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PHT Power Rankings: The NHL’s worst alternate jerseys

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It is the summer and with no games being played at the moment it is awfully difficult to rank the NHL’s 31 teams on a weekly basis. So the PHT Power Rankings will spend the next month taking a look back at some of the best (and worst) developments throughout NHL history. Best trades. Worst trades. Best all-time teams. Any other random things we feel like ranking. We begin by taking a look back at the worst alternate jerseys the league’s creative geniuses have concocted. 

For the upcoming 2018-19 season a couple of NHL teams are turning back the clock for their alternate jerseys and bringing back some old favorites. The Arizona Coyotes are bringing back their original black Kachina jerseys, while the Anaheim Ducks are going with a retro-themed look for their alternates (a jersey that has already received mixed reviews).

Everyone has a favorite jersey for their favorite team and this list is not about them. This list is about the worst alternate jerseys in league history, with most of them coming from that bizarre stretch in the mid-late 1990s when things got … well … weird.

Important note to address before we begin: The Islanders Gorton’s Fishstick jerseys — everyone’s favorite jersey to hate — are excluded from this ranking for two reasons. First, they are awesome and the Islanders should bring them back. Second, they were not an “alternate” jersey. They were the Islanders’ actual regular jersey for several years and hockey was better for it.

Also excluded: The St. Louis Blues “Cool Cat” jerseys because they never actually saw the light of day and were never worn during a game. They are more of an urban legend than anything else at this point. The story goes that they were presented to then Blues coach Mike Keenan who completely rejected them, refusing to put his team on the ice if they wore them. Our Sean Leahy asked Keenan about that story a few years ago.

“I could speculate that it probably was true at the time,” Keenan said at the time. “I couldn’t confirm it, but I probably had an inclination that that would be something at that time in the context of the league I probably wasn’t too enamored with. I don’t remember specifically, but I think that’s probably right.”

Darn shame.

As for the jerseys that did see the ice…

The Worst Of The Worst

1. Anaheim Ducks

The NHL’s third jersey program kicked off during the 1995-96 season with Anaheim, Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Vancouver all introducing new threads. Most of them will make this list, but none of them were as bizarre as the Ducks’ monstrosity that featured their mascot, dressed in goalie gear, bursting through the ice like he was emerging from a deep sea scuba diving expedition. The Ducks are a team whose jersey’s I have never really cared for in any era and these probably the closest thing the NHL ever saw to the Cool Cat Blues jersey actually hitting the ice.

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2. Los Angeles Kings

During the Wayne Gretzky era the Los Angeles Kings’ silver and blake uniforms were just awesome. A tremendous look. Simple design. The colors worked perfectly. It was just awesome. Then, when the league introduced the third jersey concept, they came up with this, which is the exact opposite of awesome.

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3. Edmonton Oilers

This is an underrated jersey that does not get enough respect in the bad jersey discussion. Though, slapping giant tear drop on the front of the Oilers’ jersey is very fitting for that organization over the past 15 years.

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4. Tampa Bay Lightning

This just looks like a bad All-Star jersey.

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Why Did You Mess With A Classic?

These really do not need much comment. You know what the original uniforms are supposed to look like. And then … these.

5. Boston Bruins

Remember that “turn ahead the clock” promotion that Major League Baseball went with in the late 90s, where teams would wear what they thought to be “futuristic” uniforms?

They were basically just a bright color with a giant team logo (or some version of the logo) slapped on the front of it.

That is kind of what these remind me of. That bear doesn’t even look intimidating or fierce. It’s like the goofy bear that accidentally stumbles into your backyard swimming pool.

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6. New York Rangers

You know the classic New York Rangers jersey? What if we replaced it by puttting the painting of the Statue of Liberty from Mike Richter’s mask on the front of the jersey?

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What is happening here?

7. Dallas Stars

Interesting design here in Dallas.

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8. Calgary Flames

The idea of a fire-breathing horse seems kind of cool, but it just does not work here.

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What’s with the colors?

9 (tie). Nashville Predators/Atlanta Thrashers 

I think with the right look a team can make mustard yellow or powder blue work.

These two looks are not the right look.

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10. Vancouver Canucks The Canucks tried a few different alternate jerseys over the years and for some reason between 1995 and the early 2000s they really tried to focus on a lot of red, which was never really one of the primary colors. It just looks weird. 

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Where Avs are at after re-signing J.T. Compher

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The Colorado Avalanche’s offseason continues to come into focus, even as we’re in more of a housekeeping mode, rather than a more exciting time of dramatic renovations.

Earlier, the Avalanche signed intriguing new addition Andre Burakovsky at a bargain $3.25 million rate. While I would’ve been even more excited if the Avalanche would have bought more term, it’s still a nice move, and Burakovsky’s still slated to be an RFA after this one-year re-up expires.

The medium-sized moves continued on Wednesday, with Colorado handing forward J.T. Compher an interesting four-year deal reportedly worth $3.5M per season.

Overall, it’s fairly easy to understand. Compher scored both 16 goals and assists on his way to 32 points last season, despite being limited to 66 games. He quietly logged a lot of minutes (17:29 TOI per game), and had some utility, although the Avalanche might be wise to ease some of his PK duties going forward.

You can dig deeper into certain numbers, or make some tough comparisons, and start to feel not-quite-as-good about Compher’s new contract.

After all, Compher possesses the same contract as now-former teammate Alex Kerfoot, who will carry $3.5M for four seasons with Toronto. On one hand, it’s not as though Colorado necessarily chose to keep Compher over Kerfoot; it’s very plausible that the analytics-savvy Maple Leafs wanted Kerfoot to make that Nazem KadriTyson Barrie deal work, in the first place. On the other hand, the comparisons are natural when you consider their identical deals. Comparing the two using visualizations including Evolving Hockey’s Regularized Adjusted Plus/Minus (RAPM) makes this contract look less appealing:

via Evolving Hockey

Compher doesn’t need to equal or exceed Kerfoot’s value to be worth $3.5M per year to the Avalanche, though, and there’s a solid chance that they’ll be fine with this contract.

It does open up an opportunity to ponder where Colorado is, though.

The Avalanche still have a big-ticket item to re-sign, as Mikko Rantanen is one of the many RFAs heading for a big raise alongside the likes of Mitch Marner and Brayden Point. If Colorado can convince Rantanen to sign somewhere in the team-friendly range that the Carolina Hurricanes enjoy with Sebastian Aho, or the borderline insane deal the San Jose Sharks landed with Timo Meier, then Colorado would continue to look like one of the smartest people in the room.

But how many steps have the Avs taken after upsetting the Flames in Round 1 and pushing the Sharks hard in Round 2 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey projected next season’s lineup, figuring that Compher will center a third line with two sneaky-good analytics wingers in Colin Wilson and Joonas Donskoi, while Kadri could center a second line with Tyson Jost and Andre Burakovsky around him.

Losing Kerfoot stings, but on paper, that does seem like a middle-six that could ease some of the burden for that all-world trio of Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog. It’s also plausible that the Avs could try to move different pieces around to see if one of MacKinnon or Rantanen could carry their own line, thus diversifying the Avs’ attack.

Yet, with the Central Division continuing to look like a beastly group, it’s tough to say where Colorado fits. Is this team more wild-card material, or will a boosted supporting cast push them to a new level? There’s also the possibility that things don’t work out the same way as they did in 2018-19, from that MacKinnon line slowing to maybe the goaltending falling short.

Whatever value Compher ultimately brings, along with newcomers like Burakovsky, Kadri, and Donskoi, a mild itch for something bolder remains for some of us (I blame the NBA’s run where the West is revolutionized every week, seemingly). At least Avs fans can let their imaginations run wild, as there could be some space left over, even after Rantanen gets paid:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Golden Knights make dream come true for young fan battling cancer

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He may not be on the payroll, but 13-year-old Doron Coldwell is a Vegas Golden Knight through and through.

But his story begins long before the Golden Knights stepped onto the ice for their inaugural season in 2017-18. As documented during a “My Wish” segment this summer on ESPN, Coldwell’s connection with the Golden Knights began with some heart-breaking news.

At first, the tests were inconclusive.

In June 2013, Coldwell’s mother Liat, a nurse, had noticed that his glands were swollen but a series of tests didn’t result in any concrete diagnosis of a problem.

“That started the rollercoaster ride for the next two years of he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this,” said Brett Coldwell, Doron’s father. “But he wasn’t getting any better.”

Liat feared the worst.

“I had a very bad feeling that we were dealing with cancer,” she said.

Those fears would become reality. The diagnosis would finally come: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His chemotherapy began in 2017.

Weakened by his treatments, Brett said that at one point Doron told him that “worst-case scenario, I guess I get to go be with Jesus.”

Instead, Doron, with a little help from the Golden Knights, began to heal.

“The chemo was working,” Doron said.

Gold being the color of pediatric cancer, Liat refers to her son as her ‘Golden Knight’.

And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and with the help of the team that helped him heal — his cancer in remission — Doron recently became an official Golden Knight for a day.

Doron got a chance to meet the team. A locker bearing his name was in the team’s dressing room and for the first time, he got outfitted in goalie gear and received the full pre-game experience, including being introduced to an assembled crowd at City National Arena, the team’s practice facility.

With a little instruction of Marc-Andre Fleury, Doron was stopping Vegas’ top goalscorers with ease on an unforgettable day.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Stamkos best of an era; Russian Rangers revival

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Steven Stamkos is the best shooter of the salary cap era. (Raw Charge)

• What active NHLers are Hall of Fame worthy? Here they are, ranked. (Yardbarker)

• Pittsburgh has players who rank among the best, worst at converting shots into goals. Who are they? (Pensburgh)

• Russian invasion fueling Rangers revival. (Featurd)

• Why the folding of the National Women’s Hockey League could be best thing for the sport. (AZ Central)

• Panthers view Bobrovsky signing as needed element for return to playoffs. (NHL.com)

• It’s time to move on from Jon Gillies. (Matchsticks & Gasoline)

• Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• NHL stands out when strengths of major pro leagues are pondered. (StarTribune)

• The latest on the changes and improvements coming to NHL 20. (Operation Sports)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seattle close to naming Ron Francis as GM

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a person with direct knowledge tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not made an announcement.

The expansion Seattle franchise is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL’s 32nd team.

After longtime Detroit GM Ken Holland went to Edmonton, adviser Dave Tippett left Seattle Hockey Partners LLC to become Oilers coach and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon and Columbus’ Bill Zito got promotions, there was a limited pool of experienced NHL executives to choose from for this job. Francis fits that bill.

The 56-year-old has been in hockey operations since shortly after the end of his Hall of Fame playing career. All of that time has come with the Carolina Hurricanes, including four seasons as their GM.

Carolina didn’t make the playoffs with Francis in charge of decision-making, though his moves put the foundation in place for the team that reached the Eastern Conference final this past season.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports