steve M. (Reviewed June 5, 2014)
Iqaluit Inuksuit - TG (Reviewed June 12, 2014)
The colours are cool, the design is cool, the originality is cool, the font is cool, the name and series idea is cool, you get the idea. This concept is awesomely unique, and I'd buy this in a heartbeat.
Vancouver Canucks - TG (Reviewed August 28, 2014)
I didn't want to include multiple concepts from the same artist, but I got suckered in by my one concept weakness: double blue. The Canucks are heavily featured on this blog, and this is the best one I got to review. I like how Vancouver looks now, but I think simplifying their design and sticking with blue would give them a fantastic set.
Did I miss one that you think should be on my Best-Of-Thursdays list? Make sure you let me know in the comments!
So before I end my post, I'm going to give my predictions and some insights for the season ahead.
1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Anaheim Ducks
3. San Jose Sharks
4. Calgary Flames
5. Vancouver Canucks
6. Arizona Coyotes
7. Edmonton Oilers
I'll start with the bombshell pick. I think Calgary can be the best team in Western Canada, and could contend for a playoff spot. They lack experience and high-end skill, but they have a great young core that played well at the end of last season, and greatly upgraded their goaltending. Unless the Sedins and Miller can find their superstar form that has been missing during the last few years, I think the Canucks will have problems this season. The top 3 still belongs to the California teams, with LA and Anaheim the obvious 1-2. San Jose still has lots of firepower, but facing an identity crisis.
1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. St. Louis Blues
3. Colorado Avalanche
4. Dallas Stars
5. Winnipeg Jets
6. Minnesota Wild
7. Nashville Predators
Chicago is by far the best team in the Central, so as long as Crawford plays half-decently, they'll win the division. St. Louis can be a powerhouse team again, but goaltending is a concern. Colorado will regress, but not as much as some people think. They still have a great team that can compete if they work on their defence. Dallas is the wildcard, as they have enough firepower to end up at the top of the division, but enough questions to end up on the bottom. Winnipeg will be close-but-no-cigar as usual. Minny will deeply regret releasing Bryzgalov, as their goaltending issues will keep them away from the playoffs again. Nashville has too many changes and young faces to make an impact this year, but could be deadly soon.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. New York Rangers
3. Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. Washington Capitals
6. New York Islanders
7. New Jersey Devils
8. Carolina Hurricanes
Pens and Rangers should be fighting all year for the top of this division. Columbus will show that last year wasn't a fluke. Philly has a team capable of making the playoffs if they can consistently play to their abilities, especially with Mason in net. Folks expecting a Caps breakthrough will be disappointed, as will people expecting the Islanders and Devils to improve. Their teams have firepower but are too shallow in depth and goaltending to make a difference. Carolina will be the bottom-feeder of the division and possibly the league, with injuries to J. Staal and Skinner already taking a toll on the Hurricanes' roster.
1. Boston Bruins
2. Montreal Canadiens
3. Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Detroit Red Wings
6. Ottawa Senators
7. Buffalo Sabres
8. Florida Panthers
The landscape of this division hasn't changed much since last season. Boston, Tampa Bay, and Montreal will be in a dog pile for the top of the division, and the standings could easily get scrambled between the 3 teams. After that, Toronto is probably the best team, considering Detroit and Ottawa are in a bit of a regressing state. Buffalo has a really bad team on paper, but I think they could be closer to the other teams than some people will give them credit for. Florida will have a rebuilding year, and might climb a few spots if Luongo plays to his gold-medal ability. I highly doubt that will be the case, however.
West Conference Playoff Champion - Los Angeles Kings
East Conference Playoff Champion - Montreal Canadiens
LA is no worse than they were last season, and will remain deadly this year. They might not be as dominant in the regular season, but they find a way to win in the playoffs, and I can't expect anything less than that out of them again. Montreal might have lost a few pieces from their run last season, but their young stars are now one season older, wiser, and better. Expect them to be at Boston's heels all season long, and eventually over take them when it all counts in Spring.
Stanley Cup Champion - Los Angeles Kings (4 games to 2).
Alright, by show of hands, how many of you are mad or offended by my picks? Probably plenty. But we'll see in a few months how right or wrong I am. If you have your own predictions or comments about mine, say so in the comment section!
Alright, I think that's just about enough out of me this week. Thank you again for reading my posts for over a year now, and hopefully for much longer in the future. Have a good weekend, and happy start-of-the-NHL-season!!! (In Canada, I really think it should be a stat holiday, just saying).