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 9.1 – Ready to Roll with the 2020-21 Season

We’re back for season nine and we’re looking ahead to what promises to be another unusual year for the Buffalo Sabres and the NHL. With the announcement of the 56-game season and realigned divisions, we discuss the outlook for the Sabres and the path they’ll need to follow in order to break their playoff drought. We also touch on the World Junior Championship and the Sabres prospects who are likely to be participating in the event this season.

Twitter Homework: Which Group of Sabres Makes the Better Roster?

Mike Schopp asked a great question with the Twitter poll he sent out asking which group of jersey numbers would net the better all-time Sabres team.

It’s a great question which sparks some juicy debate. Do you go with goaltending (20-99) or the bulk of Buffalo’s retired numbers (0-19)? With the poll favoring 0-19, I have a feeling that the quick answer is representative of the first players you can think of within the two sets of digits he provided. It’s easy to come up with The French Connection, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Ramsey and Jack Eichel and go with 0-19 over Dominik Hasek and numbers 20-99.

But I felt with a little digging you’d find that you can form two very well-rounded teams from both sets of numbers. Teams which scope out to be closer than you may have thought initially. So I took it upon myself to dig into the Sabres’ number history and build what I feel are the two best teams from the groups of numbers provided in Schopp’s poll. Continue reading

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.