Uni Watch always provides a comprehensive rundown of all the uniform news at the start of each major team sport's season -- except for hockey, for which we provide two comprehensive rundowns: one for all the basic uniform and logo updates, which we presented last week, and one for all the new goalie gear, which we're going to cover today.
Let's start with masks. It's hard to keep track of every new design that's circulating out there, but here are the ones we've been tracking here at Uni Watch HQ (click on the mask themes to see the designs).
Did we miss any new masks? If so, send info this-a-way.
But when it comes to goalie aesthetics, masks are the low-hanging fruit. If you want to dig deeper, you have to look at leg pads, gloves and blockers -- no easy task. Fortunately, Uni Watch is once again privileged to have the assistance of longtime industry insider Tyler Hull, who has generously consented to provide his annual breakdown of what every netminder is wearing this season. Here's his commentary (all quotes from Tyler Hull):
Anaheim Ducks: "Fredrik Anderson is wearing Reebok XLT pads -- the same ones he was wearing last year. Very nice use of the graphic and colors here. As for John Gibson, he's wearing Vaughn V6 pads. I like the colors, but maybe a bit more black would be better."
Arizona Coyotes: "Mike Smith is wearing Reebok XLT pads and going with a color scheme that's being used by a lot of goalies this year. Not a bad look, but could be better. Teammate Devan Dubnyk is wearing Bauer TotalONE NXG pads this year -- a simple but nice-looking set."
Boston Bruins: "Interesting move by Tuukka Rask, who held a poll asking fans to pick his new gear. The fans picked a great-looking setup of Vaughn V6 pads. No fan poll for Niklas Svedberg, who's sticking with his Bauer TotalONE BXG pads and Reebok PS4 gloves, same as last year. Another nice-looking combo with a good use of team colors."
Buffalo Sabres: "Jonas Enroth continues to be one of the most stylish goalies in the NHL, always using the design of a pad and the colors of his team beautifully. He's done it again this year with his Reebok XLT pads. His teammate Michael Neuvirth was with Washington last year and is sticking with his Vaughn V6 pads, but obviously with new colors."
Calgary Flames: "Jonas Hiller's Koho 588 set is a thing of beauty. If the orange accents were yellow to match the Flames' color scheme, then it would be perfect. Karri Ramo, meanwhile, is wearing Bauer Reactor 6000 Vintage pads in all-white. Not much to say here, except that some color is greatly needed."
Carolina Hurricanes: "The most boring-looking goalie tandem in the league, as Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin are both sticking with last year's Vaughn V6 gear -- all-white for Ward and predominantly white for Khudobin."
Chicago Blackhawks: "Corey Crawford is taking the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' approach, as he's continuing to wear the same good-looking set of Reebok XLT pads that he wore last year. I like Antti Raanta's gear, too -- his Brian's G-Netik 2 pads feature a great use of the template and colors. This might be the best-looking pair of goalies in the league."
Columbus Blue Jackets: "Sergei Bobrovsky continues to wear the same all-white CCM Extreme-Flex pads he wore last year. Fortunately, there's a bit of color on Curtis McElhinney's new set of Brian's Sub-Zero 2 pads, although he could have used a lot more color with that pad template."
Colorado Avalanche: "Semyon Varlamov is wearing the new CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads. Not bad, although a bit more color wouldn't hurt. As for Reto Berra, he's wearing CCM Extreme-Flex pads. His design is very similar to what Varlamov wore last year."
Dallas Stars: "Kari Lehtonen and Anders Lindback are both wearing the new CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads this year. Lehtonen's use of colors and the pad graphic is top-notch -- very good-looking set here. Lindback's has taken a more subdued approach, but I like it. Much like the Blackhawks, this is a team whose goalies have great style."
Detroit Red Wings: "Jimmy Howard has ditched his familiar Vaughn Iceberg pads, which is a shame -- that was a unique look. Now he's switched to the Vaughn V6, with a design that's a little too simple for my tastes. Meanwhile, Jonas Gustavsson continues to wear Warrior Ritual 2 pads, making him the only goalie in the NHL right now wearing that model. He's changed the coloring a bit this year, but there's too much white here."
Edmonton Oilers: "Disappointing move by Ben Scrivens, who's switched from last year's awesome V6 design to a very plain custom Vaughn Vintage set. Viktor Fasth is also going with a custom vintage design, but his is from Bauer and looks pretty nice."
Florida Panthers: "Roberto Luongo is wearing Reebok XLT pads and has the same color-blocking as Arizona's Mike Smith (but with Florida colors, obviously). Not great, but better then the all-white set he'd been using for years. But hey, check out Dan Ellis, who's wearing the same beautiful Reebok XLTs he used at the end of last season. One of the better sets in the NHL."
Los Angeles Kings: "Jonathan Quick won the Stanley Cup last season wearing his Vaughn V6 pads, so he's sticking with them. That's fine by me -- I like his look. Martin Jones looks good, too -- he's wearing Vaughn Ventus pads this year."
Minnesota Wild: "The Wild have a great color scheme, so it's a little disappointing to see Niklas Backstrom's Vaughn V6 pads with such a simple color scheme. Use both of your team's colors, not just one! That advice also goes for Darcy Kuemper, who's only using one team color on his Vaughn V6 pads. Must be something in the water in Minnesota. Combine these two designs and you'd have a great set."
Montreal Canadiens: "Carey Price is another goalie who needs to use more colors. He's now wearing the new CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads, but with a design that's much too simple. Still, it's better than Dustin Tokarski, who's wearing the CCM Vintage setup in all-white."
New Jersey Devils: "Corey Schneider is wearing Vaughn V6 pads and CCM Extreme-Flex 2 gloves. Not bad, although a little more color wouldn't hurt. Schneider should take a cue from teammate Scot Clemmensen, whose CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads look sharp."
New York Islanders: "Jaroslav Halak continues to wear a custom Brian's Sub-Zero setup featuring claw marks on the pads. But instead of matching marks on each pad, which he's worn in the past, he's going with big scratches that extend across the pads, which I like better. Meanwhile, Chad Johnson continues to wear the same Vaughn V4 pads he's worn for the last few years."
New York Rangers: "Henrik Lundqvist continues to wear Bauer TotalONE NXG pads, but this year he has a new color scheme. His fellow Ranger Cam Talbot is wearing Reebok XLT pads with a color design that's too plain for my tastes."
Ottawa Senators: "Craig Anderson is wearing the new Brian's G-Netik 2 pads, and he looks very solid -- good design! Robin Lehner, who's continuing to wear Vaughn Ventus pads (but with a new color scheme), also looks good. Very solid twosome."
Philadelphia Flyers: "Steve Mason is another goalie who ran an Internet poll to let fans select his new pads this year. Unfortunately, the fans picked something a little too tame for Mason's CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads. So let's turn our attention to Ray Emery, who has one of the nicer designs in the NHL -- a very good-looking set of Brian's G-Netik 2 pads. My one gripe isn't with him but with Brian's, because the orange coloring on the pad doesn't quite match the Flyers' shade of orange."
Pittsburgh Penguins: "Marc-Andre Fleury will continue to wear the same Reebok XLT pads he wore last year. He's also throwing back to his first few years in the league with a set of all-yellow XLT pads, for when the Penguins wear their throwback jerseys this year. Meanwhile, Thomas Greiss is wearing a nice-looking set of Vaughn V6 pads. Again, I have a quibble here with the manufacturer: The gloves should have the same design as the pads, complete with the black trim, so the setup can coordinate better."
San Jose Sharks: "Not much new in San Jose, as Antti Neimi continues to wear the same Vaughn V4 pads and Vaughn Vision gloves that he's worn for a few years now, and Alex Stalock is still wearing the Vaughn V5 pads he wore last year, but with a slight color change. Very nice-looking set there for Stalock."
St. Louis Blues: "Brian Elliott is wearing the new Bauer Reactor 9000 pads this year. He's going with more color than he's used in the past and it looks very good indeed. Teammate Jake Allen is wearing Vaughn Vintage pads and V6 gloves. A little too simple, but not bad."
Tampa Bay Lightning: "Ben Bishop is still wearing the same Reebok XLT pads he wore last year. It needed more color then and it still does now. Then there's Evgeni Nabokov, who's back in the NHL and still wearing Vaughn gear, this year with an unspectacular set of Vaughn V6 pads."
Toronto Maple Leafs: "Jonathan Bernier joined the trend of goalies holding fan polls to choose their gear. The fans chose wisely here, as Bernier's new set of CCM Extreme-Flex 2 pads looks great. As for James Reimer, he's switching to Vaughn Ventus pads this year, with a simple but effective design."
Vancouver Canucks: "Ryan Miller is sticking with Vaughn V6 pads and CCM Extreme-Flex gloves, but with a new color scheme to match his new team. Eddie Lack is wearing a new custom set of Brian's G-Netik 2s, which will feature the team's secondary logo."
Washington Capitals: "Braden Holtby is wearing the CCM Extreme-Flex pads (which I bet he'll be upgrading soon) and CCM Extreme-Flex 2 gloves. His coloring is nice but just a bit too simple. His teammate Justin Peters is wearing Bauer TotalONE NXG pads with a color scheme that's simple but still works."
Winnipeg Jets: "Ondrej Pavelec is switching from a minimalist design to all-white Reebok XLTs -- disappointing. Speaking of minimalist, Michael Hutchinson's CCM Extreme-Flex pads are OK but have lots of room for improvement."
Do you have any additional info to share regarding goalie gear? If so, you know what to do.
(Special thanks to Tyler Hull, Dave Hutchinson and Lachlan Macintosh for their research assistance.)
Paul Lukas still wants to be a goalie when he grows up. If you liked 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, 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.