All illustrations by Andrew M. Greenstein, The unofficial NHL Uniform Database
…except the last one. That one is from Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net
The Boston Bruins have had a weird few months. Come to think of it, they’ve had a pretty strange history. Every time they have a run of success and seemed poised to become a bona fide dynasty…circumstances occur to ensure that dream falls just a little bit short. Bobby Orr might well be the greatest player in National Hockey League history. However, injuries limited him to just 631 games – spread over ten seasons, in a Bruins uniform. Though they did win the Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972, they were vastly overshadowed throughout the 1970s by the dynastic Montréal Canadiens. The Bruins also iced very good teams throughout the 1980s and early 1990s – making the Playoffs every year. But, they lost out each time, including four years in a row to the Canadiens – 1984 to 1987 – and twice, in the Stanley Cup Final, to the Edmonton Oilers – 1988 and 1990, the latter sans Wayne Gretzky. However, they managed to fleece the Vancouver Canucks for Cam Neely…and then watch his career be slowed and, ultimately, truncated by injury.
The early 2000s saw a resurgence…followed by the lopsided trading of superstar captain Joe Thornton for his lack of production during the 2004 Playoffs – a broken rib isn’t a good excuse, apparently. Oh but it’s okay, they were bad enough to garner the 5th Overall Pick in 2006, using it to select Phil Kessel…a budding superstar who they then proceeded to trade in 2009. Oh but it’s okay, they rebounded and, in June of 2011, got themselves a Stanley Cup! But then their starting goaltender went crazy and they traded away budding superstar Tyler Seguin for being 21 years old. Oh but it’s okay, they made the Cup Final again in 2013, so everything’s fine for the future! But let’s trade away budding superstar Dougie Hamilton, just to be safe. Might as well get rid of prototypical Bruin Milan Lucic, too. Oh but it’s okay, now we have 3 First Round picks in 2015! It’s not like they’ll ALL fail their physicals, right?! …guys?
What an interesting, interesting organisation.
Their uniform history has been up and down, as well. Check out the mid-century versions below, with the striping that can’t make up its mind. The stripes on the jerseys are bad enough, but the socks look as though they let a 2 year-old have at the colour palette as if it were a game of Whac-A-Mole. Did they blow the entire design budget on three completely different jerseys, forcing them to make one pair of socks for the lot? Were they simply trying to distract everyone from whatever was going on with the tail striping? And since when are yellow pants ever a good idea?
And, of course, everyone fondly recalls the 1990s, when the Bruins decided, “Hey, you know that awesome, Spoked-B logo we have? Let’s change it to Winnie The Pooh!”
But hey, for a team with nearly a century of history behind it, one has to grant them a few duds. Thankfully, the current iteration isn’t too shabby.
Mercifully, the Bruins did not give into peer pressure with the advent of the Reebok Edge Uniform System and institute vertical striping under the arms. A simple three-stripe, two-colour combination graces the sleeves and tails of the home and away jerseys, with a lovely, two-tone shoulder yoke. The combination of these elements is gritty enough to satisfy the stereotypical, working-class image of Boston, while being artistically balanced enough to appease the eggheads in the surrounding suburbs. And the Spoked-B logo is, quite simply, one of the best of all time. Combine this with a simple helmet, pant and sock, and the Bruins have a real winner on their hands. Sort of.
My only real beef is with the secondary logo. It draws inspiration from Boston’s very first emblem and, truth be told, is really not bad-looking thing at all. However, its presence on the shoulders of the Bruins’ home and away uniforms, breaks up what I like most about them: blockiness and simplicity. It just looks out of place. If the yokes were not there, the secondary logo would look less intrusive (though the jersey itself might be ruined), but the easiest solution would be to just get rid of it altogether. I would even be fine with it on a third jersey…
…where it, surprise surprise, looks great! Actually, it is the best part of the third jersey. Where are the tail stripes? It looks like a practice uniform. And why do away with the lace-up collar? The thick, yellow one makes it look like the cheap, off-brand knock-off jerseys one finds at Canadian Tire or Walmart. This third jersey was clearly concocted for the purpose of making money. It is boring and cheap-looking, like it was designed on the back of a napkin at a breakfast joint by someone who forgot about the project until 23 minutes before it was due.
But hey, they got a spot in the 2016 Winter Classic! Against Les Habitants, no less! And I hear they are going to go with a retro-themed kit! Finally, a suitable canvas for their alternate logo!
-___- …you had one job.
Okay, so it’s not awful. I love the sweater-like collar. The striping is good. The big numbers that teams like to use for outdoor games have been made to look passable in this iteration – not an easy feat. And I especially like how, in going retro, these jerseys still retain the Bruins’ current black backdrop – brown is a tough colour to make work with any apparel, let alone that of a sports franchise.
But…that logo… Come on. Seriously? It was wonky the first time, what with the big “B” and “N” flanking a much tinier “OSTO”. Why would you reuse it? And why, oh why, would you keep it brown?! Just use the alternate logo you already have! Or what about your 2010 Winter Classic jersey (see below), how about some variation of that?
Oh wait, you blew that one, too! The fantastic yellow and black colour scheme is “complimented” by a brown logo outline and a cartoon, Comic Sans-esque “B”.
A team with this much history and that kind of passionate fanbase deserves a uniform kit to match. Stop screwin’ around and make this right.
But please, feel free to keep on trading all of the players you draft in the First Round – that’s just good, wholesome entertainment for everyone.
The NHL season is deep into November and, as people across Canada settle in for the deep freeze, a familiar voice greets them as they cozy up to their televisions. It is a voice that has been warming up Canadian winters since 1973 – 1969, if you include his Hockey Night in Canada radio career. It is a voice that broadcast the Stanley Cup Finals for 29 straight years. The voice in question, of course, belongs to one Robert C. – “Bob” – Cole.
Jim Hughson and Mike “Doc” Emrick are wizards with words, using vocabularies that would make even the most accomplished wordsmith scratch his or her head. Gord Miller and Chris Cuthbert are crisp and precise, with a knack for the brilliant soundbite. Joe Bowen wears his heart on his sleeve every night. Certainly, there are many talented television broadcasters in the game of hockey throughout Canada and the United States. But none can quite bring to a game that which is brought by Bob Cole.
Truth be told, he really doesn’t say all that much whilst on the air. And he has never been the most accurate of announcers. But he gets television. A radio commentator has a much different job – after all, the audience cannot see the game at hand. Bob Cole understands that the television viewer can see what is going on, so he doesn’t feel the need to comment on every single little event. He realises that his job as a television broadcaster is, instead, to communicate the elements of that game that don’t always translate well to the viewers at home – the atmosphere in the building, the momentum of the play, the gravity of the situation.
I would wager that even the casual hockey fan could walk past a room where a Bob Cole-called game was being shown and, without a glance at the screen nor a query of a viewer, could ascertain the closeness of the play, the importance of the situation and the period in which the game finds itself. All this based on a few seconds of Bob Cole commentary, you ask? Go ahead; try it.
More than just being descriptive, he has the unique ability that is shared by few others, most notably elite actors: the ability to make the audience feel – feel what those out there performing on the stage – or on the ice –are feeling. Who didn’t stand up and cheer when Canada won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2002? Who doesn’t get chills when listening to Cole call Todd Marchant’s 1996-97 series-winning goal for the Oilers against the heavily-favoured Dallas Stars? If you’ve got six minutes, why not lose your mind as Cole’s voice runs out of octaves during Game Seven of the 1989 Smythe Division Semi-Finals?
Detractors have long wished for Cole to retire. They feel that the game has passed him by, that there are other announcers out there that could do a better job. But for any hockey fan, love him or hate him, Bob Cole is the voice that calls the hockey games in your head. There is even an app for that. He’s been calling the best league in the world for nearly fifty years. How many others have been at the top of their profession for that long? It is simply astounding.
And therefore, Bob Cole deserves our respect. He had the courage to follow his dream and, once he achieved it, has never let anybody take it away. At 82, he is still going strong, calling games for SportsNet after Rogers took over from his old home, CBC, as the national broadcaster for the NHL. People will say he’s too old, but “too old” for what, I ask? Age has nothing to do with it. He has, quite simply, been the best hockey commentator on television of our generation, if not of all time. So he can call games as long as he damn well wants to.
The uncanny abilities of the world’s greatest players are often taken for granted until they leave the game. I often feel sadness when these legends of hockey retire – sadness at not having watched them more often during their playing careers. And I know that the hockey world will feel the same way if Bob Cole ever decides to hang ‘em up. That’s a big “if”, though.
All illustrations by Andrew M. Greenstein, The unofficial NHL Uniform Database
Apparently I never learned my ABCs and therefore put Arizona before Anaheim. Let’s just smooth over that and get right into it.
The Anaheim Ducks have, by and large, been blessed when it comes to expansion teams in the National Hockey League. Stars like Paul Kariya and Teemu Selänne graced their roster – then composed of Mighty Ducks – early on. They made two Stanley Cup Finals in four seasons, taking the Devils to seven games in 2003 before winning it all in 2007. They have been one of the most dominant teams in the Western Conference for the past few years and, despite a rough start to this season, are expected to contend for the Cup yet again. However, they’ve never quite figured out the uniform side of things…until now.
It all began with a colour scheme that resembled what one might expect to find in an Oompa Loompa’s vomit. Jade and eggplant were the dominant colours, though the aggressive-looking, disembodied, duck-shaped-hockey-mask-flanked-by-two-hockey-sticks logo was not bad at all. It retained enough of the cartoonishness of the team’s inspiration – the 1992 film, The Mighty Ducks, but also was an appropriate amount of aggressive for a hockey team. Even the jersey’s novel diagonal striping was simple and well-done. So, though the colour scheme was most definitely ill-advised, it wasn’t all bad. That is, until their third season when the so-called “Wild Wing” jersey made its debut… How they could expect grown adults to skate out in front of thousands of people – and compete with another team of grown adults – wearing THAT is beyond me.
Since that unfortunate era, which produced one of the all-time, most universally-panned jerseys in league history (then again, it was the ‘90s. Be honest, what were YOU wearing?), the Ducks have tweaked their kit numerous times, giving us uniforms that were ugly… (see below)
…and, despite a change in colour scheme and a Stanley Cup, boring. (again, see below)
However, several years into the Reebok Edge uniform system, the Ducks finally changed their ways, giving fans a new Home and Away jersey, and, this season, a new third jersey. (see below for full kit)
And, this time, I have to say, I really think they’ve got it right. I’ve never been a huge fan of the Reebok Edge uniform system and the corresponding cacophony of alterations made to team kits, specifically with regards to altering tail striping to go along with Reebok Edge’s weird, unnatural, prescription for vertical striping (Colorado, anyone?). That said, if there is one jersey set on which it totally works, it is that of the Ducks. The sweeping, diagonal tail striping from their original – and Cup-winning – jerseys remains, but has been turned on its side for the Home and Away jerseys (mercifully, the sleeve striping remains intact). Also, orange has been input as a major component of the colour scheme, rather than just an accent. Even the (duck foot? duck in flight? maybe both?) logo is a marked improvement over the rather dull “Ducks” which graced the original redesign. The font is just ducky, as well – cheeky enough with flourishes to be interesting, but still legible and professional. That these complex jerseys are perfectly contrasted with plain black pants – save for a single, thin orange stripe – only strengthens my conviction that Anaheim has a balanced, sharp-looking uniform set. My only real qualms are that the main logo would function better as a secondary emblem and that the fake neck-tie reminds me of Hannibal Lecter’s mask.
Which brings us to their newly-minted third jersey. The original logo is back, this time set on a gold background. The ducky D logo is up on the shoulders. Combine that with an orange backdrop and traditional, horizontal striping and the Ducks have one of the finest pieces of jersey craftsmanship worn in the NHL today. It is simply phenomenal, and ranks up towards the top of my list of favourite jerseys, not just for this year, but for all time. It doesn’t have the history of a Montréal or a Chicago but, judged on aesthetic appeal alone, how can you keep it out of the top five? Come on, just look at it! It is bright and flashy without being annoying. It is complex without being busy. It is new-age without being offensive to tradition. What’s not to like?
After several disappointing ends to otherwise great seasons, the Ducks should vie for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final this coming Spring. They’ve got a championship-calibre team to ice. They’ve now got championship-calibre jerseys to wear while doing it.
Steve Dangle has been getting a lot of heat lately, and I don’t understand why. For the uninitiated, Dangle started making videos following every Toronto Maple Leafs game on a webcam in his room. Well, when I say webcam… It was clearly some kind of root vegetable. Anyway. Along with the videos, known as Leafs Fan Reactions, or LFRs, he has since done work for the OHL, and CHL, the World Juniors, the AHL and, now, the NHL. He has worked at theleafsnation.com, LeafsTV, CBC and, now, Rogers SportsNet. Nike even sponsored him to go to the 2010 Winter Olympics. And this is just what I know from following the guy; there very well might be more. The man has paid his dues.
Young guy, intrepid blogger, works his way up from nothing, makes The Show… Who doesn’t love a story like that?
Well, a lot of people, evidently. As a major presence in SportsNet’s online platform, Dangle’s work has been promoted in their social media releases, especially recently. However, some people have been voicing their concerns A) with his content showing up in their News Feed and B) with the fact that he is an employee at SportsNet in the first place. There is a petition – which, to be fair, has been mercilessly trolled by fans of Dangle – to get his videos removed from SportsNet’s site altogether. Some are even calling for him to be fired.
Now, if you go into StarBucks, order a drink you’ve never had before and then realise you don’t like it, do you demand that the barista be fired? No, the next time you come in, you get something else. If you don’t like Dangle’s stuff, don’t watch/read/listen to it. No one’s putting a gun to your head. He’s got over 31,000 subscribers on YouTube, over 33,000 followers on Twitter and a podcast sponsored by Panago Pizza so, obviously, some people like him. If you are not one of them, that’s fine. How does he, in any way, affect your life? This is his job and he’s making his own way in the world, so why are you demanding his head?
Hockey is, let’s be honest, the 4th most popular of the 4 major professional sports in North America. We hockey fans are a passionate bunch but we occupy but a small niche of the sports market. We aren’t like the NFL, for example, where each and every team has hundreds of thousands, if not millions of devoted, diehard fans. Some NHL teams do, undoubtedly. But many do not. Unfortunately, as untapped as many hockey markets are, the NHL is, and has always been, a stodgy institution that is stubbornly resistant to change. Two current examples: the NHL’s reluctance to discipline its players and protect its stars, and the disregard with which the league has treated both the short and the long-term effects of concussions. Gary Bettman, despite obvious demand, refused to develop a league-sponsored replacement for CapGeek. Too many goalies getting good at this playing-the-puck witchcraft? Better put in the Trapezoid. Going back a few years, helmets were not universally mandatory until the 1997-98 season, despite Bill Masterton’s passing in 1968. The NHL as a league and as a community is not a brilliant institution.
A good chunk of the media coverage of hockey is equally conservative and reactionary. Think of the terms “good stick”, “student of the game” and “play the game the right way”, and let me know what image pops into your head. The hockey establishment, writers and fans alike, need to understand that there are many ways to enjoy and think about hockey, and that they do not have a monopoly on it. For instance, analytics have been around – and reliably predicting outcomes – for years but it was really only this past season that much of the mainstream hockey media began paying attention to them. An energetic new – usually younger, but not exclusively so – generation of people covering the game is emerging. Dangle is part of this movement, and seems to be doing rather well with it. Pushback is essential in order to generate healthy debate. But there is no need to character-assassinate someone.
Steve presents topics in a fresh, exciting way that is humorous to many of us “established” hockey fans, but also inclusionary to those who might be new to the game. After all, hockey can be an intimidating sport to take up as a fan. Why not make it easy and fun, instead of grumbling about the uninitiated? And for those of us who grew up with the game, he has an ability to pass almost instantaneous judgement on an issue – and be right about it most times. When looking at an issue, it is exceedingly difficult not to experience an immediate gut reaction towards one extreme or the other. Most people, professional journalists and otherwise, need time to think about and process the situation in order to draw some semblance of a reasonable conclusion. Dangle can, seemingly, do that off the top of his head. That is a rare gift.
We have a curious instinct as human beings to instantly harangue any attempts at change, especially when it conflicts with our own personal views. However, we did not develop the civilisation we live in and enjoy today by being stagnant. So, to the hockey community: calm down, open the window and let some fresh air in. There's room enough for everyone.
We are now two weeks into a fresh, new NHL season and it appears that some things never change. On Wednesday 07 October, the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Montréal Canadiens in the season opener for both teams. Early in the first period, Leo Komarov shoved P.K. Subban from behind into the boards. The hit itself was nasty, but the fact that Subban did not turn into the hit, the fact that he was a dangerous distance from the boards and the fact that the puck had left the area combine to make it an inexcusable act. Thankfully, Subban got up and finished the game. Komarov, for his transgression, got nothing more than 2 minutes for Boarding. I am constantly puzzled as to why hits like Komarov’s receive little to no discipline on the ice, and rarely, if ever, face punishment off it. Though Komarov’s hit was not outright predatory, it was the latest in a long line of illegal plays that the NHL should be, via strict disciplinary practice, eradicating from the game forever.
Admittedly, the league has made some progress in cracking down on its most predatory players. With Raffi Torres being handed a 41-game suspension – and deservedly so – for an illegal check thrown in the preseason, I was cautiously optimistic that the league had turned a corner. After what went on in last year’s playoffs, I felt that change could not come fast enough. In the first round alone, there were enough dangerous plays to turn even the most conservative of hockey people cynical. Lubomir Visnovsky gets run over by Tom Wilson on a play where the puck was long gone and where the head was deliberately targeted. No supplementary discipline. John Tavares gets crushed from behind by Alexander Ovechkin (before setting up a goal, yes, I know). No supplementary discipline. Ovechkin obliterated Thomas Hickey in a very similar fashion later on in that series. No supplementary discipline. Sidney Crosby, of all people, was the victim of a drive-by headshot from the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin. No supplementary discipline, even with Crosby’s history of concussions, not to mention the fact that, you know, he is the best player in the world. Now let’s go back to 2011 when a young, up-and-coming goaltender by the name of James Reimer was clipped in the head by Brian Gionta of the Canadiens. No supplementary discipline. Oh, and, by the way: how on EARTH was Dustin Brown not penalised, let alone suspended for this hit earlier this year?!
There is a popular line recited ad nauseam regarding this issue: “Things aren’t going to change until a real superstar gets hurt”. Well, lest we forget, earlier in 2011, Sidney Crosby received the first of his serious head injuries courtesy of David Steckel in the Winter Classic. Any guesses as to what happened? No supplementary discipline. Seeing a pattern here?
NHL discipline should be applied without regard to either players’ stature within the game, but if you can’t, at the very least, protect your most valuable assets, then something is seriously wrong with your business model. And yes, I get that many of the above examples occurred in the playoffs. But the hits are still just as hard in April as they are in September. I love Ovechkin, I really do. He is a guy who is electric to watch and really seems to have fun out there. So I hate to single him out as an example. But his combination of exuberant power hockey and blinding speed, has, multiple times, led him over the edge, resulting in suspensions of 2, 2 and 3 games. Given this history, it boggles the mind how the NHL did not throw at least a couple of games at him last April. One could even make a case for a half-dozen game. It should have been even more but, due to the NHL’s ridiculous double standard of officiating and discipline that is evident each Spring – on account of the playoffs, I’d better not get greedy. If the Caps were to have lost their best player for any amount of time, how eager would other players around the league be to pull the same type of thing? Instead, nothing happened and the hazardous play continues to this day.
Joe Torre, the legendary baseball figure, hit the nail on the head when discussing his decision to suspend Chase Utley for an illegal slide during the MLB playoffs. He talks about wanting to “keep…players on the field”. This should be the ultimate goal of any professional sports league. Teams and fans alike invest a lot of time and money in players and, in the words of Harold Reynolds (who can be heard later in the above clip), “you want [that] protected”. Aside from teams and fans, players bank on themselves, too. These are individuals who have spent most of their childhood and adolescence practising a sport, and have but a few short years in adulthood to make their money. Injuries can seriously snarl up these plans. Let’s look at the star players that have left the league recently due to head injuries alone: Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Paul Kariya, Marc Savard, Chris Pronger… Need I go on? Fans go to sporting events to see stars play, not to see them carted off the ice on stretchers. And if the NHL can’t even protect their stars, let alone their journeymen, then its future as a league looks bleak.
The NHL’s inaction on increasing and enforcing discipline has left a trail of agony and heartbreak far beyond the ice surface. Over the years, countless players have either been diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome or have succumbed to its effects. Bob Probert, Derek Boogaard and Steve Montador are three players whose tragic deaths have been linked to concussions. There are suspicions that the deaths of other players, including Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, are also connected to head injuries. The NHL is currently fighting legal action which alleges the league was aware of the perils of head trauma and did little to address it. In some situations, they allegedly made things even worse. Check out the first couple pages of this court document from February and tell me it doesn’t give you chills. The NHL even tried to fight the lawsuit at its source, saying it was too costly to pull and compile all of the applicable medical records.
The NHL needs to change, and needs to change now in order to stop the bleeding and make the game what it can and should be: a fast, hard, competitive sport that people can watch and make a living playing without fear of someone’s brain getting smacked around. Hockey will always be a tough sport. But it can be tough without being inherently dangerous. The NHL needs to realise that its actions – or inaction – trickle down to leagues of all levels. By all accounts, minor hockey is haemorrhaging players. There are a few other factors at play, but one major contributor is player safety; parents don’t want their kids’ brains to be scrambled before they graduate high school. This development is, obviously, going to be severely detrimental to the league, if not tomorrow, then 10, 15, 20 years down the road.
The National Hockey League has a real opportunity here to stand out among its peers. Major League Baseball and the National Football League, who have both struggled with injury concerns of their own, are notoriously slow-acting in these regards. All that would be necessary is for the rules of the league to be enforced at all times and, when necessary, tweaked. For instance, why not make Boarding and Charging calls automatic 5-minute majors? Why not judge plays not on the health of the recipient, but on the merits – or lack thereof – of the play itself? Why not make such suspensions 5 games for a first offence? Let’s make sure the games are decided by the presence of players, not the absence of them.
The NHL should also, without reservation, compensate the poor souls who devoted their life to this game, only to emerge battered, bruised and concussed. Some, tragically, didn’t emerge at all. How refreshing would it be to see the league come out and say, “We screwed up. We were wrong and we want to make it right.” Put plainly, the league needs to take responsibility. The NHL can deny, deny, deny all it wants. But anyone with even a modicum of common sense must realise that the NHL knew what was going on. It is up to the courts now. Let’s hope they do the right thing, both for the individuals involved and for the game as a whole. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
So what did Komarov deserve? A 5-minute major for Boarding and a Game Misconduct, in my opinion. A 2 or 3-game suspension would not have been out of line, either. But what does the NHL deserve? You tell me; this league makes Raffi Torres look like a saint.
The NHL season is upon us! If you are one of the many who just can't stand the blaring horns that sound whenever the home team scores a goal, then you'll be happy to know that I will be describing them in detail below! Full credit to wejustscored.com and YouTube user NHLHornsandSongs for all of the examples!
ANAHEIM DUCKS: somewhere between "deep, pleasing baritone" and "I really should've eaten more fibre". Actually, given the inexplicable EMS siren accompanying the horn, perhaps it is closer to the latter. Take a listen.
ARIZONA COYOTES: a coyote howling? "Howlin' for You" as your goal song? We get it guys, you're the Coyotes. Howl away.
BOSTON BRUINS: clearly a recording - and not a good one, at that. Apparently, someone still uses a Krzr - of someone else's horn (notice how it is the exact same, every time?). More is expected from an NHL team, let alone one from the Original Six. Get your Kernkraft 400 on.
BUFFALO SABRES: definitely a winner. Best if paired with Rick Jeanneret. Looking to hear more of both in the coming years; fingers crossed for the rebuild! Let's Go, Buffalo!
CALGARY FLAMES: sounds like a party waiting to happen. Maybe that's why Brian Burke's tie is always loose/undone/missing? The flame effects in the arena are especially neat. Light it up!
CAROLINA HURRICANES: perhaps the horn most suited to the team name. All is well until the bewildering compendium of sound effects following the horn itself. The PA guy announcing that the Hurricanes just scored? Chewbacca and Fred Flintstone? And the course for Song 2 perpetually looped? Just weird.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: well, it's certainly working for them. I think every single hockey fan has that blaring horn (fun fact: the original one was allegedly off of late former owner Bill Wirtz's boat) and Chelsea Dagger stuck in their heads. Another Cup?
COLORADO AVALANCHE: this horn... Either it has Altitude Sickness or it sat on something sharp, 'cause it just doesn't sound like something grown adults should be celebrating to. I expect better than this from the state that gave the world Boulder University.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: the horn itself is nice and aggressive, and then comes the cannon. The awesomeness of the arena effects when the Jackets score is almost enough to make you forget their secondary logo is a hat. Fire away.
DALLAS STARS: a nice, warm, throaty horn! ...accompanied by grown men screaming "Dallas...Stars...Dallas...Stars", like some infant blurting out his or her first words. Is this really necessary? Who else are they there to see? Take a listen.
DETROIT RED WINGS: another nice, cozy-feeling horn. However, for regular watchers of Red Wings games, it must be disappointing that it tends to come on about eight minutes after the puck actually crosses the goal line.
EDMONTON OILERS: literally THE most aggravating, ear-splitting goal horn in the Western Conference. The only thing more annoying? When it is accompanied by Pitbull. Pretty sure it is meant for dogs.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: and the award for the Most Generic Goal Horn goes to....the Florida Panthers! The panther sound effect is neat, though. Too bad no one is there to hear it.
LOS ANGELES: how is THIS not the most annoying horn, you ask? Well, let's be honest, the Kings have earned the right to be annoying. Two Stanley Cups will do that (take note, Edmonton). Remember that the next time you feel like a train is going to come ploughing through your television set.
MINNESOTA WILD: again, kind of generic. One expects more from a team literally called the “Wild”. The Xcel Energy Center is rocking when the Wild play. They deserve to party.
MONTRÉAL CANADIENS: now is this not just the most irritating thing in human history? It is like a fly constantly buzzing around your ear when you’re outside just trying to have a damn picnic. Or, put another way, the horn is Brendan Gallagher incarnate. The fact that the man or woman in the booth honks it about sixty-four times after a big goal makes it just the worst.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: must be frightening to hear while driving, as it sounds like a semi-truck is about to carve you up. Even the country song they play afterwards works. Simply brilliant.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: the Devils have scored so few goals over the years that you can be forgiven for not knowing what their goal horn sounds like. Kinda nautical-y. Which makes sense, if you think about it. After all, Newark-Elizabeth’s container port is one of the busiest in the country. …now, was that fun fact any more boring that watching the Devils play? You decide.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Isles fans got a scare a week or so ago, when the Barclays Center announced that this would be the Islanders new horn. No one cares that you worked on it with the MTA, it still sounds like all of the air is rushing out of a balloon. Or the horn on one of those plastic children’s pedal cars. Or trying to stealthily release some flatulence but failing miserably. If anything, it sucks even more because you DID work on it with the MTA (the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is not the most beloved organisation in New York, or so I gather). That would be like the Leafs changing their horn to the familiar “bing, bang, bong” of public transport in the Greater Toronto Area. It would be bad enough, but mention that you worked on it with the TTC and there would be riots in the streets. Thankfully, the decision was reversed and Islanders players can now cele hard to their old, appropriate, nautical-sounding goal horn.
NEW YORK RANGERS: this buzzer sounds like it has been around since (this version of) Madison Square Garden opened in 1968. The song is brilliant, but come on, this is New York. MSG could use something better than this.
OTTAWA SENATORS: the mournful wail of an arena that is, quite literally, stuck in the middle of a cornfield. They should really Hamburgle another horn.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: if any goal horn sums up the fans of that team, this is it. A hyper-aggressive blast or two followed by the most obnoxious song in the world.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: two generational talents, a Stanley Cup, a new arena and a goal horn that puts a smile on the faces of people everywhere. Screw you, Pittsburgh.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: sounds like someone’s sitting up in the A/V booth with a baritone sax. Fantastically good and flows beautifully into the electronic rendition of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll”.
ST LOUIS BLUES: ear-splitting and aggressive, but really needs to stop taking vacation during the playoffs.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: it sounds a little too much like someone is holding their electric razor up to a microphone. Also, too similar to the horn of the Blues.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: ohhh, the Maple Leafs. Always something going on with this team; never a dull moment. It’s a shame that their goal horn is about as exciting as lukewarm porridge.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: apparently, some 6 year-old is up there mashing buttons, ‘cause there are about eighty-four different things going on here.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: how much would you HATE having this come on 3 or 4 times per game whenever your team visits Washington? And, be honest now, when you hear it go off, does it not instantly conjure up images of Ovi? It’s only fitting that the happiest, most exuberant player gets an arena celebration to match. Great horn, great siren, great song.
WINNIPEG JETS: another train horn, though with a much better song and presentation than that of the Kings. Also less likely to make you wet yourself when it goes off. Winnipeg is a strong contender for best goal horn in the NHL. Here’s hoping their fans get a little something more to celebrate this year.
Kit of the Day: The Arizona Coyotes
All illustrations by Andrew M. Greenstein, The unofficial NHL Uniform Database
The Arizona Coyotes will be sporting new uniforms for the 2015-16 NHL season. At first glance, the addition of black seems to be a welcome one, given the relative blandness of the previous version (see below).
The black certainly livens up the jersey, but still doesn’t solve a fundamental problem: the lack of tail striping. Many teams went along with this unfortunate trait of the Reebok Edge Uniform System, before realising it looked silly – even practice-y – not to have anything at the bottom of the jersey. The Toronto Maple Leafs and the St. Louis Blues are examples of teams that, dissatisfied with the redesign, reverted back to a jersey with tail stripes.
On the other side of things, the modified sleeve striping creates a new problem: There are now three colours on the sleeve, which, in the current arrangement, looks overly busy when compared to the single colour of the jersey body. In addition, the stripes on the sleeves are not only all different colours, but differently sized as well, with no discernable symmetry (compare with the slim-thick-slim pattern of their previous jersey). All this busyness combines to make the Coyote’s latest stab at a jersey rather unbalanced and disorienting. Though Pippi Longstocking might approve, the human eye does not.
As for the rest of the kit, the black pants actually look rather nice when contrasted with the white or brick red of the jersey body. However, the socks carry over the unfortunate condition of the jersey sleeves; just too much going on.
The Coyotes were long overdue for a uniform change. However, this new rendition leaves much to be desired. Though, as mentioned, it is confusing to look at, perhaps even more importantly, it still manages, somehow, to be as uninspiring as the old model. What about if all of the stripes were diagonal? What if the players wore them inside out? Yes, it would still look unpleasant, but hey, it wouldn’t be boring. If anything, why not bring back the kit from their original season (see below)? They did so for one game last year, after all.
Yes, the logo is a tad unsettling and yes, that sand-coloured striping is a bit unusual. But hey, it’s not overtly offensive and certainly stands out in comparison to the current uniform, which is a symphony of bland. Take the current logo – the howling coyote. Decent enough, yes. But the San Jose Sharks crest is an angry shark chomping down on a hockey stick. The Florida emblem depicts a panther pouncing on an opponent. In contrast, Arizona’s coyote just seems to be howling aimlessly off into the distance (perhaps trying to sell tickets?). More aggressiveness is warranted. Or, in the case of the original, more creepiness. Disturbing logo aside, it is symmetrical and balanced, and everything about it screams “American Southwest”. For a team without the baggage of nostalgia and tradition to worry about, why not?
As George Santayana once observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. It seems then that, given what’s transpired in Toronto, the city has a remarkably short memory.
After being mercilessly hounded by fans and media alike, Phil Kessel was traded this past summer to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many in Leafs Nation rejoiced, having shed a player reduced by some to nothing more than an out-of-shape winger with a poor attitude and a monster salary. However, the transaction – the entire situation, really – was eerily similar to another major deal in Leafs history.
Frank Mahovlich was, like Kessel, one of the premier offensive wingers in the National Hockey League. He was, by all accounts, a quiet and reserved individual who, in the words of his legendary – or, in this case, infamous – coach, Punch Imlach, “just wanted to be left alone”.[i] Unfortunately, playing in the fishbowl that is Toronto, solitude was not an option. After winning the Calder Trophy as the best rookie in 1957-58, scoring 20 goals in the process, Mahovlich endured two stagnant years, creating apprehension within a Leafs fan base, who had expected the youngster to develop quickly into a bona fide superstar. Though he finally did break out, his 48 goals during the 1960-61 season were still perceived as a disappointment, given that he did not score in his final 14 games.[ii] He would never again attain such totals as a Maple Leaf, his closest being a 36-goal showing in 1962-63. Vilified by fans, press and his coach alike, not to mention being hospitalised twice for mental health issues,[iii] Mahovlich still averaged 28 goals per season from 1961-62 until his final full season with the Leafs, 1966-67.[iv]
Many took Mahovlich’s long, loping stride for laziness, and his psychiatric treatment for weakness.[v] Mahovlich’s coach for all but his first year in Toronto, Imlach grew tired of his winger’s quirks, regularly mangling the pronunciation of his name[vi] and lambasting him in the media.[vii] And yet, from his first full season as a Leaf until his last, only Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe had more goals than Mahovlich’s 276. His 48 goals in 1960-61 stands as the fourth-best single-season total from that time period. He also sits seventh in playoff goals during that span. His playmaking was superstar-like, as well; he sits ninth in total regular season points during that span – seventh if you look at the playoffs. The man could score, period.
During his time in Toronto, Phil Kessel was portrayed as a lazy, passionless player who had the talent to score goals but didn’t care enough to do it on a consistent basis. He had a notoriously difficult relationship with coach Ron Wilson and was largely blamed for the firing of Wilson’s successor, Randy Carlyle. He was labelled a recluse and a player lacking commitment, and yet was condemned for his occasional outbursts – at the suggestion he is a “coach-killer” and for his criticism of the media’s treatment of his captain, Dion Phaneuf.
Phil Kessel isn’t paid to be sociable. He isn’t paid to have the body of a Greek god. He isn’t, for that matter, paid to be a defensive forward or to take the leadership role of a captain. Phil Kessel is paid to score goals.
Since he joined the Maple Leafs to start the 2009-10 season, Kessel sits fifth in the NHL in goals, with only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry and Rick Nash ahead of Kessel’s 181. He also sits sixteenth in points during that span. He led his team in points for all six of his seasons in Toronto, and in goals for all but this past one. The one time the Leafs did make the playoffs, in 2012-13, Kessel potted 4 goals and 2 assists in 7 games. All this while playing on a perennially mediocre team and being centred most of the time by Tyler Bozak, who, though a good player, has never scored 50 points in a season.[viii] Yes, Kessel, like all goal-scorers, goes cold sometimes, but the man can score, period.
In March of 1968, Mahovlich was traded to the Detroit Red Wings. Seemingly rejuvenated, he bagged a career-high 49 goals the following year, followed by 38 in 1969-70. Partway through another stellar season in 1970-71, Mahovlich was traded again, this time to the Montréal Canadiens. Finishing with 31 goals, Mahovlich then contributed 14 goals and 27 points in 20 playoff games, to help the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup – his fifth, following championships with Toronto in 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967. Seasons of 43 (and a career-high 96 points), 38 and 31 goals followed, with 1973 bringing another Cup (9 goals and 23 points in 17 playoff games). Frank Mahovlich ended his professional career with a largely productive stint in the World Hockey Association, including seasons of 38 and 34 goals with the Toronto Toros.
Mahovlich’s game, though brilliant in Toronto, scaled new heights once he left the Leafs. Only time will tell if Phil Kessel’s career follows suit. The Pittsburgh Penguins are no doubt salivating at the opportunity to slot him alongside elite centres Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Regardless, Toronto should savour what it had and recognise that being different is acceptable – it is production that matter. And, for six long years, no one produced more than Phil.
[i] (MacFarlane 147)
[ii] (Ulmer 80)
[iii] (McDonell 80)
[iv] Mahovlich’s career began at a time when the NHL season was 70 games long. Pro-rated to today’s 82-game schedule, his yearly average of 28 goals over those seasons becomes 33 per campaign.
[v] (McDonell 80)
[vi] (Ulmer 80)
[vii] (McDonell 80)
[viii] Tyler Bozak battled injuries in 2013-14, finishing with 49 points in 58 games.
McFarlane, Brian. Brian McFarlane’s Original Six: The Leafs. Toronto: Stoddart
Publishing Co. Limited, 1996. Print.
McDonell, Chris. Hockey’s Greatest Stars: Legends and Young Lions. Buffalo: Firefly
Books Ltd., 1999. Print.
Ulmer, Michael. The Hockey News: The Top 100 NHL Players of All Time. Ed. Steve
Dryden. Toronto: Transcontinental Sports Publications, 1997. Print.