[Today we have a sensational guest entry from Sean Egelhardt, who’s written a superb analysis of a little-noted uniform element. You’re gonna like this one. ”” PL]
By Sean Engelhardt
Henrik Lundqvist, like most NHL goaltenders, has a new mask this year. The design resembles the one he’s used in years past, but this year the cage — by which I mean the bars in the center of the mask — is blue rather than the white he’s previously used. More interestingly, the inside of the cage is white, creating a two-toned effect he uses on his secondary mask (which he wears when the Rangers wear their third jerseys) and which he used in the Sochi Olympics (click to enlarge):
I believe this marks a performance/style intersection for Hank. I think he likes the way the blue looks from the outside but believes white bars work best for his vision, which plays such an important part of goaltending.
Having grown up playing goalie myself, I can recall the topic of preferred cage colors coming up now and again, but I’ve never heard it discussed on TV or elsewhere. I always preferred a white cage, because I thought the white blended in with the ice and was less distracting. I felt that white bars let your brain do what it does when you watch a choppy animation ”” fill in missing information with what should be there. I felt that this allowed me to track the puck a bit truer, rather than having a dark puck blend into a dark cage and possibly introduce milliseconds of uncertainty about which side of the bar the puck was on. That might sound questionable, but hockey moves very quickly, and any advantage, even if it’s imagined, can help.
So how does Lundqvist’s cage stack up with those of his fellow NHL goalies? About half of the league’s netminders currently use a white cage, half go with chrome/stainless steel, and a few others go with team colors. Only Lundqvist’s cage has a different color inside than out (click to enlarge):
As long as we’re taking about cages, let’s turn to the issue of bar configuration. Most professional goaltenders prefer the cat-eye style, which has two large curved openings in front of the eyes. The cat-eye cage is illegal in junior hockey, because it lacks certification from the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) ”” not, as many people mistakenly think, because the puck can fit through the openings (it can’t), but because the butt-end of a stick can. As a result, young goaltenders always start their careers with a grid (much like a normal skater’s cage) or “Certified Cat Eye” (a hideous-looking design meant to entice goalies who want the pro look but require a HECC-certified mask). You can see the three primary styles here (click to enlarge):
The added bars on the certified cat-eye make the cage legal but defeat the point of the high-visibility cat-eye, so most goalies graduate to the professional cat-eye as soon they can.
In the modern goalie-mask era, a few notables have strayed from the cat-eye cage. Tim Thomas and Don Beaupre opted for custom, high-visibility, non-HECC-certified grids, while John Vanbiesbrouck went with a tight grid in what I believe had to provide the worst visibility of any mask in the modern era. You can barely see Beezer in there! But what do I know? He has 374 more wins than me.
The Overanalyzed Hockey Equipment Details Hall of Fame also includes such staples as which direction to tape your stick so that the puck rolls off smoothest; whether black tape makes it harder for a goalie to pick up the puck coming off a stick blade; if shin pads should sit above or below the tongue of the skate; whether to tape shin pads; and how many notches to tighten your leg pads. Any of these — or all of them! — would make good topics for future Uni Watch entries.
Paul here. Please join me in thanking Sean for his spectacular work here. First-rate! And as for those other topics he brought up at the end: Sean, if you want to tackle any of those, please consider yourself invited to do so.
Membership update: Another eight designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Harry Michelson’s Steelers bumblebee throwback treatment, shown at right). These cards haven’t yet been printed or laminated, but that should take place over the next few days, and the finished cards will mail out early next week.
’Skins Watch: With the ’Skins on the road against the 49ers this Sunday, a Bay Area coalition is planning a rally and protest at Levi’s Stadium (thanks, Brinke). ”¦ Someone has developed a browser extension that will replace the ’Skins name in your browser. … The Prince Albert Raiders — a junior hockey team in Saskatchewan — have a new mascot that’s being criticized for playing on Middle Eastern stereotypes.
Baseball News: All of the Mets’ Saturday home games next season are night games. Disappointing. … New uniforms and logos for the double-A San Antonio Missions. … What’s worse than an advertising patch on a uniform? A purple advertising patch on a uniform! That’s what MLBers were wearing during their recent tour of Japan (from Nick Hanson).
NFL News: I think we’ve covered this before, but people keep asking me, so here it is again: The Lions will not be wearing throwbacks on Thanksgiving. … Small uni-related moment in yesterday’s installment of Sarah Koenig’s excellent Serial podcast, which is about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore teen-ager named Hae Min Lee. Koenig was listing a few things people remembered about Lee, including this: “The Dallas Cowboys were her favorite team — not because she cared about football, but because she liked the colors blue and silver.” Insert obligatory comment about the Cowboys’ multiple shades of blue and silver here. … Why Stadium Sponsorships Suck, Part 739: Some poor soul who works at the Oakland Coliseum had to cover up the old sponsorship logos on the sideline benches. Douchebags (screen shot by Andy Bartsch).
College Football News: Here’s a look at Dartmouth football uniforms through the years. … Is Maryland on its way to becoming “the Oregon of the East”? One observer says nuh-uh. … Small note toward the end of this piece on Nebraska football: “In practice on Tuesday, seven top-unit defenders voluntarily relinquished their traditional Blackshirt jerseys” — apparently as penance for giving up 59 points to Wisconsin last Saturday. … Arizona State will go mono-maroon with a white helmet tomorrow, and Vanderbilt is going black-white-gold. … Love the throwback helmet that West Virginia wore last night. … Army will be wearing gray this weekend. … UNC debuted a new chrome helmet last night. … Blackout costume tomorrow for Washington.
Hockey News: Which Tampa Bay Lightning jersey should you own? Take this quiz and find out. … Years ago I did an entry about the wonderful children’s book The Hockey Sweater. Here’s an interview with the book’s author. … Key passage in this article about T.J. Oshie of the Blues: “When [Oshie’s father] was a child, he moved to Anoka, Minnesota. … [He] was the organizer of the street, gathering kids and assigning them to baseball or football teams that would play against other kids from other streets. They’d fashion uniforms out of T-shirts with logos and names written on them with marker.” … Batman- and Riddler-themed uniforms upcoming for the Toledo Walleye and Evansville IceMen. … The Flyers have inducted Eric Lindros and John LeClair into their Hall of Fame and marked the occasion last night by wearing both of their numbers on a patch. “For some reason, I’m craving a black-and-white cookie,” says Mike Engle.
NBA News: Corporate Bullshit Dept.: Nike was planning on a sneaker that was sort of a wink-wink tribute to (or exploitation of) Allen Iverson, but they’ve now scrapped the idea because Iverson, who has an endorsement deal with Reebok, objected (from Douglas Ford). … More corporate nonsense: Clippers G Chris Paul taped over the Jumpman logo on his socks last night. One might ask why he was wearing Jumpman-logo socks to begin with, or why any socks need to be logo-emblazoned, but those queries would clearly make the Earth spin off its axis.
College Hoops News: Here are some thoughts on UMass’s sleeved alternate jerseys. … Here’s a weird one: UAB players are wear mismatched shoe colors this season. “A lot of variety with it, too,” says Justin Semore. “Most have green on the left foot and white on the right. Others have a grey right foot. Some have shine on the shoes, others don’t; some have green laces, some have white, some alternate. As far as I can tell, they are all Nike. It’s to raise awareness of childhood cancer (Birmingham Children’s Hospital is a part of campus).” Can’t say I understand what mismatched footwear has to do with cancer awareness, but whatever — it’s certainly an interesting look.
Soccer News: The La Liga team Valencia is being sued by DC Comics because the team’s logo is similar to the Batman logo. … This movie review of the new documentary about the UK rock band Pulp includes the following: “The band’s longtime drummer, Nick Banks, coaches a Sheffield girls’ soccer team, of which Pulp is a partial sponsor — the band’s name is emblazoned on the jerseys. Banks’ daughter is on the team, and her father says that when some of her teammates asked her what, exactly, this ‘Pulp’ might be, she referred to it as her ‘dad’s crap band.'” … Argentina’s and Colombia’s Copa America kits have leaked.
Grab Bag: “This U.S. map illustration is from a Thai airline’s in-flight magazine,” says Gordon Blau. “It accompanied a story about a cross-country road trip. I found it interesting that they made no effort to regionalize the iconography. A cowboy resides along the Great Lakes, for example; the Empire State Building bisects Texas; the White House is in the heartland; the Capitol is in the Pacific Northwest (wrong Washington). No American art director would approve this graphic. But whereas we consider ourselves a collection of distinct regions, each with its own iconography, I guess other parts of the world view us as one big jumble of interchangeable symbols.” … Everything Must Be Branded: The city of Bluefield, West Virginia, is asking residents to vote on a new city logo. Meanwhile, the upstate New York town of Massena is paying a designer $5000 to create a new logo. … “Top secret” new uni in the works for the UK rugby team Barrow Raiders. … F1 driver Fernando Alonso will wear a specially designed helmet in his final race for Ferrari in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. … Here’s one designer’s proposal for new license plate designs for all 50 states (thanks, Brinke). … I love this: a short video about a Cleveland man who makes very cool hand-painted signs (big thanks to Jeremy Baker). … New lacrosse uniforms for the NLL team the New England Black Wolves. … Professional motorcyclist Jorge Lorenzo has renewed his endorsement deal with HJC Helmets. … Not an Onion story, honest: A town in Poland will not allow Winnie the Pooh to be part of a playground logo because he is of “dubious sexuality” and isn’t fully clothed. … Ever wonder which school in the California Collegiate Athletic Association has the coolest logo? Me neither, but here’s a page where you can vote on your choice. … Employees at a British ice cream factory must now wear uniforms without pockets after a product-tampering scandal.
By the time most of you read this, I’ll be on my way to deal with a personal matter that’s going to keep me off the grid for most of the day. Play nice while I’m away. Phil will handle the weekend, as usual, and I’ll be back on Monday. See you then.