NHL Announces 2021 Schedule

The NHL announced it’s schedule for the pandemic-shortened 2021 season on Wednesday.

As previously announced, the Red Wings’ schedule is entirely made up of games against opponents from the temporary Central Division, including the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Red Wings will open their season with a four-game homestand, starting off with the Carolina Hurricanes on January 14.

In an effort to reduce travel, many matchups are scheduled in pairs.  For example, Detroit’s opening homestand features two games against the Hurricanes followed by two games against the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Detroit’s first road trip of the season includes two games in Chicago against the Blackhawks followed by two games in Dallas against the Stars.

The Red Wings are currently scheduled to close out the season with a pair of games in Columbus against the Blue Jackets on May 7 and 8.

That said, the league has been clear that it is possible games could be moved from their expected venues depending on COVID protocols.  The San Jose Sharks, for example, are currently unable to play in Santa Clara County and, if that ban were to be extended, games scheduled to be hosted by the Sharks could be played elsewhere.

Remarkably, in a schedule featuring so many paired-up games, the Red Wings have only one home-and-home series, as Detroit hosts the Stars on April 19 and 20 before shifting to Dallas for games on April 22 and 24.

All game start times are still to be determined.

Format Confirmed for NHL’s 2021 Season

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced the format and timing of their pandemic-delayed 2021 season on Sunday.

The season will begin on January 13 and end on May 8.  Between those dates, each team will play a 56-game schedule made up entirely of matchups with divisional opponents.  Additionally, to accommodate issues with cross-border travel, the league’s seven Canadian teams will be placed into the temporary “North Division” while the American teams are split across the East, Central, and West Divisions.

The Red Wings will be in the Central Division, alongside the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Current plans include teams playing in their home arenas, though some level of flexibility is expected to be necessary.

Training camps will begin league-wide on January 3 but the seven teams who did not participate in the Toronto and Edmonton bubbled to close out the 2019-20 season – including Detroit – will begin on December 31.

Other expected milestone dates include the Trade Deadline on April 12, the Expansion Draft on July 21, the Entry Draft on July 23-24, and the opening of Free Agency on July 28.

The start to the 2021-22 season would be at the league’s traditional time in early October.

Red Wings Send Timashov to Islanders

The Detroit Red Wings traded restricted free agent forward Dmytro Timashov to the New York Islanders on Friday.

Timashov had been the Red Wings’ lone remaining unsigned restricted free agent.  As none of their remaining unrestricted free agents are expected to return to the team, this leaves Detroit with no contracts left to sort out.

The Wings had been saying all the usual things about wanting Timashov back but it never seemed like a deal was particularly close, with rumors that he was going to bolt for the KHL anyway.

Given that Detroit GM Steve Yzerman could have let Timashov bolt and held onto his NHL rights for free, I’m a little surprised that the Wings would part with him for “future considerations” – typically code for “nothing.”  The Wings got him for free via waivers so it’s not a particularly painful transaction, just slightly curious.

Red Wings Release Reverse Retro

After a week of teasers, the NHL and adidas released each team’s “Reverse Retro” jersey on Monday.

The concept of the series is to take an iconic look from each team and swap the colors around.  For some teams, that means bringing an alternate color to the forefront.  Some took inspiration from previous iterations of their franchise, while others used a mish-mash of logos, jerseys, and colors from their history.

With Detroit having worn red and white for their entire history and using essentially the same uniforms since 1932, that didn’t leave them much to work with.

The Red Wings’ “Reverse Retro” jersey (via adidas video)

The Red Wings’ “Reverse Retro” sweaters are based on their 1998 away jersey – virtually identical to today’s home sweater.  The red base has been swapped to white while the white numbers and lettering become red.  The white sleeve and waist stripes, instead of becoming red, switch to silver.

That silver was pulled in from Detroit’s Centennial Classic jerseys, the only time the Red Wings have worn a color other than red or white on their sweaters (though the Detroit Falcons included a black outline on red text in their 1930-32 set).

I have a lot of problems with this set and the series in general, many of which I’ve mentioned over the past week.

Pulling in silver for Detroit’s jersey – a color worn on a grand total of two thin stripes in a single game in their history – seems like a stretch.  Moreover, swapping out red in favor of that color feels like it goes against the Red Wings’ identity.  I’m not saying that, just because the team has red in its name, they can’t use colors other than red on their jerseys (the Vegas Golden Knights’ home jerseys are primarily grey, after all).  They don’t even look all that bad.  I just don’t think they look right.

This is a league-wide series and adidas was in charge from the start.  I think it’s pretty clear that they had good designs for much of the league and, when it came down to it, they weren’t going to scrap the idea just because Detroit and Toronto were hard to work with.

Even that’s not entirely true, though, as I’ve posted concepts over the last week that, at least to me, look better than this.  So there were possibilities there, adidas just chose to go in a different direction.

At least it’s not that ridiculous “Digital Six” set from a couple years ago.  So they threw some random silver on the Red Wings’ sweater and called it a day.  It seems lazy to me, that’s all.

More “Reverse Retro” Teasers

The NHL and adidas continue teasing the release of each team’s new “Reverse Retro” alternate jersey, with the league’s Atlantic Division teams featured today.

That, of course, includes the Red Wings, who tweeted the following:

Based on last week’s teaser video, we already knew that the Red Wings would be using one of their 1998 jerseys as a base, swapping in silver on at least part of it.  What we see here appears to be a jersey with white sleeves and body, so it’s probably the red jersey with that color swapped out for white.

With all of that in mind, this could be what Detroit’s “Reverse Retro” jerseys will look like:

“Reverse Retro” concept based on switching the Red Wings’ 1998 away jersey template to white and silver

I used the silver-ified Winged Wheel from the Centennial Classic but it could just as easily be the standard one.

That said, via Twitter, Ryan Haruta pointed out a spot in the teaser image that looks like red fabric stitched onto white.

Is that a different logo, such as the Old English D?  Is it a red stripe?

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of cross-era logo switching going on in this series, so I don’t think it’s a different logo.  I lean towards that being a stripe and I wonder if the silver from the first teaser is not actually present on the jersey, in which case we’re looking at this:

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Red Wings’ 1998 away jersey.

That’s not much of a Reverse Retro, more straight-up retro, except for the position of the waist stripe.  I like it more than adding silver, though.  The position of the waist stripe would bother me with red pants but this might be the best option the Wings have.

The full set of “Reverse Retro” jerseys is slated to be revealed tomorrow.

Update, 1:00 PM: After further discussion, that red-on-white bit could be the jersey number on the back, which was already expected to be red.  If that’s the case, that little bit tells us nothing about the stripes or logo, and I’m back to expecting the silver-striped sweater mocked-up above.

Fabric of the Game

Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL’s Names, Logos, and Uniforms was my most-anticipated hockey book of the year and it hit shelves last Tuesday.  My copy finally arrived this week and now that I’ve had a chance to actually read it, I figured I’d do a quick write-up of it.

Full disclaimer: I’m friends with co-author Chris Creamer – I’ve written for his site, DH.N’s work is cited in the book, and my name appears in the acknowledgements – and have heard about much of his research as he was putting the project together.  I’m quite obviously biased when it comes to this.  That said, as I’ve previously stated, I judge history books by whether or not I learn anything new from them and, as I heard many of the stories while the book was in development, that relationship means I didn’t learn much from the book, which I’d normally take as a strike against it.  I’ll try to balance all of that here.

Fabric of the Game is a team-by-team look at the sweaters and identities of the NHL’s past and present.  As the subtitle states, this is a focus on the stories behind these identities.

Some of those stories are more interesting than others and that shows in the book.

Modern identities are designed such that no element is meaningless.  The 31 points in the current Toronto Maple Leafs logo, for example, are said to represent 1931, the year the team opened Maple Leaf Gardens.  The 17 veins in the leaf represent the team’s founding in 1917.

The number of feathers on Detroit’s Winged Wheel, meanwhile?  No reason behind that, it’s just an evolution of a logo that debuted in 1932.

This means that some iconic looks don’t actually have much of a story behind them, and nothing Creamer or co-author Todd Radom could write would change that.

As something of an aside, the story behind the Detroit franchise’s name change from Cougars to Falcons – which I won’t recount here – still blows my mind.  When I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t.

It’s important to note that focus on the stories, as this isn’t simply SportsLogos.Net: The Book.  Though there are plenty of gorgeous illustrations by Radom and glossy photos straight from the Hockey Hall of Fame, you won’t see a lot of logo or uniform timelines.

For a self-professed logo geek such as myself, it was a really fun read with interesting tidbits you won’t find anywhere else.

On the “Reverse Retro” Teaser and Detroit’s Possible Jersey

A couple weeks ago I took a look at what the Red Wings might wear as their jersey in the NHL’s upcoming “Reverse Retro” program.  The league and adidas released a teaser for that program today, and nothing else is going on for the Wings, so here are some updated thoughts.

There are 31 different color/number combinations, so it appears that this video shows each team’s colors and the year of the jersey being used as inspiration.

Of immediate note is the fact that there is no red and white jersey.  There is, however, a green and white jersey (presumably the Dallas Stars, wearing something based on their 1999 set).  As such, it’s safe to assume the teaser doesn’t just replace white with black for the sake of being cool or something like that, these are the actual colors for each team’s jersey.

Also of note is that there is a black and red jersey with the number 40 on it.  The 1940 jersey would have to represent one of the Original Six teams but red and black don’t fit for Boston, Montreal, New York, or Toronto, leaving only Detroit and Chicago.

Chicago would make more sense for red and black, except for the fact that there’s a red, black, white, and tan #95 jersey later in the video.  The Blackhawks are the only NHL team to have worn that combination of colors, which leaves the Red Wings as the only team left for the #40 jersey to represent.

The interesting thing, to me, about the Red Wings using black is that it seemingly confirms that the Detroit Falcons never used yellow, which I wrote about last month.

Either of Detroit’s sweaters from 1940 could be color swapped to have a black body and red stripes.  The only difference would be the positioning of the waist stripe.  The other variable would be whether the “Reverse Retro” jerseys feature the current version of the Winged Wheel or the 1940s-era version.

The end result could be something like this:

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the NHL/adidas teaser video

Update, 3:20 PM: I’ve been talking with Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.Net about this and he has a different theory.

He thinks that the #40 jersey is Chicago and that the #95 red, black, white, and tan jersey represents Ottawa, with the tan coming from the skin tone used on the Senators’ alternate logo introduced in 1997.  I think that’s a bit of a stretch, but it does lead to a few other shifts from my original list that make sense.

In the end, it leaves the Red Wings represented by the #98 jersey, white with silver stripes and red numbers.

I really dislike this as, while black as a Detroit color may be questionable, at least the Falcons wore it for two seasons.  The Red Wings have worn silver for a grand total of one game, with it appearing as two stripes on the Centennial Classic jerseys from 2017.

If Creamer is right, though, what would that look like?

Given that the promo image is white, I think they’d be using their 1998 home jerseys as a base, swapping the sleeve color from red to silver.  Maybe the white stripes become red.  The result ends up like this:

“Reverse Retro” concept based on adding silver to the Red Wings’ 1998 home jersey

I don’t know.  That just seems pointless to me.  That said, as I mentioned in my original post, a series like this is always going to be difficult when it comes to the Red Wings because they haven’t had enough jersey/color changes to work with.  Maybe any “Reverse Retro” option for Detroit is going to be a stretch.

Update, 4:10 PM: The Red Wings seemingly confirmed that they are the red, white, and silver #98.

Update, 4:55 PM: Since we know the Red Wings are the red, white, and silver team, and we know their “Reverse Retro” jersey will be based on their 1998 set, and I already put together something based on their white home jersey, here’s one based on their red road jersey from that year.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on switching the Red Wings’ 1998 away jersey template to white and silver

I don’t know.  I don’t get it.

The concept of this series seems to be to take a jersey template each team has worn and switch the colors to match a different era.  For the Wings, that’s hard, they’ve been red and white forever and their jerseys have barely changed.  But to take what is essentially their current jerseys and swap out their primary color for one they’ve worn in a single game in their entire history?  You couldn’t be just a tiny bit more creative?

Red Wings Re-Up Mantha on Four-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Tuesday the signing of restricted free agent forward Anthony Mantha to a four-year deal.

Financial terms were not announced, of course, but Elliotte Friedman reports that the deal carries a $5.7 million salary cap hit.

Getting Mantha for less than $6 million is a fantastic deal for the Red Wings.  I also really like the four-year term.  We’ll know a lot more about this team in four years.  Maybe it’ll make sense to pay Mantha again at that time, maybe it’ll make sense to walk away, maybe it’ll make sense to flip him earlier and focus on a younger core.  The term gives Detroit flexibility as we see what the rebuild looks like.

Wings Sign Bertuzzi to One-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Tuesday that they have accepted an arbitrator’s award of a one-year, $3.5 million contract to Tyler Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi will be a restricted free agent again after the deal expires.

The Red Wings had reportedly asked for a $3.15 million salary while Bertuzzi went for $4.25 million.  Obviously, the arbitrator agreed more closely with the team’s argument.

The salary commitment to Bertuzzi was never going to be a problem with regards to the Red Wings’ salary cap constraints.  On a one year term, the actual number was only important for setting the scene for his next deal.

Prashanth Iyer of Wings for Breakfast recently tweeted about the Wings’ disastrous season over-inflating the value of some players.  I agree with that concern.  Bertuzzi could be Detroit’s third-best forward, but where would he slot in on a good team and how would he get paid relative to that?

The bottom line is that you don’t want Bertuzzi to be the next Justin Abdelkader, so it’s important for the Red Wings to delay having to make a decision on paying him top dollar until they’re sure he’s worth it.  Is there a risk that, in the next year, Bertuzzi could earn a bigger contract than he had up to this point?  Of course.  Personally, I haven’t seen enough from Bertuzzi to think that risk outweighs the reward, though.

The only really interesting thing about this is that, due to arbitration having been required, a second buyout window will open for the Red Wings.  Theoretically, they could now buy out Frans Nielsen.

That said, I don’t think they should.  They can overpay Nielsen this year and look at buying him out next summer, even if they decide to bury him in Grand Rapids for the year (or somewhere else, at least, depending on what the AHL’s schedule looks like).  Of course, I also wouldn’t have bought out Abdelkader this year, so what do I know?

On Possible “Reverse Retro” Jerseys for the Red Wings

All is quiet around the Red Wings as we wait for news of Tyler Bertuzzi‘s arbitration ruling.  With that in mind, and with last week’s leak of several “Reverse Retro” jerseys across the league, I figured I’d take a look at what the Wings could wear as part of this program.

The Red Wings have never had an official alternate jersey, though they’re no strangers to one-off sweaters, with a throwback set from the 2009 Winter Classic, a “fauxback” set from the 2014 Winter Classic, a retro-inspired set from the Centennial Classic in 2017, and something else entirely for the 2016 Stadium Series.

Not much is known about the NHL’s new fourth jersey program.  Supposedly, every team will participate, regardless of whether or not they have a third jersey.  Additionally, the rumor is the program has been driven by the league and adidas, rather than the individual teams, and as such has some rules to be followed.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ leaked design, for example, takes their mid-1990s road (black) set, flips the colors to become a white jersey, and the switches the athletic gold to the “Vegas gold” the team introduced in 2000.  The Philadelphia Flyers, meanwhile, use a version of their orange jersey introduced in 1982 with the black and white swapped.  Vegas’ design is taken from the Las Vegas Thunder of the International Hockey League, with the Golden Knights’ colors and logos swapped in.

Further, there are rumors that the Montreal Canadiens will wear a jersey based on their current home sweater, with the blue and red swapped, and the Washington Capitals will wear a version of their mid-1990s set in red, white, and blue.

So if we’re assuming the base will be an existing jersey – rather than a totally new one – with its colors swapped, where does that leave Detroit?  The team has a lot of history to work with but not a lot of different designs or colors, giving them a surprisingly limited set of options.

Detroit could wear a color-swapped version of their current home jersey, which would essentially be their road jersey without the red sleeves.  The team wore this as their road jersey from 1934 to 1961, though, and if this Reverse Retro program is intended to avoid actual throwback jerseys, it would seem this would be ruled out.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Red Wings’ current home jersey.

They could color-swap their current road jerseys, giving them a red jersey with white sleeves.  It’s a clean look that the team has never worn but others across hockey have, so it might not be an option, either.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Red Wings’ current away jersey.

The Wings could go back to their roots as the Detroit Cougars.  Even then, though, there are issues.  Their initial set from 1926-27 was the basis of those 2009 throwbacks and the color-flipped version has already been worn in the Alumni Showdown as part of the 2013 Hockeytown Winter Festival.

The Red Wings wore the 1927-28 Cougars’ sweater as part of the NHL’s 75th anniversary proceedings in 1991-92.  I suggested the color-swapped version as a possible option for what was then the 2013 Winter Classic but, as I noted then, the red lettering on a white stripe seemed off to me.  With a new template, I drew it up anyway, and don’t dislike it as much as I did originally.  It could be an option.  That’s a lot of stripes, though.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1927-28 sweater.

Out of sheer, morbid curiosity, I swapped out that red “DETROIT” text for the Winged Wheel and…  It’s certainly something, but, again, isn’t as bad as I expected.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1927-28 sweater, with the Winged Wheel in place of the “DETROIT” text.

The 1928-29 set opens up another option.  This is the sweater that the Centennial Classic jersey was based on and a color-flipped option has never been worn, though I suggested it in that Winter Classic concept series and the eventual 2014 Winter Classic jersey did take some cues from it.

“Reverse Retro” concept based on the Detroit Cougars’ 1928-29 sweater.

The 1928-29 sweater also gives options for the crest, depending on what the Reverse Retro “rules” are for such things, as the standard Winged Wheel could be used, or it could be placed under “Detroit” text as the cougar head logo was in the original.

With the striping in the Cougars’ 1929-30 set the same as the 1927-28, there’s not enough difference there to pick one over the other.  If the striping on the 1927-28 set is problematic, the Detroit Falcons’ 1930-32 sweater isn’t going to be any better, so I didn’t even try.

So these might be the options we’re looking at for Detroit’s coming “Reverse Retro” jersey.  Or there could be other rules for these jerseys that we don’t know yet, opening up other choices.  Maybe they’ll decide the Falcons’ brief use of black is enough to make the Red Wings’ old black fashion jerseys an official alternate.  With the entire 2020-21 NHL season in flux, who knows when we’ll even see the actual designs?

Personally, I really like the color swap of the current home jersey, but I’ve always preferred the Red Wings’ white jerseys to their reds.  With no other colors to balance it out, I find their current homes to just be a bit too much red.  For the same reason, I like the color swap of the current road jersey.

That said, for a team with as much history as Detroit, I like to see them pull from it more.  The 1928-29 Cougars’ set would be a safe place to go for that.

The usual jersey design caveats apply here, of course.  These aren’t meant to be predictions, just artists renderings of possibilities.  They’re not even my designs, really, just existing jerseys redrawn into a modern template with the colors appropriately swapped.