Hockey Headlines

Monday, 1 September 2014

An Annual Tradition

I spent the weekend doing some random tasks. Labour Day weekend is always a good weekend to start preparing for the autumn and winter, and I was making the most of it by doing some major cleaning, organizing, and discarding of things. The one other thing that Labour Day weekend triggers for me? The start of getting back into hockey in a big way, and I do this with The Hockey News' annual Yearbook magazine.

I've been buying the yearbooks since the late-1990s, and they never disappoint. The one thing I have noticed is that they are getting thinner. That being said, the content is still excellent and very worth your time if you're a hockey fan. Like any book or publication I pick up, though, I feel compelled to review it in order to help you make a decision when it comes to your hockey reading material.

I assure you that The Hockey News never sent me a copy nor do they pay me or reward me in any way for speaking about their publication. I will criticize certain articles within the covers, so don't think this will be a piece filled with niceties about The Hockey News. Alright? Alright.

First off, the "prairies" edition of the Yearbook features Taylor Hall and Mark Giordano on the cover. Let me be very blunt here: no one outside of those cities cares about the Oilers and Flames. I would bet that there are more Jets fans on the prairies and into northwestern Ontario than either Flames fans or Oilers fans. Let's start rotating the cover spots, shall we? I'm tired of reading about when those two franchises will start moving up the standings, and tired of hearing about the chosen poster boy for that improvement.

The "Opening Faceoff" piece by Adam Proteau should be required reading. In his piece, Mr. Proteau explains why there was no research and development camp this season, what Corsi and Fenwick are all about, what the salary cap is and who is affected by carryover bonus overages, rules changes for this season, which team in Pennsylvania will face more scrutiny, the possibility of the Stanley Cup staying in the same state with a different team for the first time in NHL history, the next Hall of Fame class, who the off-season winners and losers were, which team is likely to fire their coach first, and why the Coyotes went from Phoenix to Arizona. Needless to say, the two pages of this article are filled with information every fan should know for the 2014-15 season.

There are the standard pieces that are featured each year: Rookie Watch, Milestone Watch, and the fan survey results. Rookie Watch is always a crap-shoot, but Ryan Kennedy chose some pretty solid names in Ekblad, Drouin, Kuznetsov, and Teravainen in his picks. As for milestones to watch for, Marian Hossa, Patrik Elias, and Martin St. Louis should reach the 1000-point mark this season with ease, but I'm doubtful about Patrick Marleau and Vincent Lecavalier.

The fan survey always brings some fun numbers. 41% of you think Steven Stamkos will win the Rocket Richard Trophy, but only 11% said he'd win the Art Ross Trophy, placing him second behind Sidney Crosby's 23% mark. 53% of fans said there's a good balance of fighting in the NHL compared to 26% who want less fighting. And 57% of readers want the NHL to stay in the Olympics versus playing a World Cup of Hockey every four years. There are more great numbers, but it's very interesting to see how other fans see the game.

There are in-depth articles on Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon, Arizona's Shane Doan, Los Angeles' Drew Doughty, Washington's new GM and coach, Nashville's Pekka Rinne, NY Islander Kyle Okposo, Toronto's Jonathan Bernier, and a fantastic piece on summer training techniques used by NHL players. While all of them are written extremely well, the piece on Shane Done is pretty interesting.

The obligatory "Top 50" article is back, and the writers try to rank the top-fifty players in the NHL. There are seventeen players in the list that didn't make the list last year. The top-ten features only centermen and defencemen. The first winger doesn't appear until #14, and his last name isn't Ovechkin. The first goaltender appears at #19. Broken down by position, there are five goalies, twelve defencemen, six left wingers, seven right wingers, and twenty centermen. And Alexander Ovechkin isn't even the top right winger either.

Of course, the part that I'm most interested is included in the last half of the magazine. The team rankings are The Hockey News' analysis on everything from the current state of the team to the prospects to an "x-factor" they see as each team enters the 2014-15 season. They also take it upon themselves to predict the Stanley Cup finalists based on their analyses, and I have to say that the Eastern Conference representative they pick is a little surprising. That's not to say that this team hasn't improved or added pieces to make them better, but it doesn't seem like it will happen this year.

The Stanley Cup champion? I can see it happening. This Western Conference team added the right pieces to make them one of the odds-on favorites. In fact, The Hockey News put them at 7-1 to win the Stanley Cup this season. As The Hockey News wrote, this team is "even better on paper than a year ago", and they were one of the favorites to win last season.

Needless to say, I always enjoy flipping through the pages of The Hockey News Yearbook. It's a good read from one of the best hockey news sources on the planet. I may not always agree with their rankings or analyses, but I'll always be a fan of their work.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Wrinkle Over Colors

The Bruins and Penguins have had some lively battles over the last few years as these two elite teams looked to add to their respective Stanley Cup totals. However, there have also been battles in their history that have taken place off the ice. One of the more memorable battles came in 1980 when the Penguins applied to change their color scheme from their blue-and-white scheme to the black-and-yellow as the other Pittsburgh-based sports teams wore.

The Bruins tried to block the Penguins from wearing the iconic black-and-gold, claiming that color scheme was historically worn by the Bruins through their history. They claimed that the Penguins had applied for the change only after the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers had won the Super Bowl in 1980. The Penguins, of course, stated that their fans demanded the change.

It's pretty ludicrous to think that a team can own a color scheme. After all, the Canadiens, Rangers, and the New York Americans all wore red-white-and-blue during their histories. Toronto, it should be noted, wore blue-and-white forever, and that's the scheme with which the Penguins broke into the league albeit in different shades.

The key in this whole protest debacle is that the Penguins changed their uniforms in the middle of the season! The Bruins may not even had a chance to protest the change had the Penguins actually used their heads on this one as well. I want to bring to light an article in Montreal's The Gazette from January 25, 1980.

According to the article, "the Penguins ordered the uniforms from the pro shop at Boston Garden", and it appears this caused a delay in the new uniforms being shipped to the Penguins! Boston Garden was home to the Boston Bruins, as you may know, so the Bruins may have had a hand in delaying the shipment to the Penguins! Call me crazy here, but it may not be the best idea to order your new uniforms from the team that is protesting your uniform change.

Thankfully, the NHL came to its senses, and John Zeigler allowed the Penguins to wear their new black-and-gold uniforms. Of course, they still didn't have the uniforms thanks to the Boston Garden pro shop not sending them for the home-and-home series against the Bruins on January 25 and 26, 1980. So when did the Penguins start wearing their new colors?

According to the Palm Beach Post on January 30, 1980, the Penguins would take to the ice in their new uniforms against the St. Louis Blues on the same date! Five days after the Bruins' protest, the Penguins skated out on home ice in their 50th game of the season in their new uniforms! The new uniforms wouldn't help on that night, though, as the Penguins fell to the Blues by a 4-3 score. In fact, the Penguins recorded six straight losses - including a 9-0 loss to Buffalo - in their new uniforms from January 30 through February 10 before finally defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on February 13, 1980.

The Penguins would finish the season 11-18-2 in their new uniforms after having gone 19-19-11 in their old blue-and-white uniforms. Personally, it's a pretty cool note to see that the Penguins ordered their new uniforms from the Bruins, and that the Bruins delayed the shipment while they protested. However, you can mark it down on your calendars that on January 30, 1980, the Penguins officially went black-and-gold and never looked back!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Two Are Better Than One

I was looking for some information last weekend about Cesare Maniago when I discovered the image above on the Classic Auctions site. Pictured is Maniago's uniform from the 1977-78 season, and, as you can see, it has TWO tie-downs! This is the first time I've actually seen a jersey with two tie-downs!

Of course, the tie-downs or fight straps would be attached to the pants at the back so that Maniago's jersey couldn't be pulled off his body. Maniago wasn't a fighter, though, so the only thing the tie-downs were doing was holding his jersey in place while he saved pucks. In any case, I hadn't seen the double tie-down in my life, and I've now seen at least a photo of them existing.

You might be asking why I was hunting down information on Maniago. Reader and HBIC friend Tim B. brought something to my attention that I hadn't seen ever in my life. As you may be aware, the NHL mandated in 1977 that names appear on the backs of jerseys for all players in the NHL. What I didn't know is that the Canucks wore contrasting name bars on the back of their uniforms!
That picture was taken on November 2, 1977 and features two pretty unique features. Obviously, the first is that the Canucks are wearing the contrasting name bars, but the second feature is that they are playing the Toronto Maple Leafs who are not wearing names across their backs at all!

The Leafs simply wouldn't acquiesce to the idea of wearing names early in the 1977-78 season, but I can't find any information on why the Canucks wore contrasting name bars on their uniforms. I also can't find when they started wearing the contrasting name bars (I assume it was the start of the season), if they wore contrasting name bars on the road, or when they stopped wearing contrasting name bars. Online newspaper archives are incomplete, and it appears no one has kept a record of this uniform change electronically.

Luckily, YouTube had one video of the Canucks playing against the Rangers on November 20, 1977. Well, it isn't the two teams playing as much as it is them brawling as Nick Fotiu and Jack McIlhargey throw haymakers for the entire clip.
If you notice, the Rangers are wearing blue names on their white jerseys while the Canucks are wearing white names on their green jerseys. That helps us in nailing down some information about the road uniforms, but it doesn't give us the full picture.

So readers, I ask you: do any of you have more information or picture evidence of this contrasting name bar phenomenon worn by the Canucks? Tim and I would like to figure out when the Canucks stopped using the green name bars on the white uniforms so we can lay this mystery to rest!

In most cases, two heads are better than one. In this case, we can use as many people as we can get to solve this mystery!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Spun Into A New Look

For as long as I can remember, the Cincinnati Cyclones have worn the logo to the left. They wore it through their days in the IHL and carried it into their era in the ECHL. While the cartoon logo is a little primitive, it allowed Cincinnati to establish a mascot for their team as well. However, there was talk of changes to the Cyclones' brand as they established the "Winds of Change" initiative as they worked on a new branding campaign. Today, we got a chance to see what the new Cyclones will look like in this upcoming ECHL season.

It's, um, different. I'm not sure I understand it, so let's go a little deeper into what this new brand is supposed to be. From WCPO Cincinnati, "The logo features a blocked letter “C” with an abstract depiction of a cyclone inside it. When combined with the banner at the bottom of the sweater the emblem is instantly recognizable to fans of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes." The Hurricanes are one of the two NHL affiliations the Cyclones have - the Florida Panthers are the other - and the colors do resemble those of the Hurricanes. But is that even necessary?

The "abstract depiction of a cyclone" doesn't even make me think of a cyclone when I look at it. It actually looks more like a 45 rpm adapter that one would use on a record player. I had to look at it a few times to realize that it might be something a weather person would use to represent a cyclone or hurricane on a weather telecast, but we're really stretching on that association.

In saying that, it dawned on me that with the Cyclones using the Hurricanes' color scheme and rebranding themselves with a new logo that could be used by the Carolina Hurricanes, we're seeing another minor league team losing its unique identity. "Marketing agency LPK spearheaded the image overhaul and partnered with team management to create a sleek, contemporary look" that could be used by the team's NHL affiliate.

"If you look at the new mark, it's very versatile. It's a bit of a tribute in terms of color scheme and it embodies everything about this organization," Sean Lynn, the Cyclones' director of marketing, told WCPO. What does all that rhetoric even mean? That entire statement is a load of crap. I don't know how the new mark is versatile, I'm not sure how it's a tribute in terms of color scheme, and I'm not sure how it embodies the organization in any capacity. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of that warm and fuzzy jargon being used by Mr. Lynn is nothing more than babble.

I'm not saying that the Cyclones didn't need an update. In fact, quite the opposite as their cartoon logo was looking a little dated. The problem is that this update actually took away the one thing that made them identifiable from just their logo. There was no doubt they were the Cyclones with the old logo. Now? It's hard to tell exactly who or what they are.

The winds of change blew into Cincinnati alright. Like the aftermath of any storm, the Cyclones destroyed what was once recognizable, leaving behind a mess in its wake.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Hockey Show - Episode 103

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced hockey radio show, is officially one show from completing two years on the air at the conclusion of tonight's show! It's pretty amazing to think Beans and I have been on the air for nearly two years with our opinions and thoughts on the game of hockey, and we're already working on some cool stuff for Year Three. We have some solid guests being lined up, we have some cool contests, and we're going to have a pile of fun like we do every Thursday!

We'll point out the elephant in the room early in tonight's show. That mask belongs to former Las Vegas Wranglers goalie Marc Magliarditi, and there's a good chance a lot of that imagery would end up on a mask if and/or when Las Vegas gets an NHL team. We've debated the possibilities of expansion cities before on The Hockey Show, and we'll re-open the debate tonight as the rumors of NHL expansion swirled around Las Vegas. We'll talk about the new arena being built, the issues surrounding the area, how gambling fits into the equation, why hockey hasn't worked in Las Vegas long-term in the past, and why this idea of NHL expansion has more negatives than positives. We'll also toss a few more cities into the mix, and discuss how the NHL can resolve their unbalanced conferences problem.

Tonight on 3 Rounds Deep, Beans and I will look at players who need a bounce-back season this year. This could be a player who has joined a new team and needs to live up to a contract, or it could be a player who simply hasn't met the expectations that many placed upon him. This won't be a scientific study on players, but both Beans and I will give our opinions on three players each and why we think these six players need a big season this year.

Same rules apply as always for tonight's 3 Rounds Deep as we can't repeat picks made by the others, so we'll see how this plays out. Phone lines will be open at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), and we'll hit Twitter and Facebook for everyone else to participate. If you want to toss some names in electronically, the Twitter and Facebook links are below where you can go 3 Rounds Deep!

Going 3 ROUNDS DEEP tonight: players who need to step up this season! You know what to do!

We'll also talk about the retro look for the St. Louis Blues and whether or not we like the uniforms, Devin Setoguchi signing with the Calgary Flames, Craig Anderson's extension and what it means for Robin Lehner, Shannon Szabados returning to Columbus to tandem with Friend of the Show Andrew Loewen, our annual NHL '94 tournament, and the idea of a union being formed for CHL players. In other words, we have good topics to discuss tonight, and we'll kick it off with some expansion chatter!

We're on the air at 5:30pm so tune in for some hockey fun! We're on 101.5 UMFM on your radio dial in the Winnipeg region or you can listen live between 5:30pm and 6:30pm CT on your web-enabled device at the UMFM webpage! We'll be available via phone at (204) 269-8636 (269-UMFM), so give us a call and play 3 Rounds Deep or share your thoughts on any of the topics we cover! You can tweet us anytime you like by hitting us up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show. It's time for Vegas chatter, baby, so join us tonight on UMFM and be a part of the action!

PODCAST: AUGUST 28, 2014: Episode 103

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!