Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Icethetics provides second hint to alternate jerseys with logos

After Howard Berger's detailed list of what may end up being the designs for most of the 19 NHL teams rumored to have plans for an alternate jersey during the 2008-2009 season, now hints have been dropped over at the Icethetics blog about what a number of those team's crest logos may look like.

Those that will come as no surprise are the Boston Bruins with their old school secondary logo moving from the shoulders to the crest on their alternate jersey, the Buffalo Sabres bringing back their vintage original logo, the Pittsburgh Penguins bringing back their old school logo that was given a preview during last season's Winter Classic and the Toronto Maple Leafs simply unshelving their classic 35-point blue leaf logo for their alternate jersey.

But there are other teams possibly going in a completely new direction with their alternates as explained in Berger's blog entry with wordmark logos such as Atlanta, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.

Once again, until they are officially unveiled as new looks by their respective teams, I won't pass judgment just yet. But based on the ones I saw in the two blog posts in the last four days, I'm not really that happy with some of them already.

UPDATE (July 31):
I thought I'd add this here instead of creating a separate new blog post. No, it is not any news, but I thought I'd add a link for you to also access from the Icethetics blog. Some interesting mockups have been submitted to further speculate what these alternate jerseys might look like. Obviously those might not end up what they'll look like, but it's fun to wonder how close they are to what will be the real thing.

Included are press photos of the vintage Islanders jerseys worn for a few games during the 2006-2007 season, three concepts the Kings could go possibly choose from (I'm also rooting for choice #1 out of three presented) and what Ottawa fans have proposed through a blog for a Senators alternate jersey that has a "heritage" feel to it. That Ottawa jersey concept is much better than what is rumored to be the upcoming alternate jersey.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Howard Berger describes possible alternate jersey designs

Whether you keep a detective eye out for any information online from places like Icethetics, Chris Creamer's Sports Logos forum or, apparently Howard Berger of CJCL-AM (The Fan 590) in Toronto has reportedly seen what the upcoming alternate jerseys set to be unveiled in the future will look like. He posted the following information in his blog entry earlier today:

No Change In Leafs' Third Jersey

LOS ANGELES (July 27) – It isn't often that the business gurus at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment pass up a marketing opportunity, but that seems to be the case with the third jersey the Leafs will wear next season. Rather than producing an entirely new design – as many NHL clubs have done – the Leafs' alternate jersey will be identical to the one the players have worn, on and off, since 1998: A replica of the club's white road uniform from the mid-1960s, with the 35-point, blue maple leaf logo on the front; blue shoulder piping, and two blue lines on the arms and near the bottom of the jersey. A thick blue stripe encircles the tip of the sleeve. The neck has the lace-up feature prominent in the 1960s and early '70s.

It's a wonderful uniform; smartly designed and with loads of tradition. But, it's been on the market for ten years. Wouldn't it have been more prudent for MLSE to design a replica of the blue 1960s jersey – the one the Leafs wore at home? The jersey the club sported when it won the 1964 Stanley Cup over Detroit in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens? The design the players wore on home ice throughout the 1966-67 regular season, when the club made its last Stanley Cup drive? At least it would have provided consumers with something fresh, rather than a reprise of the garment that's been available for the past decade.

NHL teams will again flaunt third [or alternate] jerseys in 2008-09, after a one-season absence that was part of the league's contract with Reebok. The RBK EDGE jerseys were introduced at the beginning of last season, and were supposed to be lighter and more aerodynamic. Instead, many players complained that they retained too much moisture, and became heavier. Most teams made minor changes to their uniform designs as part of the RBK unveiling; the Leafs, for example, removed the horizontal stripes from the bottom of their home and road jerseys.

I have obtained photos [front and rear] of most NHL third jerseys for the up-coming season. Here are some other highlights from around the league.

ATLANTA: The club will introduce a dark red jersey with the word "THRASHERS" on the front, just above the player's uniform number, which will appear on both sides of the design. A broad white stripe will adorn each arm of the jersey with a dark red number in the stripe. A broad white-and-dark blue stripe will run down the sides of the jersey.

BOSTON: The Bruins will unveil an all black jersey with the club's alternate logo on the front – a black bear with the word "BRUINS" above it in a semi-circle. Two gold stripes will appear on the arms, with gold numbering above the stripes and on the back.

BUFFALO: The Sabres will bring back their original road jersey – the blue design with the round "cross-sword" logo on the front, and the three gold stripes on the arms and the bottom of the jersey. It's the uniform the Sabres' first GM/coach, George (Punch) Imlach, requested; a design similar to that which Imlach's Maple Leafs had from the 1967 playoffs through 1969-70. And, it's the jersey Buffalo wore during road games from the beginning of the franchise in 1970-71 to the end of the 1995-96 season. Beginning in 1996-97, the Sabres switched to a black, red and white uniform, and completely redesigned their logo. Another redesign occurred prior to the 2006-07 campaign, with the team returning to its blue and gold color scheme.

CAROLINA: The Hurricanes will introduce a black third jersey, with red and white trim – different than their customary red home uniform with the black and white trim. Each arm will sport red and white angular stripes. The bottom of the jersey will feature a narrow white stripe and a thicker red one. In between, will be 10 white stars. The club's red logo on the uniform front is placed within a white triangle, presumably to honor the famed Research Triangle that dominates the Raleigh-Durham area.

CHICAGO: The Blackhawks will return to the predominantly black third jersey they have worn in recent years. A white stripe flanked by two red stripes will appear on each arm, and at the bottom of the jersey. A wide red stripe is featured at the tip of each arm. The traditional Blackhawks Indian-head logo appears, as usual, on the front.

DALLAS: The Stars' third jersey is simple… a white uniform with the word "DALLAS" crowned on the front, atop the jersey number, which appears on both sides. Parallel dark-green and black stripes appear on each arm. There are no stripes at the bottom of the jersey.

EDMONTON: The Oilers are going back to their glory days with the predominantly blue jersey Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier et al wore on the road while winning five Stanley Cup titles between 1984 and 1990. Orange shoulder piping will re-appear, along with a broad orange stripe at the tip of each arm. Two white stripes flanking an orange stripe are on the arms and near the bottom of the jersey. The original round Oilers logo, with the orange oil drip and blue team name, is on the front.

LOS ANGELES: The Kings will unveil a predominantly black jersey with the letters "L A" inside a pencil-point logo on the front. Broad white stripes will adorn each arm. A thin white stripe will run horizontally on each side of the jersey, just beneath the shoulder. There are no stripes at the bottom of the uniform. The color purple – widely evident in the Kings’ primary jersey – will likely be featured in the number outlines of the alternate, though the photo copy I have doesn't clearly show it. A better idea would have been a reprise of the Kings' original purple and gold uniforms from 1967, but the club marketers are apparently not bent on tradition.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: The Isles are going back to their original road jersey from 1972-73, when they joined the NHL along with the Atlanta Flames. It is a royal-blue base, with broad orange and white stripes on the arms and at the bottom of the jersey. The uniform numbers – as they appeared during the club's inaugural season – are orange with white trim. Player names will also be orange. The Islanders switched to white jersey numbers after their dreadful first year in the league; when they compiled a 12-60-6 record… worst, to that point, in NHL history.

OTTAWA: A dramatic change in the Senators' third jersey will see a predominantly black uniform with the word "SENS" angled upward on the front. A fashionable red stripe will run from the arm pits, down the side of the jersey, to its base, where the stripe turns inward. A pair of narrow red and white stripes will adorn each arm, and the very bottom of the jersey. It's quite a sharp design.

PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers are also going for tradition, bringing back the predominantly orange jersey the club wore at home when it joined the NHL in 1967-68. White shoulder piping will again run the length of each arm, with orange numbers trimmed in black. A large black stripe is affixed to the tip of each arm. A broad white stripe adorns the bottom of the uniform. The Flyers' stylized "P" black logo with the orange dot is on the front.

PHOENIX: The Coyotes will unveil an all-new design... a predominantly black jersey with a leaping desert-red coyote as the front logo. A large, dark-red stripe will run down the side of the jersey, broadening at the base. A similar dark-red stripe, only smaller, is affixed to the latter half of the arm, beyond the white numbers.

PITTSBURGH: Kudos to the Penguins for staying with the jersey the club wore during the Outdoor Classic in Buffalo last January 1st. It's a replica of the home jersey the Penguins wore starting in 1968-69, their second year in the NHL: Predominantly light-blue in color, with broad white stripes trimmed in dark blue on the sleeves and uniform base. A large, dark-blue stripe is at the tip of each arm. The neckline is dark-blue with the lace-up feature. The dark-blue, circular Penguins' logo is on the front.

SAN JOSE: Though the photo I have is a bit grainy, the Sharks will wear a predominantly black third jersey with aqua and white stripes on each sleeve. The back number is white. The traditional Sharks' "biting-stick" logo is on the front.

ST. LOUIS: Another significant change. The Blues will introduce a dark-blue alternate jersey with a white stripe trimmed in black on the sleeves and uniform base. The club's traditional "blue-note" logo appears within a circle on the front of the jersey, with the city's famous Gateway Arch in the background. It will also have the lace-up feature.

TAMPA BAY: Also completely different. The Lightning will introduce a predominantly dark-blue alternate with the word "BOLTS" angling downward in white on the jersey front. A narrow white stripe is featured above a broad black stripe at the uniform base. Grey and white stripes are on each arm, and the latter half of the sleeve, to the tip, is black.

VANCOUVER: The Canucks are going back to their inception in 1970-71 by bringing back the predominantly blue road jersey the club wore. At the bottom of the jersey – and on each arm – is a broad green stripe flanked by a pair of white stripes. The club's original "hockey-stick-in-a-rink" logo is outlined in green and white on the front.

I will pass on more third-jersey designs as I receive them.

I'm disappointed with some of the speculated designs such as teams following Dallas' lead by sticking a team name on the front of their jerseys instead of the primary logo. The Stars themselves are rumored to just be putting out there a white version of their black home jerseys that were unveiled last summer. Then teams like Atlanta, Ottawa and Tampa Bay want to put their nicknames on each of theirs? Seriously, they have gotta be kidding me.

Looks like at least there are those teams that stuck with tradition or honor their past in some way that recaptures their more popular old looks like Buffalo, Chicago, Edmonton, the Islanders, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (with the Penguins, think of those Winter Classic jerseys they wore). I'm not too keen of the Islanders using orange numbers AND nameplate lettering for theirs.

Phoenix and San Jose intrigue me the most while the Blues' new alternate logo I'll pass judgment on when I see it.

Not all teams are participating in the third jersey program as two teams have yet to do so since its inception. That would be Detroit and New Jersey. Notably the New York Rangers aren't a part of it this time around while Minnesota was not on this list, but are expected to have an alternate jersey for the second time in the eight-year history of their franchise.

Also, Howard Berger had added that the Montreal Canadiens will not be participating in the alternate jersey program during the 2008-2009 season, but instead for a select amount of games be wearing four different sets of uniforms to commemorate the franchise's centennial anniversary. On all uniforms, the Canadiens will have the 2009 NHL All-Star Game patch on the front of the jerseys.

Given as fact those teams on the above list have not unveiled their alternate jerseys, this is unofficial information at this point. Berger is a journalist that does have inside knowledge of happenings around the NHL, so it's safe to say that he wouldn't put his job on the line if he wasn't reporting legitimate information. I'm taking what he passed along for what it is.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Darren Pang breaks down the Phoenix Coyotes' 2008-2009 schedule

Now that the Phoenix Coyotes have finalized their 2008-2009 regular season schedule, television color analyst Darren Pang breaks down the key games and what to look for against specific opponents.

You can tell he is looking forward to the return of a more well-balanced schedule format where it was prior to the lockout which cancelled the 2004-2005 season. The Coyotes will play all of the other 29 National Hockey League teams at least once for the upcoming campaign. Among those Pang highlights, they include:

*the season opener at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 11, 2008

*Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals visit Phoenix on October 23, 2008

*Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins arrive on October 30, 2008

*first home meeting against ex-Coyote Jeremy Roenick and the Pacific Division rival San Jose Sharks on November 9, 2008

*face the Dallas Stars in Phoenix for the first time on November 15, 2008

*for the second straight season, the Toronto Maple Leafs face the Coyotes on the road on December 4, 2008

*many of those snowbirds that root for the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings get to see their team visit on December 13, 2008 and January 20, 2009

*former assistant coach Rick Tocchet and the Tampa Bay Lightning play at Arena on January 8, 2009

*Anaheim Ducks don't play in Phoenix until January 27, 2009

*Ilya Kovalchuk and the Atlanta Thrashers come to the desert on February 19, 2009

There certainly is much to look forward to as far as big home games for the Coyotes during the 2008-2009 season! Check out the video below and hear what Panger has to say about it.

video courtesy: Phoenix Coyotes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's official: Chicago to host next Winter Classic

After a May 29th report out of the Chicago Tribune surfaced about the possibility the Chicago Blackhawks would emerge as the frontrunner to host the second Winter Classic in National Hockey League history, that speculation became fact earlier today.

The NHL and the Blackhawks announced that Wrigley Field would be the site of the next outdoor regular season game on January 1, 2009. Who would the Blackhawks play in the dead of winter? None other than the recently crowned Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

Given the long-standing Original Six rivalry between these proud franchises, it is only fitting they are to meet in this significant hockey game. With the Red Wings fresh off their championship victory last month and the Blackhawks certainly ready to make the next step toward earning their first playoff berth in seven seasons, this is as perfect of a time as any for them to play an outdoor game for the world to see.

With the success of the first Winter Classic just 7½ months ago between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in suburban Buffalo, there is no doubt the Blackhawks want to take advantage of the opportunity given to them.

"We have said from the start we are going to do everything possible to bring the Chicago Blackhawks back to the forefront of sports for our fans and the city of Chicago," Blackhawks chairman W. Rockwell "Rocky" Wirtz said in a team press release. "This is indeed an historic announcement for the Wirtz Corporation, the Chicago Blackhawks, for our players, fans and for Chicago."

Many in the sports world know that Wrigley Field is an historic venue. Home to Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, it is one of the last old ballparks still in operation. Completed in 1914, it was originally called Weeghman Park and cost just $250,000 to build. Stadium lights weren't even added until its first night game on August 8, 1988 against the Philadelphia Phillies. From the intimacy of its size to the ivy covered outfield brick walls to the crazy bleacher creatures to the fan accessibility of being able to catch a home run ball beyond the ballpark's outer walls of the outfield on Waveland Avenue, Wrigley Field is a landmark treasure in Chicago.

Instead of a Cubs team that hasn't won a World Series in 100 years roaming the outfield grass and dirt infield, an ice rink will be installed just as it was at Ralph Wilson Stadium last season. There won't be as many fans this time around given the venue size and that it isn't a football stadium. But it sure will be an event Chicagoans will remember for a lifetime.

"Never in my 24 years with the Cubs did I envision a hockey rink in the middle of the field," Blackhawks president John McDonough said to Tim Sassone of The Daily Herald.

McDonough had worked for the Cubs prior to joining the Blackhawks' front office and he had discussions with Cubs chairman Crane Kenney back in February about the idea of hosting the next NHL outdoor game.

"I had serious dialogue with the Cubs, and after talking to Crane Kenney I got a sense that this was going to become a reality," McDonough added. "This is a chance to play in America's most beautiful ballpark in the middle of winter and a lot of people probably have never seen how beautiful Wrigley Field looks in winter. This is going to be a holiday card for NBC, the city of Chicago and the Blackhawks."

Like last season's game, the NHL plans to have NBC televise the second Winter Classic nationally in the United States while CBC and RDS will show the game for Canadian viewers.

Their winter weather can be brutal as it can be in Buffalo. Will Mother Nature help make it a winter wonderland in the middle of an urban setting? Wrigley Field sits on a city block and there isn't room for tailgating like there was in Orchard Park, New York. It certainly is possible snow will be on the ground and hopefully for proud Blackhawks fans and even Red Wings fans who plan to make the trip to America's third largest city, history will repeat itself. Only this time, the locals hope it's the home team that wins. Sidney Crosby sent Sabres fans home heartbroken last time around when he scored the shootout winning goal in a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory.

Newly signed Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell offered his thoughts to Chicago Tribune hockey writer Chris Kuc of what he thinks an outdoor game will do for Chicago. Campbell participated in last season's event as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.

"In Buffalo it was an amazing thing," Campbell said. "With the snow and the weather the way it was. The buzz in the city was all wrapped around that. It's a lot of fun for the players on both sides to be involved in. You're going to look back in years to come and know you're going to be involved in it. It's something people get excited about."

The Blackhawks originally were looking at nearby Soldier Field to be site of this game, but staging it there could cause the risk of a scheduling conflict with a potential Chicago Bears home playoff game on January 3rd. So discussions turned toward Wrigley Field hosting the game instead.

But Chicago was not the original choice to host the second Winter Classic. The NHL were in lengthy discussions with New York City officials and New York Yankees brass to attempt having the New York Rangers host the game at an even more historic baseball cathedral than Wrigley Field.

The current Yankee Stadium is set to close at the end of this Major League Baseball season. But logistical issues stood in the way of making those plans work. Scheduled demolition of that historic ballpark that has stood since 1923 would have had to be delayed two extra months. As a result, it would have significantly cut down that window of time allotted during next winter to prepare the surrounding area of the new Yankee Stadium next door and be done in time for the start of the 2009 Major League Baseball season.

At the same time, the current Yankee Stadium that has been in operation for 85 years (its lifespan was extended thanks to a massive renovation in the mid 1970s) has not hosted a major event since the New York Giants moved out of the venue in 1973. Winterizing the piping system would've been needed so that roughly 60,000 fans would be able to use the restrooms.

All this proved to be too costly for the city and the Yankees, so the NHL decided the price was too high to pay for the event at least this season. But there is hope for New York City sports fans and especially beloved Rangers fans. They may get their chance to go to such an event after all. According to New York Daily News hockey writer John Dellapina, all parties involved have agreed to continue pursuing a future Winter Classic at the new Yankee Stadium and it may happen as early as January 1, 2010.

But for now, all eyes will focus on Chicago. The Blackhawks host the Red Wings in what should be another showcase event for the NHL. Seeing Wrigley Field covered with snow and packed with enthusiatic fans watching these two teams play a regular season hockey game in the bitter cold of Chicago winter weather, you couldn't ask for anything more.

A formal news conference is scheduled for July 22nd at 12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time and will be carried live from Chicago on the NHL Network.

Kris Draper's daughter did what to the Stanley Cup?

When I read this back on Saturday, I thought I'd be really laughing my ass off. Some women might pee in their pants. But what Kris Draper's infant daughter Kamryn did to the Stanley Cup during his time with it last month in his Canadian hometown of Scarborough, Ontario, you might want to think twice before drinking anything from it.

"A week after we won it, I had my newborn daughter in there and she pooped in the Cup," Kris Draper told Toronto Star sports reporter Kevin McGran. "That was something. We had a pretty good laugh."

Let me get this straight. Without wearing a diaper, Kamryn Draper pooped in the Cup. That's right, you heard me correctly. She pooped in the Cup! Ugh, so grosse.

Draper added, "It was, well, clean it out. I still drank out of it that night, so no worries."

Again, I think the Stanley Cup needs more than just a soap job before I'd drank from that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A wedding story... hockey style!

You may recall me posting a blog entry back on March 26th about how I spent the second half of my Easter holiday weekend. Okay, I extended it by a day, but it was well worth it. The highlight of my time away from home for about 30 hours was when I went down to the Philadelphia area to visit my long-time friend Derek and we went to see the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center. It was a personal experience I really wanted to write about and I'm glad I did.

Now there is another personal story to share. But it is not about me and it does not even involve me either. The great part is, I learned about it and since it was one of those stories that would even cheer up the most depressed person on Earth, I just had to share it with you.

I interact with hockey fans on a handful of forums, but after recently joining The NHL Arena, my beginning was a lasting impression. The Washington Capitals message board moderator was one of the very first members to greet me and welcome me to the community. I was most certainly very appreciative with my thanks.

Prior to the July 4th holiday weekend, I had noticed on display at the forum's main home page the most recent Capitals board thread that was posted on. The title of it caught my eye since it was the recognizable moderator's user name that was shown. The NHL Arena's Washington Capitals message board moderator (or "general manager" as they call them there) capscrazy and fellow forum member Flipper recently got married.

As it turns out, it was about their wedding and they had shared with fellow members some photos of the joyous occasion. But little did I know, this wasn't any ordinary wedding.

In their wedding photos (displayed here with permission from the couple), Michelle (capscrazy) and Dave (Flipper) wore the traditional attire, the beautiful gown for the bride and handsome tuxedo for the groom. But it doesn't stop there. At their wedding reception, they themselves and members of the wedding party wore Washington Capitals jerseys that represented every era in team history. Still, that isn't where it ends.


Michelle and Dave had their wedding cake in the shape of the Stanley Cup accompanied by edible pucks. There were miniature hockey sticks also featured in the display, but they were made of styrofoam, so you obviously could not eat them. They also have miniature characatures of themselves placed inside the Cup's bowl! No, you cannot eat them either.


The Washington Capitals organization was aware of the wedding day and they had a production crew film the festivities, primarily the reception. And let me say that if my favorite team had wanted to record a personal milestone in my life, I would feel so honored. For Michelle and Dave, I wouldn't doubt it was for them.

The more that I learned of this wedding with the message board chat, I began to think of a story I had seen on cable television in the recent past where a couple celebrated their love at a local hockey rink and were dressed in hockey jerseys. I recall it being during the season, so it wasn't too far off in terms of when it took place. So I mentioned this to Michelle and said I saw a TV feature about a similar story to theirs.

video courtesy: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic

But little did I realize after Michelle directed me back to the forum thread topic on their wedding and showed me a YouTube video clip, the story I ended up seeing back then was actually THEIRS! I'll let my forum post to the couple speak for itself.

I have to correct myself now that you provided that video clip! In reference to what I saw a while back, it was not another couple I saw... IT WAS YOU TWO that I saw on television!

HOLY COW! I cannot believe it! I cannot believe it! (forgive me for my state of shock and jumping up and down in excitement)

I figured out how I just realized that whom I saw at the time was in fact you and Flipper! I noticed the date of the video you posted. Back then, I had access to Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic's SportsNite show via one of the FOX College Sports channels on my cable channel lineup. Then when the story had come up at the time, I was glued to it when it aired. I was not 100% sure it was you two when you first mentioned you and Flipper got married and had posted the lovely pictures. The ones where you two had worn Capitals jerseys while beside the wedding cake had me wondering if what I saw on TV were the same people. I just couldn't be sure until I saw the clip you posted last night. I was convinced when I saw the camera views of you guys on the practice rink and in front of the penalty box. THAT is when I was completely sure.

Again, WOW! Wow, wow, wow. I cannot believe I had run into the lucky couple on a hockey forum. I never thought this would've ever happened. The crazy small world we live in, isn't it?

I apologize I couldn't tell you and Flipper sooner that there was no other couple and that it was indeed you guys.

Another congratulations for getting your great story on television back then! I couldn't be happier.

Think I was just a little excited? I'll bet that you're laughing right now.

At the time that television feature aired on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Michelle and Dave were engaged and had participated in the Save The Date card photo shoot at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex (the team's practice facility) in the couple's hometown of nearby Arlington, Virginia. But how did they meet, you ask? According to the television feature, the couple first began interacting on hockey forums and that led down a path to where they are today.

What approach did they take when making their wedding plans?

"We completely ran with what we would want to do for our wedding," Michelle explained in the television feature story. "So we said, 'hey, why don't we try some hockey stuff'. The more we kept looking up, the better things looked. We might as well decided we went with a complete hockey themed wedding."

Dave added, "We just wanted to have a little fun with it."

And by the looks of what I see, they indeed did.

What makes their road to matrimony unique is that they said their first date was on the first day of the NHL lockout. That would place it on September 15, 2004. It may have been the darkest day in professional hockey history, but it marked the beginning of true love for Michelle and Dave. With the two of them as passionate of hockey fans in our nation's capital can be and where fan following for their beloved Caps couldn't have come at a better time when they wed, there are even more post-wedding celebrations to come for them. Yes, one of them can be another playoff appearance for the Capitals next spring.

Another one of those celebrations outside the hockey arena comes when Michelle and Dave will appear on Ace of Cakes, a Food Network reality television show that covers the daily operations of Duff Goldman's Charm City Cakes shop in Baltimore. Viewers can tune in on August 28th at 10:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time to see Michelle and Dave's outstanding Stanley Cup wedding cake. So make sure you mark you calendars and go check it out!

When I saw their Save The Date card photo shoot featured on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic last year, I was simply amazed. Seriously, I was in complete awe. But little did I ever realize that a year later, I would end up in contact with them in some way and learn that story I saw was indeed theirs.

This is undoubtedly a hockey fan's dream. Nine times out of ten, you are likely to see only a traditional wedding and the typical formal reception. That includes the huge wedding cake. But Michelle and Dave wanted this to not only be special, but take it to a whole new level in making it the most memorable day of their lives and tell the world in their own way how much they unconditionally love each other. What a better way than to tie in their first love (the Washington Capitals) with their second (their inseparable companionship).

Yes, guys do dream. I have envisioned what it would be like to marry a woman who loves hockey as much as I do. Plus, I wondered what it would be like for it to be in a place where it isn't exactly the norm. Uh oh, I just gave that away, didn't I? To be honest, for what this couple did, it would be very hard to top. But why would you? Theirs is too admirable that you really wouldn't want to.

Michelle and Dave as Capitals season ticket holders can be found at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington watching and cheering on their team. If you see them at the arena, be sure to say hello and pay them a compliment. Tell them how you found out about their wonderful wedding story and how great of hockey fans they certainly are. I know I sure will. This is the kind of tale Michelle and Dave will someday tell their children and even grandchildren. This is better than the premise of the CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother, the love story of how the show's main characters Ted and Robin fell in love and would lead to matrimony.

That reminds me... it is a shame that The Learning Channel no longer airs a show that would be perfect for Michelle and Dave. That would've been the reality show, A Wedding Story. An episode of their own would've captured the hearts of so many people. I know the female viewers would be shedding tears, that's for sure!

Congratulations, Michelle and Dave. And the very best wishes go out to you on a most joyous life together as husband and wife!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dan Boyle trade to Sharks highlights holiday weekend activity

The July 4th holiday weekend didn't put a stop to any wheeling and dealing during this first week of the free agent season. The same goes with any signings being completed.

Activity may have slowed to a crawl since Thursday, but there was a significant trade made on Friday.

Since they had lost Brian Campbell with his new free agent contract signing by the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks were able to find a viable replacement three days later. After getting defenseman Dan Boyle to waive his no-trade clause, the Tampa Bay Lightning sent Boyle and Brad Lukowich to the Sharks for defensemen Matt Carle and Ty Wishart, a 2009 first round draft pick and a 2010 fourth round draft pick.

The Lightning have undergone an overhaul of their team since Oren Koules and Len Barrie took over as co-owners of the franchise. Already documented was bringing in Barry Melrose to coach the team and then had brought in eight new players to the organization. Acquiring forward Ryan Malone was Tampa Bay's most important acquistion besides drafting this year's top draft pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft in Steve Stamkos. Kept on the team is the franchise player in captain Vincent Lacavalier and fellow star forward Martin St. Louis.

But with the major overhaul of the roster around Lacavalier and St. Louis and having to keep the payroll under the $56.7 million salary cap, the Lightning felt they had to trade Boyle, their most valuable defenseman. Just one day before the February 26th trade deadline, Boyle had signed a new 6-year, $40 million contract to remain in Tampa and silenced trade rumors swirling around him even back then.

As the free agent season began nearly a week ago, rumors began again that the team this time wanted Boyle to waive his no-trade clause. Boyle expressed a desire to stay, but that didn't change the minds of those upstairs where the final decisions were made. And after he reluctantly waived the no-trade clause and was traded to San Jose, Boyle didn't hold back in his disappointment with the turn of events.

"I understand at the end of the day that it's a business, this is a business. I understand that more than anybody. But there is a way to conduct business, and the way that my situation was handled was absolutely not the way to do it," Boyle told Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune on Friday. "I, for a long time now, have been under the impression that I was part of this team going forward, wanting input from me on other players, and never in a million years did I think that I was one of the guys that needed to go. Just a few days ago (media were told) that the rumors were a joke, Dan Boyle is going to play 25 minutes, he's not being traded, he's not going anywhere. They made it clear that we are not going to go after an offensive-defenseman (in free agency) because we have the best one in the league. Now, going back to business-is-business, when I find out from an absolutely ton of different sources that my (butt) has been on the trading block since I signed the extension, that to me, is not the way you do business. If (they) wanted to get rid of me, let me know. There is a way to do that, it's been done in the past, just say that 'Danny, it's just not going to work', just let me know. And that's just not the way it's done. And that really pisses me off."

Boyle continued to vent his frustration.

"It got to the point where once it probably a few days ago, when I was threatened, that they just didn't care and that my (butt) is going to end up on waivers and end up in Atlanta. That's just not the way you do business. I don't know if I have too much class or what, because I don't want to say exactly what was said, but when it gets personal like it did, the line was crossed. When my work ethic is questioned, my off-season work ethic and the way I get ready for games and what I do is questioned, and it gets personal, and I'm threatened, that is absolutely the way not to do business. And I feel sad because I can't say one thing bad, even with all the ups and downs and battles I had with (former coach John Tortorella), at the end of the day there was respect. In this case I was absolutely blindsided by this whole situation. I know what the response is, that things happen quickly, it's a business, but that's not the case when I'm told one thing and I find out months later that the complete opposite went on behind my back."

It will be interesting to see if there will be any residual bitterness from Boyle and if a rift between him and the new Lightning owners comes back into the spotlight the next time the Lightning and Sharks face each other in a game.

San Jose didn't stop with the acquisition of Boyle in overhauling their blueline. They also traded defenseman Craig Rivet and a 2010 7th round draft pick to the Buffalo Sabres for a second round draft in each of the next two years. With Campbell, Carle and Rivet gone and Boyle, Lukowich and Rob Blake in the fold, observers will have to see if this helps translate into more success defensively next season.

I'll have more on this later, but former New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr made his departure from the National Hockey League official on Friday by accepting a 2-year contract to play for Avangard Omsk of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. According to TSN, Jagr is expected to receive a total salary of $10 million.

To replace the kind of contributions that Jarkko Ruutu brought to the Pittsburgh Penguins after he signed with the Ottawa Senators three days earlier, the team signed former Washington Capitals forward Matt Cooke to 2-year, $2.4 million contract yesterday. Cooke was acquired by the Capitals at last season's trade deadline from the Vancouver Canucks and had a total of 23 points in 78 games for the 2007-2008 campaign.

And just a short time ago, the Minnesota Wild announced they have signed 36-year-old forward Owen Nolan to a 2-year, $5.5 million deal.

"Owen Nolan is a true power winger who can score goals, play a physical brand, play either wing and take faceoffs," Wild general manager Doug Risebrough said in a team news release. "We are excited to add a player of his experience and versatility."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Free agent season begins with a bang in opening three days

When the clock struck 12:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time in New York City on Tuesday afternoon, it was off to the races for the thirty National Hockey League teams to scramble and scoop up the best available players on the free agent market.

The 2008 free agent pool did not provide a large crop of superstars, but there were plenty of quality players to be had. What made it easier for owners and general managers is that the NHL had just raised the salary cap to $56.7 million, that in turn leaves more wiggle room to tuck those salaries underneath that ceiling.

Brian Campbell signed with the Chicago Blackhawks
on July 1, 2008.
(photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The biggest prizes to be reeled in were obviously paid the big bucks. For the second time in six months, defenseman Brian Campbell will be changing addresses. He signed an 8-year, $56.8 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. Chicago also signed goaltender Cristobal Huet to a 4-year, $22.4 million contract to create a tandem between the pipes with Nikolai Khabibulin. Huet helped lead the Washington Capitals on a successful late-season finish to win the 2007-2008 Southeast Division title and reach the postseason.

But Campbell wasn't the only defenseman to land a lucrative contract with a new team. The New York Rangers signed Wade Redden to a 6-year, $39 million contract after he played his first 11 NHL seasons in Ottawa.

The Rangers also made a number of moves within the first three days of the free agent season. They signed former Minnesota Wild forward Aaron Voros to a 3-year, $3 million contract and Patrick Rissmiller away from the San Jose Sharks. New York completed a trade on Wednesday with the Columbus Blue Jackets in which they acquired forwards Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche in exchange for defensemen Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman.

But the Rangers made their biggest splash with the signing of former Vancouver Canucks captain and five-time All-Star forward Markus Naslund to a 2-year, $8 million contract on Thursday.

The 34-year-old Naslund stated that New York was his top choice in where he wanted to land as a free agent following 12 seasons in Vancouver.

"Initially, there were quite a few teams contacting me," Naslund said after Rangers general manager Glen Sather announced the signing. "I gave him (my agent) instructions early on that there was only a limited number of teams that I was interested in playing for, and the Rangers were on the top of that list. Right from noon on July 1, my eyes had been set on the Rangers."

New York also added former Buffalo Sabres blueliner Dmitri Kalinin for at least the 2008-2009 season. But they did retain three of their own free agents by inking defensemen Michal Rozsival (4 years, $20 million), Paul Mara (1 year, $1.95 million) and goaltender Steve Valiquette.

To replace some of what they lost in trading away Zherdev and Fritsche, the Blue Jackets signed defenseman Mike Commodore to a 5-year, $18.75 million contract and former Calgary Flames forward Kristian Huselius for 4 years at $4.75 million.

Sean Avery signed with the Dallas Stars on July 2, 2008.
(photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

As a result of their latest roster moves, it effectively marked the end of forwards Sean Avery and Jaromir Jagr's tenures in New York. Avery signed a 4-year, $15.5 million deal with the Dallas Stars, a destination that many observers didn't expect or favor. With Avery, the Rangers were 50-36 during the regular season and 10-8 in the playoffs while faring just 9-16 without him. Despite already having a player with skill and an in-your-face style of play in forward Steve Ott, Stars co-general manager Brett Hull was happy to add master agitator in Avery to their lineup.

"His skill keeps improving every year," Hull said. "He is feisty and tenacious. Sean has the ability to score and make plays and he is fearless. I think he's a very good compliment to Brenden Morrow. We like our team, but the thing I think we were lacking was a little bit of sandpaper and some grit, and we also improved our skill level with Sean."

Hull added, "He made the Rangers a much better team. In talking to some of the guys on that team, they are very sorry to see him go. He's a great teammate. He'll do anything for the team, he'll do anything to win."

While Avery's desire to win isn't questioned, but once again, Dallas already has Ott, a player that has blossomed into a more well-rounded and valuable player. So many eyes will be on the Stars to see if Avery fits into their system and doesn't cause any distractions for the team.

With Jagr standing firm with his request for a new multi-year contract and the team's unwillingness to commit beyond farther than one season, the Rangers and the former captain decided to part ways after a three-year marriage in the Big Apple. Jagr will either sign with another NHL team or consider an offer already on the table from Avangard Omsk of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

According to John Dellapina of the New York Daily News, Jagr was seeking a two-year, $7.5 million deal from the Rangers, but with the roster moves made by Thursday night, Sather had no more room under the salary cap to meet Jagr's contract demands.

"Jaromir was very respectful and I informed him that we were moving on. I told him if things didn't work out for him in Russia to call us back."

In addition to Avery, Dallas also signed forward B.J. Crombeen (1 year, $550,000) and brought Landon Wilson back into the NHL for the 2008-2009 season after he spent the last four years in Europe, including the most recent two with HC Lugano of the Swiss Elite League. But the Stars lost two key forwards to free agency as Niklas Hagman inked a 4-year, $12 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Antti Miettinen signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Wild on his 28th birthday.

Corey Perry signed a new 5-year contract to remain with
the Anaheim Ducks.
(photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Anaheim Ducks accomplished their main goal as the start of the free agent season arrived. They were able to re-sign forward Corey Perry to a 5-year, $26.625 million contract.

"It's pretty amazing. It's something special," Perry said. "I really wanted to stay in Anaheim. That's home now and I didn't want to leave there. It's a great place to play hockey and it just shows how well that organization is run. You can't ask to play for a better organization than the Anaheim Ducks."

Winning a Stanley Cup championship last year certainly validates Perry's belief.

After signing defenseman Mike Green to a new 4-year, $21 million contract extension just hours before he was eligible for free agency, the Washington Capitals signed goaltender Jose Theodore away from the Colorado Avalanche with a 2-year, $9 million deal while also signing forward Carolina Hurricanes forward Keith Aucoin to a 2-year contract.

As a result of Theodore's departure, the Avalanche signed two former Toronto Maple Leafs players that were just bought out from their previous contracts in goaltender Andrew Raycroft (1 year, $800,000) and forward Darcy Tucker (2 years, $4.5 million). Colorado also signed defenseman Daniel Tjarnqvist for the 2008-2009 season after spending a year in Russia. They also brought back Wojtek Wolski for two more seasons. However, Avalanche captain Joe Sakic has yet to decide if he will continue playing or retire this summer.

But goaltender Dominik Hasek made his decision to retire just three days after the Detroit Red Wings captured their 11th Stanley Cup title in franchise history. As a result of that, they signed goaltender Ty Conklin to a 1-year, $750,000 contract after he posted a respectable 18-13 record, two shutouts, a 2.51 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage in 33 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. Conklin will compete with Jimmy Howard for the backup job behind starter Chris Osgood.

Marian Hossa will play for the Stanley Cup champion
Detroit Red Wings during the 2008-2009 season.

(photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

But the Red Wings landed the most coveted player on the entire free agent market as they signed forward Marian Hossa away from Pittsburgh to a 1-year, $7.4 million contract. The signing did raise a few eyebrows considering numerous teams wanted to acquire his services and that he left more job security and money on the table than what he settled for in Detroit.

"I wanted the best chance to win the Stanley Cup and I feel like Detroit is the team," Hossa said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "I know I could get more money somewhere else, but the thing that I was looking for for myself was to win the Stanley Cup. It wasn’t easy to throw that much money away, but I know I made the right decision. I truly believe that I made the right decision."

With the departure of Ryan Malone to Tampa Bay and Conklin and Hossa to Detroit, the Penguins also lost agitating forward Jarkko Ruutu to the Ottawa Senators (3 years, $3.9 million). To help make up for the loss of those three key players from the 2008 Eastern Conference championship squad, they signed an enforcer in forward Eric Godard (3 years, $2.25 million) and two forwards from the New York Islanders in Miroslav Satan (1 year, $3.5 million) and Ruslan Fedotenko (1 year, $2.5 million).

But not all the news was bad for Pittsburgh. They were able to secure long-term deals with four other very important members of their team with superstar forward Evgeni Malkin passing up bigger dollars in his native Russia to sign a 5-year, $43.5 million contract extension. They also signed their rising star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a new 7-year, $35 million contract as well as two blueliners in Brooks Orpik (6 years, $22.5 million) and Mark Eaton (2 years, $4 million).

In addition to bringing Ruutu aboard, the Senators replaced the departed Ray Emery with goaltender Alexander Auld with a 2-year, $2 million contract. They also re-signed forward Shean Donovan to a 2-year, $1.25 million contract.

The New Jersey Devils didn't sit quietly and watch the rest of the league snatch up quality free agents. They went into "Back To The Future" mode by bringing back two players from their past. After failing to come to terms on a contract to remain in Minnesota, forward Brian Rolston returned to the Garden State by signing a 4-year, $20.25 million deal. The 35-year-old Rolston was a member of the Devils' first Cup championship season as a rookie in 1995 and spent his first 5+ seasons in New Jersey. Bobby Holik was Rolston's teammate during that time while playing 10 seasons as one of the Devils' most important forwards. Following two seasons across the Hudson River with the New York Rangers and the last three in Atlanta, Holik returns to New Jersey for the upcoming season for $2.5 million.

The Toronto Maple Leafs also brought a familiar face back into the fold. After they bought out the remainder of Andrew Raycroft's contract, they signed 41-year-old goaltender Curtis Joseph to a 1-year, $700,000 contract. Joseph begins his second tour of duty with Toronto after he spent four years with the Original Six club the first time around from 1998 to 2002. In what raised a few more eyebrows than the Stars' signing of Avery was the contract terms for defenseman Jeff Finger in Toronto. Despite only putting up 24 points in 94 career games for the Colorado Avalanche during his two NHL seasons, the Maple Leafs signed Finger to a surprising 4-year, $14 million deal. While he was surprised to net the kind of financial terms he received from the Maple Leafs and is excited to get the chance to play in Toronto, he wants to prove he is worth every penny of his contract.

"It's exciting. It's nerve wracking. It's scary in some ways to go to a market like this, but I'm just really excited and anxious to get up there and to prove myself in a market of this caliber," Finger told's Dan Rosen on Friday. "It's the biggest hockey market in the world, bar none. It's going to definitely be exciting. When things go good, it's great there. When they go bad, it's really tough. The only thing that is going to talk is my play."

One day after acquiring him from the Montreal Canadiens for the rights to Greg Pateryn and a 2010 2nd round draft pick, the Maple Leafs signed forward Mikhail Grabovski for the 2008-2009 season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continued their massive makeover by signing forwards Radim Vrbata (3 years, $9 million), Adam Hall (3 years, $1.8 million), Wyatt Smith (1 year) and David Koci (1 year, $525,000), defenseman Scott Jackson (3 years) and goaltender Olaf Kolzig (1 year, $1.5 million plus bonuses). They also re-signed forward Ryan Craig (2 years, $1.575 million) and defenseman Janne Niskala (1 year, $600,000).

Andrew Brunette returns to the Minnesota Wild after
a 4-year absence.
(photo by David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

To recover from losing Rolston as one of their top forwards on their roster, the Wild re-acquired one of the heroes to their memorable playoff run to the Western Conference Finals by signing forward Andrew Brunette to a 3-year, $7 million contract. Fans remember that Brunette scored the series-winning overtime goal in Game 7 of their 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Avalanche, effectively ending Patrick Roy's Hall of Fame career.

Minnesota also signed former Phoenix Coyotes forward Craig Weller to a 2-year, $1.2 million deal and completed a major trade with the Nashville Predators in which they acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky for forward Ryan Jones and a 2009 second round draft pick. The Wild were then able to re-sign defenseman Kurtis Foster to a 1-year, $1.025 million contract.

The Phoenix Coyotes did not stop looking to improve their roster after the draft day acquistion of forward Olli Jokinen. They signed defensemen Kurt Sauer (4 years, $7 million) and David Hale (2 years, $1.4 million) as well as forwards Todd Fedoruk (3 years, $3.175 million) and Francis Lessard. They also re-signed defenseman Matt Jones (2 years) plus got goaltender Al Montoya and forward David Spina under new contracts. After acquiring him from the Ottawa Senators in a June 25th trade, Phoenix signed forward Brian McGrattan for the 2008-2009 season.

With Mike Commodore heading to Columbus, the Carolina Hurricanes dipped into the free agent pool and bolstered their defense. They resigned Anton Babchuk and brought in Josef Melichar, both inking 1-year, $1 million contracts. Fresh off Tuesday's trade from the Edmonton Oilers, newly acquired blueliner Joni Pitkanen agreed to terms on a 3-year, $12 million deal.

Carolina also signed forwards Dwight Helminen, Ryan Bayda and Wade Brookbank all to 1-year, $475,000 contracts while defenseman Tim Conboy secured a 2-year, $975,000 deal.

The Islanders did not sit idle and watch their two metropolitan area rivals grab free agents. They grabbed one of the Montreal Canadiens' promising defensemen by signing Mark Streit to a 5-year, $20.5 million contract. They also nabbed another player from the Canadiens organization by signing goaltender Yann Danis for the 2008-2009 season. Danis has spent the majority of his five-year professional career with the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs by posting a 71-52-6 record in four seasons. Danis appeared in 6 NHL games for Montreal during the 2005-2006 season where he went 3-2 with one shutout, a 2.69 goals-against-average and a .908 save percentage.

To complete their brief free agent season shopping, the Islanders signed 37-year-old forward Doug Weight to a 1 year, $1.75 million contract.

The Canadiens were able to keep forward Andrei Kostitsyn in the fold by signing him to a new 3-year, $9.75 million contract. They also added some toughness as forward Georges Laraque signed a 3-year, $4.5 million deal and goaltender Marc Denis agreed to a two-way contract for the 2008-2009 season.

After claiming forward Kyle Wellwood off waivers from the Maple Leafs on June 25th, the Vancouver Canucks signed him to a 1-year, $997,500 contract. They also signed forwards Darcy Hordichuk (2 years) and Ryan Johnson (2 years, $2.3 million) plus goaltender Curtis Sanford (1 year, $650,000). The Canucks also retained the services of defenseman Nolan Baumgarter and forward Alexandre Bolduc.

Vancouver was not successful in their attempt to acquire restricted free agent forward David Backes, who played his first two NHL seasons with the St. Louis Blues. The Canucks' 3-year, $7.5 million offer sheet to Backes ended up being matched by the Blues. St. Louis did re-sign forward Yan Stastny to a 2-year contract.

The Boston Bruins finalized an entry-level contract with forward Blake Wheeler, signed forward Michael Ryder to a 3-year, $12 million contract and brought back forward Petteri Nokelainen for two more years at $1.7 million.

Wheeler was originally drafted 5th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes, but on May 29th, he elected not to sign with them and became an unrestricted free agent. Wheeler is expected to forego his senior year at the University of Minnesota and enter the NHL.

The Philadelphia Flyers may not have made the big splash as they did a year ago in signing Daniel Briere to a big contract, but they did bring four new players to the organization. They are defensemen Sean Curry (2 years) and Ossi Vaananen (1-year, $1 million) as well as forwards Glen Metropolit (2 years) and Nate Raduns (1 year). They also re-signed forward Riley Cote (3 years) and defenseman Randy Jones (2 years). Philadelphia did make one minor trade on Tuesday as they sent defenseman Denis Gauthier and a 2010 2nd round draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Patrik Hersley and forward Ned Lukacevic.

The Calgary Flames united two brothers by bringing forward Pete Vandermeer aboard and re-signing defenseman Jim Vandermeer (3 years, $6.9 million). They also signed free agent forward Curtis Glencross on Wednesday. A day earlier, the Flames had acquired forward Kyle Greentree from Philadelphia for defenseman Tim Ramholt and forward Rene Bourque from the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional draft pick.

Calgary also welcomed back defenseman Mark Giordano after he spent last season playing for Moscow Dynamo of the Russian Elite League.

To help fill some holes in their lineups, the Atlanta Thrashers signed defenseman Ron Hainsey to a 5-year, $22.5 million contract, the Buffalo Sabres inked goaltender Patrick Lalime to a 2-year, $2 million deal, the Florida Panthers agreed to terms with forward Cory Stillman for 3 years at $10.6 million and after losing Campbell to Chicago, the San Jose Sharks added defenseman Rob Blake for the 2008-2009 season for $5 million.

Through the first three days of this free agent season, at least 56 NHL-level players were under contract with new teams. That is just signings alone. More than $300 million had been spent. There sure was a lot of player movement and a lot of money being paid out, no doubt about it.

Yet, this is surely not the end of player movement for the summer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

NHL Tournament of Logos blog is now Icethetics

Back on September 1, 2007, I had mentioned a hockey-related blog that had a growing viewership. Since then, it had become one of the most well-known hockey blogs in the non-journalist blogosphere.

The NHL Tournament of Logos blog first began as a place for hockey fans to vote for the best team logo in a variety of categories. But it became significant more than that. It became a destination for where among things we could find out the scoop on new logos, new NHL uniforms and the display of fan concept art. The amount of content shown regularly on the blog had fans routinely coming back for more.

That goal was met. Given the expansion of coverage of subjects, Chris Smith (the site founder) has now merged the NHL Tournament of Logos blog with today's launch a brand spanking new blog called Icethetics.

In his opening post, Chris explains his upcoming plans for the new blog.

"Over the next few weeks I'll be rolling out all the new features and additions including a brand new concept art gallery, an artist partnership program and a brand new tournament for you to cast your votes! And actually, I'm announcing the new tournament today. It's something I've been talking about for several months at NHLToL.

Get ready for the NHL Tournament of Center Ice Logos! (I know you saw that coming.) Each team has in their arena a unique design painted onto center ice — usually incorporating their primary logo — so in this tournament, you'll be voting on whose is the best."

Undoubtedly, his plans for the Icethetics blog will have me wanting to continue visiting regularly. What makes it more interesting for the readers is the opportunity to make it an interactive experience just has he did for the NHL Tournament of Logos blog.

Chris brought in a talented graphics artist in Matt (GhettoFarmBoy at to not only provide some nice logo and jersey concepts, but helped him design the new blog. It is definitely eye appealing. I'm definitely looking forward to what is to come there.

Check out Icethetics. You should not be disappointed.

2008 free agent season is finally here

The day is finally here. With the 2007-2008 season, the annual NHL Awards and NHL Entry Draft all done, the one main event left before a quiet two months of summer is of course the first day of the free agent season.

Many fans (including me) will eagerly be monitoring the transaction wires, the National Hockey League web site and team web sites, plus the reliable sports news pages. At noon today, that starting gun will sound (figuratively) and stressed out, sleep-deprived team general managers will scramble to grab the player or players they want by spending millions of dollars to do so.

No one knows for sure who will go where as speculation has been running high with some high profile players eligible to test the market.

You can certainly tune in to TSN, Rogers Sportsnet, The Score or even the NHL Network for the latest signings and possibly trades as this first day of the free agent season has arrived. For American viewers, NHL Network will show a simulcast of TSN's extensive coverage at 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time and again at 7:00 PM for all the updates you need.

Before then, you can always pay attention to a few sources that I expect will be constantly bringing us up to speed as the signings are announced and they include:

Spector's Hockey
The Fourth Period
Kukla's Korner
James Mirtle's hockey blog

As I said at the trade deadline, Lyle Richardson (who is a very reputable journalist that runs the Spector's Hockey site) is someone I highly recommend to bringing you instant analysis on his blog that is also accessible at FOX Sports' NHL page.

An update on some signings completed this morning as 12:00 PM is just minutes away...

*Brian Rolston has told the Tampa Bay Lightning that he will test the free agent market even though the team acquired his rights from the Minnesota Wild over the weekend.

*Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin are close to signing lucrative contract extensions with their respective teams.

*The Detroit Red Wings re-signed defenseman Brad Stuart to a 4-year, $15 million contract.

*The Edmonton Oilers traded forward Raffi Torres to the Columbus Blue Jackets for forward Gilbert Brule.

*The New Jersey Devils re-signed defenseman Bryce Salvador (4 years, $11.6 million) and forwards Jay Pandolfo (3 years, $7.5 million), David Clarkson (2 years, $1.675 million) and Barry Tallackson. The team decided to decline the contract option for forward Sergei Brylin, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

*The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Pascal Dupuis to a 3-year, $4.2 million contract.

*The Washington Capitals signed defenseman Mike Green to a 4-year, $21 million contract extension.

Enjoy the long anticipated July 1st day and may your favorite team not disappoint you.