The Instigator Podcast 9.9 – Burke and Hextall Hired in Pittsburgh

We recorded this episode on Tuesday and it felt like there was two weeks worth of news that broke over the past 48 hours in the NHL. From the offside review debacle in Columbus and John Tortorella’s benching of Patrik Laine to the hiring of Brian Burke and Ron Hextall in Pittsburgh, it’s been a busy start to the week. We explore the job that faces Burke and Hextall with the Penguins while also discussing the heat being applied to Jim Benning in Vancouver.

We close the show touching on Buffalo’s COVID postponement and just how impactful the delay could be on their season.

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

The Instigator Podcast 9.8 – COVID Hits the Sabres

The Sabres are facing a week-long postponement due to COVID protocols in the wake of their weekend series with the Devils. With New Jersey dealing with 14 players on the COVID list, it seems likely that the Sabres could see their list balloon as well. We discuss how the league’s decision to let the games go forward was extremely shortsighted and how the ripple effect from these suspensions could begin to wreak havoc on the league schedule. We also touch on Tony DeAngelo being waived by the Rangers along with the struggles the Sabres have had scoring at even strength.

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

The Instigator Podcast 9.7 – Process and Results

For the first time in the history of the sport, the Sabres actually have quality underlying numbers. Despite that fact, they haven’t seen legitimate success early in the season due, in part, to their struggles to score at even strength. We discuss how those underlying results may be indicative of long term success should the Sabres manage to cobble together a better shooting percentage at even strength. We also touch on the Pierre-Luc Dubois/Patrik Laine trade between the Jets and Blue Jackets.

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

Two in the Mailbox – No Need to Panic

The Sabres are back and while it’s only been one game but the team, and the fanbase, are up to their old tricks. Given the leadup to the season opener, and the game’s result, what better time than to do another mailbag?

We’ve got jersey numbers, the Jeff Skinner conundrum, coaching and more. Continue reading

No Need to Fret Over NHL Helmet Ads

The NHL took a monumental step in allowing teams to place ads on their helmets for the 2020-21 season.

See, this is fine.

So far, the decision is being described as an effort to make good on lost advertising from the shortened 2019-20 season. The helmet ads are said to be a one-year effort in an attempt to make up lost revenue from last year. Whether that decision holds remains to be seen. It’s hard to imagine the league and teams will happily turn away whatever advertising dollars can be generated by the ongoing placement of ads on helmets.

At the very least the status quo will be different for this coming year. Ads have made their way to the NHL’s uniforms, that ice has been broken, just a few short years after the NBA placed ads on their jerseys. The NHL’s jerseys remain untouched for now and I suspect they’ll remain that way for at least a few more years.

Even if this doesn’t wind up as a one-year trial, the helmet ads ought to satiate the league, owners and advertisers enough that nothing is added to the jersey. Gary Bettman has described the jerseys as sacred and I can take him at his word on that. If helmet ads are the trade-off for the jerseys remaining untouched, possibly indefinitely, that’s a fair trade to take. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 9.2 – Catching a Taxi Squad

The NHL season is just a few weeks away and clarification has finally come down with regard to the league’s schedule and the key dates for the season. This week’s episode touches on the dates for the start of the season, the trade deadline, playoffs, the draft and more. Among the new additions for the season is a taxi squad that each team will be able to leverage for additional roster flexibility. We discuss the most strategic approach for the Sabres to take with the taxi squad and whether or not we envision the group being used as a development tool or for older call ups as the season progresses. We also touch on the helmet ads coming for the 2020-21 NHL season and the outlook for Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens at the World Junior Championship.

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.

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