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Hmmm, players with unpronounceable French names, fights breaking out every few minutes, fans tossing octopi onto the playing surface ah yes, we remember this game. Welcome back, NHL. Uni Watch has missed you.
Uniform-wise, the big story during the NHL's hiatus has been all the chatter about the league switching to more form-fitting uniforms. But that's not happening this season, at least not for most of the players. Goalies, however, may be wearing slim-fit jerseys at some point this season, although it's not clear when. Initial reports indicated that the new jerseys might be ready for Opening Night, but that's not going to happen. Here's how NHL exec Colin Campbell described the situation during a conference call on Monday:
"We had hoped to put out a form-fitting [goaltender's] sweater that was acceptable. But they were not delivered until a couple of days before the preseason was over with. We still have not had enough time to experiment with them and use them and see if they are acceptable in design and obviously function. So we'll decide at this point in time to go with the sweater that the goaltenders had been using in games, the regular sweaters, the regular jerseys. We'd like to see [the new jerseys] introduced at some point in time. It's part of the whole project to reduce the size of goaltenders. We're still working on it, and hopefully we can come up with something in due time."
The most intriguing thing about these new goalie jerseys, whenever they're introduced, is that they may have a different color pattern and/or logo than the unis worn by the rest of the team, which would make NHL goalies more like their counterparts in soccer and field hockey, where goalies wear different colors than their teammates. This may sound blasphemous for hockey, but there's actually some recent precedent for it: NHL goalies wore distinct jersey designs in the 2000 and 2001 All-Star Games, and it wasn't the end of the world -- in fact, it looked fine. So although the whole thing is probably just a scheme to create a new category of licensed merch, Uni Watch is keeping an open mind for now.
OK, so that covers the stuff that might happen later; here's what's happening now:
• Whatever happens to the goalies' jerseys, they're supposed to be wearing narrower pads this year. But if you're expecting a clearly discernible change, forget it -- the new pads look pretty much the same as the old ones.
• Although some players are still wearing the old "Center Ice" practice jerseys, most of them are now wearing a newfangled practice jersey design, which features rather bizarre reflective piping. It's tough to fathom the rationale for this one -- as reader Karsten Brown puts it, "Are NHLers in danger of not being seen by Zamboni drivers or something?"
• The new NHL logo is now appearing on the back right sides of shirttails, shorts legs and helmets (although some players in preseason games were still wearing shorts with the old logo). But contrary to the ruckus that was briefly stirred up by this photo, the logo will not be appearing on front jersey collars. Good thing, too, since it would've caused big problems for teams that wear lace-up collars.