Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Jon Jordan on 01/24/11 at 05:59 PM ET
A little hodgepodge of opinion from yours truly today before I jump into the latest installment of our Southeast AHL Affiliate Update later on.
I should start off by saying that, while I’m heartbroken – just shattered – over my beloved New York Jets being ousted from the NFL playoffs last night, a game away from a Super Bowl berth for the second consecutive season, I’m also slightly relieved. Sure, now I’m left to continue to wonder if my dad is right when he encourages me to push my two young sons toward another pro football franchise as their favorite in an effort to save them from perennial Jet torture, but their elimination means I have one less distraction now and can focus on hockey’s stretch run. (Trying to be positive here… Sigh…)
To put that to bed, let’s just say I wouldn’t mind if that team – that football team, remember – hired a hockey guy as their offensive coordinator. The one they have is worthless.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had scheduled a 2:00 PM press conference this afternoon, expected to unveil new uniforms for next season and other brand-related plans, but have now postponed the event out of respect for the ongoing emergency situation in St. Petersburg, where two officers and a U.S. Marshall were shot this morning.
Thoughts, of course, are with the entire St. Pete community and most definitely the families of those involved.
Regarding the Lightning’s plan to roll out a new uniform design, I always get a little fidgety when a team decides to drastically alter their jersey and logo designs. After all, remember, I grew up a fan of the New York Islanders – a team guilty of, among so many other things, the worst uniform transformation of all-time in the mid-nineties.
I’ll show a little faith here, I guess, and wait to judge the new digs until I get a first-hand look. I have not ahead of time and few have, from what I understand, so be wary of any “leaks” that might pop up on the web between now and whenever the rescheduled press conference takes place.
What we do know is that it certainly sounds as though this is anything but a minor tweak. The St. Petersburg Times has reported a switch in the primary color scheme that no longer includes black or silver, in favor of a blue that is said to be similar to their current alternate “BOLTS” sweater. Further, the logo will be altered, reportedly absent of the words “Tampa Bay” on the home jersey, with what has been described as “a prominent lightning bolt” as the centerpiece. On the road, word is the “Tampa Bay” will indeed remain a part of the sweater design.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the current uniforms when they were rolled out but the white away getup grew on me. At home, I’ve always found the current threads awfully plain and far too “bad guys in black” for my liking. So maybe some change here is good.
But, again, some nerves will remain until I see these things for the first time myself. Any time the logo gets transformed, that’s a bold step.
Stay tuned for an announcement on a new time for the press conference. The feeling here is that more than just the adjustment to the logo and uniforms will be announced.
As All-Star Weekend approaches, I’m looking forward to rubbing shoulders with media types from all over the continent and getting a chance to chat up some players that I otherwise don’t get to see on a regular basis. The draft process should be interesting and that quirk to this year’s festivities is starting to draw some major attention. What approach each captain and his pair of alternates will take should make for some alluring matchups. The skills competition remains as intriguing to me as it did when I was a kid because everyone takes that for what it is – a spectacle, an exhibition and so on and so forth.
But the game itself?
I’d be lying if I said I was even remotely excited about a game that carries the same weight as a preseason tilt but I don’t have any answers as to how to make it more meaningful.
The one thing that sticks for me, though it is quickly shot down by others, is to make the ASG and The Winter Classic each year one and the same. WC detractors argue, “What’s the big deal?” about that event in that, as a regular season game, it counts just as much as any other in the standings. And adversaries of the All-Star game will tell you that something has to make it more special. (The KHL, as I understand it, plays their mid-season “classic” outdoors – not that the NHL would be all that eager to follow that league as an example, in most cases.)
But the quick kibosh on this idea evolves from the possibility of weather concerns, more so that a Winter Classic in its current incarnation, between one NHL club and another. As is, the game can always be postponed or rescheduled, just as this season’s Washington/Pittsburgh matchup was pushed back. But inclement weather for an outdoor All-Star gathering would become a logistical nightmare for the league to resolve. A total cancellation would become a distinct reality and, if they set out to have the game, I don’t think they’d be all that thrilled with having to kill it completely.
You can’t sell me on the idea of putting home-ice advantage on the line, as baseball does for the World Series via its All-Star game. Teams work too hard through an 82-game schedule for that right.
So, in the end, it is what it has always been – an exhibition, a marketing fair and a social event, where the game’s biggest stars are put on display, all at once and the sales pitch for the regular season’s final months begins in full force.
But it’s not a hockey game – not by all of the intangible qualities that make the game itself great.
As long as you recognize what it is you’re looking at in a little less than a week’s time, you won’t be disappointed with how it plays out.
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