The Instigator Podcast: Fabric of the Game with Chris Creamer and Todd Radom

It was a great pleasure to have Chris Creamer and Todd Radom join the podcast to discuss their new book Fabric of the Game. It’s a tremendous book that details the history of the jerseys and logos of the NHL. Todd and Chris discuss the impetus for the book, the countless hours of research it took to compile some of the incredible stories in the book and some of their favorite bits of the text. We also talk about their personal favorite aspects of uniform design and the NHL’s Reverse Retro line.

Exploring Some of the Best Masks of the Era

Goalie masks hold a unique place in sporting culture. Few sports provide any outlet for personal expression in the way masks do. It’s an excellent feature and I can tie my own personal desire to play goal to an attraction to the myriad masks I’d inspect on my hockey card collection.

There are a million and one awesome masks out there and a simple Google search will yield you endless rankings and top ten lists from half the writers on THW or Bardown. To avoid plaguing the internet with another goalie mask ranking, I’m going to try a slightly different approach. Cataloging some of the most iconic masks of the modern era while sprinkling in some of my personal favorites along the way.

When I say modern era I’m thinking strictly from the perspective of the history of goaltending. So most of my attention is being directed to masks designed and worn from the late 1980s on. My loose definition of the modern era of goaltending is when most of the league’s goalies had transitioned away from the old fully molded masks and had begun to transition away from helmet and cage combos towards the modern masks we are familiar with today.

That isn’t to discount some of the incredible works of art from the 60s, 70s and 80s, but just to keep the focus on a smaller group. I won’t leave out the league’s golden age as the masks of Giles Gratton, Murray Bannerman, Gary Bromley, Gerry Cheevers and Gilles Meloche are worthy of their rightful place as some of the most beautiful masks of all time. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast – Reverse Retro Edition

With the NHL’s new Reverse Retro jerseys unveiled, we discuss the best of the best and some of our least favorite designs of the collection. We argue over the quality of the Rangers jersey while expressing our excitement over the Sabres version. We also touch on the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season and the frustrations caused by it.

Sabres Reverse Retro Hits the Bullseye

The butterknives are back. Among the many uniform requests Sabres fans have made in recent years, honoring the black and red era has been near the top of the list. Buffalo’s entry in the NHL’s Reverse Retro program doesn’t bring back the black and red color scheme, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

For years it has seemed like the Pegulas and PSE would rather sell the team before truly acknowledging the era of black and red jerseys. That they’ve resurrected a design from the era certainly bodes well for future endeavors. So long as the proper deadlines are met.

The Reverse Retro alternates that will be worn this year are a fun homage to the third jersey the club released in 2000. The design looks great in the new blue and gold colorway and we even get the added treat of the goathead logo adorning the shoulders.

I’ve been a fan of the team’s original third jersey for a long time, so I’m extremely pleased to see these return to action. The new blue and gold colors translate well to the design and the white base is a welcome choice as the blue and gold stripes work far better than a white and gold stripe would have on a blue jersey. I know the wordmark isn’t very popular with fans but I’ve always been fond of it. And it looks good in blue and gold, so I count that as a win. Continue reading

Ranking the NHL’s Reverse Retro Jersey Collection

The NHL’s newest jersey initiative was formally introduced today, with the Adidas Reverse Retro alternate jersey set unveiled for all 31 teams. The premise was to put a modern spin on a jersey from each team’s history. There doesn’t appear to be any hard and fast rules for how the designs were picked as most put a club’s current colors onto an old design. But others borrow vintage colors or even use throwback designs in the case of the Hurricanes and Avalanche.

It’s a jersey collection that could have easily strayed into questionable territory but taking in all 31 designs, there’s really only a couple which aren’t overly appealing. Perhaps most importantly is what this represents for the league. This is a new take on a jersey program which puts the onus on designs which will be fun for fans to see on the ice and hanging in their closet. This is a big step forward for a league that’s often seen as too boring and conservative. Not to mention it’s going to be an excellent revenue source in a time when any penny earned will go a long way.

Naturally, with a host of new jerseys to enjoy, the only logical course of action is to rank each of the designs. I look forward to hearing how wrong my rankings are in the comments or on social media. Continue reading

Concepts for the Sabres “Reverse Retro” Jersey

In a move akin to the NBA’s recent jersey expansion, the NHL appears set to introduce a new jersey for all 31 teams beginning in the 2020-21 season.

Early reports describe the new jersey set as a “reverse retro” alternate, with some early leaks indicating the direction the league and teams appear to be going with the program. With indications that all 31 teams will be getting their own reverse retro jersey, the league is taking a new tack with regard to the alternate uniform program. The current process allows for teams to utilize a third jersey with rules providing somewhere between 10-15 games that teams may wear their third jersey. Teams also have latitude to utilize a vintage uniform with stricter stipulations on the number of games they can be worn. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.39 – Offseason Update with Joe Yerdon

Joe Yerdon joins the show yet again as we discuss the Sabres work at the draft and free agency. We touch on how Taylor Hall will impact the roster and whether or not his acquisition gives the Sabres enough fire power to take the next step. Jack Quinn is on the table as well as we run through the draft and the tepid reaction to Quinn’s selection.

Sabres Have Options for Upgrades in Rich Goalie Market

Of the may hiccups which have delayed and stalled Buffalo’s rebuild, uncertainty in the goal crease has been almost a near constant. It hasn’t necessarily been at the forefront of the struggles which have beset the Sabres as they try to climb back into playoff contention, but it has been an almost ever-present specter.

It would appear that Kevyn Adams has a goaltender on his offseason shopping list, though the path to improving Buffalo’s prospects in net isn’t linear.

Linus Ullmark has transitioned from a prospect to an NHL caliber goaltender since being drafted in 2012. He has been fairly steady for the Sabres over the last two seasons but it would be a stretch to say he truly fits the mold of a starting goaltender in the NHL. He isn’t likely Buffalo’s long term answer in goal but he’s still poised to take the lion’s share of Buffalo’s starts after playing 50% of the team’s games this past year.

Who he shares the crease with is up for debate as Carter Hutton is positioned to remain in Buffalo for the final year of his contract, but his results have been shaky enough to raise questions about how the Sabres can improve the position. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.38 – Draft Round Table Featuring Expected Buffalo

We teamed up with the boys from Expected Buffalo to run through a host of draft-related topics. We discuss our favorite targets, including the likes of Anton Lundell and Marco Rossi and the likelihood that either of those players will be available when the Sabres pick at eight. Additional topics of discussion include our view on how the top of the draft will shake out and which x-factor picks may come up. We close with some bold predictions on both the draft and the rest of Buffalo’s offseason.

Two in the Mailbox – Trade Targets, Goalie Wishlist and More

It’s been a while since the last mailbag ran, so I’ve taken a few extra questions for this edition to make up for lost time. This edition of the mailbag will hit on draft questions, goalie gear, movie recommendations and trade targets.

Hopefully I won’t be as lazy moving forward and there will be more mailbags to come in the weeks to follow. Continue reading