Thursday, September 25, 2008 provides preview of its upcoming makeover

The National Hockey League gave fans a preview of what is to come as the start of the 2008-2009 regular season is only days away. The look of their official web site is getting its latest makeover done in time for opening night.

A beta test web site for is now available for viewing. It is to be the new look for the NHL's official
web site.
(image courtesy: National Hockey League)

When I saw it yesterday, I think this has a more professional look to it. It's sleeker and with the latest bells and whistles. At first, I thought the team logos up top wasn't keeping its colors where maybe it's supposed to blend in with the rest of the page that's dominantly in black and silver, but I see that when you place your cursor on them, they appear in color.

Now I wonder if that means the individual teams will be undergoing another makeover, too.

Back on Friday, the Buffalo Sabres introduced a new media player for Sabres TV. This comes as no surprise that they're doing this with the other teams. I saw the Toronto Maple Leafs did and the Anaheim Ducks are testing theirs.

Some people may ask why again is there another makeover? Well, to me a lot of times, there is a good feeling to make improvement that are introduced at the start of the new season. It gives fans that sense of excitement of something new, fresh and improved for opening night. If it's not as good, then there should be no need to fix it.

This is however, a nice improvement. If it is also to be done for the 30 team sites, wow, that would be nice.

Within the makeover is a complete re-vamping of their multimedia access section of the site. Recently, fans have had the opportunity to watch NHL Center Ice Online, the internet version to the television subscription service where you can access out-of-town NHL games for a fee. It is set to be re-named NHL GameCenter Live. You can see a three-day free preview of the service from October 10th to October 12th.

To access the beta test site, go to

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sabres unveil their latest alternate jersey at "Puck Drop 2008"

The Buffalo Sabres kicked off today's Puck Drop 2008 festivities at 9:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time this morning and fans across the Western New York region couldn't have been more thrilled.

With yesterday's launch of their brand new online media player, a special edition of Sabres TV provided a live internet video stream of this morning's festivities from HSBC Arena in downtown Buffalo. Kevin Sylvester and Mario Genero co-hosted the Sabres TV coverage with glimpses of a beautiful mural inside the arena's main concourse and the Blue vs. Gold scrimmage. As far as the mural is concerned, it commemorates last season's AMP Energy Winter Classic that was played on New Year's Day.

Speaking of that memorable game, The Making of a Classic DVD went on sale today. As I mentioned back on Monday, if you weren't able to attend Puck Drop 2008, you can order the DVD online at or visit the HSBC Arena box office during regular business hours.

The Buffalo Sabres' vintage logo is displayed on the center ice video board at HSBC Arena during the alternate jersey unveiling ceremony on September 20, 2008.
(image courtesy: Buffalo Sabres)

After the scrimmage was played, the Sabres players headed to the locker room and then returned for an on-ice ceremony to unveil the new alternate jersey. Fans saw a video presentation on the center ice high definition video screen of great moments in Sabres history. When you got to see the vintage primary logo first appear, it felt so right that it is back.

One highlight that sticks out immediately is the "May Day!" goal from Buffalo's 1993 playoff series victory over the Boston Bruins. Brad May scored the winning goal that sent the Aud into a frenzy. But television play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret's livecall was absolutely what makes watching it over and over again worthwhile.

Then Jeanneret introduced to the crowd the main roster players that were all decked out in the new alternate jerseys. An estimated 10,000 fans cheered loudly as they got to see them publicly for the very first time.

Tim Connolly heads out onto the ice during the alternate jersey unveiling ceremony at HSBC Arena in Buffalo on September 20, 2008. (photo by Bill Wippert/Buffalo Sabres)

And then the team circled the ice surface to give the fans a closer look before giving a final salute from center ice. This day was truly for all the dedicated Sabres fans that came out for Puck Drop 2008.

Buffalo Sabres players skate around the ice surface during the alternate jersey unveiling ceremony at HSBC Arena
in Buffalo on September 20, 2008.

(photos by Bill Wippert/Buffalo Sabres)

As mentioned on their August 14th news release, the jersey features a modernization of the team's vintage design. Paul Szeglowski of his outstanding Lets Go Sabres blog explained that with the vintage crest logo being brought back with some minor alterations, he believes that the Sabres feel will help it stand out more against the darker navy blue base color of the jersey.

Buffalo Sabres director of creative services Frank Cravotta shows the variation of preliminary designs in creating
the team's new alternate jersey.

(image courtesy: Buffalo Sabres)

Sabres director of creative services Frank Cravotta reaffirmed that to Erin Pollina in today's official news release.

"The first thing we wanted to do is go to our new color scheme, which is the deeper blue and gold," Cravotta said. "After that we added the striping pattern, introduced some silver accents in it and put some silver vertical piping along the front... It makes for a new and unique look."

Buffalo Sabres players salute the crowd during the alternate jersey unveiling ceremony at HSBC Arena in Buffalo on September 20, 2008. (photos by Bill Wippert/Buffalo Sabres)

Did the fans approve? According to 10-year-old Brendan Bittner of Hamburg, New York, I think it is safe to say he does.

"I think it looks awesome," Bittner told Matthew Spina of the Buffalo News. His mother Kathleen agreed.

"It has the old '70s logo sort of combined with the new type of logo," she said. "It just looks really cool."

Speaking of the Buffalo News, their regular Sabres beat writer John Vogl reported from the arena today with an overall recap of the events. It includes some fan interviews with one of particular interest as Chris Kostka of Ajax, Ontario is proud to see his son Mike trying out for the team (he's on the official training camp roster).

Two Buffalo television stations provided excellent coverage of Puck Drop 2008, including the mention of the new alternate jersey. Adam Benigni of WGRZ-TV also gave an overview of both the scrimmage and the jersey unveiling ceremony. Michele McClintick of WIVB-TV had described the atmosphere at HSBC Arena as simply "rockin' again". You can also check out her report from the site of today's festivities.

Just like the Carolina Hurricanes' new alternate jersey, if you want to purchase an authentic Sabres' one, it'll cost you big bucks. Expect to pay as much as $350 for a fully customized game jersey that is exactly be what the team will wear for 15 times this upcoming season. Due to what is expected to be high demand and production being high, don't expect delivery until around the time of its debut on November 26th when the Bruins visit Buffalo.

Production of the Buffalo Sabres' new alternate jersey expects to be quite high as fans are already placing pre-orders today. (image courtesy: Buffalo Sabres)

As stated in the team news release, fans can now pre-order the alternate jersey at the Sabres Store in HSBC Arena with at least a $55 deposit for each jersey. But if you're customizing it, you need to pay in full.

Meantime, I strongly recommend you also pay a visit to Chris Smith's Icethetics blog for his coverage of today's jersey unveiling. He also provided a photo slideshow of the jersey, but I especially like the nice large photo of Teppo Numminen he posted.

Without question, I believe the Sabres' new alternate jersey will be a big hit with the fans. It is my hope that eventually this becomes the full-time home jersey. After that, hopefully the team creates a road white version and then brings back the classic royal blue vintage jersey we saw last season to become the full-time alternate. Now THAT would really do some good completely restoring in pride in the team brand, not that "Buffaslug" we see now.

If you would like to see a very condensed (and I mean shortened) version of the Sabres TV coverage of the alternate jersey unveiling and other Puck Drop 2008 events, check out the video clip below.

video courtesy: Buffalo Sabres

Friday, September 19, 2008

Teemu Selanne signs pro-tryout contract to return to Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks still have to clear salary cap space before signing him to a standard player contract. It is pretty much just a formality that has to be completed.

Teemu Selanne ended all speculation about his future by signing a professional tryout agreement so he can take part in formal workouts with the start of training camp on Saturday morning in Anaheim. So in other words, he's back!

"The Finnish Flash" as he's been nicknamed since he began his National Hockey League career with the Winnipeg Jets with a huge bang by scoring a league rookie record 76 goals in the 1992-1993 season. The highlight of his career would obviously be playing a key role in the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship campaign. Selanne put up 94 points (48 goals and 46 assists) in all 82 games of the 2006-2007 regular season and then tallied 15 more in the team's successful playoff run.

But at this time a year ago, the 38-year-old Selanne did contemplate retirement and didn't decide to come back until January where he scored 12 goals and had 11 assists in just 23 regular season games last season. Anaheim as the defending champions was bounced right out of the playofs in an opening round defeat to the Dallas Stars where he put up just 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists) in 6 games. Given the idea his quiet 2007-2008 abbreviated season was relatively quiet compared to past years, Selanne is hungry to not only get back out on the ice, he wants to play and win. This is despite the fact he's only been working out in recently and only now has he made it official on the eve of training camp that he'll give it a go.

"I have been a risk taker all my life," Selanne told Matt Vevoda of "I have been skating already six weeks and any day something could happen. I don't want to miss the camp. I really believe that this time is very important. That's why I did it."

In a serious change of mind of where he stands with his playing career, Selanne revealed to Orange County Register reporter Dan Wood that he could possibly sign a two-year contract with the Ducks and even may consider playing one final time for the Finnish Olympic hockey team for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"The Olympic year next year (2010 in Vancouver) is something that's in my mind," Selanne said. "I've played four times in the Olympics, and it's an unbelievable experience. I know it's going to be the last time when NHL players are going to be participating in the Olympics, so obviously it's something quite special."

While at this point he's non-committal beyond the upcoming season, he will take those additional playing years into consideration.

"The good thing is I'm healthy," he added. "I feel very good physically, and now mentally I'm fresh. Obviously, I want to finish my career in Anaheim, with the Ducks. That's a big thing for me. That's why a two-year deal would work better, but let's see what happens."

Selanne is the all-time franchise leader in seven statistical categories. He has scored 325 of his 552 career goals in a Ducks uniform and currently has the fourth-highest goal total among active NHL players.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

NHL Live returns on September 22nd

Have you missed Don La Greca and E.J. Hradek talking some hockey? I'm sure many diehard hockey fans have. You are in luck though as NHL Live! returns to the airwaves this coming Monday after its summer hiatus.

In the National Hockey League's press release just minutes ago, it states you will be able to tune in to NHL Home Ice XM 204 or the cable television simulcast on NHL Network weekdays between 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM Eastern Time. The show will be re-aired on NHL Network that day between 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM Eastern Time. You can also catch a live internet feed on's NHL Network Online.

With the merger of the two satellite radio giants in XM and Sirius into what is now Sirius XM Radio (as stated in Sirius' press release and XM's press release), the NHL also announced that starting October 6th, Sirius subscribers in the United States will get to access NHL Live! (that had been on XM).

Fans will remain a part of the show. Outside the show's guests that will be interviewed, fans can send e-mails or call in and talk to La Greca and Hradek to talk about the latest happenings around the NHL. The co-hosts can be seen perched up in their enclosed studio high above the floor of the NHL Powered By Reebok Store in New York City.

With the American economic crisis, are some arena naming rights deals at risk?

While many middle class Americans have been hard hit in an enormous way during these worsening economic times, we've seen in the past several days major shifts in the financial market. To put it mildly, it has been very ugly.

Regardless of your politicial views in placing the blame on any one person or multiple others, we've seen the New York Stock Exchange's Dow Jones Industrial Average lose over 900 points this week. This is the most commonly known indicator of the health of the United States economy. There was the stock market crash in 1987. Then the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that sent Wall Street into a tailspin. But today, it's about greedy investors and simply bad management and decisions on the part of financial institutions and of course the federal government.

I don't want to bore you with that as you wonder what does this have to do with hockey? Well, the health of the American economy does effect the health of the National Hockey League. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner William Daly addressed the media yesterday after the NHL Board of Governor's September meeting in Toronto. Bettman was asked about how this week's Wall Street developments might have an impact on the league. You can watch the first 1:27 of the video clip below to hear his comments.

"Well, actually, we did, in terms of the state of the league and looking forward, discuss the state of the economy," Bettman said. "Obviously, nobody can predict how this is going to continue to unfold and when there might be a recovery, but interestingly enough, based on the projections that we're seeing, based on the data that we're getting with respect to things like season ticket sales, we're actually running ahead of last season, which was a record for us. So we haven't been experiencing any material short-term effects, but everybody is, of course, cognizant of what's going on with the economy."

video courtesy: Leafs TV

With the United States government bailing out failing financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earlier this year, the collapse of Bear Stearns and this week seeing Lehman Brothers and American International Group (AIG) go into bankruptcy, it makes you wonder if there will be a looming dark cloud over teams that have arena and other related naming rights put into risk. Today's latest development as reported by CNN Money's Aaron Smith has two giant banks considering a merger to stave off a collapse of their own. Morgan Stanley and Wachovia are in such talks.

Let us list the indoor arenas around the NHL that have naming rights agreements with banks or brokerage firms. We have the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, HSBC Arena in Buffalo, the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida, Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

Mellon Arena will be replaced in two years, so the Pittsburgh Penguins shouldn't stand to lose substantial money should Bank of New York Mellon Corporation go bankrupt. The new arena being built in Pittsburgh will have a naming rights deal in place, with or without Mellon having its name carry over.

If insurance companies or even struggling airline companies suffer even more serious impacts from the economy to effect their bottom line, don't be surprised if naming rights deals for the United Center in Chicago, the American Airlines Center in Dallas and the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey end up in jeopardy.

So why am I bringing this up? Well, for one, the NHL is still in a recovery from the lockout which wiped out the 2004-2005 season. There are still franchises are not yet on solid ground despite the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place. Teams in those arenas that I mentioned like the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers have not had the kind of revenues we've seen from the more established Original Six clubs like the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers, the top two revenue-generating teams in the league.

Teams like the Hurricanes and Panthers need all the revenues they can get. Yes, Carolina won the Stanley Cup in 2006 and the fan base has grown. But Raleigh is a market where the team needs to maintain corporate sponsorship stability. Without the Royal Bank of Canada (which has RBC Bank as its American headquarters), the company that owns the naming rights to the 9-year-old arena on the west side of Raleigh, the Hurricanes would be affected in some way just like other teams would. The Panthers have struggled in recent years with attendance and its on-ice success. The collapse of their arena naming rights agreement could have a bigger impact than it would in comparison to other teams.

Bettman says that the health of the American and global economy should not cause the sounding of an alarm, but this is something to keep an eye on. Naming rights deals are important revenue streams for the member franchises. Until we see these banks or insurance companies who are tied to these deals show signs they're in completely sound shape and until we see a market recovery, the concern factor won't go away.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford previews 2008-2009 season

If you're a Carolina Hurricanes fan and you want some kind of preview of what's in store for the upcoming season, where should you get it?

Well, we know we can turn to numerous sources to get all the scoops. But if you want hear from a man that is responsible for putting together the 2008-2009 squad, check out this video clip from their official web site where Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford fills us in.

The highlights of this season preview segment are:

*an update on the development of the Hurricanes' 2008 draftees

*Will Brandon Sutter make the team out of training camp?

*the importance of signing forward Eric Staal to a long-term contract extension

*What does defenseman Josef Melichar bring to the Hurricanes?

*giving former Hurricanes forward Jeff O'Neill a chance to return to the team

*how injuries to key players last season have healed

*David Tanabe's status with the team

*the importance of assistant coach Tom Rowe's with the organization

*Why did the Hurricanes sign Michael Leighton to back up Cam Ward in goal?

*the depth of their goaltending in the minor league system

*Rutherford's thoughts on opening night against the Florida Panthers

video courtesy: Carolina Hurricanes

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sabres to sell "The Making of a Classic" DVD starting September 20th

The Buffalo Sabres announced today that they plan to release a special DVD that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the memorable AMP Energy Winter Classic that was played on New Year's Day.

The first outdoor regular season game in National Hockey League history in which Sidney Crosby propelled the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 2-1 shootout victory drew an NHL record crowd of 71,217 fans to Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York that very snowy day, the perfect setting for all fans to witness this historic sporting event.

The Making of a Classic is a documentary that shows the work that went into putting together the event, including the process of installing the outdoor ice rink, the pre-game practices of both teams, exclusive locker room access, the opening ceremonies and of course, in-game action.

Let's just say this is a collector's item that Sabres fans don't want to miss out on buying. The first chance they can is at the team's Puck Drop 2008 event on September 20th at the HSBC Arena in downtown Buffalo. Part of the $10 cost for the DVD will go toward the Buffalo Sabres Foundation. If you're unable to attend, you can also buy it online at the team's official web site or the HSBC Arena box office.

For a preview of the DVD, check out this trailer.

video courtesy: Buffalo Sabres

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricanes launch inspirational season preview trailer

This week has been a week in which Carolina Hurricanes fans can hang onto three things that will get them ready for the upcoming 2008-2009 season.

On Wednesday, the team unveiled their very first alternate jersey.

The next morning, they announced the signing of forward Eric Staal to a 7-year, $57.75 million contract extension through the 2015-2016 season.

And now today, the Hurricanes posted a preview page (image below courtesy of the team) when you enter their official team web site. It shows a closeup view goaltender Cam Ward and a slogan below his head that reads "The Storm Is Coming" and the date of the season opener (October 10th). You can click on one of two hyperlinks at the bottom of the page, either go on to the home page of the site or open the Hurricanes TV pop-up window where you can view a creative movie-style trailer put together for one simple purpose. Get passionate Caniacs pumped up for the new season.

I think it is safe to say this trailer does its job. Hurricanes fans should be ready in just a few weeks from now. Oh yeah, did I mention that the 9th annual Caniac Carnival will take place on September 21st? That day, you can buy single game tickets to any of the 41 regular season home games the Hurricanes will play. And, that's when you'll get your first chance to buy the team's new alternate jersey. Okay, now it's on to watching the trailer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is the NHL really considering European expansion?

This is a question that has been asked from time to time in recent years. When the first NHL Premiere series was played in London, England nearly a full year ago, it was brought up without any surprise.

Will the National Hockey League consider expansion into Europe down the road?

Coming off last year's NHL Premiere series between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings played at the O2 Arena in London where both games sold out, you couldn't help but wonder. Could London or other major cities across the European continent support the highest professional hockey league on the planet? That question hasn't been answered, but maybe one day it will be put to the test.

William Houston of The Globe and Mail in Toronto had an article published this morning on this very subject.

NHL deputy commissioner William Daly told Houston in an interview yesterday that it is the league's ambition to expand into Europe within ten years. So we are talking about 2018 being a target year.

"As time goes on, you'll see us making increasing movement into Europe," Daly said. "Certainly, it's a possibility that within 10 years time we will be playing games there."

Make note that Daly said this is a goal, not any announcement that there will indeed be expansion teams being awarded to any European cities.

Since the early 1990s, the NHL has had exhibition games played in Europe. Then last year's NHL Premiere series to begin the 2007-2008 regular season. The only other time in league history that the NHL had kicked off a season overseas was when the Ducks and Vancouver Canucks played a pair of games in Tokyo, Japan just months before the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in the Japanese city of Nagano.

The timing of this to some observers might not come as coincidental at all considering there is a rising rival league based in Russia that has vowed to compete with the NHL. The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) was founded earlier this year. The KHL absorbed all 20 teams from the now-defunct Russian Super League and has a total of 24 teams spanning Russia, Belarus, Latvia and Kazakhstan. It hopes to quickly expand to 30 teams by the 2009-2010 season, matching the current total of the NHL. Interestingly enough, we are now seeing their intentions to only bring in elite teams in Europe and Asia with those signing players that have played professionally and at a high skill level. Just this summer alone, we've seen several high-profile players that did not sign with an NHL team ended up going to the KHL. They would be Ray Emery, Jaromír Jágr, Jozef Stümpel, Alexander Radulov, Branko Radivojević, Andrei Zyuzin, Wade Dubielewicz, Niko Kapanen, Sergei Brylin and Ladislav Nagy.

Radulov is currently under indefinite suspension by the Nashville Predators. This is because he signed with the KHL's Salavat Yulaev Ufa on July 11th with one more season left on his contract with the Predators.

Houston also stated in his article that besides the KHL as their main competition, the Champions Hockey League based on the European club soccer model will begin on October 8th. What does Daly have to say about this development?

"We are obviously monitoring and watching with great interest how they succeed," Daly said.

To date, Toronto-based hockey agent Anton Thun and other high-powered people in the hockey world have been big supporters of placing NHL teams in Europe. But hearing Daly make these comments this week has made the strongest of intentions pretty clear as far as what new avenue the league would like to try.

Carolina Hurricanes president and general manager Jim Rutherford weighed in the idea. He's not against potentially adding European teams, but he'd prefer to place one or two new teams in Canada before looking across the Atlantic Ocean.

"(European) cities do a good job for international hockey tournaments, but can those cities afford NHL prices for 42 regular season games plus playoffs?" Rutherford asked. "I don't know the answer, but if they can, then at some point there will be expansion in Europe. But first we have to expand a couple more teams back into Canada, get back into Winnipeg and put another team in Ontario before we see expansion to Europe."

National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) executive director Paul Kelly is open to European expansion, but only after any struggling North American franchises are stabilized.

"Once we reach that point, I do think we should at least explore the process of perhaps one day having a division of NHL teams based in Europe," Kelly said.

Daly likes the idea of placing six teams into a European division where the sport of ice hockey thrives from a fan standpoint, a business standpoint and especially an economic standpoint. Not that these would be the only cities on the radar screen, potential markets could include Stockholm, Helsinki, Prague, St. Petersburg and Moscow, as well as cities in Germany and Switzerland.

While I didn't mention Canada when I last discussed this subject, in my October 4, 2007 blog entry that recapped last season's NHL Premiere series, here is what I stated back then.

"So, the big question is, will the NHL ever place an expansion team in one of the major European cities such as London? ...NHL commissioner Gary Bettman didn't want to create speculation, but in an interview with Rogers Sportsnet's Paul Romanuk prior to the weekend series, he said it is a long way off before it can even be considered.

My reaction to that is good. Right now the NHL should just focus on fixing their own problems at home. Even with the new collective bargaining agreement that sacrificed a full season to acquire, there are still some markets in the United States that need time to stablize and grow, especially in the southern part of the country. With teams such as the Nashville Predators that has a cloud of uncertainty hanging over their head regarding its future, the NHL cannot even think about Europe before taking care of North American markets to make sure they're strong and financially competitive. With the possibility of having a pair of regular season games in played in Prague, Czech Republic between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins next season as reported on Sunday, at least the NHL can continue to bring its brand of hockey to other European cities even if they're just neutral site games."

Even though I support the idea of European teams down the road, I still stand by that statement.

And by the way, to update that development from a year ago, the Lightning begin the upcoming season in Prague on October 4th and 5th with two NHL Premiere games against the New York Rangers, not the Penguins as originally planned. The Penguins will face the Ottawa Senators twice in Stockholm on the same two days.

There are other challenges the NHL faces besides those here at home. Houston brought up the NHL having to deal with taxation laws that would impact on player salaries, the distance of travel between Europe and North America and the time difference between the two continents for television broadcasts. Undoubtedly, all this has to be factored in if the NHL can even think about having teams overseas. Daly addressed that issue as well.

"The North American economy has a certain demand for North American sports content," Daly said. "I'm not sure that, in the short term, most European economies match that level of demand in terms of types of prices you could charge."

He added, "So, in dealing with a sports-league concept, you want markets that are at least within the same universe to at least support and charge for tickets and support player payrolls."

Roughly a third of all players currently playing in the NHL are from Europe, so turning its attention to expand on its fan and business reach is naturally is something that should be looked into.

When the second NHL Premiere series games are played, don't be shocked you hear this question asked yet again by the media covering them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Comcast SportsNet to air all their Flyers cablecasts in HD

For the very first time since the network's inception, Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia will broadcast all their game cablecasts in high definition.

In a news release posted just minutes ago on the Philadelphia Flyers official web site as well as at Comcast SportsNet's news page, the network announced that fans can tune in and see all 64 HD cablecasts slated for the upcoming 2008-2009 National Hockey League season.

"Our goal has always been to bring fans closer to the action and by delivering all home and road games, plus news and pre and post game programs in high definition, Comcast SportsNet once again fulfils that commitment to our viewers," Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia president Stephanie Smith said.

This is what fans and the television provider have waited for since Comcast SportsNet's first HD game broadcast on February 15, 2003 when the Flyers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes. By March 2004, all home games and select Flyers road games were in high definition.

In addition to the Flyers, all Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Phillies games will be available in high definition on Comcast SportsNet HD. That begins with the Flyers' season opener on October 11th at the Wachovia Center against the New York Rangers.

Bruins unveil their latest alternate jersey

I did not see this coming in terms of its release date, so you will have to forgive me for it. What makes this piece of news interesting is that none of the Boston media outlets made a mention of it.

If you were at the "State of the Bruins" town hall meeting inside TD Banknorth Garden in Boston last night, you witnessed toward the end of the event a quiet unveiling of the Boston Bruins' latest alternate jersey.

There was just a single sentence in the news feature that brought up the jersey where it said:

"A very special surprise came at the end of the festivities when Milan Lucic walked onto the ice to unveil the Bruins new third jersey."

How kind of them to mention it. It was a surprise that the team didn't set aside a separate day in which there could've been an unveiling event like the Carolina Hurricanes did hours earlier.

Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic shows fans gathered at
TD Banknorth Garden in Boston for the "State of the Bruins" event the team's new alternate jersey on September 10, 2008.
(photo courtesy: Hub Hockey)

Hub Hockey
, an excellent Bruins fan blog on the latest happenings of the team, was the only source to provide any news of the unveiling and publicly provide proof. In a blog entry that was posted that night, it reveals a black jersey design featuring the current secondary logo for the crest and the primary logo on the shoulders. Two gold stripes with a white one in between them wrap around the sleeves just below the elbow area.

Lucic turns around to show Bruins fans at TD Banknorth Garden the back of the team's new alternate jersey on September 10, 2008. (photo courtesy: Hub Hockey)

Chris posted in his August 26th Icethetics blog entry what appeared to be a sneak peek thanks to The Sports Network (TSN). Toward the end of the video clip, it shows Patrice Bergeron shooting some pucks during an offseason practice session. But if you didn't look quick enough, you miss seeing him wearing what turned out to be this new alternate jersey the Bruins will wear in at least 15 home games during the 2008-2009 season.

Lucic shows Bruins fans the team's new alternate jersey on September 10, 2008. (photo courtesy: Hub Hockey)

A recap of last night's event was posted at Hub Hockey and provided a detailed look at what the Bruins' plans are for the upcoming season and beyond. Among those that took part in the town hall meeting are familiar faces on the Boston sports scene in Bruins television color analyst Andy Brickley as the Master of Ceremonies, general manager Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien, vice president Cam Neely, executive vice president Charlie Jacobs and team owner Jeremy Jacobs. Two Bruins defensemen joined them in Aaron Ward and team captain Zdeno Chara.

Whether or not this latest alternate jersey will be a hit with the fans remains to be seen, but those that did not like what they refer to as the gold "Pooh bear" jersey were relieved to see it discontinued after the 2005-2006 season. Basically if you like black, two of the three the Bruins wear are now that color. The away jersey is predominantly white.

Before I discuss it on the day of its upcoming unveiling, there is one information nugget off the rumor mill that is worth addressing. Normally I prefer to stay away from speculation on things like this, but it appears that a photo showing the design of the Buffalo Sabres' new alternate jersey had been leaked. Chris Smith first brought it up in his blog on Monday and then followed it up about 90 minutes ago. John Vogl of the Buffalo News confirms in his Sabres Edge blog entry that the jersey Chris had posted about was the real thing. It is an updated version of the classic Sabres jersey, including the original primary logo back on the front. I will post in more detail after it is unveiled at the Puck Drop 2008 event on September 20th.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hurricanes unveil their first-ever alternate jersey

The Carolina Hurricanes became the first National Hockey League team to unveil an alternate jersey under the Reebok Edge uniform system. It was done as an event at the RBC Center in Raleigh at 12:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time this afternoon (see video clip below).

video courtesy: Carolina Hurricanes

In case you didn't know by now, the Hurricanes went with a black jersey with the secondary "hurricane flag" logo as the crest. The primary logo is on the shoulders in an all-black color. The overall look resembles quite a bit like the primary home and away jerseys, but with some noticable exceptions. I'll let you see how the team described the alternate jersey design as stated in their news release.

The Carolina Hurricanes unveiled their alternate jersey on September 10, 2008. (photo courtesy: Carolina Hurricanes)

"Each piece of the uniform is primarily black, including the players' helmets, gloves, socks and jersey. The featured logo on the center of the jersey is the team’s familiar secondary logo, which includes a storm warning flag attached to a hockey stick and laid over a triangle, a tribute to the team's home in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. The jersey also includes gray squares along the bottom of the jersey, where the red-and-black squares are on the team’s primary sweaters and a gray and black version of the team's primary logo on each shoulder. The player's number is in red outlined in white on the sleeves and back, and the players name is in white on the back of the sweater. The socks and sleeves of the jersey feature red and gray v-shaped stripes and the black pants include the team's primary logo."

We've been used to the red and white as the dominating colors for the Hurricanes and the black as an accent color. Now, at least with this alternate jersey, black is front and center.

"We're very proud of our traditional uniforms," Hurricanes general mangers Jim Rutherford said at the press conference. "But after ten seasons in North Carolina and a lot of different ideas from our fans, we felt it was time to introduce an additional look for our team."

(left to right) Eric Staal, Tim Gleason and Cam Ward model the Carolina Hurricanes' alternate jersey on September 10, 2008. (photo by Gregg Forwerck/Carolina Hurricanes)

The team has also provided fans two PDF files for more on the alternate jersey with a fact sheet and jersey specifications. They later added a photo gallery and a video clip of the press conference that took place on the ice surface inside RBC Center.

You can see the nameplate and numbering on the back of Ward, Gleason and Staal's alternate jerseys.
(photo by Gregg Forwerck/Carolina Hurricanes)

I watched the live stream and I must say it looks very sharp! I don't know if I'm a fan of the all-black primary logo on the shoulders. But I guess the purpose of it would be to not make the shoulder logo standout on a black jersey. At the same time, the focus is the secondary logo for the crest. The secondary logo is now featured inside the center ice circle at RBC Center instead of the 10th anniversary logo that was there last season and the primary logo in the years before it since 1999.

(left to right) A closer side view of Staal, Gleason and Ward's alternate jerseys show the Hurricanes' primary logo on
the shoulders and in an all-black color.

(photo by Gregg Forwerck/Carolina Hurricanes)

I feel it is safe to say that the Hurricanes' new alternate jersey is better than some of the concepts that have been thrown around on various forums and blogs on the internet. One thing I wish they would do and that's get rid of the thin shoulder piping on the regular home and away jerseys. It's so not needed, but I can live with it.

(left to right) Gleason, Ward and Staal model the Carolina Hurricanes' alternate jerseys while standing inside RBC Center. Notice the team's secondary logo featured on the jersey's crest is now inside the center ice circle instead of the primary logo. (photo by Gregg Forwerck/Carolina Hurricanes)

Jason Jennings of WRAL-TV stated in his Wednesday night newscast report that the Hurricanes will wear the new alternate jersey 15 times (all at home) during the 2008-2009 season. It will make its debut on October 13th when the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings pay their only visit to Raleigh.

Can wearing this jersey bring some good luck for the team?

"Fifteen games, hopefully 15 wins," Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward told Chip Alexander of The News & Observer.

Hurricanes fans will have their first opportunity to buy the alternate jersey at the team's annual Caniac Carnival on September 21st. Expect to pony up about $300 if you want an authentic jersey.

Carolina is one of 18 NHL teams expected to have alternate jerseys under the new RBK Edge uniform system. The Buffalo Sabres will unveil theirs on September 20th.