The Instigator Podcast 10.27 – Laying Out the Sabres Deadline Options

The trade deadline is two weeks away and we spend this week’s episode discussing where Buffalo’s pending UFAs could go and how the Sabres can leverage this year’s deadline into even more draft capital for the club. We also touch on Kevyn Adams’ public statements about the Sabres ability to weaponize their cap space at the deadline.

Also on the show is a quick chat about the returns of Sam Reinhart, Jack Eichel and Sunday’s Heritage Classic.

Sabres Unveil Safe but Sharp Heritage Classic Jerseys

While the official announcement was somehow scooped by the team’s online store, the Sabres unveiled the jerseys they’ll be wearing for the Heritage Classic on Thursday morning.

via NHL on Twitter

The cream-based jerseys are a first in the team’s history of uniforms and overall, it’s a sharp uniform, although maybe a little on the safe side.

I suspected the Sabres would sport some sort of a “fauxback” for this game given the only truly historic jersey set they have to draw upon is already the basis for their home and away uniform. The cream base helps these lean in hard on the fauxback style and helps differentiate it from the 50th anniversary jerseys (which obviously weren’t throwbacks), the 40th anniversary jerseys and even the 2018 Winter Classic uniform which was at least tangentially throwback inspired.

The thicker striping pattern on the sleeves and hem are a great addition as it gives a more bold look than the thinner stripes seen on the 40th alternates or even the team’s home and away set. Ditto for the white trimmed pants stripe, which is something they should be adopting full time. The return of the bumblebee sock striping is going to fly under the radar but might be one of the coolest features of this uniform.

Adding felt to the crest is a nice touch – it certainly made the 2018 Winter Classic crest feel awesome – the rest of the logo remains unaltered. It’s a fine choice given the direction they went.

I don’t care much about the felt names and numbers. One, because I think it’s a concept that’s been overdone on these fauxback type jerseys. Two, because doing the blue on blue makes the unique stitching on felt numbers invisible. I don’t think the stitching pattern is anything special to begin with (hated it on the 40th alternates), but if you’re going to incorporate a design style, you might as well take full advantage. Lastly, there have been screenshots of disclaimers on the Shop One Buffalo site which indicate that the felt lettering probably won’t be available for the jerseys fans purchase. So it’s a purely cosmetic addition which will be difficult, if not impossible to discern on the ice and offers no added benefit to fans who purchase the jersey.

If there’s anything to critique about these jerseys, it’s that they are a bit on the safe side. While Toronto’s jerseys haven’t been released as of this post being written, it looks as if they’ll pull from an old Toronto Arenas uniform design. The Sabres have had quite a few issues embracing not only their history, but the history of hockey in Buffalo as a whole. This could have been a great opportunity to draw on a uniform design of one of Buffalo Bisons teams of the past. Instead, we got a fairly standard fauxback Sabres jersey. A good jersey, mind you. But not quite as adventurous as it could have been.

The jerseys themselves look great in the promotional images that have been shared. I think they’re going to look terrific on the ice as the design of the pants and the sock striping is going to really tie this all together. We won’t have to wait all that long to see them, either. We’re just about three weeks away from the Heritage Classic and I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll see these at KeyBank Center for the team’s throwback night on March 25.

Jersey Concepts for the Sabres Hypothetical Heritage Classic

It sure sounds like the Sabres and Maple Leafs are lining up a potential Heritage Classic in Hamilton on March 13. Right now the game is still firmly a rumor, but there’s a whole lot of smoke that points in the direction of a Sabres/Leafs outdoor game.

The lack of confirmation on the game likely stems from the ongoing uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and the impact that has on opening the USA-Canada border and the ability to continue hosting large events such as an NHL outdoor game. So, while the next iteration of the Heritage Classic hasn’t been officially confirmed, it seems as if all parties are aware of the intention to play the game barring any unforeseen hiccups.

That the league held off on announcing this game along with the other three outdoor game announcements made at the Stanley Cup Final tells me there’s still a fair bit of doubt surrounding the game. If I had to guess it rests mostly with any potential restrictions that could be put in place by Health Canada and the Ontario government between now and March. The border will be another issue, but a lesser one in my opinion as capacity restrictions would have a larger impact than the ease of border crossings.

Even with some of the question marks surrounding the immediate future of the event, the potential for another Sabres outdoor game is exciting. Not only is this much closer than Citi Field, but it more than likely means the Sabres will be getting another special uniform for the event.

Knowing that the Heritage Classic is an event that always draws on throwback designs for the participating teams, I’d expect something cool for the Sabres come March. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the team take the ice in a uniform that draws beyond the precise history of the Sabres franchise. Calgary, for example, wore a uniform derived from the 1924 Calgary Tigers. And given the Sabres current uniforms are a terrific homage to the uniforms they wore from 1970 to 1996, drawing inspiration from elsewhere might just offer the best possible design for fans to gobble up at the merchandise stands.

I’ve put together four jersey designs which differ from the team’s current uniforms while drawing from different vintage aspects and the larger hockey history of Western New York.

Continue reading

NHL risking oversaturation with more outdoor games

With news breaking that the 2013-14 schedule may have upwards of four outdoor games, my wheels again began to turn at the thought of the diminishing spectacle that is outdoor hockey.

The lockout prevented the 2013 Winter Classic from occurring but the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will meet on New Year’s Day 2014 to make up for their missed appointment this past January. In addition, rumors have indicated that the Canucks will play host to the Heritage Classic with additional whispers of a Kings and Ducks showdown at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodger Stadium game is expected to occur on Hockey Day in America and would potentially serve as a doubleheader with another outdoor game played at Yankee Stadium featuring the Rangers. The latter three games have yet to be confirmed, but it would appear that they’re going to be part of the plans for the 2013-14 season.

While I think the Hockey Day in America doubleheader could make for some cool television, I fear that by the time those two games roll around no one will care much for the outdoor product. As it stands now, the Winter Classic makes for a fun game to watch in the elements even though the on-ice product isn’t always up to snuff. Scheduling a pair of games to come after the Winter and Heritage Classic could seriously cheapen what has otherwise become a very cool product.

I wrote this last year about the potential for watering down what these outdoor games mean. I fear that oversaturating the market will change these from unique spectacles to just another blip on the NHL radar. Continue reading