Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Islanders unveil their latest alternate jersey

Despite not having not been many pleasant memories for suffering New York Islanders fans over the last 20 years, if there is anything for them to be really proud of, it is the glory days of the team's four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983.

When the Islanders dominated the National Hockey League during that time, they wore a very familiar logo and color scheme. While only for a short time during the mid 1990s did their classic logo disappear in favor of a widely unpopular blue raincoated fisherman, it is displayed front and center on a brand new alternate jersey that was unveiled late Monday at an Islanders Business Club event (see the video clip below).

video courtesy: New York Islanders

Michael Schuerlein of was the first to post a story back on July 28th that confirmed the team would be introducing a new alternate jersey.

The Islanders' new alternate jersey is flashback to that past as it is a royal blue base color with a thick orange stripe above an equally thick white one to cover the bottom-most portion. While the throwbacks we saw worn for a few games two seasons ago had orange numbers and lettering like the 1970s jerseys had, the team decided on having them in white instead with a thin orange outline.

Islanders Business Club executive director Mike Bossy unveils the team's new alternate jersey on October 27, 2008. (photo courtesy of New York Islanders)

Players also will wear matching royal blue hockey pants with an orange stripe down each side outlined in white. The socks are also royal blue with an equally thick orange stripe right below the knee as the jersey with a thin white stripe underneath it. But these sock stripes are interrupted in the back. That is something that is more noted for the Reebok Edge styles for socks.

The team will wear these new alternate jerseys for a total of 15 games this season and the first time fans can see them on the ice will be on Saturday night when the Islanders host the Montreal Canadiens at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It will be a part of a "Throwback Night" promotion sponsored by Modell's Sporting Goods.

"I think the new jerseys are fantastic," Islanders legend Bobby Nystrom said. "The colors really bring me back to our early teams. I think the fans are really going to buy into the jerseys because anybody who saw the team when we played, will appreciate the original colors. Plus, I like the subtle change the made to add another strip to the stick, signifying the four Cups."

(left to right) New York Islanders legend Bobby Nystrom, forward Josh Bailey, Islanders Business Club executive director Mike Bossy, forward Mike Sillinger and legend Clark Gillies attended the team's new alternate jersey unveiling event on October 27, 2008. (photo courtesy of New York Islanders)

Meantime, if you'd like to see what a couple of Islanders bloggers have posted about the new alternate jersey, I recommend you take a peek at Schuerlein's exclusive photo gallery and Dee Karl's entry at her NY Islanders 7th Woman blog about her day in which she attended the event and the game that followed, the Islanders hosting the archrival New York Rangers.

Karl wrote:
"I like them. They have a nice, clean look to them. I'm glad they left the piping off and the lettering is white outlined in orange. Much better than the orange 3rds from before (that I own like six of, damn it!)."

If you'd like to hear more about the new alternate jersey, check out this second video clip where you'll even hear player feedback. It sounds like the players and the fans are excited about Saturday night when it'll be the first game the Islanders will play in the new uniforms.

video courtesy: New York Islanders

UPDATE (October 30):
Chris Botta of NYI Point Blank reports that the Islanders are looking into making their just-unveiled alternate jersey as part of a permanent full-time uniform set. It is the team's hope it would be done as early as next season. If not, they're targetting the 2010-2011 campaign. Thanks goes out to Chris Smith at Icethetics and Sean Leahy at his Going Five Hole blog for their roles in giving us a heads up on this new development.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Icethetics provides leak of Phoenix Coyotes' new alternate jersey

Normally I would prefer to wait until this is official news, but because this is of personal interest, I would share what was made public hours ago.

During his live chat conducted last night at his Icethetics blog, Chris Smith revealed at 10:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time a leaked image of what may end up being the Phoenix Coyotes' new alternate jersey.

I'm not going to provide my own comment on it until this jersey ends up as officially the real thing. But I will say that if it is what it looks like, I'm truly disappointed.

If you want to see it for yourself, go to his blog entry I've provided below.

Icethetics (October 18):
Coyotes third jersey leaked!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cablevision adds NHL Network HD to channel lineup

I'm not sure if anyone here has caught this, but this is wonderful news for hockey fans in the New York City metropolitan area.

It appears that now we know why people that live in my area have seen an extended free preview of NHL Network longer than your usual one week timeframe like NHL Center Ice has.

Around 2:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time this morning, Cablevision added NHL Network HD to their iO Digital Cable channel lineup. Cablevision customers can find this great new addition on channel 791, as listed on their HDTV page under the sports tab. The total number of high definition channels that Cablevision provides increased to 65 (including the premium channels), but this is still nowhere close to what their competitors offer.

PR Web was the first to break the news publicly online with their news release. This was also dated yesterday, but Cablevision themselves did not provide one on their web site until roughly two hours ago.

Cablevision official news release (October 14):
Cablevision continues high-definition expansion with launch of five new free HD channels for iO TV customers

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time to drop the puck!

Yes I know that last weekend, NHL Premiere series in Stockholm and Prague officially kicked off the 2008-2009 National Hockey League season. But the bulk of season openers begins with tonight's slate of games that actually count in the standings.

Before I give you all the news sources you need to read up and get your juices flowing as far as hockey on the brain goes, let's take an quick look at what is on tap for tonight.

Toronto at Detroit, 7:00 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: CBC and Versus)
The league made sure that this game was schedule to kick off the new season and that two Original Six rivals are front and center for all hockey fans to see. We know the history of the teams. But most importantly, we're interested in seeing the Detroit Red Wings' 11th Stanley Cup championship banner go up to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena. The Toronto Maple Leafs may not be that competitive of a team as projected by the hockey observers we see on television, hear on the radio or publish in print, but they're an attractive opponent to watch play the Red Wings for viewers on both sides of the border. As part of today's NHL Faceoff 2008 festivities, fans are being treated to live music from Def Leppard over at the Fox Theater in downtown Detroit, just blocks away from the arena. And then via satellite, Ottawa native Alanis Morissette will perform from Montréal... Oh and I highly recommend you go to the home page and when you see the "Tonight We Rock!" headline, move your cursor over the main content box and click the play button icon. You'll see an awesome hockey music video to Def Leppard's new hit song "C'mon C'mon".

Boston at Colorado, 10:00 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: Versus)
This matchup may not have the marquee value that the Maple Leafs-Red Wings one does, but those fans especially in Boston and Denver will get to enjoy the season opener for both teams. Tony Granato returns to behind the bench for the Colorado Avalanche for the first time in four years as he takes over for Joel Quenneville. Joe Sakic is back for a 20th NHL season for Colorado. Patrice Bergeron plays his first game for the Boston Bruins since sustaining a serious concussion early last season.

Calgary at Vancouver, 10:30 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: CBC)
Todd Bertuzzi faces one of his former teams as he makes his debut with the Calgary Flames. His presence bolsters a top scoring line with Daymond Langkow and Jarome Iginla. Mike Cammalleri will also play his first game in a Flames uniform and upgrades the second scoring line. Roberto Luongo as the newly-named captain will be between the pipes for the Vancouver Canucks, a team that failed to make the playoffs last season and lost Luongo's predecessor in Markus Naslund as well as Brendan Morrison to free agency. But the arrival of Pavol Demitra will help make up for the loss of two important forwards on the club. Calgary has lost its last five season openers, so it should be interesting as to whether or not they'll break that streak with this divisional road game.

Anaheim at San Jose, 10:30 PM Eastern Time
(TV coverage: FSN Prime Ticket and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area)
Unlike last season, the Anaheim Ducks will begin a new season with re-named captain Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne back in the fold for another year. Selanne just recently signed a new 2-year contract while Niedermayer has already committed to playing at least one more season. The Ducks don't fare well in season openers as there are 4-10 in such games. Brendan Morrison makes his debut for Anaheim while Dan Boyle and Rob Blake do the same for the San Jose Sharks. Todd McLellan runs the Sharks bench for the first time after leaving the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings over the summer. San Jose is hoping to see Vezina Trophy finalist Evgeni Nabokov duplicate the success he had last season, but that the team as a whole can overcome a bitter 6-game Western Conference Semifinal loss to the Dallas Stars. The memory of their season ending on Brendan Morrow's series winner during the fourth overtime should enough motivation for this season... NOTE: You can also watch this game tonight during the debut of's NHL GameCenter Live. It is the start of a three-day free preview where you can see games online just like you did with the former NHL Center Ice Online, only it's better.

Here are some season preview hyperlinks from the usual suspects to catch you up to speed. Try not to call me lazy, but if you want preview articles and feature stories from a specific team, you'll have to check out the individual team official web sites.

The Sports Network (TSN)
2008-2009 NHL preview page

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
2008-2009 NHL season backgrounder

2008 NHL preview page

FOX Sports
A look at the new season

Rogers Sportsnet
NHL Preview 2008-2009

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Martin Brodeur unveils new goaltender mask

For a future Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender, we have become accustomed to seeing a particular mask and knowing immediately who's it was. With the familiar red with white trimmed "J" logo on the forehead and red flames along the sides of a black mask, you'd know it has been owned by none other than New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur.

But Brodeur debuted a new goaltender mask at practice this morning at AmeriHealth Pavilion inside the Prudential Center.

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur practices
this morning inside the AmeriHealth Pavilion in
Newark, New Jersey as he wears his new mask.

(photo courtesy: New Jersey Devils)

According to the Devils' news release:

"The new 'MB30' logo combines Brodeur's initials with the number he has worn since his first full season in New Jersey, and incorporates the horns and curled tail that are familiar to any Devils fan. The interior is subtly accented by the crisscrossing shape of a goal net."

Martin Brodeur's new mask (photo by Denis Brodeur, Jr.)

We've been used to the same mask since the 1993-1994 season. But there is just the small change in the overall look with an "MB30" logo instead of the "J", an icon that as mentioned by Don LeGreca this afternoon on NHL Live! dates back to Brodeur playing with the American Hockey League's Utica Devils (now the Quad City Flames) the season before.

But Brodeur explained it was time for some kind of a change.

"We talked about it a long time to try and personalize the mask by putting my initials and number on top of it," he said. "It's still the same look, just a little different on top. We wanted to make a change."

Fans will get to see him sport the mask for the first time when the Devils open the new 2008-2009 National Hockey League season when the host the New York Islanders on Friday night.

But also on that day, Brodeur will launch his own brand-new web site, an online destination where you can find everything you need to know about him and his hockey career.

Brodeur's upcoming web site features his "MB30" on the home page. It is set for launch on October 10th.
(image courtesy:

And speaking of his career, the Devils goaltender is on the verge of setting new all-time NHL records this season and they are big ones. Having won the last two Vezina Trophy awards, Brodeur is just 14 wins away from passing Patrick Roy's 551 for first overall in league history. With 8 more shutouts, Brodeur will pass Terry Sawchuk's 103 to become the all-time leader as well.

So get accustomed to hearing Brodeur's name frequently in the weeks and months to come. For fans of Brodeur, Devils fans and hockey fans as a whole, it should be a historically memorable season for the man donning the Devils' "NJ" logo on his chest as he has for the last 15 years.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cup Crazy's 2008-2009 Phoenix Coyotes season preview

I'm not sure if I'll be doing this for all 30 National Hockey League teams, but for now, I will do this one from the start. Here, my focus is on the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Coyotes are a team in which they are at a crossroads in regards to their future. The lack of playoff activity in Phoenix has taken its toll on the fan base and its economic well-being. Despite playing in a beautiful new arena that is just under five years old, attendance has been a problem. But there are reasons now for why fans should be coming out in larger numbers to show their support for the Coyotes.

It has been seen before. For an example, prior to the start of the 2003-2004 season with impending opening of Arena, a new team logo and uniforms and the free agent signing of future Hall of Famer Brett Hull, there was a general sense of excitement in the team with the branding overhaul and ownership taking hold. But still, the Coyotes failed to make the playoffs. Then coming out of the lockout, former general manager Mike Barnett did a major makeover of the roster over the course of the 2005-2006 season by bringing in the likes of Ladislav Nagy, Petr Nedved, Geoff Sanderson, Steven Reinprecht, Dave Scatchard, Oleg Saprykin, Mike LeClerc, Jamie Lundmark, Oleg Kvasha, Denis Gauthier, Dennis Seidenburg, Sean O'Donnell, Jamie Rivers, David Tanabe, Krystofer Kolanos, Josh Gratton, Pascal Rheaume, Michael Rupp, Jeff Taffe, Curtis Joseph, Philippe Sauve and Brian Boucher.

Only Reinprecht remains from that group of players.

Did that overhaul work? No, it did not. Phoenix finished last in the Pacific Division with a 38-44 record and 81 points. Only three Western Conference teams finished with a lower point total then them.

Then the following year, it was Ed Jovanovski, Owen Nolan, Yanic Perreault, Georges Laraque, Nick Boynton and the return of Jeremy Roenick. Once again, Phoenix's 2006-2007 season was a failure to make the playoffs and by doing even worse. With a 31-51 record and just 67 points to settle at the bottom of the Western Conference, only the Philadelphia Flyers were worse off in the entire league than the Coyotes.

Among those players mentioned, only Jovanovski is still in a Coyotes uniform today.

Even though it has been six years since hockey fans in Phoenix have seen playoff hockey, last year brought hope. With Don Maloney taking over as general manager of the team, he once again helped re-shape the roster and an influx of youth. Players such as Daniel Carcillo, Daniel Winnik, Martin Hanzal, Matt Jones and Keith Yandle were those who helped make a positive impact. But when all was said and done, the Coyotes fell short of the final West playoff spot by just eight points. Phoenix was contention up until the last two to three weeks of the regular season.

But this offseason that is about to officially end seems to be different. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen.

The Coyotes took a major step forward by making a blockbuster trade at the 2008 Entry Draft by acquiring All-Star forward Olli Jokinen from the Florida Panthers for Boynton, fellow defenseman Keith Ballard and a 2008 second round draft pick (Colby Robak). Ballard was one of Phoenix's up and coming star defenseman who brought an element of hard-nosed hockey along with his steady blueline play. He was even considered to be a future captain by many observers. But in order to get something, the Coyotes had to give something of significance up. That was Ballard.

Then at the draft itself, the team selected forward Mikkel Boedker as the eighth overall draft pick and forward Viktor Tikhonov at #28 overall. Both were very satisfying choices for part-owner and head coach Wayne Gretzky and may very well be with the Coyotes to begin the new season. Then through free agency, Phoenix inked forwards Brian McGrattan and Todd Fedoruk to provide protection for the skilled players on the club.

One of those players they intend to protect is a someone who will play in his first full rookie season. Highly touted forward Kyle Turris brings the kind of skill Phoenix desperately needs, someone that can score but also be helpful in finding open teammates with his good on-ice awareness. After he made his NHL debut late last season, the 2007 third overall draft pick didn't look out of place and had the kind of confidence you'd typically find in veteran players. If he lives up to his potential, don't be surprised if he is a contender for the Calder Trophy.

Overall, the Coyotes did pretty good for themselves in improving the makeup of the team during the summer.

With the acquistion of Jokinen, the Coyotes have themselves a top flight forward for the first time in many years. He is most likely to be paired with captain Shane Doan and a player that scored 22 goals in his rookie season last year. That would Peter Mueller. With Jokinen feeding him the puck and having already notched a season under his belt in playing with Doan, this could very well be a dangerous top scoring line for Phoenix.

Will it be a breakthrough year for Mueller? If his hat trick in a 5-1 preseason win over the San Jose Sharks on September 29th is any indication, the answer might as well be "very likely" to most certainly "yes".

Where do the Coyotes fare best? Their top scoring line with Doan, Jokinen and Mueller would be an obvious strength. In what some may consider to be a brillant roster move by Maloney last season, the waiver wire pickup of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov drastically improved Phoenix's goaltending to a point he earned himself a new contract and become the undisputed starter. As he enters his first full season in the desert and should he be stellar between the pipes, there is no telling how many more wins the Coyotes get this upcoming season.

But where is Phoenix's weak areas? Working against them is inexperience in the most important games. As one of the NHL's youngest teams, it showed down the stretch last season when trying to snag a playoff berth that ended up out of reach. It is great to see them get younger and highly talented players, but until they perform in key situations against quality opponents, there may be growing pains with this group.

And despite the loss of Ballard, there is the uncertainty with how the defensive corps will perform. Can Jovanovski, Derek Morris and Zbynek Michalek provide enough stability on the blueline to lessen the pressure on Bryzgalov or even backup goaltender Mikael Tellqvist? Can Jones or Phoenix's free agent signees David Hale and Kurt Sauer help out? This is a question mark and has to be answered almost immediately.

At the same time, after the Doan-Jokinen-Mueller line, can Gretzky rely on steady offensive production from his other three lines? He's going to need everyone to put up numbers consistently to get somewhere in 2008-2009.

Where does this team end up by next April? It is safe to say the Coyotes will contend for a playoff spot, but given it is a highly competitve Western Conference, it will be a tough task. Phoenix will need a team or two to underachieve while they must meet or exceed expectations. It is still possible the Coyotes may not finish higher than fourth in the Pacific Division. Should Bryzgalov have an outstanding season, top scorers and complimentary players have solid years and if Gretzky and Maloney agree to make any transactions that addresses weaknesses in the team, Phoenix should be playoff bound.

Excitement and optimism is higher than it has ever been since their last playoff appearance, but Gretzky and company is ready to take that next step toward contending again. Now it is finally time to deliver.

Friday, October 3, 2008

NHL Network announces 2008-2009 broadcast schedule in United States

Better than being late, but finally the National Hockey League announced earlier this evening the NHL Network's 2008-2009 broadcast schedule for United States viewers.

According to the league's news release, NHL Network will show 75 regular season games to at least 80 million homes across the country through carriage agreements that include Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Time Warner Cable. Here's better news for you. All of the games will be available in high definition.

Among the highlights...

*Hockey Night in Canada games available on NHL Network

*17 Wednesday Night Hockey broadcasts from The Sports Network (TSN)

*5 original NHL Network produced games

For the entire NHL Network broadcast schedule for American viewers, click on the news release hyperlink I provided above.

The new now up and running

After I had posted my recent blog entry about the upcoming change, the National Hockey League's official web site has received its makeover. As of this afternoon, the transformation is now complete.

Enjoy your stay with the nazzy new design and improved navigation tools. It's loaded with goodies, including what I'll likely touch upon about a week from now. That's the new NHL GameCenter Live (basically a re-launched version of the former NHL Center Ice Online).

If you want to know more about the new, see my September 25th blog entry titled " provides preview of its upcoming makeover".

Icethetics provides league-wide alternate jersey update

Chris Smith just wrote a nice blog entry this morning for his Icethetics blog. It has an updated overview of all the alternate jerseys some National Hockey League teams will wear this upcoming season.

First, he does a quick rundown of the four teams that have unveiled their new alternate jerseys in the Carolina Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues. What I found interesting was that he had to clarify the meaning of the hurricane flag as the crest logo by providing a link to the National Weather Service web site for more details.

Then he updates us on the unveiling dates of other teams that plan to have new alternate jerseys.

For a look at his blog entry, you can go here:
Icethetics Season Preview, Part V