The last three weeks, I did an in-depth look at the factors that led to widespread expansion of the NHL during the 1990s. This week, the topic of expansion was again made relevant by the recent NHL GM meeting.
Expansion was reportedly a major topic of discussion. Although details are few right now and decisions are far from made, reliable sources are indicating that each team will be allowed to shelter 1 goalie and 8 skaters or 1 goalie and 4 forwards/3 defensemen from an expansion draft.
That got me wondering if conditions are really optimal for NHL expansion right now, and if the NHL really needs to expand further at all.
Let's first look at some of the factors that I mentioned in my 90s expansion articles and compare.
The NHL has been successful in marketing event games like the Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, and Stadium Series that have brought more attention to the sport to newer fans. The sport has a bigger TV footprint in the American South (I can't really speak for other areas) than it did 10 years ago.
There is no true heir to Gretzky's throne, but that doesn't mean there is less talent. Players like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Henrik Lundqvist, PK Subban, and Jaromir Jagr are skilled, highly marketable players. Young players like Evgeny Kuznetzov, Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Aaron Ekblad, and Filip Forsberg indicate that the league is in good hands.
While the economic crisis of 2008 is seems to be fading into history, the economic landscape is not what it was in the 1990s. America's economy still hasn't fully recovered from 2008, and while I am no expert on Canadian finance, pinning the hopes of the league on the Canadian dollar is a tricky prospect. Teams like the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes, and (although to a lesser extent) Carolina Hurricanes have met with some financial difficulties in recent years.)
Beyond those factors, I worry league may extend beyond its talent level. The league is arguably more competitive than ever, but I worry that introducing an additional 1-2 teams could upset the talent level the league as a whole is enjoying right now. Can the league take on two more teams without watering down the overall talent level of the league?
Is the time right for expansion? How afraid are you of a new team(s) taking your beloved depth players? I'm very interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Let's move on to today's concepts:
Team Canada Concept - Jay S.
Positives: The Logo is very interesting, but more on that later. I think the striping fits the angular design of the logo well. Execution is very good. It's really cool that this jersey is actually available to purchase on the site link shown on the concept.
Negatives: I typically prefer the sleeve numbers closer to the shoulder, if for no other reason than comfort. The Canada flag on the white jersey doesn't match the red used on the same patch for the dark jersey; a very small complaint.
Overall: I'm not sure I'd want to see Team Canada in this, but it's a solid set. (8/10)
Team Canada Logo Concept - Jay S.
Positives: The logo communicates more action than a maple leaf logo typically does. I like the usage of two-tone red for shading. The hockey sticks fit the symmetrical/angular feel here.
Negatives: The black background behind the "Canada" script is the only aspect of the logo that isn't symmetrical. Once I noticed that, my eye couldn't help but drift to that every time. Some tape detail on the sticks might help.
Overall: With one exception, a reall good original logo. If the one asymmetrical detail could be fixed, this could really work. (8.25/10)
Buffalo Sabres Alternate Jersey Concept - Vaughn R.
Positives: I do love a gold jersey. Execution and presentation are very good. Vaughn also has a small part of the left sleeve number showing on the back view of the jersey. I love seeing little details like that.
Negatives: This is really similar to Pittsburgh's throwback third jersey. That was my first thought when I first saw it. My second was wondering why the Buffaslug is used. I don't know anyone who legitimately believes it's a good logo, and it doesn't fit the traditional nature of the design. The white font would be really hard to read against the gold from further than 10 ft.
Overall: A logo change, striping that differentiates it further from a Penguins third, and a font color change would really help this alternate concept. (7.5/10)
Chicago Blackhawks 2017 Winter Classic Concept - Jake C.
(unrelated rant: Do we really have to see the Blackhawks in another outdoor game? I was really interested when I heard the Blues were in, then became equally disinterested when I heard Chicago would be playing in their 568th outdoor game since 2010. I've reviewed enough Chicago event jerseys to kill a man.)
Positives: The sleeve numbers are done well. Leaving the name off is an interesting choice. I don't see the NHL going with that, because they like to promote star players and taking the name off jerseys doesn't accomplish that. (even though we all know jerseys back in the day didn't have them)
Negatives: I think Chicago would likely be wearing a light color because the game is being played in St. Louis. The stitching lines overlap the striping. The logo seems oddly stretched and is heavily pixelated. The striping isn't very interesting. By 2017, Adidas branding will be on hockey jerseys instead of Reebok. The inside of the jersey around the back tag should be red.
Overall: A little bland. and execution needs some work. (6/10)
St. Louis Blues 2017 Winter Classic Concept - Jake C.
Positives: I'm happy to see some STL WC concepts. Again, leaving off the name is interesting, but partially defeats some of the purpose of providing a high-profile marketable game to simultaneously showcase the league's proud history and modern skill players.
Negatives: With the game being in STL, likely the Blues would be wearing dark jerseys. The primary logo is so pixelated that it looks jagged. I appreciate the effort to create a new-ish fauxback logo. The Blues wordmark features a color that isn't used anywhere else on the jersey, which isn't something you want to do. The striping is bland, and is overlapped by stitch lines
Overall: Again, it's a little bland, and execution needs work. (6/10)
Pittsburgh Penguins Concept - Ryan C.
Positives: This set is very clean and well executed. Colors are balanced very well. I've got no complaints about Ryan's execution. He's remarkably consistent and has quickly become one of the more talented artists out there.
Negatives: Take the logo off, and you'd have no idea this was a Pittsburgh set. There are some similarities to their 1968-1974 sets, but not enough that anyone but the most attentive jersey fanatic would notice the correlation. I just feel like there are so many unique jerseys Pittsburgh has had in their history, that this more generic concept hits you like retinal Novocaine.
Overall: Well executed, but unfortunately forgettable. (8/10)
Philadelphia Flyers Concept - Lucas D.
Positives: I can see a nod to the Philadelphia Quakers in the multiple black stripes. That's a good touch. The keystone captain's patch is nice detail. I really love how the arm striping curves around the collar. It really looks great. Lucas had to manipulate the jersey stitching to pull that off, and he really executed it well.
Negatives: I would put a little more black on the namebar on the sides. The name almost blends into the white jersey if you take a step or two away from your screen. Yes, I am aware of how small that complaint is. On the back of the jersey, the 8 should be partially visible on the sleeve.
Overall: A really intriguing Flyers concept with some nice creative detailing. (8.5/10)
(Note: There was a Ferris State concept sent in from Taylor R. that I chose not to post because it has been posted on the site previously. On Friday, Taylor indicated that he had accidentally sent in some of his concepts twice. This jersey was previously reviewed by Jets96 in his post on January 25 of this year. Jets96 did a good job in his assessment that day, and I had nothing more to add that hasn't already been said.)
That's all for this week. Be sure to leave your feedback for today's artwork, because it always helps to have more than one opinion. And don't forget to vote! Our voting polls make voting very easy, so no excuses! Do it now!
Also, Pairs Competition entries are tentatively due on Friday. See Ryan's Weekend Update for more details.
COTW Mar 13-19 vote (ends Friday @ 11:59pm EST)
Pairs Competition (ends March 25 @ 10pm EST)