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April 3, 2017

Monday: From Erie to Edmonton

Welcome to the first Monday post of April!

Since there was a lack of new jerseys this week (since the AHL, ECHL, CHL and NHL seasons are all in their last 10 games or the playoffs) I figured this week I'd go through by biggest surprises and disappointments from this NHL seasons. Teams, Players, Jerseys, it's all getting a look back.

Pleasant Surprises

Toronto Maple Leafs- I'd doubt most of us thought the Leafs would not only be at 91 points this late in the season, but even within the next couple seasons. After a near decade of mediocrity with few bright spots here and there, the Leafs were in need of a hard rebuild that never came until two seasons ago. The Leafs had the opposite of the Oilers issue, they never seemed to fully embrace a rebuild until last season or the season before. Babcock, Andersen, and bunch of young talent like Marner, Matthews, Zaitsev, Brown and Nylander all exceeding early season expectations. Guys like Kadri, Bozak and Gardiner has stepped up, and finding a decent back up for Andersen has put the Leafs into the playoffs. I see the team winning a cup in the near future, but when that is remains undecided. Still in Leaf Land things are looking up.

Columbus Blue Jackets- I was wide right on this team. After the Cleveland Monsters won the Calder Cup I thought the Jackets would be in a similar boat to the Leafs, where they were a few seasons in the cellar away from competing, especially considering they division. It's incredible to think what having a healthy goaltender, young talent and a good coach can do for a team. I'd consider the Jackets a cup contender so long as they get past Pittsburgh.

Carolina Hurricanes- Their late season playoff push (which is unlikely but still impressive) has made me consider the Hurricanes a future contender so long as they can get themselves a solid goaltender in this decade. Players like Skinner and Staal are finally playing at their top level, and Sebastian Aho has come out of nowhere to be a nice addition. Aho, Lindstrom, Teravianen, Hanifin, Skinner and Fask will all be 25 or under next season, and all looking to build on this season's exceeding of expectations. Couple that with a good veteran core of Staal, Stempniak and Faulk, this team will be going places. Unless Michael Leighton has another 2009-10 then the 'Canes need to get themselves a new #1A goalie until Eddie Läck emerges as that goalie if at all. Call me nostalgic, but aside from their horrible home jerseys, I like seeing the Hurricanes do well like they did in 2002, 2006 and 2009.

Outdoor Jerseys in general- After a couple of weak years, we finally had a year where teams wore jersey I'd like to see as alternates (or even full time to an extent). The Winter Classic was a bit of a dud, but a good looking dud none the less; nothing too boring from at least one side. The Centennial Classic initially brought worries of the jerseys looking too basic and focusing on being modern, but after an entertaining game and some time to let the designs sink in, the Leafs jersey ended up being something I'd like to see as an alternate (even went and bought one). The Stadium Series jerseys both proved to look great, with me slightly preferring the Flyers jersey upon reflection. Finally, the Heritage Classic requires little introduction or discussion because we all know how good that game looked. Hope this keeps up into 2017!

Peter Budaj- A guy who went from down and out Montréal/St. John's Ice Caps back up, to Ontario Reign star goalie, to the guy who kept the Los Angeles Kings in playoff contention up until he was traded to the Lightning as part of the Ben Bishop deal. With Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff going down early season to injuries, coupled with a stagnant offence and mediocre defence, the fact a guy who's NHL career seemed done 3 seasons ago could be relevant, lead the league in shutouts for a period...AND STILL NOT GET A MASTERSON NOMINATION...none the less...good on him, he's got his name on a lot more jerseys than he did this time last year.

Disappointments

The Central Division

While teams like Nashville, Minnesota and St. Louis at times lost their form this year, the usual bunch of successful teams we've come to expect out of what was the NHL's toughest division have emerged in the playoffs, with a couple of disappointments. Dallas's goaltending issues have caught up to them a year earlier than expected, but I would not have put them 2nd last in the division. The same can be said for Winnipeg, though for opposite reasons, along with a young team that needs to gel together. To be fair I think most people would have put Dallas in the playoffs over Winnipeg. Colorado on the other hand was a complete miss. Not that they would have won the division or anything, but for a team that once was the West's powerhouse to sink to be the worst team the NHL has had since 1999/2000. Goaltending has been an injury filled dumpster fire for the Avs, and a severe lack of scoring from anyone not named McKinnon has put a tag on every player once thought to be part of the team's young core who isn't from Cole Harbour....43 points?!

Florida Panthers- After last year's cinderella season of Luongo and Jagr taking the reigns of a relocation threatened organization and going to win the Atlantic Division had the hockey world cheering for the Panthers in some way. Of course we've seen some flashes of brilliance from the ageless wonder, but there's no repeat of last season. Injuries to Huberdeau didn't help, however Aaron Ekblad's 3rd season has been nothing but a dud. It could be considered a waste of a redesign, but I have a feeling this team will be back in control of the Atlantic soon.

Buffalo Sabres- I have a feeling I gave this team too much credit too soon. Robin Lehner still has a lot of learning to do after his first season as a number 1, but more over it's clear that Jack Eichel cannot carry the whole team on his back (nor should he have to. Guys like Gionta, Bogosian, Ennis and even Kane could be moved to make room for younger talent, but I think this team just needs more time to build. I don't think their performance this year really gives the team enough credit for how talented they are, but they need to start winning games and not just scoring a lot. I look forward to their success in the near future.

Anze Kopitar- Despite being under 30 and certainly not over the hill yet, but a guy who's never had less than 60 points in a full NHL season his entire career, this season will prove to be disappointing despite very likely reaching 50 (he's at 49 following the surprising Kings' loss to the 'Yotes late last night). Granted I could put the entire Kings season in this category with a seeming lack of chemistry from a relatively similar team from what we got in 2012/14.

ECHL's loss of two franchises- While Elmira and Anchorage aren't exactly the most well known hockey towns in the world, at least in the ECHL they are two familiar franchises we've come to know. Putting a team in Alaska, so far away from the rest of the league, is a careful balance, and with the Alaska economy turning sour, it was inevitable this team would fall sooner or later. Elmira came as a major surprise, though I will not miss their terrible jerseys. The question for now is, what happens with the ECH:? Will 2 new teams fill their spot (not Jacksonville and Worcester)? or has the league reached its max capacity and it will never have the same 31 team field as the AHL? Does this leave a chance for the SPHL to get in on the AA hockey level? Will we see the SPHL in NHL 18? Okay that last one is a stretch.

ECHL new sets- Missouri and Greenville come to mind. I hate to say "It's 2017 so_____" but nearly 10 years after the Reebok cookie cutter templates came and are finally now on their way out, these designs have nearly been exhausted with few looking actually good. The two teams I mentioned before use the Colorado template, downgrading from Leafs/Chicago templates for the Swamp Rabbits (the Mavs have used that same template since 2009). The Rapid City Rush came out with fantastic maroon jerseys....AND THESE THINGS THAT MAKE NO SENSE PAIRED WITH ARIZONA CLONE JERSEYS! Utah has plain Washington copies with bear scratches. Jacksonville and Worcester are unveiling their jerseys soon and hopefully we don't get more of this!

Voting this week is pretty simple. COTW reset for the week and we got a mix of concepts to vote for, including hats from Vaughn, 2 Southeastern redesigns from Lucas and a totally wicked tubular 90s Hurricanes concept from Brooks. Check them out on the side of the blog!

As mentioned over the past week the HJC jersey portrait sale/free giveaway of tickets for the $50 IceJerseys gift card is on going right now. Click the little ticket icon on the side of the social media tab.

COTW vote March 24-30 (ends Friday @ noon Eastern)
Free Ticket Draw (Friday, April 14 @ 11pm Eastern)

On with today's 8 Concepts

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Chatham Maroons OJHL Concept (By: Anthony C.)



+  TV numbers are done perfectly here
+ Love the striping pattern, sort of a mix of the Millionaires jersey/Oil Kings alternate and the Montréal 1909 throwback
+ Also a fan of the maroon numbers

- The font doesn't really match the primary logo nor the cursive script
- I get what you put the numbers under the script, but they're too small and if you made them the proper size they've be too big
- You forgot to remove the NHL logo from the collar insert
- It's obvious based on the angle of the arm striping them are added on after and not part of the original template
- NOB is too close to the numbers
- Using that M logo as a shoulder patch would not look bad at all

Rating: 4.5/10

Team Ireland Concept (By: Zach R.)


+ Outside of a bunch of terrible St. Patricks day jerseys, Ireland wears relatively dated copies of the  2006 Torino Olympic Canadian jerseys (what a stinker of an Olympics that was!) I'd certainly call this an improvement
+ The Celtic pattern used for the striping looks great
+ Big fan of the rounded numbers


- Reebok logo on the back of the collar should be the script logo or CCM logo used in the CHL
- The logo used here makes for a good shoulder patch, but the simplicity of it compared to the numbers and striping do not go well together
- Namebar isn't really necessary but it's not the worst thing
- Number would use an orange/bronze outline
- Shading on the helmet should be a darker shade of bronze/orange

Rating: 6.5/10

New York Rangers Concepts (By: Tyler M.S.)


+ I like seeing the alternate striping pattern using regular white
+ Nice to see a Rangers jersey with lots of blue and red, particularly the white jersey
+ Good also nice to see the Rangers logo used as a primary logo, it doesn't look forced
+ Good execution

- Numbers are too thin for my taste
- Pants need some blue and white on them
- NYR logo works okay on the helmets, but it feels a bit dated
- The white jersey looks a little too similar to another set of jerseys from 21 years ago. They way around this would be to add blue to the hem or use a yoke

Rating: 7.5/10

Cornwall Colts CCHL Concepts (By: Anthony C.)


+ Some may not like the 67s/Montréal barber pole jersey, but I think it works with the Colts logo
+ Alternate looks nice, even though it is a copy of the Chicoutimi jerseys

- Font choice here is better than some of Anthony's other concepts (particularly works on the alt) but the home and road do not work much
- TV numbers continue to be done poorly, I'll be it they're in the right location
- On the alternate there's still the CHL tag on the hem and in the collar; just plain lazy and should have been corrected before sending in
- Vector logo on the back of the alternate should be removed
- Captain's C is too large on the alternate
- Primary logo is off centred on that alternate

Again this concept has a lot of potential and I really want to like it (especially that alternate) but the continued execution errors that aren't getting fixed really frustrates me. There's a part of me that would love to take these concepts and put them into GIMP/paint and fix the errors myself so I can see the potential but please Anthony, listen to the writers, keep making concepts but focus on bettering your craft!

Rating: 3.75/10

Los Angeles Kings Concept (By: Zach H.)


+ You've kept most of the good parts of the 50th anniversary jersey intact with some necessary changes such as the crown logo sans purple being used on its own
+ Some may like the addition of gold, but without it being on the other 2 jerseys I like it best without it like Zach has done here
+ After getting a 2015 Kings Stadium Series jersey, I have to admit I really like the two crowns they put on the outside of the collar and I like the subtler version done here
+ Good execution

- It might be hard to pull off but I'd like the addition of of white along the sides of the black stripe and outline on the captain's C, numbers and NOB
- Pants could use a logo to compliment the stripe

Rating: 8.5/10

New York Islanders Concepts (By: Lucas D.)


+ I really like the ambitious template chosen here, it needs some refining but that'll come with practice and as is doesn't look too bad
+ The blue jersey really reminds me of the 2014 Stadium jerseys with a proper striping pattern and it looks good
+ The full blue arm band looks good on the white jersey
+ Good execution

- Hem stripe might be a bit too thick
- The orange used on the hem is a different shade from the gloves
- There's a lot of pixelation on the collar and wherever the blue was recoloured
- Kind of wish the logo had the silver outline from the original SS jersey and current alternate

Rating: 8/10

Winnipeg Jets Concept (By: Zach H.)



+ Simple striping similar to that of the '96 Jets but not a direct copy
+ Rest of the modern Jets look is here (logos/shoulder patches/numbers) and it works
+ Thank you for not putting red on this concept!
+ Good execution, but a couple of easily correctable errors

- Numbers on the back are much too thin and tall
- Socks stripes are slightly too low
- Captain's C is much too small
- I'd make the collar insert either grey or dark blue so it doesn't blend into the concept

Rating: 7.75/10


Edmonton Oilers Concepts (By: Brooks F.)



+ I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen the Oilers '96-06 shoulder patch as primary logo on a jersey, and every time I like it
+ It's hard to balance the colours of this logo and keep it looking good, but I think Brooks has done a good job with it
+ Love the rivets on the striping
+ Great execution

- Again balancing the colours is hard, and I think limiting the red would help make this concept work in the now, but it works for 1997 or 2007
- More of a preference thing but I would have preferred a different font of the NOB

Rating: 9/10 COTW Nom from me!

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2 comments:

Daniel Lowry said...

COTW to Brook's Edmonton set

Anonymous said...

cotz to zach h winnepeg