Monday, 22 January 2007

Pulling The Polyester Over Our Eyes

In case you haven't heard, the rumours are true: no new NHL jerseys to report. The only ones made available at the press conferences in both NYC and Dallas were the All-Star jerseys. Once again, Gary Bettman screws up the easiest of things: an NHL press conference.

I've searched to see if they have a publicist job open, but apparently they don't. I wonder if they're working on creating one? If they aren't, we're in for a long summer of rhetoric and bee-ess. Reebok also has some information on their "Edge Uniform System" up on their website. However, mostly everything else is "coming soon". Again, a PR nightmare pulled off by two of the biggest sports companies in the world.

Anyway, thanks to the always-informative Paul Lukas, here are some highlights of the new jerseys:

- no tucking in. I reported this a few weeks ago on the Uni Watch Blog. The NHLPA killed the idea of tucking the jerseys inside the pants as it restricted movement, and trapped heat inside the jersey.

- no templates. Reebok is allowing the teams to redesign their own jerseys using the new materials. The stitching may be different, but the creative elements will still be allowed. In this regard, this is definitely a highlight.

- lace-up necklines will still be allowed. This allows the Rangers to keep their traditional dark jersey, and allows Boston to use their alternate jerseys as their home jerseys next season. If Boston does, they automatically move up my jersey scale.

- traditional jersey elements, such as the Chicago Blackhawks chain-stitched logo and the Detroit Red Wings vertically-arched lettering for names, can still be used. Will it? Tradition says that should never change. Ever. For any reason. Someone better be listening.

- as I stated on the Uni Watch Blog a few weeks ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be changing their logo. The NHLPA also killed this idea due to Toronto's "timeless" and "classic" logo. Apparently, a drop-shadow or some sort of shadowing is all that is being added to the current logo.

- the AHL is also going to this new jersey system. I am very interested to see how some of the AHL logos and promotions will be affected.

The downfall of this NHL "unveiling" is the fact that they only showed off the All-Star jerseys. Personally, I wanted to see some of the new jerseys, especially those of the Original Six. I am also interested in seeing who had new logos since it was reported that six teams will be changing their logos. Of those confirmed, Columbus and Dallas are definites, Vancouver is a maybe, and three others are unknown. Until the playoffs end, there will be much speculation over this entire story.

I'd like to look at the two men who will be coaching the Eastern and Western All-Star teams: Lindy Ruff, and Randy Carlyle, respectively. I'll start with the East today, and finish with the West tomorrow before the Rookie Game and the Skills Competition. Rarely do NHL coaches outside of Scotty Bowman get much exposure, so this will be a good way to get to know the two men who have two of the best teams this season.

Lindy Ruff was born February 17, 1960 in Warburg, Alberta. His junior days were spent playing for the Lethbridge Broncos of both the WCHL and the WHL, as well as the Taber Golden Suns of the AJHL. He was drafted 32nd overall in the 2nd round of the 1979 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres*.

Ruff was known as a defensive player in his days in the NHL. His best season in terms of points came in 1981-82 where he scored 48 points (16 goals and 32 assists) in 79 games. He also racked up 194 PIMs, the highest total of his career.

Ruff wasn't a lifelong Sabre, though. In 1988-89, he joined the New York Rangers, and played 83 games over 3 seasons with the Broadway Blueshirts, scoring 15 points. In 1991-92, he joined the Rochester Americans of the AHL for 62 games, scoring 34 points. In 1992-93, he finished his playing career with the San Diego Gulls of the IHL, scoring 42 points in 81 games. Over his NHL career, Lindy Ruff scored 105 goals and 195 assists for 300 points in 691 regular season games while amassing 1264 PIMs. He played in the NHL for 13 seasons.

Lindy Ruff's coaching days are probably better known. He got his start in 1993-94 as an assistant coach with the Florida Panthers, a position he held until after the 1996-97 season. In 1995, the Florida Panthers advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals versus the Colorado Avalanche, but were swept. This was Lindy Ruff's first taste of the Stanley Cup Finals, but it wouldn't be his last.

Lindy Ruff was hired in 1997 as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. In his first season, the Sabres lost to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals after posting a regular season record of 36-29-17 for 89 points, third in the Northeast division, and sixth in the Eastern Conference. Ruff took the Sabres another step further in the 1998-99 season when the Sabres lost in the Stanley Cup Finals on the controversial Brett Hull goal to the Dallas Stars.

The Sabres' best finish in the regular season under Ruff came in the 2005-2006 season where they went 52-24-1 for 110 points, second in the Northeast, and fourth in the conference. The lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Carolina Hurricanes.

To date, Lindy Ruff has amassed a coaching record with Buffalo of 338 wins, 261 losses, and 101 ties/OT losses/shootout losses. His record this season is a stellar 33-12-4, good for 70 points, first place in the Eastern Conference, and second overall in the league.

Always good for a sound byte, Lindy Ruff has made some memorable quotes in his time as head coach of the Sabres. Here is a short list of some quotes:

Lindy Ruff on the Flyers after the Sabres hammered the Flyers 8-2
Lindy Ruff on Darcy Tucker's questionable hit on Jochen Hecht (ESPN video unavailable)
Lindy Ruff in 2003 on how his team isn't out of the playoff hunt yet

*NOTE: They were still the Buffalo Sabres at this point, due to the fact that they weren't wearing their current ridiculous logos.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, what a disgrace! All that waiting for so little information... At least, no terrible news for now. Like Paul said, it could have been a lot worse. Can't wait until we see the different designs the teams present, hopefully by draft day.

Nice info on Ruff. He kind of proves that most of the times, hard working players, as opposed to very talented players, become better coaches.

I recall being pissed when Hull scored that winning goal in 1999. I always rooted to any eastern team in the finals when my Avalanche were not there. Plus, the goal wasn't good.

Teebz, what part of Canada are you from? Anyway we can contact you?

Teebz said...

Email directly to me is now available under my profile, I believe.