- Paul Lukas
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You already know that the NHL lockout has left a lengthy trail of wreckage in its wake, including nearly half of the regular season, the All-Star Game, the Winter Classic, immeasurable amounts of fan goodwill and a hefty percentage of the sport's dignity.
But the lockout has another casualty you may not be aware of: It has nearly destroyed the annual ritual of getting excited about new uniforms. The league knew all along that the lockout was a strong possibility, so uniform changes for this season were kept to a minimum. No point going through a series of unveilings and shipping new product to retail if the season might not even get off the ground, right? As a result, with games finally scheduled to start this Saturday, there are no new primary or alternate uniforms being introduced anywhere in the league. None.
Also, there are no preseason games this time around, so we're not getting an early look at all the goalies' new masks and pads. (Some of them announced new mask designs during the lockout, and we'll get to those in a minute, but it's hard to be sure of what they'll actually be wearing until we see them on the ice.)
That's not to say there's no uni-related news to report, mind you, but it's all in the form of small, nuanced tidbits, not big bombshells. Ready? Here we go with our annual team-by-team breakdown:
• No uniform changes for the Blackhawks, but goalie Ray Emery has a new mask design.
• No uniform changes for the Blues, either, but goalie Brian Elliott has continued his longstanding Casey Jones theme on his latest mask design.
• No uniform changes for the Capitals (are you sensing a pattern here?), but goalie Michal Neuvirth has a new mask (further info here, and there's a video clip of Neuvirth discussing the design here). Also, here's a really good time-lapse video of the team's ice surface being laid down at the Verizon Center:
• Steady as she goes for the Canucks, but goalie Cory Schneider has a new mask.
• Nothing new for the Devils, but goalie Johan Hedberg has a new mask.
• Nothing to report for the Ducks, except that goalie Jonas Hiller has what is probably the NHL's first surfing-themed mask design.
• No uniform changes for the Flames, but goalie Henrik Karlsson has a new mask.
• No changes for the Flyers, but goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has a new mask design.
• Everything's the same for the Hurricanes, except that goalie Cam Ward has a new entry in his series of Black Beard the Pirate-themed masks.
• Memo to the Islanders: There are probably a few teams out there that could slap a big Advil ad on the ice without it seeming like a bad joke. Unfortunately, you are not one of them.
• Let's hear it for Jets goalie Al Montoya, who has the new mask design of the year. Yowza! Also: Last season the Jets had a traditional striped red line. This year they're going with a fighter jet pattern. Additional photos here.
• No uniform changes for the Kings, but goalie Jonathan Quick has a new mask to wear with the team's throwback uni.
• The Lightning have a new 20th-anniversary logo, which they're wearing as a jersey patch. How about that -- an actual uniform adjustment! The anniversary logo has been emblazoned at center ice, too. Also: New masks for goalies Mathieu Garon and Anders Lindback.
• Welcome news out of Florida, where the Panthers have retired their hopelessly generic alternate uni. Classic case of addition by subtraction.
• Nothing new for the Penguins, but goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has two new mask designs: one for the team's standard home and road uniforms (further info in this video clip) and one for the throwback alternates. Backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun has a new mask as well.
• Same old same old for the Predators, but goalie Chris Mason has a cool new set of pads.
• Uni Watch wouldn't normally bother to mention practice attire, but these are unusual times, so here goes: The Rangers have new red practice jerseys. Doesn't feel right, does it? Red is a Rangers color, but it should never be the dominant color. Also: New mask design for Henrik Lundqvist, and here's hoping minor league goalie Cam Talbot makes it to the Rangers, if only so more hockey fans can see his Ghostbusters-themed mask.
• Nothing new for the Red Wings, but goalie Jonas Gustavsson has a new mask.
• The Sabres have retired their alternate uniform. Too bad -- it was a Uni Watch favorite.
• The Sharks will wear "GGIII" helmet decals, in memory of original team owner George Gund III, who died earlier this week. The helmet decal will be upgraded to a jersey patch at some point in the near future.
• The Stars are marking their 20th anniversary in Dallas with a jersey patch, and they're using a much simpler version of that design at center ice. Also, goalie Richard Bachman has a new mask. (Looking ahead to next season, the Stars will be getting a significant overhaul.)
And there you have it. Granted, it's not the most scintillating aggregation of uni-related news. But like everything else NHL-related this season, we have to take what we can get. Now drop the puck already.
Paul Lukas looks forward to a more active round of NHL uniform changes this fall. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his daily Uni Watch web site, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.