Monday 31 October 2022

We're In A Warner Bros. Cartoon

Lost amongst all the recent happy-smiley-shiny stories about the Coyotes embracing the weirdness of their current situation or how they're relying on a cheap-seat student area to bring the noise and energy needed at a hockey game, Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports is reporting that the proposed Tempe arena that the Coyotes are hoping to build may end up in front of the people of Tempe in a referendum. The billion-dollar investment in the city will go to a City Council vote on November 29 with the Council reportedly shifting the vote to the people via a referendum vote in 2023.

As per Morgan, "While the vote on Nov. 29 will provide clarity on council's opinion of the Coyotes' proposal — on the entitlements and on the general plan amendment — a referendum would be the ultimate vote in determining whether the project begins. That vote would be held in 2023 at a date yet to be determined."

That sounds that you hear? That's the sound of a falling boulder crashing down on the Coyotes' heads thanks to the citizens of Tempe having a say in how the land is used and how city revenue may be used in the building of this project. What may save the Coyotes, though, is that "two separate polls have been conducted of Tempe citizens" with more than 60 percent of them approving of the arena project. Beyond that, "sources said that the proposal has actually improved significantly for the City of Tempe, based on more concessions from the Coyotes. With that in mind, there appears to be majority support within the council for the proposal."

Maybe Tempe is Coyotes country after all?

Where we should pump the brakes once again is the myth that arenas and stadiums being built creates jobs and pumps money into local economies. It seems that this is something that Tempe Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Colin Diaz believes as he told Morgan, "As of Tuesday of [last] week, we heard that recommendation and took a formal vote. As a board, we are in support of the Coyotes in this process, as well as the city's due diligence to the process. We know that there's still work to be done and there's community meetings, but as a whole, looking at the economic impact and looking at what it will mean for the city as a whole, from a tax perspective, from job creation to a lot of the programming that they're going to be supporting, it checks a lot of boxes for us and makes a lot of sense."

I cannot believe that I am writing this again, but, as the Berkeley Economic Review wrote in 2019, "building sports stadiums has served as a profitable undertaking for large sports teams, at the expense of the general public. While there are some short-term benefits, the inescapable truth is that the economic impact of these projects on their communities is minimal, while they can be an obstacle to real development in local neighborhoods."

Mark Scheer of the Investigative Post echoed those sentiments in 2021, writing, "From a return-on-investment standpoint, economists and researchers almost universally agree that stadiums are unlikely to generate anywhere near the level of tax revenue needed to offset the public subsidies tied to their construction."

Still don't believe me? John Oliver on HBO's Last Week Tonight illustrates this with a great example from Miami where the Marlins built a new ballpark while promising revitalization for the surrounding area through increased tax revenue and job creation.

In short, privately-funded arenas that receive tax breaks and other concessions benefit only the arena owner. The return-on-investment for the city and its citizens is never realized while billionaires, whose hockey teams play in those arenas, simply get richer.

Diaz continued talking up his mythical scenario of what this arena project will bring, stating, "If you look at Tempe Town Lake, it's the second largest attraction in the state behind the Grand Canyon, with about two and a half million visitors per year. This project is predicting three million a year. Obviously, some of those will be overlapped, but a long time ago, there were talks about whether it made sense to extend the lake west. I think a project like this means it would make sense over time, and then when you have bookend activity on the east and west ends of the lake, you'd start to see more of an emphasis on activating that space, which helps in a lot of ways. It helps with keeping people and dollars in the region longer, it helps with having something for everybody, and it helps with the vibrancy of the region."

The problem is that of some of those 2.5 million people over lap with the three million people this project is predicting will show up, you're not actually realizing three million new visitors with the probability of seeing that many people being highly unrealistic. In fact, Andrew Zimbalist and Roger G. Noll wrote in a 1997 Brookings article, "Sports facilities attract neither tourists nor new industry. Probably the most successful export facility is Oriole Park, where about a third of the crowd at every game comes from outside the Baltimore area" which resulted in a net gain to Baltimore's economy in terms of new jobs and incremental tax revenues of "about $3 million a year — not much of a return on a $200 million investment."

If the city of Tempe hasn't been paying attention, the city of Glendale "commissioned an analysis by Phoenix-based consulting firm Applied Economics to determine exactly what the Coyotes generate in city tax revenue" as per a Seattle Times column by Geoff Baker. That analysis "examined four years of spending patterns by patrons at the arena and the adjacent Westgate Entertainment District complex of shops, bars and restaurants during Coyotes home games vs. an average of 17 annual concerts held there."

Sound familiar? With the new complex being built in Tempe that will feature "hotels, about 1,600 apartments, retail stores, restaurants and a sports book," the same analysis should be done on this proposed Coyotes arena project. If you're asking why, the analysis done by Sarah Murley, a principal at Applied Economics, "concluded that spending by concertgoers was 'significantly greater than for Coyotes events' — $58 per person compared with $27. Murley attributed this to concerts being a 'special event' for which attendees linger longer and are more likely to stay overnight at nearby hotels."

In short, hockey isn't the attraction that CEO Colin Diaz believes it is nor will it come close to generating the revenue that the city will desperately need when it comes to paying out the returns on the municipal bonds it's planning on issuing to cover the costs of land remediation, electric lines, water lines, sewer lines, roads and a parking garage at the northeast corner of the property. In saying that, municipal bonds are a boring topic on their own that would require me to write many paragraphs here, so I'm using John Oliver's explanation instead because it's easier to understand.
What you need to remember is that municipal bonds, like a loan, will mature, and those people holding the rights to those municipal bonds receive interest on top of their bond payout once the bonds mature. Interest paid on municipal bonds is often tax-free, so it's a good investment to make if, say, you're a billionaire like Alex Meruelo who owns the Arizona Coyotes.

Let me be clear: I am not suggesting that will happen. There's a chance it could, but I'm just illustrating the example of how a billionaire - someone who can afford to invest in a ten-year municipal bond and forget about it - can score a major windfall from the very project he's asking the city to help him build with nothing more than a financial investment. Like the sly coyote to the left's attempts to catch a roadrunner, though, this plan could come to fruition despite how far-fetched it may sound on the surface. If Meruelo has enough money to finance this project publicly, he can certainly afford to buy some municipal bonds to make a little money back.

The too-long and didn't-read of this whole article is that if Alex Meruelo wants to finance a $2.1-billion arena project that has "hotels, about 1,600 apartments, retail stores, restaurants and a sports book", Alex Meruelo should be paying for all of it as a developer. The cost of having any of the infrastructure built for an arena and surrounding area that will only make him richer should be paid for exclusively by the only person benefitting financially from this deal. The people of Tempe should know this and understand this before going to vote in 2023 in the expected referendum that will be cast upon them.

Let's not forget that "THE TEAM says that the project could generate $154 million in new taxes for the city over a 30-year period, with $5.9 billion in direct spending in the city and 6,900 permanent jobs created" with the bolded words emphasized by me. The city doesn't have those figures because they're just taking the team's word for it, yet there are piles of research and studies that says the team's figures simply are not true.

I know we live in an era where it's trendy not to believe facts over bald-faced lies, but the mountains of data and research is hard to ignore. Taking the word of a team whose only interests are its own over the word of scientists, economoists, and researchers would be a new level of insanity for a city to display, and the people of Tempe should run from this Coyotes project like they're the Roadrunner. Or, more appropriately, turn the tables on the Coyotes and let them figure out how to pay for their little project.

Until next time...

Sunday 30 October 2022

The Rundown - Week 5

In a week whose schedule features just six teams in action rather than our normal eight, three Canada West teams - Saskatchewan, Trinity Western, and Calgary - sat back and watched the rest of the conference battle for wins and points. If you're looking at the standings, that means the top-three teams and the bottom-three teams were in action with the possibility of the top-three teams moving further away from the pack if they were successful. Despite having three teams on the sidelines, this was a big week for the entire conference when it came to points earned, so let's check out what happenend this week on The Rundown!

FRIDAY: The conference's top team in the Mount Royal Cougars played host to the Manitoba Fluffy Cows this weekend. A couple of wins for Mount Royal would allow them to maintain their hold on first-place, but they needed to focus on Friday's game before looking forward to any other game. Kaitlyn Ross was in the blue paint for the Cougars on this night.

Mount Royal dominated early in this game as they flexed their muscles at both ends of the ice. Courtney Kollman would take advantage of some extra space on the ice on the power-play to go short side for the 1-0 lead at 9:25. The Cougars would double their lead at 18:04 when Aliya Jomha continued her torrid scoring pace by going top-shelf, and the Cougars took a 2-0 lead and a 14-4 shot advantage into the break.

I'm not sure if the Cougars were content to sit back after a dominant period, but they surrendered a pair of goals in the second period despite holding a 25-14 edge in shots, so this game was up for grabs as the third period began. Mount Royal would strike on the power-play early in the period when Tatum Amy fed Kollman with a fantastic cross-ice pass, and the MRU sniper made no mistake as Kollman buried her second power-play goal of the game at 5:56 to put Mount Royal up 3-2. The Cougars' defence would bend, but not break, as time wound down, but Ross was there to keep her team in the lead on the scoreboard. When the final horn sounded, the Mount Royal Cougars were victorious by that 3-2 score. Kaitlyn Ross made 22 stops for her fifth win of the season.

Mount Royal doesn't show off its seventh-ranked team in the nation with video clips, so let's load up another funny hockey commercial!

SATURDAY: The Cougars were looking to wrap up a sweep over the Fluffy Cows, but likely wanted a better performance than what was seen one night earlier. In knowing how this Cougars team plays, they wouldn't want to give up any points in their quest for a Canada West banner, so Kaitlyn Ross was protecting their net again in this game.

It didn't take long for the Cougars to draw first blood as Athena Hauck's wrist shot from just inside the faceoff circle was accurate at 2:38, and her goal gave Mount Royal the early 1-0 lead. The teams would trade power-plays later in the period, but the Hauck goal would be the only shot to get through in a rather quiet first period as the Cougars held the 1-0 lead despite trailing 5-4 in shots.

Early in the second period, a very scary moment was seen with the Cougars killing a penalty as Camryn Amundson was give a five-minute major and a game misconduct for cross-checking that resulted in a Fluffy Cows player needing assistance from the athletic therapists. The Cougars would kill off the penalties, though, and would double their lead shortly after when Mackenzie Butz, on a Mount Royal power-play, teed up a puck from the point that found its way through traffic and dinged in off the post to make it 2-0 at 9:23! The final ten minutes of the period would be far less action-packed, but the Cougars held the two-goal lead heading into the third period with the teams both having recorded 11 shots.

Mount Royal continued their solid defensive play in the third period, limiting shots on Ross once again. It would lead to a Morgan Ramsey goal at 8:34, and Tatum Amy would cap things off ten minutes later when she made it 4-0 at 18:26. That would be the final score in this game as the Mount Royal Cougars completed the sweep with the 4-0 win. Kaitlyn Ross picked up her first shutout of the season with a 17-save clean sheet in this game!

Another commercial in place of highlights? I can do this all season long, MRU. I'd rather post highlights, though.

FRIDAY: The Regina Cougars went northwest in their quest for points in this Canada West season, and they met the Alberta Pandas at Clare Drake Arena. Teams not named Alberta haven't had much success there this season as the Pandas are 6-0 while outscoring their opposition 20-4. Would that perfection be disrupted this weekend? Arden Kliewer was trying to shut down the Pandas in the Regina net while Halle Oswald was between the pipes for Alberta.

To say the Pandas were flying in the opening frame might be understating how dominant they actually were. Kliewer and the Cougars were under siege for the entire 20 minutes of the first frame, and they did their best to weather that storm. However, a late power-play in the period saw Natalie Kieser take the pukc behind the net before wrapping the puck around Kliewer's left post before the goalie could get her skate tight against the iron to give the Pandas the 1-0 lead heading into the intermission after they outshot the Cougars 15-0 in the frame. No, that's not a typo.

The Cougars would record shots in this period in case you were worried, but it would be another late power-play where the Pandas would double their lead. Payton Laumbach spotted Madison Willan on the wide-open on the left side of the ice, and her cross-crease pass was on the money as Willan finished off the play at 15:29 to put the Pandas up 2-0. Through 40 minutes, the Pandas held the two-goal lead and the 24-5 advantage in shots.

The Pandas wouldn't take long in establishing a three-goal lead as Abbey Bourdeaud'hui poked the puck to Payton Laumbach after a Regina turnover, and Laumbach would just enough space past Kliewer's glove at 1:56 to make it 3-0. Midway through the period, Abby Soyko stripped a Regina defender of the puck, used her body to shield the puck from the defender, and finished up high as she cut to the net with the defender all over her in an amazing individual effort at 12:25 to make it a 4-0 game. That would be more than enough for Halle Oswald to hold the fort as all three aspect of the Pandas' game - offence, defence, and goaltending - were clicking as the Pandas downed the Cougars by that 4-0 score! Halle Oswald stopped 13 shots for her third shutout and sixth win of the season while Arden Kliewer made 30 stops in the loss.

Highlights? Alberta always has them. Well done, Pandas!

SATURDAY: It was no secret that the Cougars needed a better start than what they put up one night earlier, but a better overall effort was also needed to slow down thr Pandas. Alberta was looking to extend their win streak to four games as they were hungry for points as well. Natalie Williamson was in the Cougars' net for the start while Elle Boyko started her first Canada West game for the Pandas!

The Cougars did indeed get a better start on Saturday as they opened the scoring just 2:57 while on the power-play as Kaitlyn Gilroy beat Boyko to put the Cougars up 1-0! Alberta would begin to look like themselves as the period progressed, though, as they applied pressure on the Cougars' defence. It would finally pay off in the final minute of the period when Payton Laumbach sniped a shot past Williamson with 50 seconds remaining in what would be the start of a big night for Laumbach. The two teams went into the break, though, tied 1-1 with Alberta up 8-5 in shots.

Alberta would flip the script in the second period as they used an early power-play opportunity to take the lead. Payton Laumbach was back on the scoresheet when she dented twine on the advantage, and ger second goal of the game made it 2-1 just 3:21 into the middle frame. Alberta would be slowed somewhat in this period thanks to a few penalties called against them, but they'd go up by three goals on their second of two power-plays in the frame when Payton Laumbach capped off the hat trick with another goal at 18:08 to make it 3-1! That score would move into the intermission with Alberta holding a 15-11 edge in shots.

Madison Willan didn't wait long to make it a three-goal lead as she dented twine just 53 seconds into the third period, and Taylor Kezama would tee a shot up on the power-play 5:01 later to make it a 5-1 game. That was more than enough for rookie netminder Elle Boyko in the Alberta net to protect the lead as the Pandas swept the weekend against the Cougars with a 5-1 win! Elle Boyko stopped 17 shots in her debut for her first Canada West win in her career while Natalie Williamson was on the wrong side of a 21-save night.

For the first time this season, the Pandas missed out on highlights. I don't know what happened here, but my hope is this is just a blip on the radar. Not having Pandas highlights just doesn't feel right.

FRIDAY: The UBC Thunderbirds went northeast to arrive in Edmonton this weekend as they played the second team based in the Alberta capital in the MacEwan Griffins. I had made mention that the Griffins needed to be ready for a UBC team coming off the bye, so we'll see if the Thunderbirds suffered from the rest-vs-rust battle. Elise Hugens was in the blue paint for the T-Birds while rookie netminder Lyndsey Johnson got the nod for the MacEwan Griffins in her first Canada West start!

Let's just say that if there was any rust on the T-Birds, it wasn't detectable. The Thunderbirds were dominant in controlling the play in the opening period, earning three power-plays over the 20 minutes. The difference, though, was that the MacEwan defence was doing everything they can to help Lyndsey Johnson, and Johnson was making saves. Even with MacEwan receiving a power-play, the Thunderbirds still looked like they weren't affected, but the horn sounded at the end of the opening frame with the teams tied at 0-0 despite UBC outshooting MacEwan 17-1. Not a typo.

It would UBC's second shot of the period that finally broke the goose egg that Johnson was protecting as Sophia Gaskell won a race to the puck, threw the puck out front, and Mackenzie Kordic banged home the one-timer to give UBC the 1-0 lead at the 5:17 mark. 23 seconds later, it was 2-0 when Cassidy Rhodes when post-and-in on former AAA teammate Johnson. Despite having two more power-plays, UBC couldn't cash in on those, but the damage has been done in the middle frame as the T-Birds led 2-0 while holding a 32-4 edge in shots. Again, not a typo.

The Thunderbirds made it 3-0 before the new layer of water had frozen on the ice as Rylind MacKinnon's blast through traffic dented twine just 19 seconds into the period. Ireland Perrott made it a 4-0 game when she cashed in a Mackenzie Kordic rebound at 7:36, and Cassidy Rhodes would score her second goal of the game when she one-timed a feed from Chanreet Bassi while on a 2-on-1 at 16:25 to make it 5-0 for UBC. That was more than enough for Elise Hugens to lock down the T-Birds' net as UBC downed MacEwan by that 5-0 score. Elise Hugens recorded her first shutout and third win of the season with the 12-save clean sheet while Lyndsey Johnson, in her first Canada West game, made 38 stops on a night where she likely deserved a better fate.

MacEwan and highlights are like oil and water. They simply don't mix. Instead, here's another set of Griffins with a Halloween twist.

SATURDAY: After being shutout on home ice, the Griffins needed a big response on Saturday if they were going to escape the basement of the Canada West standings. Of course, they'd need to defeat the defending Canada West champions to do so - a difficult undertaking in any season - and it may be a big ask for the second-year team. They'd give it their all, though, as the MacEwan and UBC tangled in the second-half of the series. Kate Stuart started for the T-Birds while Brianna Sank was back between the pipes for the Griffins.

This game looked a little less one-sided from the start as both the Griffins and T-Birds had chances to score early on. The goaltending was up to the challenge, though, as the game remained even for 18 minutes. At the 18:01 mark, though, the Griffins would finally break through off a turnover in the neutral zone as Amanda Murray carried the puck into the UBC and pinpointed a laser beam to the top corner over Stuart's glove to put the Griffins up 1-0! That score would hold into the break despite UBC outshooting MacEwan 15-9 in the frame.

The second period was a series of ups and downs for the Thunderbirds. They started with an up as Chanreet Bassi deked Sank into opening the five-hole before sliding it into the net to make it 1-1 at 2:41. They'd then hit a down as the momentum shifted as they killed a penalty. It would go back to an up when Ireland Perrott tapped home a loose puck off a rebound on a Kailee Pepper shot at 12:59 for the 2-1 lead before another penalty would force UBC into killing off that opportunity. The momentum would swing back to UBC when Sophia Gaskell's shot had eyes and found the back of the net through traffic at 16:18 as the Thunderbirds jumped into a 3-1 lead. That would be the score when the horn sounded with UBC holding a 25-20 edge in shots.

For whatever reason, the roof seemed to cave in on the Griffins in the third period when it came to UBC's pressure and attack. Three power-plays for the visitors didn't help, but Sophia Gaskell added her second goal of the game with a great individual effort where she cut around the MacEwan defender, dragged the puck across the crease, and popped a shot past Sank to make it 4-1 at 1:47. That would be one of 26 shots recorded by UBC in the period as they simply didn't let MacEwan breathe in the final frame. When the dust settled, that 4-1 score would hold as the final the UBC Thunderbirds downed the MacEwan Griffins for the weekend sweep! Kate Stuart recorded her third win of the season on 24-save night while Brianna Sank was way busier with 47 saves in the loss.

No highlights, but here are the Griffins doing the Safety Dance after the MacEwan netminders faced 94 shots in the two-game set.

School Record Points GF GA Streak Next
Mount Royal
17 34 18
14 25 16
13 30 13
vs CAL
Trinity Western
8 20 22
8 11 13
vs REG
7 13 19
6 18 28
vs ALB
5 13 22
4 11 24
vs TWU

Special Teams Win

The six games this weekend showed a very distinct separation between the teams at the top of the standings and the teams at the bottom of the standings. All three teams who won recorded a shutout in one of the two games they played, but the special teams battle between the teams might tell the bigger story.

The three teams who swept their weekend sets went a combined 8-for-27 on the power-play while the three teams that lost went a combined 2-for-27. In fact, if we remove the UBC-MacEwan games where neither team recorded a power-play goal all weekend, the numbers get far worse as Mount Royal and Alberta combined to go 8-for-17 while the Fluffy Cows and Regina combined to go 2-for-20. Should we be surprised that Alberta and Mount Royal have the top power-play efficiencies while the Fluffy Cows and Regina have the bottom-two penalty-killing efficiencies in the conference?

I have said this over and over again since starting to cover Canada West, but games can be won or lost exclusively due to special teams in this conference. For teams either not practicing their special teams play regularly or hoping it will turn a corner through some unknown way, it's going to be a disappointing season if things don't improve. Mark my words.

Special Teams Effectiveness

Since we're already talking about special teams, measuring their effectiveness is a key statistic that some NHL coaches use to determine whether or not they're winning the special teams' battles. The general rule is you want your power-play efficiency plus your penalty-killing efficiency to be above 100% with numbers above 105% usually meaning that your team is efficient at both special teams' executions. Anything less than 95% means that you're better off playing 5-on-5.

Being that we're just a quarter of the way through the season, one game can still cause big swings in these numbers, but there are only three teams currently sitting above 100% in overall efficiency - Alberta, UBC, and Trinity Western. There are two teams below 95% efficiency - the Fluffy Cows and Regina - so it's not surprising that they're near the bottom of the standings.

If there's one team taking advantage of advantages, it's the Pandas. Alberta's efficiency of 121.2% is aided in large part by their 13 power-play goals they've already scored this season which accounts for more than half (52.0%) of all the goals they've scored. In the three losses they've suffered thus far, Alberta is 2-for-16 on the power-play in those games. In their seven wins, they're 11-for-26.

Alberta is on a roll right now with six-straight win at home, and it's at Clare Drake Arena where they've been lethal on the power-play, going 10-for-24 (41.7%) in their opportunities there. That also means they're 3-for-18 (16.7%) on the road, so that's a huge swing in success on the power-play. If this trend continues, Alberta will want a home playoff date for one, if not two, playoff rounds because it seems they may be unstoppable there.

Teams who host Alberta shouldn't breathe a sigh of relief either. Just because the power-play hasn't been as successful as when Alberta has the last change doesn't mean it can't still be lethal. If you're the Fluffy Cows next weekend who hold the second-worst penalty-killing efficiency in the conference, you have a tall task ahead of you in one week's time.

The Last Word

The schedule this week could open up a gap between the playoff contenders and the playoff pretenders. Both Saskatchewan and Trinity Western will be looking to open that gap with games against Regina and MacEwan, respectively, while Calgary and Manitoba will try to keep pace with games against UBC and Alberta, respectively. No one is writing off the teams at the bottom after one month as we saw Regina rally and make the playoffs last season, but a slow start to the season is a tough obstacle to overcome in Canada West. If the teams in the bottom-half of the standings want to make changes, winning this weekend is a good start in changing their fortunes for the rest of the campaign.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 29 October 2022

Good Goalie Available

The pads and the jersey don't match, but that was a preseason photo of former UBC Thunderbirds goaltender Rylan Toth making a save during a Fort Wayne Komets practice. Toth was coming into the ECHL season after being one of the best players in the Canadian university hockey scene, so landing in a place like Fort Wayne meant there likely was going to be a battle for the blue paint. Toth usually thrives when the pressure is on based on what he showed throughout his career, but it seems that the situation in Indiana didn't quite allow Toth to show off his range of skills between the pipes after the regular-season roster was announced.

Rookie goaltender Owen Savory stopped 10 of 11 shots he faced from the Wheeling Nailers through 30:14 of preseason action on October 14 before Toth was sent to the crease to relieve Savory. Four goals on eleven shots later - including three in 3:20 of action to start the third period - and the Nailers skated to the 6-3 victory on a night where Toth was somewhat hung out to dry by the Komets.

"The goaltending was really good," Fort Wayne head coach Ben Boudreau told Justin A. Cohn of The Journal Gazette. "Owen looked every bit in control and you wouldn't have known it was his first exhibition game. Rylan came in on a tough situation. Coming in cold, his first goal against was a breakaway. And then there were three back-door tap-ins where he had absolutely no chance. … It was unfortunate for him, but (Savory and Toth) looked great, to be honest. I'm comfortable with our goaltending and I don't think it's going to be an issue."

A vote of confidence from the coach is never a bad thing, one would assume, yet that would be the only preseason action that Toth saw with the Komets. Scheduling just two preseason games seems like a very weird situation as it is, but it appears Toth was dealt the short straw in this situation because the regular-season roster that was announced on October 20th didn't have Toth's name on it after he was released by the club.

Just like that, Toth's professional career is now in limbo as ECHL teams all have their rosters set, so he'll have to wait for an opportunity to jump back in with some team. It could be an AHL team as we've seen with his helping Abbotsford last season. It could be another ECHL team if someone comes calling. It could be in Europe or in the SPHL or another league on the planet, but I doubt Toth will be protecting the Komets' net anytime soon.

The numbers game may have also affected Toth's inclusion on the roster as Owen Savory was placed on injured reserve on October 19 which was the same day that the Bakersfield Condors assigned goaltender Ryan Fanti to the Komets. As it stands, the Komets are going with a tandem that includes veteran ECHL goaltender Colton Point and the aforementioned Fanti which would mean the third goaltender spot would come down to Savory or Toth. Based on how the preseason went, Savory's statistics would push him ahead of Toth, forcing the Komets to waive Toth for the purpose of being released.

As it stands, there's a very good goaltender looking for work right now. With Fort Wayne opening the season with three losses and surrendering 18 goals in those games, I could say they have nothing to lose, but there's still 69 games to play with some rather questionable goaltending and defence being employed. Fort Wayne is one of five teams who have yet to record a win on the season, so maybe there's a spot in a crease for Rylan Toth somewhere in the ECHL yet.

Rylan Toth will land somewhere this season. He's too good not to be playing.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 28 October 2022

Royals Powered By Canada

If you're not familiar with the ECHL's Reading Royals, you may be like a lot of the hockey world. That's not to say that the Royals haven't had success that should have brought them attention. After all, they won the 2013 Kelly Cup, they won the most games among all ECHL Eastern Conference teams last season, and they've been the ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers since 2016. And despite their Pennsylvania location, the Royals seem to be stocking up on players who have honed their trade north of the border at the university level!

Former Saskatchewan Huskies playmaker Zane Franklin signed with the Royals this summer after spending one year at the Saskatoon-based school. Franklin, who came to the University of Saskatchewan after having played the 2020-21 season with the ECHL's Allen Americans, put up some impressive numbers in his lone season with the Huskies, leading the team with six goals and 20 assists in 20 Canada West games. One could easily see that Franklin had all the tools necessary for professional hockey, but his choice to play Canadian university hockey made the talent pool much deeper at the U SPORTS level. While the Huskies failed to reach their goal in the shortened 2021-22 season, Franklin was a star shining brightly at the Canada West level.

In three games against Newfoundland last weekend, Franklin announced his return to the ECHL in a big way. On Friday, he scored his first goal of the season at 19:54 of the first period to make it a 3-2 game in an eventual 4-2 loss. On Saturday, Franklin picked up assists on all three Reading goals in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss. And, on Sunday, he picked up another assist on a first-period power-play goal to make it 2-2 in the eventual 6-2 loss Reading absorbed that day. Despite the team starting 0-3 on the season, Franklin is finding all sorts of opportunties in putting up five points in three games! Congratulations, Zane, on a great start to the season!

The Royals continued to add some former Canada West talent to their roster this season when they signed former ECHL Atlanta Gladiators forward Kamerin Nault to a one-year deal. Nault, who has also played with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Kansas City Rabbits in between stints with the AHL's Manitoba Moose and Charlotte Checkers, has been an effective scorer at the ECHL level, totalling 37 goals and 33 assists in 102 games over four seasons with three teams after spending three seasons at the University of Manitoba where he was on the scoresheet often. In 46 Canada West games, Nault piled up 16 goals and 10 assists while finishing fourth in scoring in 2017-18 when he recorded 20 points.

Nault didn't find the scoresheet last weekend against Newfoundland, but he seems to be settling in with his new team as he showed his physical presence against the Growlers by finishing checks and coming to the aid of teammates in scrums. It won't be long before Nault's splashing ink on the scoresheet again, but he's setting a good tone in his Royals debut weekend!

The third player you may know who is from around these parts didn't actually play Canadian university hockey, but he was a star in the MJHL before making the jump to the NCAA's Bemidji State Beavers! Tyler Kirkup was a standout forward with his hometown Virden Oil Capitals where he posted 68 goals and 89 assists in 178 games over four seasons before making the jump to the NCAA level. With the Beavers, Kirkup continued his solid development at both ends of the ice, posting 21 goals and 27 assists in 131 NCAA games over four seasons, including a 12-goal senior campaign, when the Royals came calling for Kirkup's services. Kirkup suited up for six games last season with the Royals once his NCAA career had ended, but did not score.

Reading liked what they saw in that six-game professional debut, though, and they brought Kirkup back this season on a full one-year deal. He was in the lineup for two of the three opening games against Newfoundland, but Kirkup is still looking for his first professional point. He was effective at both ends of the ice in last weekend's opening games, remaining one of only three Reading players to not have a negative plus/minus rating.

Add in defender Dominic Cormier and centerman Yvan-Gabriel Mongo from the University of Ottawa and defender Garrett McFadden from Acadia University, and the Royals have a solid contingent of U SPORTS talent on their roster for this season. As we're seeing, more and more minor-pro hockey teams are looking north to the Canadian university ranks, and, in Reading's case, they've added a pair of Manitobans in Nault and Kirkup.

HBIC is always proud to celebrate what players from Manitoba are doing professionally, and this blog will always cheer for players who starred in the Canada West circuit. With Zane Franklin leading the Royals in scoring and both Kamerin Nault and Tyler Kirkup rounding into form, it seems the Royals are set to have another solid ECHL season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 27 October 2022

The Hockey Show - Episode 527

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back tonight with a fun show as opposed to going through all the depressing news about how hockey culture sucks. Instead, Teebz and Jason are going to talk new costumes for teams as we get set for Halloween as the NHL unveiled 32 new looks for its teams last week in the 2022-23 Reverse Retro jersey program implemented by the NHL and Adidas. We talk an expert, we share our thoughts, and we have some fun talking new jerseys for teams as we get set for Halloween on Monday!

Tonight, Teebz sits down with Paul Lukas - owner, writer, and visionary when it comes to the Uni-Watch website - to get his thoughts on the 32 new Reverse Retro jerseys. Paul gives us his top-five, some of the designs he doesn't like, and we hit on a few more uniform-related topics before we let him get back to life. Beyond that, Teebz and Jason will discuss their own top-five liked and disliked jerseys, Jason has some ideas on how to make some teams' designs better, and we'll discuss favorite Halloween candy! All of this happens tonight on The Hockey Show at 5:30pm CT on one of 101.5 FM, Channel 718 on MTS TV, or via!

If you live outside Winnipeg and want to listen, we have options! The new UMFM website's online streaming player is pretty awesome if you want to listen online. If you're using an Apple device, the player doesn't seem to like Safari yet, so if you want to stream the show I'd recommend Radio Garden to do that as it works nicely with Safari. If you're more of an app person, we recommend you use the TuneIn app found on the App Store or Google Play Store. If you do use the TuneIn app, you won't be disappointed. It's a solid app.

If you have questions, you can email all show queries and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter! I'm here to listen to you, so make your voice heard!

Tonight, Teebz and Jason get Uni-Watch's Paul Lukas to share his thoughts on Reverse Retro jerseys, discuss which they liked and didn't, some better ideas for designs, there's some candy chatter, and much more exclusively on 101.5 UMFM and on the web stream!

PODCAST: October 27, 2022: Episode 527

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Wednesday 26 October 2022

October 26: Nexus Of The Hockey World?

I understand that hockey players can be superstitious at times. Whether it be a hot streak where a player is scoring every time the puck touches his stick or a winning streak for a team that is propelling them up the standings, superstition can take over where players are locked into a routine thinking it will replicate the same results. I'm not here to ruin that imagery for hockey players, but I don't buy into superstitions very often because the number of random things that can happen in a day to disrupt that routine are infinite. There are some things, though, that happen on the same day that make you wonder if timelines cross for players or if there is some sort of power of fate that draws specific moments together. Logic says no, but it's hard to argue a few major hockey moments that happened on October 26!

If you're wondering about the title of the article, a nexus is defined as "a connection or series of connections linking two or more things." That definition will certainly come into play today as all the moments in hockey history happened on this day in time, albeit in various years. The coincidental nature of these things happening is just that: coincidence. However, the people who believe in superstition may say differently!

We'll drop into 1989 as our first year of things that occurred on this day. The Quebec Nordiques were in Boston to play the Bruins that night, and Quebec head coach Michel Bergeron saw the game as on opportunity to perhaps take advantage of a Bruins team who had been sitting for five days following a 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Having been shutout by the Hartford Whalers 2-0 the night before, Bergeron gave starter Ron Tugnutt the night off, opting to start Russian netminder Sergei Mylnikov against the Bruins!

So why is this an important moment? As you can see from the image to the right, Mylnikov played with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Russian Super League in the previous season, and his start for the Nordiques in Boston Garden that night marked the first time a Russian goaltender had ever started or guarded an NHL net in history! The previous time anyone had seen Mylnikov stopping pucks in North America was the 1987 Canada Cup where he was the goaltender of record in that silver-medal performance for the Soviet Union in Hamilton, Ontario. I'm pretty certain we know what happened in that game. If not, read on!

For the record, Mylnikov lost his debut with the Nordiques that night by a 4-2 score after stopping 31 shots. Cam Neely scored his seventh goal in Boston's tenth game in this one, and the Nordiques fell to 3-6-1 on the season with the loss. From that night onward, Quebec would go 9-55-6 to finish with 31 points. Mylnikov's season and NHL career ended with a record of 1-7-2, a 4.96 GAA, and an .858 save percentage. That lone win he recorded would come on March 17, 1990 in Quebec as the Nordiques hosted the Philadelphia Flyers with Mylnikov stopping 28 shots in a 6-3 victory in Quebec's 12th win of the '89-90 season.

From there, we jump one season forward as 1990 is our next stop. The Los Angeles Kings were in Winnipeg to play the Jets that night, and all eyes were on The Great One as Wayne Gretzky sat one point away from immortality. #99 had recorded 1999 points in 856 games to that point, and the newly-embraced California hockey star was facing an old WHA foe in the Jets on this night.

In the first period with the Jets leading 2-0 and pressing for more, a Jets' cross-ice pass - it appears to be either Scott Arniel or Brent Ashton - through the Kings' zone ends up on the stick of Wayne Gretzky on the right side. Always looking to push the offence, Gretzky hit Tony Granato at center ice with a pass on the tape which allowed Granato to make a perfect breakaway pass to Tomas Sandstrom who was behind both Phil Housley and Dave Ellett. A quick, low shot through Bob Essensa's legs was all the Kings needed to get one back at 14:32 of the first period, but, more importantly, Wayne Gretzky's secondary assist on the play was his 2000th point in his career! Officially, Gretzky stood with 684 goals and 1316 assists in 857 NHL games as the only player who hit the 2000-point mark, and he's still the only player in NHL history to reach that mark. Sidney Crosby is the closest active player with 1420 points, so he's got a long way to go!

For the record, the Kings lost that game to the Jets by a 6-2 score. Gretzky's only point was the assist that got him to 2000 points while Winnipeg's Thomas Steen has a Gretzky-like four assists in the game. Phil Housley, traded to Winnipeg that summer for fan favorite Dale Hawerchuk, scored the opening goal of the game just 1:33 into the contest for his third goal in the Jets' eleventh game. The loss dropped Los Angeles to 7-2-1 on the season while the Jets improved to 4-6-1 in that 1990-91 season.

The third major moment that happened on October 26 takes us to 1995. The Pittsburgh Penguins were at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York to visit the newly-dressed New York Islanders and their Fisherman jerseys. The Penguins came into the game after losing to Wayne Gretzky and the Kings by a 3-2 score where Gretzky recorded point #1999 on a second-period Rick Tocchet power-play goal. The Islanders, meanwhile, had fallen 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers one night earlier, so they needed a bounce-back in this one against the high-scoring Penguins!

Lemieux had already scored goals #498 and #499 in this game as he lurked in the third period for the hat trick and milestone marker. Dmitri Mironov passed the puck to Tomas Sandstrom who cut in across the blue line, but he had an Islander on his hip as he did. Looking for help, Sandstrom spun and spotted Lemieux trailing as the big centerman glided into the high slot. Sandstrom hit Lemieux with the pass, Lemieux used Bob Beers as a partial screen, and his wrist shot found room between Tommy Soderstrom's pad and glove to end up in the back of the net as Super Mario recorded goal #500 with his sixth marker of the season at 17:12 of the third period to put Pittsburgh up 7-5! That goal would make Lemieux second-fastest to the 500-goal mark in any player's career as Lemieux did it in his 605th NHL game. Only Gretzky reached that mark sooner, doing it in 30 less games!

The Penguins ended up holding onto the 7-5 win that night in Uniondale to move them to 3-2-2 on the season while the Islanders fell to 1-6-1 at that point in the 1995-96 campaign. Lemieux would finish the season as the league's top goal scorer, lighting the lamp 69 times, en route to the Art Ross Trophy with 161 points and the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP.

Not lost on me is that October 26 is the 299th or 300th day of the year depending on the leap year situation, but it also means that there's 66 days left in the calendar year. Lemieux wears #66 and he scored his 500th goal on that day - Twilight Zone anyone?

So why are these three moments drawn together in a way that might make people a little suspicious that something weird is happening with the NHL's timelines? Well, if we go back to the 1987 Canada Cup, the gold medal game saw Wayne Gretzky set up Mario Lemieux for the gold medal-winning goal as Lemieux beat Sergei Mylnikov to help Team Canada win the 1987 Canada Cup! Here's that video!

Hockey history can be really cool or really spooky depending on how you view it, but three players from one of the biggest moments in hockey history at any level share a date when they all did something pretty cool in their individual careers!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Metropolitan Division Threads

As we've seen with the three divisions we're already previewed, Adidas' little statement about history never repeating is somewhat false with all the replicas of historic looks that teams are wearing. While not exact replicas, we can certainly say that Adidas isn't officially repeating history, but we might just be splitting hairs when it comes to swapping colours or digging up old designs. Some of the new creations have used old elements in new ways. Some have fallen short of their intended goal. However, with 24 NHL teams already seen, we have eight more to examine today!

The Metropolitan Division has seen a number of its teams capture Stanley Cups over their histories, but this division has a little bit of everything. There's an Original Six team who has Stanley Cups, a couple of 1967 expansion teams who have both won the Stanley Cup, a 1972 expansion team that built a Stanley Cup dynasty, a 1974 expansion team that finally added a Stanley Cup, a team that moved twice before capturing the Cup, a team that moved once before capturing the Cup, and an expansion team that joined the fun at the turn of the millennium. The previous Reverse Retro jerseys worn by these teams were all over the map from awesome to awful, so let's dive into the Metropolitan Division's new looks for this season!

We'll start with a team that moved and won a Stanley Cup as the Carolina Hurricanes are the first team in the division when organized alphabetically. We already know that the Hurricanes will wear their green Whalers jerseys, so there was only a slim chance of seeing the whale tail as the Reverse Retro jersey. They also went back to their original red jerseys as well, so that option also was taken off the table. Carolina went and turned their white 2019 jerseys red for this year's Reverse Retro experiment. There's virtually no other changes made here other than darkening the hurricane warning flag stripe on the lower hem, so the Hurricanes really did as little as possible. Frankly, I hate them wearing the name "Canes" as much as I did in 2019 when I reviewed the white jersey, so this jersey still ranks as a FAIL. You have a logo - use it, Carolina.

The Columbus Blue Jackets followed Carolina's efforts by reaching into their past - albeit recent past - and simply swapping colours. The Blue Jackets grabbed their 2003 alternate jersey that was blue with the black shoulder-to-wrist stripe and simply swapped the two colours. There's less red striping on this new Reverse Retro than what was worn in 2003, but the stars, the logo, the design are all the same. I get there are only 22 years of history from which the Blue Jackets can draw, but this really a larger problem in that the Blue Jackets have no great designs from which they can draw. I've seen renderings of a Blue Jackets-based Columbus Chill jersey, and that would have been interesting. As it stands, simply swapping the colours on an alternate jersey is neither creative nor effective, so this jersey is a FAIL.

The New Jersey Devils went digging into their franchise history, and went further back than 1982 as they pulled the colours of the Kansas City Scouts from depths of their past. For those asking, the Kansas City Scouts moved to Denver in 1976 to become the Colorado Rockies, and the Rockies left for East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1982. The red-yellow-and-blue of the Scouts was used on the 1982 design that the Devils first wore when they arrived in New Jersey, and it works pretty well in the design. It's not the colours I'd pick for a team named the "Devils", but it's an interesting twist on what the Devils would have looked like had they not gone red and green. I'll give the Devils the benefit of the doubt by letting them be creative with this, so this jersey ranks as GOOD even though it doesn't feel right.

Before we even get into this Reverse Retro jersey from the New York Islanders, let me be very clear in telling you that am an undying Fisherman jersey fan. I own an authentic Kasparaitis Fisherman jersey, I cherish it, and I will never sell it despite it being sizes too small to fit me. It was and still is one of my favorite jerseys of all-time, so seeing this jersey was a letdown. The wave design - unique to the original Fisherman jersey - is gone, replaced by a lazy diagonal stripe. The logo has lost some depth with the elimination of colours in the logo as well, and that was one of the reasons I liked it so much. The teal colour that the 1990s thrived on was also eliminated entirely, so the fun that was once the Islanders' Fisherman jersey is no more. Because the Islanders decided to kill the fun, this jersey is a FAIL despite my obvious bias.

In what's becoming a theme for the Metropolitan Division, the New York Rangers took a jersey from their past and simply swapped colours. The Lady Liberty jersey worked so well in 1996 because the Rangers changed the base colour away from their normal blue which allowed the silver Lady Liberty logo to pop off the navy blue jersey. Even on the white version introduced in 1998 allowed the silver to pop, but there's something missing in this jersey design because I don't get same "wow" feeling. The logo is still impressive, but it simply doesn't jump out at you. I do appreciate the modernized New York Rangers shield patches on the shoulders which was part of that 1996 era, but it's not enough to save this jersey. It just feels incomplete, so the Reverse Retro Lady Liberty is a FAIL despite the historical jersey being so good.

If this sounds like a broken record, the Philadelphia Flyers took a jersey from their past and simply swapped colours. The 1975 Flyers jersey chosen had the black and orange colours swapped compared to this Reverse Retro jersey, so the orange-and-black of the Flyers seems more black-and-orange if one only saw this jersey. The new Reverse Retro jerseys also use a contrasting nameplate which, quite frankly, should have been retired years ago as a feature on Flyers' jerseys. Every outdoor game the Flyers have participated in has seen a contrasting nameplate, and the contrasting nameplates have been on every jersey since 2010. I don't mind this design, but it could use more orange and zero contrasting nameplates. I can't say that I like it, though, as it feels incomplete, so this jersey falls short as a FAIL.

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the Penguins decided to bring back their jersey from 1992 and swap colours. The white uniform worn at home had the distinctive pointed shoulder yoke along with two thick stripes at the bottom hem and the yellow forearm colour with the black stripe. As you can see, the white is now black and the black has occupied the white base colour of the Robo-Pigeon jersey. I have two of the white jerseys in my collection, and I actually don't find that this colour swap removes anything from the jersey. While there's a perceived curse that goes along with the "pigeon" logo, the logo still pops off the chest on this jersey and the design elements work. Maybe I'm biased as a Penguins fan, but this jersey is GOOD!

How many times can the Washington Capitals go back to the Screaming Eagle jersey? The last Reverse Retro jersey was this very jersey rendered in red, and now they've done the black treatment after the original 1995 version was done in their unique blue colour. Essentially, this jersey is just a colour swap where the blue moves moves to the black stripe while the base jersey goes from blue to black. I wasn't a fan of the red version of this jersey, and I can't say that I'm a fan of this jersey being done in black either. While they've used a black jersey in the past they seemingly refuse to bring back, this is the third time they'll wear this jersey in a third base colour which is two times more than necessary. Because of that, this jersey falls into the FAIL category.

Top To Bottom

If you asked me to rank the Metropolitan Division's new looks from top to bottom in this division, it would look like this:
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. New Jersey Devils
  3. Washington Capitals
  4. Philadelphia Flyers
  5. New York Islanders
  6. New York Rangers
  7. Columbus Blue Jackets
  8. Carolina Hurricanes
What say you, readers - agree or disagree with the pass/fail grades? Is the overall ranking I gave anywhere close to your own feelings about the aesthetics of these jerseys? Leave your thoughts in the comments and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 24 October 2022

Atlantic Division Threads

After examining the new merchandise offerings that Adidas and the NHL coughed up for this season for the Western Conference with the new Reverse Retro line of jerseys, it's time to tackle the Eastern Conference where we saw some rather questionable designs on the first attempt at doing this Reverse Retro experiment. We'll dive back into this money-churning effort today as we break down another division with the Atlantic Division leading the way!

Four Original Six teams make up half the division, so the options for these teams and the designs they choose are plentiful. Beyond that, we have both teams who joined the NHL in 1992 in Ottawa and Tampa Bay, and a third 1990s expansion team in the Florida Panthers who jumped into thr fray in 1993. Add in the 1970 expansion team in the Buffalo Sabres, and the division is a solid mix of old and new. Will the designs be traditional? Bold? Way out there? Let's take a peek at how this division looks.

The Boston Bruins have a wide selection of potential uniforms they could have used, but they went with the 1995 Pooh Bear alternate jersey as their new Reverse Retro. Owning one of these jerseys myself, people always seem to comment on it - both good and bad - but it's certainly hard to miss with its yellow base colour. The Bruins opted to swap the white and yellow on the colours, and I have to say that, for the lack of effort in being creative, the colour swap actually works really well! I actually appreciate the Bruins for not doing another black jersey here, and I find they've exhausted a lot of their yellow options with heritage jerseys. Going white with the Pooh Bear jersey really gives it a new look and feel, so chalk this one up as GOOD!

The Buffalo Sabres went back to their red-and-black era for the logo, but rendered it in the current blue-and-yellow scheme which works really well. They pulled the jersey design from the black jersey they wore as it mimics the striping, but the lack of a shoulder yoke leaves me wanting more from this jersey. There should be a splash of colour up near the shoulders to break up all the white on this jersey, but it seems the Sabres aren't willing to use a yoke like they did on the white jerseys during the 1996-2006 era. Unfortunately, the B-sabre patch on the shoulder just isn't big enough as a splash of colour, but the overall aesthetic still works despite the jersey being overly white. It's not all bad, so this one falls into the GOOD category!

The Detroit Red Wings are the first Eastern Conference team to go oh-fer-two in the Reverse Retro jersey entries. The previous all-white jerseys were laughable at very best considering this team is named RED Wings, but this new jersey may have reached a new low in how little of an effort was given. This jersey is a replica of a replica in that the Wings chose to replicate the 1991 100th anniversary edition replica of their 1927-28 sweaters worn by the Detroit Cougars. The striping is off, the colours don't work - when did Detroit ever have black in its colour scheme? - and the overall aesthetic doesn't give me the Winged Wheel feeling at all. Another solid FAIL by the Red Wings on a Reverse Retro jersey that should have been quite easy to replicate.

If there's one thing with which the Florida Panthers can't seem to find any magic, it's an alternate or specialty jersey. While the last Reverse Retro jerseys weren't overly terrible, the Panthers decided to invoke the light blue colour they used on their previous alterate jerseys worn in 2009 as their base colour. That's bold considering the colour, but they tried to replicate the 1998 version of their jerseys. The problem is that the '98 version had an extra white stripe that was simply omitted on these new Reverse Retro jerseys. Toss in a rather questionable secondary logo when there were better logos that could be used combined with the 2009 alternate's shoulder patch that never caught on, and the Panthers have a rather jumbled mess of a jersey. The light blue won't save this one as this jersey is easy to rank as a FAIL.

The Montreal Canadiens may have shocked everyone with their blue Reverse Retro jerseys a couple of years ago, but I liked that they were willing to think outside the box without going crazy. As we know, they celebrated their 100th anniversary with five different jerseys so drawing on a historical jersey would be difficult without being repetitive. Instead, they may have been inspired by their mascot, Youppi!, who was originally the mascot for MLB's Montreal Expos. Cue a light blue jersey in the Canadiens' chest-stripe design that should give fans Expos vibes. My gripe? They need some red on the striping and really should use red customizing like the Expos did. In its current design, though, one can easily tell it's a Canadiens jersey thanks to that traditional Canadiens' look and a logo that pops off the chest, and that makes this new Reverse Retro jersey GOOD!

The Ottawa Senators have done a lot right in the last few years when it comes to building a young, competitive team, but they seem to be baffled by what to dress those players in when they take the ice. Since 2021, the Senators somewhat returned to their original logo and jersey design they wore in 1992 when they first took the ice, and it seems to be working in creating this "new" identity for the kids they drafted. However, the new Reverse Retro jersey seems to be a mess when one considers that the Senators wore three colours - red, black, and white - to make the 1997 design work. Using two colours loses all effect that the white and black contrasts had on the red alternate jersey in '97, and the wavy striping used behind the logo just looks off. In no way should this have been the approved design for the Senators, so this Reverse Retro effort is a complete FAIL.

I'll be honest: the Tampa Bay Lightning "Storm" alternate jersey worn from 1996 through 1999 might have been one of my favorite jerseys of all-time. Seeing it return as part of the Reverse Retro jerseys this year pleased me very much, so you probably have a good idea where this ranks. However, this jersey does have a few flaws - the base colour of white doesn't work as well as a darker colour, and I'd almost want to see it rendered in black over its original blue base colour. The problem, though, is that the Lightning went white, so the chest logo doesn't pop as well as it did in 1996. Additionally, I'm not too sure how many storms don't have a dark feeling to them, so white just seems off here. That said, I am biased towards this jersey because it used the sublimation so well, so this replica of the Lightning alternate jersey will always be GOOD in my books. It just could have been better.

I have no issue with teams that want to use their Reverse Retro jerseys as a historical lesson, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have done that here with a replica of the jerseys they wore in 1962. The Leafs won four Stanley Cups in the 1960s starting in 1962, so that was a fairly successful decade for the blue-and-white. However, I'm choosing to believe that the Leafs chose this design because 1962 was the first year they wore TV numbers on the sleeves of their jerseys as a moment in uniform history. It should be noted that the Leafs didn't wear a white yoke on their 1962 blue jerseys, though, but they did on the white jerseys so it appears they inverted the colours of the white jersey. My gripe? It feels like we've seen this design before from 2016-21, so I can't be excited for it. Overall, though, this is a clean jersey that draws directly on the team's history, so this jersey is GOOD!

Top To Bottom

If you asked me to rank the Atlantic Division's new looks from top to bottom in this division, it would look like this:
  1. Boston Bruins
  2. Montreal Canadiens
  3. Tampa Bay Lightning
  4. Buffalo Sabres
  5. Toronto Maple Leafs
  6. Florida Panthers
  7. Ottawa Senators
  8. Detroit Red Wings
What say you, readers - agree or disagree with the pass/fail grades? Is the overall ranking I gave anywhere close to your own feelings about the aesthetics of these jerseys? Leave your thoughts in the comments and we can discuss!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!