The Uni Watch NHL season preview

If you were thinking that the NHL looked a little bland last season, things are going to look a lot more interesting this time around.

When Adidas took over for Reebok last year as the NHL's uniform outfitter, one unfortunate side effect was a one-year hiatus for alternate uniforms (or, as the league prefers to call them, "third jerseys," although that's a misnomer, because a uniform involves a lot more than just a jersey). So for 2017-18, teams were limited to their primary home and road uni designs.

But the drought is over. As of this writing, 14 of the 30 NHL teams have introduced alternate uniforms for 2018-19, and several more are expected to follow. Some of the freshly unveiled alts are essentially continuations of pre-existing alternate designs that teams had already been wearing before the one-year speed bump; others are new designs that will be making their NHL debuts.

All of which should make for a much more visually interesting scene than we had last season. With the regular season set to begin on Oct. 3, here's our annual team-by-team rundown of what you can expect to see on the ice.

Atlantic Division

• The Bruins will be playing in this season's Winter Classic, which is taking place on New Year's Day at Notre Dame Stadium in Indiana. Although they haven't yet unveiled their full uniform, they've revealed a 1930s throwback logo that will be part of the design, along with photos of the original 1930s uniform on which the Winter Classic uni will be based:

In addition, the Bruins will retire Rick Middleton's No. 16 on Nov. 29.

• The Canadiens, who'd been among the last teams to use two opposite-facing logos at center ice, are going with one big logo this season:

• This is pretty cool: Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy's new mask has design elements that change color in cold temperatures:

Maple Leafs: No announced changes or news.

• The Panthers are celebrating their 25th anniversary with a jersey patch, and they are also using the patch logo at center ice (additional details here):

In addition, the Panthers will play two games against the Jets in Finland on Nov. 1 and 2 as part of the NHL Global Series, and they will wear a patch for the occasion:

• The Red Wings have updated their "Hockeytown" logo. Unlike the previous version, the new logo will not be used at center ice (additional info here):

Also, you may 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.

• No announced uni changes so far for the Sabres, but it's worth noting that phenom Jack Eichel has changed his uni number from 15 to 9.

• The Senators have ditched the "O" and restored their mascot character to center ice:

Metropolitan Division

• The Blue Jackets are bringing back their cannon-themed alternate jersey, which will be worn 12 times during the season (jersey schedule and additional info here):

• After a one-season hiatus due to the Adidas changeover, the Capitals' throwback alternates are back. They'll be worn for a dozen games this season (additional info and jersey schedule here):

In addition, the Caps will raise their championship banner prior to their season opener against the Bruins on Oct. 3.

• The Devils, who've steadfastly refused to have an alternate jersey throughout their history, finally have given in and added an alternate to their wardrobe. It's a good one, too -- a throwback to their original 1980s red-green-white design (although they'll be wearing it only four times):

In addition, the Devils will open their season in Sweden as part of the NHL Global Series, and they will wear a patch for the occasion:

• The Flyers have added a black alternate jersey to their uni mix:

And in what probably ranks as the most disturbing news of the season, the Flyers have a new costumed mascot, named Gritty, who looks like he was designed to give kids -- and maybe adults -- nightmares (additional photos and info here, if you dare):

• Remember the Hurricanes' old black alternate uniform with the hurricane warning flag flying from a hockey stick? It was great, except for one thing: A single flag represents a storm warning, not a hurricane warning. They've remedied that with a new alternate uni that features a double-flag logo -- the proper symbol for a hurricane warning and therefore the right crest for a team called the Hurricanes! They'll wear this design 14 times this season (additional photos and info here).

One interesting tidbit about this new uni: The "C" and "A" designations for the captain and alternates will be worn on the right side instead of the more traditional left side:

Also: Younger fans may not realize that the Hurricanes used to be the Hartford Whalers, before the franchise moved from Connecticut to North Carolina in 1997. But they'll get acquainted with that history this season, because the 'Canes are planning to wear Whalers throwbacks for the first time. They'll be worn for two games, both against the Bruins -- at home on Dec. 23 and on the road on March 5 (additional info here):

• The Islanders are expected to have a new alternate uniform this season. So far there have been lots of rumors and leaks of questionable legitimacy, but not much in the way of solid info. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, in keeping to new GM Lou Lamoriello's longstanding preferences, the manufacturers' logos on the Isles' pants have moved from the front to the sides:

• Nothing new so far for the Penguins, but here's a recent profile of equipment manager Dana Heinze, along with an article about how two of the team's newest players ended up with their uniform numbers.

• The Rangers will retire Vic Hadfield's No. 11 on Dec. 2. The number already had been retired for Mark Messier in 2006, but now Hadfield will share the honor.

Central Division

• The Avalanche have revived the popular alternate uniform that they wore for two seasons before last season's Adidas-induced hiatus. They'll wear this design, which as you may recall borrows heavily from the uniforms worn by the old Colorado Rockies, for 12 games this season (additional info and jersey schedule here):

• The Blackhawks are adding patches and ice graphics in memory of the great Stan Mikita, who died earlier this year:

In addition, the Blackhawks will be playing in this season's Winter Classic on New Year's Day at Notre Dame Stadium. They haven't yet unveiled the throwback uniform that they'll be wearing for that game, but they've given us a pretty strong hint of what it will look like:

• Great news out of St. Looey, where the Blues are reviving their inaugural 1960s uniform as a throwback, which they'll wear for 11 Saturday home games. This is the same design they wore in the 2017 Winter Classic, and it still looks as good now as it did then (additional info and jersey schedule here):

• The current incarnation of the Jets has never had an alternate jersey since the franchise relocated from Atlanta to Winnipeg in 2011, but that will be changing this season, as the team has a new retro-flavored alternate that riffs on the look of the old 1990s Jets (additional info and photos here):

In addition, the Jets will play two games against the Panthers in Finland on Nov. 1 and 2 as part of the NHL Global Series, and they will wear a patch for the occasion:

Predators: No announced changes or news.

• No uni changes so far for the Stars, but here's a really good video clip showing how the ice at their arena is prepared for game action:

• Minnesota likes to call itself the State of Hockey, so it's appropriate that the state's shape now forms the pattern for the Wild's red line:

Pacific Division

• No announced changes this season for the Canucks, but they have big things in the works for 2019-20, when they'll be celebrating their 50th anniversary. They've already conducted a fan vote that resulted in their old "flying skate" uni being chosen as a throwback for next season, and they also plan to add a new alternate uni as well. But for this season, it appears that they're sticking with the status quo.

• Fun news out of Arizona, where the Coyotes are bringing back their original "peyote coyote" uniform as a throwback alternate. They'll wear it for Saturday home games, including their home opener against the Ducks on Oct. 6 (additional photos here):

Those throwbacks will look even better with goalie Antti Raanta between the pipes, because he has a new set of throwback-themed pads:

In addition, the Coyotes will retire former captain Shane Doan's No. 19 on Feb. 24.

• The Ducks are going all out with a bunch of uni-related initiatives to mark their 25th anniversary. First, they have a new web-footed anniversary logo that's being used as a jersey patch, as a helmet decal, and at center ice:

Second, the team has a new alternate uniform that leans heavily on the franchise's inaugural uni set. It's not a true throwback, but it's a nice nod to the team's original incarnation (additional info here):

Third, the Ducks will wear nine different throwback jerseys from their history -- yes, including the infamous "Wild Wing" design -- during pregame warm-ups of select games. Full info on that is available here.

Finally, the Ducks will retire Paul Kariya's No. 9 on Oct. 21 and Scott Niedermayer's No. 27 on Feb. 17.

• The Flames' popular 1980s throwback uniform is making a comeback. They originally wore this design from 1980 through 1994, and this isn't the first time they've revived it as a throwback, but it's always a welcome sight.

• The Golden Knights have a new gold-trimmed center ice design:

In addition, the team's trademark dispute with the United States Army, which at one point looked like it could be a threat to the team's name, has been amicably resolved.

• Subtle change for the Kings, whose gloves have gone from solid black to two-tone:

• The Oilers have a new blue throwback jersey, which will be worn four times this season. Like all of their jerseys, it will feature a patch marking the 40th anniversary of the team joining the NHL after the WHA's demise (additional anniversary-related info here):

In addition, the Oilers will open their season in Sweden as part of the NHL Global Series, and they will wear a patch for the occasion:

• The Sharks have a new black alternate uniform, which they'll be wearing for Thursday and Friday home games (additional info, photos, and jersey schedule here):

Additional Notes

• We've already covered what the Bruins' and Blackhawks' Winter Classic uniforms might look like, but what about the logo for the game itself? Glad you asked (additional info here):

• Speaking of special-event logos, the Sharks are hosting this season's NHL All-Star Game, which will take place on Jan. 26. In an apparent first, the logo has been designed to look like a smartphone app icon. Is that a really clever idea or a sign of civilization's decline? Eh, maybe a bit of both (additional info here).

• Finally, here's a depressing bit of news about the look of the game: In a sports world that's already awash in advertising, the NHL is now allowing teams to add four new ads to the ice -- one in each corner. Let's just say it's not a good look (additional info here and here):

Did we miss anything? If so, you know what to do. Thanks.

Paul Lukas will have his NBA and college hoops 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 and sign up for his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, check out his Uni Watch merchandise, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.