When Will the 2012-13 Season Really Start?

I don’t have any inside information on the negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA on a new collective bargaining agreement.  I have opinions about how it should turn out, of course, but I’m not even concerned about that right now.  

It’s August and we’ve hit the point of the summer where many fans are saying “I can’t wait for hockey to be back!”  Officially, the Red Wings kick off the regular season in 65 days.

With the CBA set to expire on September 15 – 38 days from now – it’s possible that the start of the 2012-13 season will be delayed.

The 1994-95 season didn’t begin until January 20, 1995, after a lockout lasted from October to January.  The infamous 2004-05 lockout cost the NHL an entire season.

What will happen if we see the league’s third lockout this fall?

Things are significantly different now than they were in 2004.  The league can’t hide the fact that, as whole, it is making money.  Yes, some of the individual teams are in trouble, but that (the NHLPA will argue) is less about how much money the league gets and more about how it is allocated.

Part of that money making comes from the creation of the Winter Classic.  The NHL now has it’s Super Bowl-like event.  In addition to being a money-maker, this year’s edition brings the prestige of likely breaking the world record for attendance at a hockey game.  Held at 109,901-seat Michigan Stadium – the third-largest stadium in the word – the expected sellout would set a virtually unbreakable record.

It’s the Winter Classic that makes me think we won’t lose an entire season this time around.  Call it optimistic (funny, considering I expect a lockout that will cost part of the season) but I don’t see the league sacrificing its chance to set the world attendance record or its prime TV spectacle.

So one option would be a season that starts on January 1 with the Winter Classic.  A season kickoff on the biggest stage.

I don’t know that it’s feasible to start the season with an outdoor game, though.  Weather may not cooperate, so it would also be setting things up for the league to fall flat on its face.

I would expect that the league would have a goal of getting the season started earlier..  My projected start date is November 23.

The day after US Thanksgiving would give the league a holiday to kick things off with all teams in action.  The Canadian teams could all be involved in night games while some US teams could have afternoon starts.

That gives just over a month until the Winter Classic, giving another marquee event for the league to take advantage of.  It also gives time for the players to get into better shape before taking on the outdoor game.

I don’t know if the CBA goals of the owners or the players will make any of this happen.  As I said, I don’t have any sources telling me any of this is likely.  It’s all speculation, much like most hockey writing in August.  Looking at the calendar and at NHL history, a Thanksgiving Weekend start wouldn’t surprise me.

Red Wings Winter Classic Jersey Concept #6

With last week’s news that the Maple Leafs may wear blue in the 2013 Winter Classic, either the Red Wings will be in white (as I suggested last month) or it’ll be an all-color, red vs. blue matchup.

What I expect to be my final Winter Classic concept could only be worn if it were red vs. blue, but I hope it never sees the light of day under any circumstances.

wc2013_concept_06

Why I don’t think this will be worn:
I’ll admit off the bat that I don’t think the Red Wings would ever wear anything like this. After five previous designs taking into consideration the team’s history and the current trends in “fauxback” jerseys across the league, I wanted to put a mock-up based only on trends. I think I’ve managed to complete a cliche bingo of sorts here.

For starters, we’ve got the current logo in a circle with the team’s name around it. This is a design feature made famous by the Minnesota Wild but latched onto by the Pittsburgh Penguins (twice), Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Chicago Blackhawks also used it in the 2009 Winter Classic but (like the Penguins) at least there was historical precedent for that.

The “vintage white” I’ve made heavy use of is back, as is the “vintage red” I’ve used in previous concepts. The New York Rangers use it on their current alternate jerseys and used it in the 2012 Winter Classic. It also appears on the alternate jerseys of the Buffalo Sabres and the Blue Jackets.

We’ve got an opposite-colored nameplate here, another trend that appeared in some of my previous designs. The Philadelphia Flyers brought this feature back to prominence in 2008 and the Sabres latched onto it two years later.

As a bonus, the number on the back is unnecessarily outlined. Borrowing from previous versions of the Maple Leafs jerseys and the 2004 All-Star jerseys, the white numbers are outlined in red and then white again. It should be noted that this feature was dropped when the Wild adapted the All-Star jersey template for their current alternate jerseys and the Maple Leafs have since simplified their numbers as well.

Disclaimer:
Again, I don’t expect this to be worn. It’s just an idea of what could happen if the Wings decided to only follow the current trends. I have no advance knowledge of what the Red Wings or the Maple Leafs will wear on New Year’s Day. I know my template isn’t perfect. I’m admittedly too lazy to fix it. I know the Reebok vector would be replaced by their wordmark, for example.

Previous Designs:
For the record, here are the links to my previous Winter Classic concepts…
Concept #1 (February)
Concept #2 (May)
Concept #3 (June 4)
Concept #4 (June 25)
Concept #5 (July)

Four of “Russian Five” to Appear at Alumni Showdown

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday that four members of the famous “Russian Five” will appear at the Alumni Showdown on December 31 at Comerica Park.

The Russian Five was the first group of five Soviet-trained players to play as a unit in the NHL.  Assembeled by coach Scotty Bowman – who will be behind the bench at the Alumni Showdown – in 1995, the line consisted of Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

All but Kozlov will be at the outdoor game against alumni from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In addition to the four Russians, the Maple Leafs announced six new players who will appear: Gary Leeman, Russ Courtnall, Bill Derlago, Bob McGill, Vincent Damphousse, and Dave Ellett.

Confirmed participants for the two teams are now as follows, with more to be announced:

Detroit
Chris Chelios, Dino Ciccarelli, Alex Delvecchio, Kris Draper, Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Mark Howe, Joe Kocur, Vladimir Konstantinov, Igor Larionov, Ted Lindsay, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Larry Murphy, John Ogrodnick, Chris Osgood, Mickey Redmond, Luc Robitaille, Mike Vernon

Toronto
Dave Andreychuk, Johnny Bower, Wendel Clark, Russ Courtnall, Vincent Damphousse, Bill Derlago, Dave Ellett, Ron Ellis, Doug Gilmour, Curtis Joseph, Gary Leeman, Kevin Maguire, Bob McGill, Jim McKenny, Mike Palmateer, Felix Potvin, Darryl Sittler, Darcy Tucker, Rick Vaive