Another Wednesday rolls through Hockey Blog In Canada, and there are a pile of stories to bring to the forefront of the hockey world. There are literally a ton of things to know as the NHL preseason starts, and we'll get to all of those stories below. The 2008-09 NHL season appears to be shaping up to be one of the most entertaining with all the new faces in lineups, and all of the regular faces missing. Teams have restocked their lineups, and others have tinkered by adding pieces they think were missing from last season. All in all, let's take a look at the prevailing stories coming out from the NHL. The NHL returns to TSN tonight, so grab a beverage and some munchies, get settled in, and let's take a look at some of the major stories.
- As we all know, the Montreal Canadiens are celebrating their 100th Centennial Anniversary this year, and they have pulled out all the stops in making this their most memorable year yet. They will be wearing two patches on their normal jerseys: the 100th Anniversary patch, as seen here on Robert Lang, and the NHL All-Star patch, as seen here on the right-hand side. They also released the 2009 NHL All-Star Game logo, and it's decent, although a little bland. You can see the Montreal All-Star Game jerseys in this photo, and they look pretty decent as well.
- The Canadiens also released the schedule of when they will be wearing their throwback jerseys, and I have to say that this is a cool feature. They will wear a total of six different jerseys between 2008 and 2010, besides their regular jersey. The other six jerseys include the 1970-71 Canadiens, the 1945-46 Canadiens, the 1915-16 Canadiens, the 1912-13 Canadiens, the 1910-11 Canadiens, and the 1909-10 Canadiens. Lots of good patches in there as well.
- The schedule of the Centennial nights runs into next season. The first Centennial night is October 20 against the Florida Panthers where the Habs will wear the 1970-71 jersey. November 15 will feature the Habs in the 1945-46 jerseys against the Philadelphia Flyers. December 4 will see the Habs don their 1915-16 jerseys to play the New York Rangers. February 1, 2009 will feature the Canadiens in their 1912-13 jerseys against the Boston Bruins. February 21, 2009 will have the Canadiens on the ice in their 1970-71 jerseys against the Ottawa Senators. March 14, 2009 sees the Habs in their 1945-46 jerseys against the New Jersey Devils. March 21, 2009 has the Habs wearing their 1915-16 jerseys against the Toronto Maple Leafs. March 31, 2009 will feature the Canadiens in their 1912-13 jerseys against the Chicago Blackhawks. The following season will feature both the 1909-10 jersey and the 1910-11 jersey before the end of the 2009 calendar year.
- The Canadiens haven't missed the boat when it comes to marketing this historic event either. The Canadiens have partnered with a number of companies to release such merchandise as a Canadiens video game, a documentary release on DVD of the team's most memorable games, a special set of 200 Upper Deck anniversary cards and even a Canadiens version of Monopoly. The Royal Canadian Mint will issue 10 million one-dollar coins and Canada Post will issue four million stamps honouring the Canadiens anniversary. They also have erected a new video screen inside the Bell Centre that is the largest in the NHL at 25-feet by 40-feet. Pretty spectacular stuff.
- The Buffalo Sabres put their ice in at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, and it seems that they are a little confused as to what their primary logo is. As you can see here, the Sabres are using their alternate logo at center ice, something that isn't normally seen in NHL rinks. However, the Hurricanes have also followed suit by placing their alternate logo at center ice. I have yet to see what Boston's ice looks like, but let's hope they stick with the spoked-B.
- The Oilers are wearing their 30th Anniversary patch on their shoulders thus far in the preseason, and they will apparently be using it at center ice this season as well. However, the logo yesterday during the game against the Canucks at Rexall Place seemed different. Can anyone confirm?
- A good find by Matt Lesser while attending the Columbus Blue Jackets' training camp was this photo: TRON, presented by Disney on Ice and the NHL.
- Curtis Sanford of the Vancouver Canucks has started wearing his fan-designed goalie mask, and I think it looks pretty decent. The Sandman is out, the angry Orca is in. Sanford just has to hope that Luongo decides not to play 80 games this season so we see that mask once in a while.
- Speaking of new masks, Martin Gerber has decided to ditch the all-black mask that he wore last season for a newly-painted one. However, his new moniker of "Darth Gerber" won't go away as his new paint job resembles the Empire's most powerful force. Whether or not he can use "the force" to propel Ottawa back to the Stanley Cup Finals remains to be seen, but his new mask is alright.
- Sergei Gonchar will miss the trip to Europe as he is out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder. The hit into the boards by Tampa Bay's David Koci was clean, but somewhat away from the play, and Gonchar went to the bench immediately after being hit. He will be evaluated by the Penguins' medical team before any timeline for his return can be set. After losing Ryan Whitney to surgery to correct an injury, the Penguins can't afford to have Gonchar miss any significant amount of time.
- St. Louis Blues defenceman Erik Johnson will most likely miss this season after the team announced that Johnson had suffered a tear in both his ACL and MCL. Johnson was injured when his right foot got stuck between the accelerator and brake on his golf cart during a team bonding golf expedition. Maybe it's not such a good idea for hockey players to be playing golf anymore?
- The Montreal Canadiens are hoping for the best after a scary situation tonight on the ice. Defenceman Matt Carle was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being hit by Detroit's Tomas Kopecky at the Montreal blueline. Carle reportedly lost consciousness on the ice, but regained it before being put on the stretcher. He was taken to Detroit Medical Center for further testing. Here's to hoping nothing serious has happened to Matt Carle.
- Can I just say something about these NHL exhibition games being played in neutral sites? The game in Winnipeg tonight is a total farce. There are a ton of tickets still available at prices between $39 and $119. And the biggest slap in the face to the people of Winnipeg? Both teams have stated that there will be no autographs given during warm-ups or after the game. Why is the NHL sending teams to neutral sites to "build momentum" for the league if they have no interest in doing the little things to make fans happy? The moron that decided to have the no-autograph rule should be fired immediately. This is an absolute screw job for the people in Winnipeg.
- Do you like NHL.com's current look? Well, check out NHL.com's beta site for the new look. It seems to be a little slicker in its delivery, so it will be interesting to see what else they may add on.
- And I hate ending articles this way, but my thoughts and prayers go out to Jussi Markkanen, formerly of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. Jussi's four year-old son, Olli Markkanen, was playing alonside his younger brother, Juho, on Tuesday when he fell out an open third-story window of Markkanen's apartment in Moscow. An ambulance was called, but Olli couldn't be saved. Markkanen, playing for the KHL's CSKA, was 3-1-0 with a 1.25 GAA and one shutout on the season.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!