Hockey Headlines

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!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Vegas, Baby... Maybe?

It's amazing how things can change in a matter of months. The NHL is starting to become a more stable entity in terms of franchise health - the Florida Panthers are still on shaky ground - and league revenues have never been better or higher based on all the NHL's numbers. More fans are pushing through the turnstiles, more people are buying merchandise, and the NHL has a fat contract north of the border that will help every team on its map. Things are great, right?

Tony Gallagher, a highly-respected journalist from the Vancouver Province, published a piece yesterday that stated that expansion is going to happen sooner than later, and that Las Vegas is a "done deal". He also wrote that Gary Bettman has been talking about the interest shown in expansion teams from various sources, and that the rhetoric has gone from something Bettman wouldn't even hear to Bettman bringing up the chatter. This about-face from the Commissioner seems to point to the obvious, especially if Gallagher's sources are saying Las Vegas is all but done in terms of receiving an expansion franchise.

However, I want to put the brakes on for a minute. The excitement over NHL expansion into two western cities - presumably Las Vegas and Seattle - should be stifled a little. Just a wee bit. There are significant risks that the NHL is taking in even bringing this topic up, and I want to toss out a few scenarios that should be discussed before expansion is even brought into question.

First, there is this little matter about the Florida Panthers. The Panthers' owner, Doug Cifu, stated just two weeks ago that staying in south Florida "is not sustainable" as the team records losses up to $30 million per year. If the Panthers were actual panthers in Florida, they would already be labeled as critically endangered by the IUCN Red List. Of course, the next step on the Red List is extinction, and the NHL's Panthers are facing that grim reality right now.

"The arena and the team have lost a significant amount of money year over year for the last 10-plus years and the current business model is not sustainable," Cifu told Fox Sports in early August. As per The Hockey News, the club has amassed approximately $250 million in debt and are stuck in their lease in Sunrise, Florida until 2028. Needless to say, the clock is ticking on the Panthers' existence in Florida as you read this.

If the NHL is looking to balance the conferences by adding teams, they could do it easily by relocating the Florida Panthers to a more hockey-inclined market. Say, for example, the Panthers moved to Seattle, the NHL would kill two birds with one stone as move into a state-of-the-art facility where there are already hockey fans and solve their unbalanced conferences problem. I'm not sure why this isn't being considered when you'd want to have all thirty teams financially viable and thriving before deciding to bring on a wave of expansion that guarantees nothing more than a pocket full of greenbacks for the current owners. Sure, there would be some money spent in getting out of their lease with the Broward County, but the county has already "hired a consultant who is looking into the possibility of allowing the Panthers out of their arena lease and the opportunity to relocate" as Dhiran Mahiban wrote on August 17, 2014 on NBC's Pro Hockey Talk.

However, we're faced with the comments from Gary Bettman who, on August 12, 2014, stated,
"There's a lot of interest. We're hearing from multiple groups in Seattle and in Vegas and Kansas City and Quebec City," Bettman said to the Tribune while scoping out Target Field in Minny for yet another trip to the well of outdoor games.

"We have not decided to engage in a formal expansion process but we listen to expressions of interest. It's not something we've seriously considered yet."
So how did we get to this point where Las Vegas is now a "done deal" if no one is seriously considering expansion? Seattle is an obvious choice with the new arena going up, the proximity to Vancouver, and the addition of another western team. Make no mistake that Seattle is on the NHL's radar for the near future. Quebec City, whose arena is currently being built, has the money and media resources to pour into an NHL franchise, and they have a little history with the game. Like Seattle, a state-of-the-art arena goes a long, long way in helping Quebec City's cause, so there are your two most favorable destinations for expansion if this topic is going to be in play. But should it be?

The closest team in terms of proximity to Las Vegas would be the Arizona Coyotes, and the last decade has seen money poured into saving them, cities nearly bankrupted because of them, and owners fleeing from Glendale as a wave of red ink chases them. Hockey in the desert has been nothing short of a soap opera when it comes to all the twists and turns in the Coyotes' story, and the view from Las Vegas probably won't be much better. In fact, you probably won't see much of Sin City at all.

Let's be honest with ourselves: people don't go to Vegas to watch sports unless it's UFC or boxing. They go to Vegas for the entertainment, the shows, the gambling, and the history, but sports ranks low on the reasons to go to Las Vegas. There are dozens of shows that happen on a daily basis that tourists are there to see, and the vast majority of these shows would probably bring better entertainment in the first decade of an expansion franchise's existence. If you weren't a hockey fan during the rapid expansion in the 1990s, the hockey was criminally bad. The neutral zone trap, the left wing lock, and playing for tie were all phrases tossed around as the NHL grew from twenty-one teams to thirty teams. The NHL should consider how scoring fell off the map during those expansion years. The hockey was crap!

The bigger issue is that the arena proposed by Anschutz Entertainment Group and MGM seems to be a beacon for hatred in the Las Vegas area. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in November 2013 that the new arena was going to be built on the Las Vegas strip "without public money on 12 acres between New York-New York and Frank Sinatra Drive". The MGM-AEG Arena, as it's affectionately being called for now, broke ground on May 1, 2014, and should be ready by 2016. Commenters on that story have already said what a nightmare the intersections and roads are in that area on Friday and Saturday nights, so adding another 17,500 people to the area should help, right? Parking is also an issue in the area, so there will have to be major concessions made for hockey nights or fans will have to find other means of getting to the arena. One commenter cites the issues the city had with congestion and traffic when the NBA All-Star Game was played downtown in 2007. Can you imagine forty-one nights of that problem?

Speaking of the NBA All-Star Game, it should be noted that the reason the NBA played in downtown Las Vegas was because the NBA demanded and received a concession in that no sports wagering could be done on the All-Star Game. How does the NHL control gambling within its ranks? We already know the NHL does its best when it comes to controlling vices such as alcohol and drugs, but gambling is a little harder to control. It took a New Jersey State Police investigation, dubbed Operation Slapshot, for the NHL to recognize that gambling could be a problem in their society. And now they want to head into the hornet's nest?

I do want to say, in defence of everyone involved with the NHL, that not all NHL players gamble and that nothing may ever happen when it comes to players, coaches, staff, or any other NHL-employed person engaging in gambling on hockey. I believe that the vast majority of NHL employees are smart, responsible people who wouldn't endanger their employment, the league's reputation, or their own reputation with a "night on the town" where they drop a few bills on an NHL game.

In debating all this pro-Vegas/anti-Vegas chatter, reports broke today that the NHL actually hadn't come to any decision regarding any future expansion. Deputy NHL Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email on Wednesday to the National Post,
"We are in no different position today with respect to expansion than we were the last time we answered the same questions. There has been interest expressed, we have and will listen to the interest, but we haven't defined a process and certainly no decisions have been made."
Some may say that the NHL is simply spin-doctoring this story into nothing for a later announcement, but I actually believe Bill Daly on this one. Why? There are better offers on the table than Las Vegas, and the NHL isn't out of the woods when it comes to that other team in the desert. There are places that have interested potential owners with brand-new state-of-the-art arenas awaiting a main tenant, and yet all of the talk is instead about Las Vegas?

"What I can tell you, 100 percent, as of this morning, for sure? This isn't on the agenda right now," MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke told The Fan this morning. Based on his recent track record, I'm not sure how much stock I'd put in his word, but I'm leaning towards truth on this one. The NHL still has some work to do with current franchises becoming stable, money-earning entities in the NHL community, and tossing another desert-based franchise into the mix when there's no guarantee the Arizona Coyotes be in Glendale in five years is simply ludicrous. The NHL is close to having all thirty franchises on stable ground, but there's still work to be done.

The talk of NHL expansion always gets people excited and a little nostalgic, but we need to be a little more realistic when dealing with that excitement. However, the factors that go into an expansion franchise are both large and many, and there should be a massive amount of due diligence done before the word "expansion" is even uttered.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!