Adidas & The NHL: 31 Thoughts

The long-awaited Adidas NHL jerseys are finally here, having been revealed today, and, well, it could have been worse.  Some of my wishes, the ones I wanted most, failed to come true, but a few actually did, in a way!  First, a little history

The Adidas jersey technology (called Adizero) was revealed last year before the World Cup, touting lightweight construction and liberally deploying nonsense buzzwords.  The World Cup of Hockey jerseys weren’t bad, but they also didn’t really look like NHL jerseys, given the general lack of waist striping, thick yet minimal arm striping, and only one traditional shoulder yoke, to say nothing of the added Adidas three-stripe motif.  Lots of stripe issues, apparently.

For all of the Adidas cut jerseys, the most glaring new change is the collar.  No longer does it rise above the shoulders and taper to a point at the base of the neck; instead it lays flat and is rounded, joining to the NHL crest from the sides.  I need to see it modeled on players in full gear and/or during play action to really make a judgment, but my first impression is I’m not sure that like it.  It feels less like a sweater and more like a shirt.  In a way it feels cheaper.  At least, and it was a touch-and-go for a while, they can support laces.

One more common thing to note: the logo crests and rear numbers generally appear quite a bit larger.  I’m going to say that this is for the better.  There are numerous tweaks to the fabric, crest construction, and stitching, but I won’t go into detail as that’s not really my area of expertise or interest.

So, here are my brief (mostly) thoughts on each of the new jerseys’ unique aspects.  For fun, I’m going to assign a letter grade to each, based on my expectations, how they could (potentially) be better, and how they took advantage of or missed a once-in-a-decade opportunity.  Alright, let’s go!

Anaheim Ducks:

In what will surely be the theme of the day, this looks basically like their old one.  I must say, unlike most rose-glassed millennials, I think I prefer their current logo and color scheme to the Disney mask and bizarre eggplant and jade scheme.  That said, this jersey still needs some work.  The lines along the lower arms and torso remain weird, and I’d rather they went with either the original Mighty Ducks’ striping style, or their (former) third jersey’s, but that’s neither here nor there.  These are merely adequate. (C)


Arizona Coyotes:

It wasn’t that long ago that the Coyotes debuted a shiny new jersey, so it’s little shock that they’re sticking with it, more or less.  It’s decent, though I still prefer their original Reebok Edge set without black. (B)


Boston Bruins:

Can’t mess with a classic, though I must say the shoulder yokes look a bit weird in the new cut. (A)


Buffalo Sabres:

Still using navy blue.  Still using front numbers.  Still using silver.  Sigh…  At least they got rid of the piping, finally.  The collar is no longer fully gold, with blue in front instead.  Huh.  I’m simultaneously let down and relieved.  An intermediate step, I’m hoping — progress, however little, is still progress.  Let’s see those Winter Classic uniforms ASAP!  (B)


Calgary Flames:

No retro promotion.  Sigh.  The continued use of black.  Ugh.  Flags on the shoulders?  Why??  They got rid of the piping but kept the side stripes.  That de-italicized their nameplates?  I don’t get it.  They’re better, but not much. (C)


Carolina Hurricanes:

Whoa!  Really did not expect this!  The Hurricanes have reintroduced black into their jerseys, thank the hockey gods, but more importantly, the storm flag stripe is back!  These are solid.  A cleaner, but not emptied retooling of their original jersey, it’s got history, distinction, and modern simplicity all in one.  Drastic rebrands aside, this is what the Hurricanes should have done in 2013, but it’s better late than never. (A)


Chicago Blackhawks:

As expected, nothing to see here.  Hard to improve upon what they’ve got, even if I think it’s massively overrated. (A)


Colorado Avalanche:

Ohhhhhh baby, I see mountains!  The Avs are back, and it’s only been ten years in the making.  Can you believe that the Colorado Avalanche have gone half of their team’s lifetime without this classic look?  It just feels so right that it’s been restored.  From absolute worst to near-best, Colorado is the winner of the Adidas redesign.  Perhaps their team will chart a similar course on the ice? (A)


Columbus Blue Jackets:

Disappointing insofar as it’s not the cannon jersey, but I’m glad it still looks pretty sharp.  The major changes appear to be that there’s no more white in the collar, and there’s a new (worse) nameplate typeface.  Otherwise, yeah, again I didn’t get my wish. (B)


Dallas Stars:

Not much to report, which is great because the Dallas Stars reinvention in 2013 was one of the best rebrands in NHL history, at least from a jersey perspective.  Stick with what works. (A)


Detroit Red Wings:

Again, nothing to really see here.  The simplest uniform set in the league stays that way, and we’re better off for it. (A)


Edmonton Oilers:

In April, I watched the Edmonton Oilers defeat the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center.  During warmups, I shot photos of the teams, and I have to say, the Oilers looked damn good in their road whites with royal blue shoulders.  After suffering the worst of Reebok’s 2007 transition, management made the wise (easy) decision to go with the original 80s jerseys full-time in 2011.  With the team finally resurgent this past year, it seemed to all be clicking into place. …And then they scrapped the blue homes for orange.  Not the worst decision, given the WHA history there, but still a little weird.  Alberta should be blue vs. red, but that’s not the main issue anymore.

For some reason, they’ve decided to replace the royal blue with navy in their color scheme.  Huh?  Navy simply does not go with orange.  The Islanders tried it in 2002 and, surprise surprise, decided to re-adopt their classic colors as soon as they were allowed.  But then there’s the new Oilers jersey itself.  What they’ve done here is kind of a shame; thankfully the recently leaked jersey wasn’t quite accurate and the collar isn’t completely hideous, but it’s still not great.  Those stripes, while faithful to the previous home/away set, don’t work with these colors — the blue looks black in contrast, and I’m worried about how the away jersey will look.  This is a definite step backwards.  Way to take a top-10 jersey and throw it right in the trash, Edmonton.  (D)


Florida Panthers:

Having just completely rebranded last year, the fact that there’s nothing new on these is warranted.  This is, in my opinion, the best the Florida Panthers have ever looked and it’s a relief they didn’t even go so far as to tweak anything. (A)


Los Angeles Kings:

No changes here.  I wish they’d bring back purple in some way, however these have become another modern classic jersey — two Cups in three years will do that to a look, even if it’s not the best. (B)


Minnesota Wild:

Finally, we’re back to green homes in Minnesota, and as a nice compromise, they’ve taken the script M from the old (beautiful) thirds and put it on the shoulders.  They’ve notably added a wheat-colored chest stripe, which is becoming somewhat of a trend thanks to the Panthers stealing from Montréal last year.  In addition, red remains an accent around the NHL crest, as well as in a stripe nestled inside the wheat arm stripes.  If the road jersey can finally match the home, the Wild will be one of the best dressed in the league.  I am very pleased with these. (A)


Montréal Canadiens:

Don’t. mess. with. perfection. (A)


Nashville Predators:

Huh.  While I’ll admit the old template (once shared with and worn more poorly by the St. Louis Blues) had its flaws, it added some necessary contrast.  This one seems rather dull and empty.  Thankfully, the piano keys and number strings remain, as well as the original typeface, but I am slightly underwhelmed.  It’s a bit curious that the blue at the waist and arms was pushed even further down.  I don’t know — that might be too much yellow.  On the other hand, it’s minimal and clean, which is a highly desired quality in a timeless jersey.  In retrospect, I might view these better.  For now, they get a (C)


New Jersey Devils:

Here’s a look at the new New Jersey jerseys.  New Jersey had their old jerseys for nearly thirty years; for the first time since 1992, New Jersey has new jerseys.  I wonder if they didn’t want new New Jersey jerseys because of obnoxious people like me talking about their new New Jersey jerseys like I’m doing here?  Or, maybe because the old New Jersey jerseys were such a timeless, modern classic, three-time Cup-winning uniform that it would be idiotic to change them?  Well, it’s not a radical departure, but it’s different enough to feel wrong.  The waist stripe is gone and the white on the arms is widened significantly, apparently to evoke the Colorado Rockies.  One curious addition: a green inner collar featuring the three Cup-winning seasons listed.  Was this necessary?  No.  I prefer New Jersey’s old jerseys to New Jersey’s new jerseys. (C)


New York Islanders:

Same classics as they were, except I’m going to rate them as if there were improvements because there’s no more black alternate. (A)


New York Rangers:

Like their cross-town rivals, the Rangers didn’t need to change anything.  The only difference is the red from the NHL crest is much wider due to the Adidas cut.  Looks weird, but there’s not much to do about it. (A)


Ottawa Senators:

Oy, Ottawa, what are you doing?  It wouldn’t have taken much to make this uniform infinitely better, yet you do so little anyway.  Somehow you’ve successfully converted one of the worst Reebok-era uniforms faithfully into Adidas form, albeit with a new number font.  Wow.  I don’t get it; a stunning new set would bring in so much money, and for a frugal owner, that would seem like a no-brainer, no?  Disappointed.  (D)


Philadelphia Flyers:

It doesn’t appear that the Flyers really did anything here, except perhaps thicken the white at the end of the sleeve.  Can’t complain, I think their look is fine. (B)


Pittsburgh Penguins:

One of only two teams not to put out reveal teasers, probably because they’re busy doing other things at the moment.  Also, there’s nothing new anyway.   (A)


San Jose Sharks:

Look at that new Shark shoulder patch!  I’m very happy to see this, and it looks great.  Still rocking the minimal teal, I see.  That’s fine, I love the color and it doesn’t make my Pavelski jersey too obsolete.  I would have liked waist stripes, but what’re ya gonna do?  Can’t win ’em all.  (B)


St. Louis Blues:

The only major change here is a switch from yellow to white on the back numbers, which I think I like more.  In addition, there’s a new hanger effect inspired by the St. Louis city flag that is quite welcome.  Already one of the best jerseys in the league, it’s even a slight bit better now.  (A)


Tampa Bay Lightning:

The Toronto-south look lives on, unchanged.  It’s alright, I guess, though I think I’d prefer it if they went back to black.  (B)


Toronto Maple Leafs:

The other team not to put out teasers, it too makes sense as not a lot has changed from last year’s fresh redesign.  And why should they?  This is the look of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future. (A)


Vancouver Canucks:

Come on Vancouver!  What are you (not) doing?  Your jersey is perfection except for the one thing I asked you to change.  We get it.  You play in Vancouver.  You don’t need to tell us with a wordmark.  (B, but it coulda been an A)


Washington Capitals:

I’m not sure about this one.  The Capitals have been rocking their look for a decade, and while it’s been symbolic of the franchise’s best (regular) seasons, as well as their consistently heartbreaking playoff runs, I’m not sure it really translates on this new template.  It feels…off.  Also, it should have been Weagle.  (C)


Winnipeg Jets:

Yep, looks the same.  I was never really a fan of the Jets look, yet it’s been six years now and that’s, well, how they look.  (B)


And last but not least, the newest member of the National Hockey League, from T-Mobile Arena on The Strip in Paradise, Nevada, playing in its first professional season, please… welcome… yoooouuuurrrrrr……

Vegas Golden Knights:

Not bad, eh?  As expected, there is red featured on the arms as an accent stripe, while gold plays a major role in the elbows and above a thick black hem line.  I would have liked more red, but alas.  Black also fills the arms up to the shoulders, similar to the Coyotes’ latest.  The shoulders feature the secondary logo, which looks damn good here.  Shame the aways don’t have a grey yoke, but those details in the gold are an interesting touch!  Really, not a bad start, Vegas. (B)


And that’s it.  Except the remaining 31 away jerseys will appear over the next few days sometime between now and the start of the season — many are already appearing out in the wild.

As for my overall impression of these, they’re decidedly above average.  My final grades are as follows:

  • A: BOS, CAR, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, FLA, MIN, MTL, NYI, NYR, PIT, STL, TOR
  • B: ARI, BUF, CBJ, LAK, PHI, SJS, TBL, VAN, VGK, WPG
  • C: ANA, CGY, NSH, NJD, WSH
  • D: EDM, OTT

The Oilers’ leak had me spooked, but they’re by-and-large decent.  I’ll get used to the collar change eventually, while most of the jerseys look so similar to their previous iterations there won’t be any adjustment needed at all.  However, the missed opportunities will surely continue to haunt.  Buffalo, Calgary, Ottawa, Washington, and Vancouver… try harder next time.  Minnesota, Carolina, and Colorado?  I appreciate what you’ve done.  Thank you.

The First Last Jedi Sighting

It’s funny.  Just the other day I thought to myself, “self, it’s already April.  When the heck is the first trailer for The Last Jedi going to drop?”  It was a good question; the teaser for The Force Awakens came out in November of 2015.  That’s a good year and change before release.  Until today, we were basically eight months out with no sign of new footage.

Well, it’s here: feast your eyes on the two-minute trailer for The Last Jedi, revealed as part of the annual Star Wars Celebration.  

Immediately, the score conveys a Star Wars feel.  It always does.  What appears to be a starfield fades into a close-up of a black rock, whilst an eerie, dissonant sound grows louder.

Bam!  Rey!  Just like the first trailer, we’ve got a jump-scare type introduction of one of our main characters.  She’s still on that island from the end of The Force Awakens, and she’s sweating and gasping for breath, again, similar to how Finn was in the first teaser.  It’s like poetry; it’s sort of– they rhyme.

The Force Theme plays over the Lucasfilm logo.

“Breathe.”

A shot of The Island.  I want to go there.

“Just breathe.”

It’s tricky, because of the fact that I know where this place is on Earth, I cannot transport myself to the galaxy far, far away.  Instead, all I can think is “Ireland.”

“Now…

“…reach out.”

For whatever reason, this shot doesn’t feel like Star Wars at all.  In fact, I’m having Legion flashbacks.  But, this does feel like an echo of the levitation scenes in Empire.

“What do you see?”

I see an unknown figure standing in front of a stellar map.  It appears to be on a Mon Calamari cruiser, as you can see a few of them in the background.  Rey’s theme plays briefly.  My gut says that’s Leia.  It’s ’cause of the hair, really.

“Light.”

Kylo Ren’s mask is broken and smoldering.  Interesting, as the last film had a close-up shot of Darth Vader’s melted mask.  Ren’s theme (or the First Order’s theme) plays over this shot, though it’s curious how it comes after the spoken word “light.”

“Darkness.”

A small stone bookshelf is illuminated by a ray of light.  It’s embedded in a wall that kind of looks like an uprooted tree.  As the shot fades in, and underneath the crescendo-ing score, there’s someone whisper-speaking.  It sounds almost like Yoda?

“The balance…”

A gloved hand touches a book that appears worn and/or burned.  That symbol looks familiar, but I can’t place it.  (It’s also replicated in the teaser poster.)

*The sound of a distant lightsaber igniting*

“It’s so much bigger.”

Rey is training with a lightsaber as Luke looks on from above.  She’s swinging at nothing in particular.  Thank goodness there aren’t any remote droids around.

Rapid-fire shot time:

A squadron of skimming fighters scratch up red dust from the surface of a white, deserted, mud-cracked landscape.  In the distance, AT-ATs.  It’s like the anti-Hoth.  Another fighter swoops down, crashes into the ground, and gets back up and flying.

These fighters appear to have an asymmetrical design with the cockpit on the left side.  Their aesthetic is unlike anything I’ve seen in the films, which is a good thing.

Finn!  I would imagine this is some kind of recovery pod for him, post-duel loss.  Or it could be an Iron Man-type suit.  There’s a HUD, featuring Aurebesh text.  I don’t know if I should try translating it or not…

Poe Dameron!  And BB-8!  They’re running down a corridor on, again, what appears to be a Resistance ship that’s under attack.  Poe’s suit has a Rebel logo on the shoulder.

They reach their X-Wing in the hangar, when there’s an explosion behind it.  On the left, I think I spy an A-Wing’s engines!

A TIE Fighter explodes as the Millennium Falcon flies through the clouds, pursued by more TIE Fighters.  Very Empire.

Rey runs with blue lightsaber ignited.  It looks like she might finally be off The Island.

“I only know one truth…”

Badass.  That’s a nice scar you’ve got on your eye there Kylo.  Curious, I thought Rey destroyed your lightsaber when she whooped your ass on Starkiller Base?

What appears to be Luke and R2-D2 sitting in front of a burning building as embers fly in the air.  I have to believe this is the place from Rey’s vision.  No clue where or what it could be.

Captain Phasma and Storm Troopers walk through flames, their shadows cast onto the smoke behind them.  Awesome.  The structure in the upper left indicates to me that this is probably the aforementioned Resistance ship under attack being boarded.

A space battle!  Red and blue adorned ships, shaped like the front-half of a Nebulon-B frigate, are under assault by TIE Fighters.

An X-Wing snipes a TIE Fighter, in what seems like a pretty frantic scene.  Hopefully it’s not like the one from Rogue One.  While that one was fun to watch, I’d hate for this to be more of the same.

“It’s time for the Jedi… to end.”

Luke stands in a portal to a cave.  I wonder if he’s living in a slimy mud-hole like Yoda was.  The parallels seem to be too easy to make.

An ominous score.  STAR WARS in red.

What the heck does that mean?  It’s all so very foreboding.  And, thankfully, the teaser does a good job of revealing basically nothing.  Like before, I haven’t a clue what the plot of this film is, or where the pieces from The Force Awakens get picked up.  I don’t know anything about supporting characters — I assume there will be a few new ones (a la Lando) — nor can I even make a guess as to where our heroes are all heading.

It seems to be a very dark place.  Hopefully they do it right this time.

Going Rogue: A Star Wars Breakdown

rogue_oneI saw Rogue One this past weekend.  It was the very same mid-December Sunday matinee at which I saw The Force Awakens last year.  My interest in seeing the film was muted from the beginning.  I barely watched the trailers — obviously I didn’t post detailed breakdowns about them here — and I knew just about nothing about the characters.  The plot, of course, is common knowledge, given that it’s an expansion of a few lines from A New Hope and technically a prequel.  And you know what?  Rogue One is pretty good; great even.  I enjoyed it.  I’ll get into extreme detail shortly.

Continue reading “Going Rogue: A Star Wars Breakdown”