Today, I'm going to touch upon an issue that's been largely ignored in the NHL; the decision for some players to ditch the league for the KHL in hopes of playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics. With Bettman announcing in April that the NHL would seek to preserve its regular season by not allowing players to leave for the Olympics, many have focused on whether or not high profile players like Ovechkin or Toews would defy the league and represent their country in South Korea. What people haven't been talking about is the flow of predominantly Russian players steadily moving to the KHL this offseason as a response to the league's decision. While most high-profile players are sticking with their big-time contracts in the NHL, a fair number of players not under contract have signed with KHL teams during the free agency period. Philly forward Roman Lyubimov and Blackhawks netminder Lars Johansson both signed with CSKA Moscow earlier this month, with Mikhail Grigorenko (picked twelfth overall in the 2012 draft) and former Lightning blueliner Nikita Nesteriv following suit. The NHL's policy on the 2018 games was specifically cited by Lyubimov as a reason for his exit, and former Atlanta Thrasher great Ilya Kovalchuk also stated that the policy influenced his decision not to return to the NHL after rumors had started circulating about his interest in rejoining the Devils. The KHL benefits doubly from the NHL's decision, giving players incentive to leave the NHL for the KHL and also preventing KHL talent from making the move to the NHL. Ultimately, the NHL's decision has ramifications beyond just this season. While players under contract may defy the league and face a fine or suspension ("You miss games, we punish you by missing more games." Solid reasoning.), that is a small price compared to the talent they are losing to the KHL for years to come.
As for voting, this week we have the usual COTW vote for July 7th-13th, as well as the second quarter vote for the COTY, both of which end next Friday at noon EST. Additionally, all entries for the semi-finals of the HJC Open are due Tuesday by noon EST.
HJC Open Semi-Final entries (due Tuesday @ noon EST)
COTY Second Quarter vote (ends Friday @ noon EST)
COTW July 7th - July 13th vote (ends Friday @ noon EST)
Now on to today's concepts!
Anthony C.- Team USA
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Our first concept of the day is Anthony C.'s design for Team USA. This concept is a great look for the US, I can practically hear a bald eagle screech every time I look at it. The logo choices are great, and the striping pattern does a good job of reflecting the flag. I really love the star pattern, it's a great way to incorporate the flag into the design of the jersey, and having it on a slant on one side gives me an image of the flag waving in the wind. The red breezers were a good call, it really helps with the color balance here. My only gripes are a lack of helmet logo and the font used for the name name numbers. It's close to the font used in the main crest, but off just enough to bother me. Final verdict: a fantastic look for the US that I would love to see on the ice. 9.5/10 and my COTW NOMINEE!!!!!
Anthony C.- Valencia Flyers
Anthony's second concept of the day is a design for the Valencia Flyers, a junior team that plays in the WSHL. I like the idea of a yellow as the dark jersey, it really makes the logo pop (although I would eliminate the Valencia text above it). The contrasting cuffs are a good look on both of the jerseys. The third jersey is a great retro look for them, but I have never been a fan of text as an element in the striping, and it looks even worse here as it clashes with the more classic look. The striping in the primary set has a bad case of yellow-on-white syndrome, and I think a thin stripe of blue between them would really help to alleviate that. As for execution, you've done really well with this template, but I'd really like to get a look at the back. If the Sabres have taught us one thing, it's that you can't always trust the front of a jersey to show you what the back looks like. Final verdict: a good design, but text and YOW syndrome hurt it. 8/10
Anthony C.- Vancouver Canucks
Anthony's final concept of the day is a design for the Canucks. I like the Millionaires-esque logo, it pays homage to the history of hockey in Vancouver, just not as a primary logo. The stick-in-rink is a much stronger primary logo, so I'd just switch the main crest with the shoulder patches. While I do like the white cuffs on the dark jersey, the blue and green need something to break them up, otherwise they get too muddled together. I love the more traditional font for the numbering, especially since it matches the V logo better. Same execution errors as above. Final verdict: not a bad design, but some design choices and execution detract from it. 7.5/10
Jets96- New York Islanders
Next up is our very own Jets96 with a design for the New York Islanders. Jets seems to take inspiration from the Isles' predisposition towards black in their third uniforms and tries to incorporate that into their main set. You do a pretty good job of incorporating black into the color scheme, but I just can't get excited about it. The blue, orange, and white color scheme is a classic, and the Isles rock it well. The inclusion of black here isn't bad, it's just not an improvement, and the black on the cuff of the breezers seems more like an afterthought. Final verdict: good execution, but it's just not a look I want for the Isles. 6.5/10
Noah B.- Nashville Predators/Titans
Noah B.continues his series of city mashups with this concept for Nashville's Titans and Predators. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for a double blue color palette, and this is no exception. That being said, I don't think this concept does a good job combining the two teams. The striping pattern doesn't match either team, and I would have liked to have seen the Preds' design in this color scheme. With the exception of the shoulder patches, there's nothing here that would make me think of the Preds, I'd just think you did a design for the Titans. Final verdict: not a bad design, just not as inspired as some of the other entries in this series. 7/10
Ricky M.- Buffalo Sabres
Ricky comes to us today with a Winter Classic design for the Sabres. Right off the bat, I love that WC logo you came up with, although I don't know if the Lady Liberty in it would fly, especially as Buffalo is the "home team" (Rangers know how to rock a tax break). Now for the uniform: while I appreciate the nod to the Buffalo Bisons and the history of hockey in Buffalo, I have never liked that logo. Perhaps it's because I'm from Atlanta, the home of Coke, and it's basically an ad for Pepsi, but I honestly think it's because it's just too campy. It looks like something a beer league team would have on their jerseys. I also think the shoulder patch and font used for the name and numbers are far too modern for a jersey that's supposed to look like a throwback. I do love the alternate captains patch, though, and the number on the front in true Buffalo style. It might just be because of the thickness of the striping, but the YOW syndrome isn't really bad on this jersey, so good job there. As for execution, I would have liked to have seen gear and breezers for this set to get a better idea of the overall look. You also forgot to color in the inside of the jersey from the front view, and the NHL would not be using CCM jerseys. Final verdict: a great original logo, but some era-clashing and glaring execution errors really hold this one back. 6/10
Ryan C.- Vancouver Canucks
Our final concept of the day is another Vancouver Canucks design, this time from Ryan C. Can you say dejá vu? Same issue with the Millionaires' logo as above, and I like it even less in green. I do like the striping pattern and the font used, but again I think the green and blue need to be separated a bit. I think taking the stripe from the breezers and using it to replace the green stripe on the home set would actually work pretty well. You did a good job with Adidas' atrocious collar design, so kudos there. Final verdict: a decent design, but the main logo choice and green on blue hurts it a bit. 7/10
That's all for me this week, see y'all next Friday!