The Uni Watch NHL season preview

The biggest change to the NHL uniform landscape this season is the addition of a new team. The Vegas Golden Knights debuted their look in September. David Becker/NHLI/Getty Images

Don't look now, but hockey season is upon us, which means it's time for the annual Uni Watch NHL Season Preview. And it's a particularly momentous season for NHL gear, because the league has a new equipment outfitter: Adidas, which is taking over for Reebok.

Most teams have simply transferred their existing uniform designs onto the Adidas tailoring template, so their on-ice looks will be largely the same. Still, there are some league-wide changes worth noting, so let's take a few minutes to examine some of the features of the new Adidas uniforms:

1. The collars. For most teams, the most visually obvious change involves the jersey collar. The Adidas template includes an option for contrasting collar striping that, in many cases, has left teams looking like they're wearing a faux polo collar. Reader Kyle Good has coined the term fauxlo, which is what we're going to use here at Uni Watch HQ.

Also, Adidas' tailoring pattern calls for the NHL logo to be positioned within a five-sided fabric panel at the base of the neckline. Many teams have opted to have this pentagon panel rendered in a contrasting color, which sometimes looks jarringly out of place.

The new collars have been the target of a fair amount of criticism -- much of which, unfortunately, seems to be well deserved.

2. The hemlines. The Reebok Edge template, which the NHL began wearing in 2007, featured a scoop hemline that looked particularly bad on teams whose jerseys featured belly striping. The good news is that the Adidas template has a less severe scoop; the bad news is that the belly stripes now conform to the contour of the hemline as they wrap around the back of the jersey, producing a wavy effect that some fans are already complaining about.

3. Dimpled shoulders. The shoulders of the new jerseys feature a performance fabric with a dimpled surface. It isn't visible from a distance, so fans won't be able to see it at the arena or during most TV coverage, although it might be perceptible in a close-up shot. It will definitely be visible when you're shopping for a jersey at the mall, however.

4. Alternate uniforms. Except for the Winter Classic and one other game, there will be no alternate or throwback uniforms this season, because the league and Adidas need time to transition all the designs over to Adidas' template. The alternates will return next season. This is similar to the one-year suspension of alternates that took place in the 2007-08 season, when the Reebok Edge uniform system was introduced. (You might be thinking, "The NBA is switching to Nike this season and they don't seem to have any problems maintaining their alternate uniforms." Hockey uniforms are a lot more complex than basketball uniforms, of course, but it's still a fair point.)

Those are the major visual features that run across all of the uniforms. As for the individual teams, here's our annual rundown, broken down by division:

Atlantic Division

• Big shift for the Bruins, who've changed their yellow home socks to black. The socks now match the sleeves, which was apparently the idea, but overall effect still feels like a downgrade. Also: New nameplate and number typography.

The road socks are still white, but the sock striping now matches the sleeve striping, which is a solid upgrade:

• You wouldn't expect the Canadiens to make many changes. And aside from a tweak to their collar, they haven't.

• The Lightning have scrapped their lace-up collar and replaced it with the fauxlo. And in a huge upgrade, they've removed the "Tampa Bay" lettering from their road jersey:

In addition, the Lightning will have two jersey patches. The first is a 25th anniversary patch, which will be worn on the blue home jerseys all season. The second is a patch for the 2018 NHL All-Star Game, which the Lightning will be hosting on Jan. 28. That patch will be worn on the team's white road jerseys up until the All-Star Game, after which it will be replaced by the anniversary patch.

The anniversary logo has also been incorporated into the team's new center ice design:

Also: The Lightning will retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 -- the second retired number in team history -- on Feb. 10.

Meanwhile, if you want to look ahead to next season, the Lightning have been asking fans for feedback on the team's next alternate jersey (additional info here):

• The Maple Leafs have adopted the fauxlo but have otherwise stuck with their traditionalist look:

Also: Although the NHL is not using alternate or throwback uniforms this season, an exception will be made on Dec. 19, when the Leafs will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the franchise's first game by dressing up as the 1917 Toronto Arenas (additional info here):

Finally, this will be the last season that the Leafs' arena will be known as the Air Canada Centre. It will be renamed as the Scotiabank Arena starting next July.

• Aside from the new collar, the Panthers have kept their look intact.

• Of all the teams in the league, the Red Wings have made the most subtle changes. Their new collar style is similar to their old one, and the rest of their design appears to have been imported onto the new Adidas template fully intact.

Also: You might have noticed the Wings using a different nameplate font during the preseason. That's an annual rite of autumn -- they'll go back to their usual vertically arched font when the regular season starts.

• The bad news is that the Sabres are going with the fishbone collar. The good news is that they've gotten rid of the side stripes. The best news would be if they got rid of the uni number on the front of the jersey, but Buffalo wasn't built in a day.

Also: The Sabres will be playing the Rangers in this season's Winter Classic, which will take place on New Year's Day at Citi Field in New York. The uniforms haven't yet been unveiled, but the preliminary logos suggest that an old-school look is in the works (additional info here).

• The Senators are the rare team whose collar has actually gotten simpler. It's now just solid black, which is an improvement. Meanwhile, they have a new sleeve design (note how the red now butts up against the white), new nameplate and number fonts, and higher positioning for their shoulder patches:

In addition, the Sens have a new center ice design featuring their "O" secondary logo:

Metropolitan Division

• Lots of changes for the Blue Jackets. In addition to the obligatory new collar, they've changed the way their shoulder yoke runs across the chest (an upgrade), gotten a new number font (another upgrade), and changed their sock striping (a big downgrade).

• The Capitals are sporting the fauxlo and have also adjusted the angle and positioning of their upper-chest striping.

• At first glance, the Devils' uniforms look pretty much the same. Take a closer look, though, and you'll see that they've changed their sock and sleeve striping, removed their belly striping and replaced it with a black stripe at the jersey hemline, squared off the edges of their shoulder yoke, and -- of course -- updated their collar. For this notoriously change-averse franchise, those design revisions practically qualify as a seismic shift (additional photos and info here):

Also: The Devils will retire Patrick Elias' No. 26 on Feb. 24.

• The Flyers have tweaked their collars but have made no other changes of note:

Also: The Flyers will retire Eric Lindros' No. 88 before the team's Jan. 18 game against the Maple Leafs.

• Good news out of Carolina, where the Hurricanes have updated the striping on their home uniform, including a restoration of the storm warning flag pattern on the belly stripes:

The changes to the road uniform are more subtle, as they're going with the fauxlo and have also tweaked the way their shoulder yoke intersects with their collar:

Also: The Hurricanes are marking their 20th anniversary in Carolina with a commemorative logo, but they've opted not to wear it as a jersey patch. Instead, it will be a helmet decal and is also being featured at center ice:

• The Islanders' home uniform has one of the worst-looking new collars in the league. It almost looks like a necklace with a pendant, and the laces sit way too low:

By contrast, the road collar isn't as bad, and comes closer to mimicking the old Reebok style. Also, the chest logo is now outlined in blue:

• The defending Stanley Cup champs, the Penguins, are going with the fauxlo collar. In addition, Adidas' new tailoring template makes the shoulder yoke a bit less prominent:

• Big downgrade for the Rangers, whose new home collar features that annoying red pentagon at the center:

The visual effect isn't quite as bad on the road jersey:

Also: The Rangers will be playing the Sabres at this season's Winter Classic, which will take place on New Year's Day at Citi Field in New York. The uniforms haven't yet been unveiled, but the preliminary logos suggest that an old-school look is on the way:

Also-also: The Rangers will retire Jean Ratelle's No. 19 before their game against the Red Wings on Feb. 25.

And if you're into goalie gear, it's worth checking out this video report on Henrik Lundqvist's custom-printed pads:

Central Division

• Major upgrade for the Avalanche, who have jettisoned the annoying apron strings from their jersey and also scrapped what had long been the league's most illegible number font. Oh, they're also going with the fauxlo and their shoulder patches have moved up a bit, just like everyone else.

Blackhawks fans will likely be happy with the team's new look. Aside from a collar tweak and a slight repositioning of the shoulder patches, everything looks just about the same.

And here's an interesting wrinkle: For reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained, the black sleeve stripes on Chicago's road goalie jerseys have been unusually thick in recent year. Adidas appears to have fixed that problem:

Also: Adidas is using a new material that supposedly makes the jersey crests significantly lighter. But the Blackhawks are the one NHL team that uses chain-stitching, an old-school embroidery technique that really makes the graphics pop. When Adidas proposed using the newer, lighter fabric, the Blackhawks said, "Nope -- we'll stick with the chain-stitching." In other words, they stuck to their aesthetic guns, even if it means they'll be at a slight competitive disadvantage.

Meanwhile: Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy got to help paint the team's center ice logo. Check out this great video clip:

• The Blues have changed the numbers of their home jersey from yellow to white. Aside from that, it's hard to spot any differences.

• The Jets have one of the more annoying new collars, with the contrasting NHL logo panel really sticking out like a sore thumb on their home jersey. And as with several other teams, their shoulder patches are now positioned a bit higher:

• Big upgrade for the Predators, who've finally scrapped those annoying shoulder horns, or talons, or whatever they were.

There appears to have been some quality control issues with the road jersey. It's supposed to have navy piping along the edges of the yellow shoulder yoke, but some players' jerseys have been piping-free:

Also: The Preds have a new 20th-anniversary logo, although they're not wearing it as a jersey patch or helmet decal.

• The Stars are celebrating their 25th season in Dallas. So in addition to a new collar style and larger sleeve numbers, they also have a new commemorative patch.

The anniversary logo is also featured as part of the team's new center ice design:

Also: The Stars will retire Jere Lehtinen's No. 26 on Nov. 24. Further info here.

Also-also: The Stars will wear 1993 throwbacks during pregame warm-ups for their game against the Wild on Feb. 3.

• The Wild have scrapped their red home uniform and replaced it with a green uni that's similar to their original green design from the early 2000s. The road uniform remains essentially unchanged except for the collar.

Also: In an apparent NHL first, the Wild have announced that the ice at their arena will include water taken from local hockey ponds, lakes and rinks.

Pacific Division

• The Canucks are going with the fauxlo collar on both of their jerseys, plus they've tweaked the striping on their socks:

• Aside from the new collars, the Coyotes look largely unchanged.

• The Ducks are going with the fauxlo but otherwise look largely unchanged:

• The Flames are going with the fauxlo. They've also scrapped the annoying side stripes (an upgrade), traded in their real lace-up collar for faux laces (a downgrade), moved their shoulder patches up a bit on the jersey (not a big deal either way), and changed their name and number typography (an upgrade).

• The look of the league's newest team, the Golden Knights, is a mixed bag. The jersey crest, featuring a knight's helmet with a V-shaped opening, is mediocre at best. But the home color scheme -- black and gray with gold and red trim -- works surprisingly well, and the road uniform looks sharp. Also of note: white gloves, an NHL rarity. And, of course, the fauxlo collar.

Meanwhile, there are some interesting details on the team's ice surface, beginning with the jersey crest being incorporated into the red-line design (additional info here):

And in an NHL first, the Golden Knights are embedding their season-ticket holders' names into the ice (additional info here):

• The Kings are going with the fauxlo, and have also adjusted the angle and positioning of their upper-chest striping:

• The Oilers have redesignated orange as their home jersey color. They had been wearing an orange throwback as an alternate, which they've updated to create their new home jersey. But they've chosen not to wear the new orange uniform during the preseason, so it will make its on-ice debut at the team's home opener on Oct. 4. They've updated the throwback version with new sleeve and belly striping, and have also changed the nameplate lettering from blue to white.

Meanwhile, the Oilers are also going with a darker shade of blue, changing from royal to something closer to navy. They've also changed the trim on the uni numbers for their road jersey and tweaked the lettering for the players' names. And of course they have new collars.

• The Sharks are going with the fauxlo, plus they've changed their shoulder logo:

Additional notes

• If you want to see comparisons of just front views of each team's old and new home jerseys (no full uniforms, no side or rear views, no road jerseys), the excellent Icethetics site has that covered. You can click on each team's pairing to see a larger view.

• Back on Jan. 1, teams began wearing the NHL centennial patch on their right sleeves. The patch will be worn again this season, through the end of the calendar year.

• The league's new deal with Adidas has also brought a new batch of practice jerseys, all of which feature a circular logo treatment. Here's a sampling:

• Thanks to the awesome Frozen Faceoff site, you can see all of this season's center ice designs in one place. Ditto for arena scoreboards and even audio clips of goal horns.

That's it. Did we miss anything? Yeah, probably. If so, you know what to do.

Paul Lukas will have his annual NBA and college basketball season previews later this fall. If you like this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, 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.