What to do with the NHL All-Star Game?

This weekend the city of Columbus, Ohio will host the 2015 NHL All Star Game. The event spans three days starting with the NHL All Star Fantasy Draft on Friday January 23rd at 8pm ET. The draft has captains Jonathan Toews and Nick Foligno picking from the group of players that have been selected for the ASG.  Toews is joined by assistants Ryan Getzlaf and Rick Nash, while Foligno is joined by Patrick Kane and Drew Doughty. This is a fun event for the players and fans alike, where the main objective for the remaining 36 players is not to be selected last as Phil Kessel was a couple years back, which he has not been able to shake to this day.

This year’s event also features 6 rookies (Johnny Gaudreau, Aaron Ekblad, Jiri Sekac, Mike Hoffman, Jonathan Drouin, and Filip Forsberg), who will only compete in the Skills competition on Saturday. Another interesting component this year is there will be fan voting via Twitter for the Breakaway Challenge.

The player selection process can be controversial to say the least and this year is no exception. The first six players selected are voted by the fans. Five of these players are from the Chicago Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook). Each of these players received between 1-1.2M votes, meaning Chicago fans went online and voted. The player with the highest number of votes (1.5M) is Sabres’ center Zemgus Girgensons, from Lativia. Zemgus is a popular player, but he his 120th in league scoring, so he made the team pretty much because Latvian and Buffalo fans went online and placed their votes. 

After the fan vote, the league then selects 36 players and if we take into account that they chose 3 players from the Blue Jackets to represent the host city, it meant they had to pick 33 players from 27 different teams. After that there’s the obvious duo of forwards who are in the top 11 in NHL: Malkin / Crosby (neither of them will take part in the game because of injuries but both were originally selected), Voracek / Giroux and Johnson / Stamkos. Finally there’s the Nashville duo Rinne/Weber who both dominate at their respective position and finally Vladimir Tarasenko (9th in scoring) and Kevin Shattenkirk (2nd among defensemen in scoring). Once you put all that together, the only other two players who came from the same team are Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty from the Los Angeles Kings. Could either of those have been replaced by Nicklas Backstrom (10th in scoring), Henrik Zetterberg (14th), Erik Karlsson or P.K. Subban? Probably, but you could argue for or against anyone of those guys.

This leads to the next questions: is it really pertinent to have one player from every team and is the fan voting really necessary? If the purpose is to showcase talent, the best players should be there no matter what team they play for. If the purpose is to get the highest audience, I think there’d be much better ratings if Backstrom, Zetterberg, Subban and Datsyuk had been there instead of names like Justin Faulk, Erik Johnson, Patrik Elias and Zemgus Girgensons. The other option would be to take out fan voting which would have allowed the league to remove a few Chicago Blackhawks players from the roster and add a second player, from other teams, who may be more deserving. You thought the league would have done this back in 2007 after Rory Fitzpatrick was 24,000 votes shy of being voted into the game. I know it’s a way to give fans a say but the voting system just doesn't work. It’s time to move on and try to give a better show to those who just want to watch the game and don’t take the time to vote hundreds of times for their favourite team’s players.

The all-star games in pretty much every major sport are becoming less and less popular except the NHL. The MLB’s attempt to make the game matter hasn't done anything for TV ratings and the NFL’s attempt to move the game or add a fantasy draft hasn't worked either. I don’t think a major change is needed, the all-star game is meant to see the best players showcase their talent so I think the only tweaking that needs to be done is to make sure the best players are there. 

Why Fans Should Be Allowed To Throw Jerseys On The Ice When Their Favourite Team Loses

          
          This past Monday, three hockey fans who presumably root for the Toronto Maple Leafs (or once rooted for them) were fined by police, escorted out of the Air Canada Centre and banned from all events that take place in the building for a year because they decided to throw their Leafs jerseys on the ice with the team down by a score of 4-1 to the last place Carolina Hurricanes. One of those tossed jerseys actually hit the ice during the play and could have potentially caused injury to players.

          As concerning as that might be, fans in Toronto aren’t the only ones throwing jerseys. Just ask the former coach of the Edmonton Oilers (and formerly a product of the Leafs’ AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies) Dallas Eakins, who witnessed Oilers fans doing the same thing repeatedly before he was fired a little while ago.

Location, team affiliation or team record aside, while it’s unfortunate to witness the stoppages in play and the incredible disgust with which these jerseys get tossed, the fact of the matter is that fans should be able to do as they please. No, it's not very smart to do this while the play is going on but to some extent it's understandable.

The most obvious reason why comes down to dollars and cents. Fans in hockey’s biggest markets, especially the Canadian markets, couldn’t get into the building to watch a regular season game for less than $100 if they wanted to. Add to the fact they spend $20 for parking, $10 on a hot dog, and of course pay for the jersey they throw on the ice, and it’s no wonder they feel frustrated enough to disrupt play and part ways with their hockey sweater.

These are the same fans who’ve witnessed years of futility (especially in Toronto and Edmonton), don’t get any of the cost savings passed down from owners who benefit from locking out players every few years, and who can be easily replaced by the corporate audience who will gladly write off the cost of their tickets as a business expense whether the product on the ice is good or not.

Now that fans have been fined and the public knows about it, the voicing of any further displeasure via the jersey toss is going to die down without a doubt, but the anger will remain…that’s true no matter who is behind the bench, as long as your favourite team is in the dumps.

The good news is, if you indeed have had the opportunity to toss your jersey at a Leafs or Oilers game, you can always jump onboard a new team’s bandwagon. And if you like the idea of sporting the sweater of a winning team, you can find it at Sports Jerseys Canada….of course if you really want to buy a Leafs or Oilers sweater, we won’t hold it against you.

History of the Pittsburgh Penguins uniforms

On February 8th, 1966, the NHL awarded the city of Pittsburgh an expansion team. Prior to the expansion era, the NHL consisted of six franchises, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Boston. With the city of Pittsburgh being awarded an NHL franchise, the next step was to come up with a “nickname”.  So the introduction of a contest was announced. The winner of the contest ultimately ended up being Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The reason behind the name was simply due to the Civic Arena’s nickname, “Igloo”.

1967-68

The inaugural season the Penguins weren’t wearing the accustomed colours that we all now know. They wore powder blue, white & navy blue with the word “Pittsburgh” across the front diagonally, very similar to the New York Rangers. Stripes were used on the arms & bottom of the jersey. On the powder blue uniforms, the multiple stripes were thick navy blue with thin white stripes. On the white uniform, the multiple stripes were thick powder blue with thin navy blue stripes. On both uniforms the wrists had a thick navy blue stripe. The last names of players were not on the back.

1968-70

The following season, the uniforms were changed. The entire front of the jersey would see a change.  They introduced a crest that featured a skating penguin over a gold triangle all in a circle. Inside of the circle had the words “Pittsburgh” on the top & “Penguins” on the bottom. The gold triangle was to symbolize the downtown area of Pittsburgh. The multiple stripes would change into one thick stripe on the arms & bottom of jersey. On the home jersey (white), the thick stripe colour was powder blue with the thin stripe being navy blue. On the away jersey (powder blue), the thick stripe colour was white with the think stripe being navy blue. The uniform was re-introduced in the 2008 Winter Classic game.  The last names of players were not on the back.

1970-71

At the beginning of this season the only change that happened on these uniforms, were the introduction of the players last names on the back of the white (home) uniform

1971-73

The circle was eliminated and the skating penguin became the main crest.

1973-74

The powder blue colour becomes a darker shade of blue.

1974-75

The skating penguin crest becomes larger & the stripes on the uniforms changed. The stripes on the arms changed to the diagonal stripe.

1975-76

The stripes would change again.

1977-80

The primary colours would change back to navy blue. In the middle of the 1979-80 season, ownership decided to change the colours to black, gold and white to follow suit of the other professional teams in the city. The change happened not only to follow suit but owners wanted to test their luck and hoped to follow suit and win a championship that season. In 1979, the Steelers & Pirates both won world championships. The Boston Bruins would protest the colours & style of uniforms as they were similar to the Bruins. Ultimately the protest fell flat. In 2014-15 season, the black uniform would be introduced as the team’s third jersey.

1981-83

The Penguins would introduce a third gold jersey that they would wear occasionally for their home games.

1983-84

The gold uniform would be the primary uniform that would be worn in this season. The white jersey wouldn’t be used at all this season.

1984-92

The gold uniforms would be used only in preseason but ultimately retired prior to the season, bringing back the white jersey as their primary home uniform.  They claimed two Stanley Cup championships under these uniforms.

1992-95

After winning their second consecutive championship, the team would retire the skating penguin logo & the entire look of both jerseys. The Penguins changed the logo to what would be known now as the “Robo-Penguin”. This would be the crest on the home jerseys. On the road black jerseys, the Penguins re-introduced the word “Pittsburgh” diagonally across the front.

1995-97

The Penguins introduced a brand-new alternate jersey, which has been one of the most unique uniforms in teams history. The jersey would feature different stripping patterns on the arms and middle of the jersey.

1997-2000

The alternative jersey would become the primary road uniform as their prior road uniform would be retired.

2000-2002

The Penguins welcomed back the skating penguin logo & was featured in their new alternative jersey. The new alternative jersey would feature Vegas Gold instead of the gold colour.

2002-2007

The new skating penguin jerseys would become the primary jerseys as they introduced the brand new white uniform.

2007-Present

The Reebok era would begin for the entire National Hockey League. The jersey would remain the same with only difference being the stripes.

2011-13

The Penguins introduced a vintage style uniform to wear in the Winter Classic. This uniform primary colour is navy blue with the penguin in the logo wearing a scarf. The jersey would feature similar stripes from what they wore in their inaugural season.

2014-Present


The club brought back the championship jerseys that became one of the most popular selling uniforms as it brings back tradition and the glory era of Pittsburgh hockey. 

Parity in the 4 Major Sports (NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA)

Since the lockout in the 2004-05 NHL Season and the implementation of the salary cap, I keep hearing that there is a lot of parity in the NHL. I always agreed with this statement and we don't have to look very far to find some good examples. The Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs were the last three teams in the Eastern Conference in the 2011-12 season and all three made the playoffs this year.

However, as I was watching the Conference Finals last week, I realized that the four teams playing were the last four Stanley Cup Champions: Pittsburgh Penguins (2009), Chicago Blackhawks (2010), Boston Bruins (2011) and Los Angeles Kings (2012). This led me to think, is there really that much parity in the NHL and how does it compare to the NFL, MLB and NBA?

There are a number of ways to look at parity but I chose two:

1. Parity in the regular season

In order to do this I looked at the regular season standings in these four leagues from the past 8 seasons. I ranked teams from 1 through 30 (1 through 32 for the NFL) to be able to compare all four sports equally without having to consider the number of games in each league. I then did a regression to see the correlation between a team's ranking in two consecutive seasons. Here are the results:
NFL - 0.08
MLB - 0.20
NHL - 0.24
NBA - 0.41

What this means is that from year to year in the standings we will see the least change in the NBA and the most change in the NFL. The most surprising to me was to see that there is more parity in the regular season in the MLB than in the NHL. For a league without a salary cap and a 162 games season, one would think the best (and richest) teams would always find their way to the top but that's not the case.

The NBA and NFL aren't much of a surprise since we all know that the same teams always finish near the top in the NBA and that the NFL has the most parity. Part of the season for that is the NFL only has 16 games and a single injury can take a team from Super Bowl Contender to last in the league (2011 Colts).

2. Parity in the playoffs

Since every league has a different number of teams that make the playoffs and the number of different teams that win isn't necessarily representative, I decided to look at the number of times each time made it to the Conference Finals in each league, here are the results:



Once again the NBA has the least parity but the other three leagues are pretty equal and have some good parity. I have to admit I was surprised that no team in any of the four major sports has made it to the conference finals more than four times in the past eight seasons.

If we combine all this data, it looks like it was just a coincidence that the last four teams remaining this season were the last four Stanley Cup Champions. There is a lot of parity in the NHL but no more than in the MLB or the NFL.

Enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals and for the Bruins and Blackhawks fans, we have some Boston Bruins Jerseys and Chicago Blackhawks Jerseys left in most sizes. We're also still offering 5% off any of our NHL Jerseys if you "Like" the Sports Jerseys Canada Facebook Page.

Carolina Hurricanes get creative to unveil new uniform

The Carolina Hurricanes have decided to get creative to unveil their new uniforms. Over the next 10 days they will reveal a "teaser swatch" of their new uniforms every day at noon until the big reveal on June 4th. So far we know that the colours and primary logo will remain the same. We also have this image here that shows the new font and also shows us that the collar will be black
It seems a little exaggerated but heck I'm following and you're reading about it so I guess it's working. For those interested in seeing the swatches every day, you can see them on the Hurricanes website.

Have we all forgotten about the lockout?

The NHL lockout was painful for anyone who loves hockey and was even more painful for any business owners like myself. All of us that read blogs, forums and talk-backs during the lockout saw that the large majority of fans were frustrated and said they wouldn't watch hockey anymore. So which fans really backed up what they said?

According to a report by SportsBusiness Journal, only the Colorado Avalanche had lower local TV ratings than in 2011-12 and I think we all know why, they only won 16 games. The TV Ratings on NBC were up 18% compared to last year and were the highest for the NHL in almost 20 years. As far as we're concerned, our jersey sales are well up compared to last year. Part of that is because of natural growth of our business but the lockout certainly didn't have any negative effect.

One argument for this is that because of the shorter season, more teams were competitive than in previous years and more viewers were interested. It's a valid argument for some of those statistics but doesn't explain why the TV ratings for a team like the New York Rangers who finished first last year and had a disappointing season this year are up.

The other part that is intriguing to me is how much the NHL players were united during the lockout and fought together for some things that seemed irrelevant. They were a very united group, as much if not more than in the NBA and NFL in the past two years. However, now that they're back to playing again, they seem to have lost respect for each other and we've seen just as many hits to the head as in previous years. Just my two cents...

So with all that said, does anyone feel different than they did when they were watching the first round of the NHL Playoffs in 2012 about 11 months ago? Other than it's a little warmer outside and there's more Canadian teams in the Playoffs, it's the same hockey we love, there's just as many people in the stands and just as many (if not more) viewers on TV. As angry as we were at the owners and players back in December, it's all back to normal.

New Winnipeg Jets Jerseys Speculation

The new Winnipeg Jets jerseys are probably the second biggest mystery in hockey right now after the Crosby injury situation. Since we're in the jersey business, it has to be our number one.

We don't have any secret information as to what the jerseys will look like and we won't until they're unveiled to the public within the next few weeks. It shouldn't be much longer however since the Jets are playing their first preseason game on September 20. One player, Blake Wheeler, who did have "secret information" posted a picture of the team's pants on his Twitter account: http://lockerz.com/s/132236390. It doesn't tell us a whole lot but it's still nice to see a little preview of what the uniform will look like.

If I had to speculate, since the pants are dark blue and don't have a line on the side or any other colour on them, I don't think they will choose to go with a mainly dark blue uniform. Scott Brown, director of communications for True North Sports and Entertainment, has also stated that the picture of the Jets jersey which was leaked last week is "not even close" to the real jersey. Even though there's no other blue on the jersey, it is possible that the Jets would go with a uniform of another colour as a few other teams have done.

Take a look at the Blues home jersey for example:

The main colour is a lighter blue even though that colour is not on the logo and there's white and yellow accents on both the jersey and the logo. My guess is that the Jets will go with a similar concept: a lighter blue logo with quite a bit of dark blue as well as red and grey accents. If that the case, the numbers would probably be red with a grey outline. Once again I just want to remind all of you that this is pure speculation and I'm simply having fun at guessing what it might look like.

I might be totally wrong but either way, I think my suggestion would look pretty nice. Finally, you can pre-order the new Winnipeg Jets jerseys from our online store or you can simply send us an e-mail and ask to be notified when they're in stock which should be sometime in November.

We'll have some more articles in the coming weeks about the other new jerseys for the 2011-12.

Latest NHL News

Training camps are approaching very quickly in the NHL and the regular season is now less than a month away. The Hockey News has released their 2010-11 Predictions and the most surprising one is probably the Vancouver Canucks finishing first in the Western Conference.

In Edmonton, Taylor Hall has chosen to wear the #4 and the choice was approved by Kevin Lowe. Copper & Blue's Staff is pretty split on the decision. As a side note, Taylor Hall jerseys are available in our online store.

Kuklas Korner has published some interesting statistics on the shootout in 2009-10. Take a look at the top 20 goalies and top 20 players in shootouts from last season.

There were also quite a few signings in the past week:
-Peter Mueller signed a 2-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche
-Blue Jackets first round pick Ryan Johansen signed an entry-level deal.
-Phoenix Coyotes and Martin Hanzal agreed on a 2-year deal.
-Andrew Cogliano resigned with the Edmonton Oilers for one year.
-Nigel Dawes agreed to a two-way deal with the Atlanta Thrashers.

R&D Camp, New Tiebreaking Rule and Other News

Earlier this week, a Toronto Maple Leafs Blog, Pension Plan Puppets, had their content stolen by the Toronto Sun. Here's a nice article from Blueshirt Banter that describes the situation and talks about the lack of respect for bloggers. A few months ago I had a major website copy part of one of my articles and it was very frustrating. At least, they handle the situation better than the Toronto Sun did.

The biggest news in the past few days has been the NHL R&D Camp. The most detailed article I read on the topic is by Jim Kelley from Sportsnet. He looks at the rules being tested and sees which ones ave the best chance of going through. The one rule change that has been made so far is that shootout wins will no longer count in the tiebreaker. Nothing major but I guess it's a nice rule.

Edward Fraser from THN.com Blog looks at the winners and losers of the 2010 off-season. Excellent article especially since it gives credit to the Blackhawks for doing the best that they could given the situation they were in.

Here are some other news and articles from the past week:
-Vincent Lecavalier will undergo minor arthroscopic procedure.
-Alexander Edler is skating again.
-Copper & Blue questioning what the Oilers are doing this summer.
-CBC will televise 10 AHL games in 2010-11.
-In Lou We Trust analyzes the goals scored against Martin Brodeur in 2009-10.

Finally, Icethetics has a nice article on teams changing jerseys for the 2010-11 season. All of these jerseys will be available on our online store within the next few weeks and many, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vancouver Canucks special jersey are already available.

The Ilya Kovalchuk Saga

After a couple of months off we're finally back for the 2010-11 season. The biggest topic of the past few weeks in the NHL has undoubtedly been Ilya Kovalchuk.

Richard Bloch ruled in favour of the NHL and decided to void Kovalchuk's contract. I think most people agree that this was the correct decision but what I don't understand is why it wasn't done before. The NHL has realized its mistake and is now looking back at similar contracts: Roberto Luongo, Marc Savard, Chris Pronger and Marian Hossa.

Instead of putting a vague clause saying:
"Article 26(3) allows for a finding of circumvention if the intention of the parties was to circumvent the CBA OR if the net effect of the deal, intention aside, was to get around the CBA."
Why not put in something like on a 3-year contract every season must be at least 25% of the total contract, 20% for 4 years and so on. This means that on a 4 year deal worth 20 million, the most front-loaded contract possible would be 8 million in the first year and 4 million in the final three. Pretty simple and solves a lot of problems. You might argue that the NHL didn't see this coming but it wasn't too hard to predict. Maybe not 10-12 year deals but a 7-year front-loaded deal like Marc Savard should have been predictable.

Here are thoughts from a few other bloggers:
-Eric Macramalla from "Offside: A Sports Law Blow" analyzes the decision in depth

-Winging It In Motown argues that the NHL shouldn't be able to go this. I have to say I agree with this and especially this part: "The teams and the players should have a right to know exactly what they're allowed to do."

-Jewels from the Crown has a few nice quotes from arbitrator Richard Bloch.

-Puck Daddy also writes an article saying that this whole situation is a joke.

-Pro Hockey Talk discusses the fallout from this and the investigations of the four other contracts.

Here are some articles from local sources regarding the other four contracts:
-Marc Savard - Boston Globe
-Chris Pronger - Flyer Flies
-Roberto Luongo - Vancouver Sun
-Marian Hossa - Chicago Now