Referees sport new silver unis at All-Star Game

While most of the uniform-based attention at the NHL All-Star Game was focused on the players' new Reebok-designed attire, another uniform story went largely unheralded and unnoticed.

Referees were wearing silver armbands, instead of their usual orange, and ESPN.com has learned that this change will be made permanent next season.

"It's coming for next season," NHL spokesperson Nirva Milord said in an e-mail from the All-Star Game in Dallas. "We're just giving it a consistent look with the new NHL logo."

That logo, introduced prior to the 2005-06 season, is black and silver, while the league's previous emblem was black and orange, matching the refs' current armbands.

This change would mark a significant shift in the look of hockey officiating, since hockey referees around the world wear either red or orange armbands, regardless of their leagues' logo designs.

But it won't be as radical a departure as the switch to zebra-striped jerseys in the 1950s. Prior to that, NHL officials wore beige V-neck sweaters over white dress shirts and neckties.

In addition to the new armbands, the All-Star Game officials tried out a new piece of equipment at the All-Star Game: a high-pitched whistle that interfaces with the arena's game clock.

According to NHL linesman Jean Morin, who posted a message on the discussion board at the NHL Officials Association Web site, "This is a whistle that is used as part of a system to stop the clock when the whistle is blown." It's not yet clear if the new whistle will be implemented on a wider basis next season.

Paul Lukas writes the Uni Watch column for Page 2.