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Back on the Ice: The NHL Awakens From Its Slumber

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The NHL took the first step toward resuming its season last night, as several teams participated in preseason scrimmages, and there were lots of notable visual details, beginning with Flyers and Penguins players commingling along the blue lines for the national anthem, which made for a striking visual (shown above). Here’s another view:

Flyers center Sean Couturier said, “It was something for equality and justice, (anti-)racism. It was to respect people, your opponent. We’re a pretty big rival, but at least it shows the way that we have respect for each other, the same as in life.” Pens captain Sidney Crosby added, “We felt, both teams, that it was important to show unity given what’s gone on and just wanted to be part of the solution moving forward.”

The Maple Leafs and Canadiens did the same thing:

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Speaking of the Leafs: With one of the bubble sites being in Toronto, the Maple Leafs found themselves, for the first time in team history, as the visiting team in their own arena, being “hosted” by the Canadiens. But that meant the Leafs got to wear their white uniforms, which is what they should be wearing at home all the time anyway:

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In other NHL developments:

• Oilers defenseman Ethan Bear honored his Indigenous heritage by wearing his surname in Cree syllabics, instead of his standard NOB:

• For the Oilers/Flames game, the teams did not intermingle for the anthem, so that wasn’t a universal practice:

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• With former Jets star Dale Hawerchuk recently suffering a cancer relapse, the Jets have added helmet decals in his honor:

The Jets didn’t play last night, so that decal hasn’t yet been worn in a game, but it will presumably be worn for tonight’s Jets/Canucks scrimmage.

There are some additional NHL notes in the Ticker. If there were other uni-notable details from last night’s NHL action, feel free to share them in today’s comments.

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The latest bit of 2020 weirdness: We’ve seen some teams using cardboard cutouts of fans in their seats, and other teams that have left the seats empty. But the Twins, who had their home opener yesterday, are doing something different: They’ve put oversized cutouts of former Twins stars’ faces in the seats behind home plate. They’re so big that it looks like they’re all peering over the seat in front of them, which is a little bit creepy!

Speaking of the Twins, they added an “RC” memorial patch for Ryan Costello, a prospect who died last November. I believe this was a one-game patch for the home opener and will not be worn again:

(My thanks to @JaxonJackrabbit for letting me know about the creepy cutouts.)

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Jax patch: Ever seen this patch or logo before? I never had, until a reader who prefers to remain nameless shared it with me. Here’s his story:

Before Jacksonville was awarded an NFL franchise in 1993, there were numerous attempts to get a team to move to there. In 1979, the city formed a sports commission. My grandfather applied for the job because he had a history in sports and was relatively interested in it. Not only was he appointed to the commission, but two years later he was named chairman.

He has so many neat stories about going to NFL owner’s meetings and how numerous teams tried to move to Jacksonville — the Saints, Colts, Cardinals, Falcons (nobody really knew about that one — my grandpa told me it was because they wanted a new stadium in Atlanta, so they flirted with other cities).

The thing that I thought you might find interesting was a logo that was developed by the sports commission in the early 1980s.
These patches were given to team owners when they met with the commission. Very few were made.

Wow — that’s a pretty unique piece of memorabilia! Great story, great patch.

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Too good for the Ticker: The Ohio State men’s volleyball Twitter account posted this 1972 photo yesterday. Not sure if those are game uniforms, warm-ups, or a mix of both. In any case, they’re certainly a sight to behold.

(My thanks to @MattMacKC for this one.)

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ITEM! Super-cool Bugs Bunny raffle: This week is Bugs Bunny’s 80th birthday, and the great sports illustrator S. Preston is celebrating with a series of 11″ x 17″ prints. As you can see above, there are 30 separate designs — each one showing Bugs decked out in a different MLB uniforms — and one lucky Uni Watch reader is going to win the design of his choice.

This will be a one-day raffle, open to readers in the USA and Canada. To enter, send an email with your mailing address and preferred team design to the raffle address by 8pm Eastern tonight. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow. Big thanks to S. Preston for making this one possible!

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Key ring update/reminder: When I was thinking of making these Uni Watch Key Rings, I wasn’t sure how popular they’d be or how many to have manufactured. I eventually decided to make 200 of them — that seemed like enough to last awhile, but not so many that I’d be left with too many unsold items.

Two days after the launch, more than 100 of the key rings have already sold (thank you!). So if you want one, move fast — full details here.

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A win-win: Kevin Clark — who, when he’s not reading Uni Watch, works as the New Jersey Devils P.A. announcer — recently had his Uni Watch basketball jersey tailored. He wanted to make it shorter so he could wear it untucked — and when he picked it up, he found that the tailor had used the trimmed material to make a one-of-a-kind Uni Watch mask! How cool is that?

Stay safe, Kevin, and here’s hoping I can join you for a Devils game sometime this winter.

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A different kind of uniform: The Tugboat Captain has kept a vegetable garden in a neighbor’s backyard for several years now. Unfortunately, this year she’s been stung, harassed, and generally terrorized by a hive of bumblebees in the dirt below her green beans. (I didn’t even know bees could have an underground hive, but it turns out they can.) But rather than let the bees win, she’s purchased herself a beekeeper’s suit! It arrived yesterday and she plans to use it for the first time this morning. How cool is that?!

Bonus: Now she looks sort of like an astronaut.

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The Ticker
By Lloyd Alaban

Baseball News: Here’s what’s happening to home run balls that land in empty stadiums (from Mike Chamernik). … Giants IF Wilmer Flores wore an orange belt instead of the usual black belt last night against the Padres (from Ben Mejia). … Also from that game: Padres IF Jurickson Profar was using the bat of Diamondbacks IF/OF Ketel Marte (from Steven Wine). … Home plate umpire Larry Vanover, who was working the Reds/Cubs game, wore a lower-face shield in his mask. Several umpires have been wearing these (from Wes Muniz). … After reaching first base last night, Rockies SS Trevor Story pulled out a mask from his back pocket and wore it with the MLB logo upside-down (from Douglas Whichard). … Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke went with a neck gaiter and a mask last night in Boston as his team took on the Mets (from Timmy Donahue). … The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball is expanding to Gastonia, N.C. … Here’s a peek at the tablet that the Nationals are using to pipe in fake crowd noise (from Max Weintraub). … The Angels chose to place tarps with their logo on them in the lower bowl of their stadium, instead of ads or cutouts (from Jakob Fox). … James Griffin put together an entertaining blog post about his collection of Yankees Starting Lineup figurines.

Football News: Tennessee, which had been wearing plain white pants in recent years, is bringing back the pants striping this season (from @aspangler01). … Speaking of the Volunteers, a sportswriter has tracked all the uniform changes they’ve had since 2010 (from Kary Klismet). … UNC’s offense got their uni numbers yesterday (from James Gilbert). … Louisville freshmen got their numbers too (from M. Brinston Berry). … Texas WR Tarik Black will be be the first Longhorn to wear No. 0 (from Timmy Donahue). … Eastern Washington has installed new red turf (from Matt Rashford). … The new Indoor Football League team in Columbus, Ohio, will be named the Wilddogs. Here’s a look at their uniforms (from Julian Orlando and Sean Golden). … Ignacio Salazar came across this Oilers-themed motorcycle.

Hockey News: Oilers G Mikko Koskinen’s mask backplate honors his late teammate, F Colby Cave. Cave died in April (from Jakob Fox). … The Penguins, like all Eastern Conference teams, are playing in Toronto. Still weird to see Pittsburgh-based ads in the arena where the Maple Leafs play. Here’s a closer look (from Andrew Cress and Giles Ferrell). … The Rangers have uni-numbered masks on them. … The NHL has Stanley Cup-branded hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for the Stanley Cup Qualifiers (from Moe Khan).

Basketball News: Some Raptors have taken to wearing Black Lives Matter-themed masks made by a local artist (from Andreas Papadopoulos). … Timberwolves PG D’Angelo Russell wore custom Way of Wade (Dwyane Wade’s shoe brand) shoes last night honoring the late Kobe Bryant (from Griffin Smith). … Here’s a time-lapse video of the installation of Georgia Southern’s new court (from Preston Feiler). … The Pelicans and Jazz are planning to kneel together around a “Black Lives Matter” sign during the national anthem prior to tomorrow night’s season-resumption opener.

Soccer News: From Josh Hinton: Wolverhampton has officially released its new home shirt, confirming previous leaks. … New home shirt for AC Milan. … Scottish Premiership players are to be allowed to kneel when the season starts this weekend, and they’ll also receive warm-up shirts from the charity Show Racism the Red Card (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … Wisla Krakow has ended their kit deal with Adidas, so the club put together a video of all the Adidas kits they’ve ever worn (from Ed Zelaski). … Also from Ed: Logo mishap in the Polish II Liga promotion playoff: Laczy Nas Pilka used the logo of SMS Rzeszów instead of Resovia Rzeszów’s logo. … A designer has mocked up what a potential New Orleans NWSL team could look like (from Addison Walton). … New second kit for Scottish League One team Partick Thistle (Jamie Rathjen again).

Grab Bag: The Australian Football League’s Collingwood also fields a netball team and the team’s reserves in the top two Australian leagues, and released a new kit for those teams (from our own Jamie Rathjen). … New look for the University of Charleston athletics (from Jeremy Brahm). … Here’s an in-depth look at why the University of Mississippi continues to use the “Ole Miss” nickname despite its documented ties to antebellum pro-slavery culture (from Kary Klismet). … Also from Kary: Skateboarder Tony Hawk gave a tour of skateboarding’s most famous venues. … One more from Kary: Boise’s police department has asked its officers not to display the “Thin Blue Line” flag. … A U.S. Navy sailor received a temporary waiver to grow a four-inch beard for religious reasons. He is now pushing the Navy to grant career-long waivers instead of requiring a sailor to get an exemption at each new duty station (from Timmy Donahue). … Nike has scrapped plans to build a manufacturing plant in Phoenix, due to pandemic concerns (from Timmy Donahue).

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What Paul did last night: During the pandemic, the Tugboat Captain and I have spent the majority of most days in the same room. We’re often buried in our respective laptops and we’ll sometimes go a long stretch without talking, but there’s still a sense of shared space, shared experience.

Yesterday, though, I spent nearly three hours on two separate visits to the post office (don’t ask), another two hours in the back room Xacto-ing and laminating membership cards, another hour or so packing key rings, and then it was time for my bike ride. So when we convened on the porch, we’d barely seen each other all day. Nothing wrong with that, but it was atypical. And that’s how I heard myself uttering one of our society’s most banal platitudes:

“How was your day?”

As always, you can see the full set of daily Pandemic Porch Cocktails™ photos here.

38 comments to Back on the Ice: The NHL Awakens From Its Slumber

  • Derek | July 29, 2020 at 8:04 am |

    Flyers and Penguins, not Flyers and Bruins.

    • Paul Lukas | July 29, 2020 at 8:11 am |

      Yup, fixed.

  • Dane | July 29, 2020 at 8:18 am |

    They are changing the board ads for each NHL game. The PA ads for the first game in Toronto yesterday were changed to Canadian companies for the second game.

    I have seen some arenas change those ads during intermissions.

    • Joe Sewash | July 29, 2020 at 4:08 pm |

      Noticed local ads on the boards during today’s Lightning-Panthers game. During close ups for face-offs you can see the negative space on the adds are pristine white while the space between the ads on the boards have scuff marks from pucks.

      On a similar note, it also appears they’re swapping out the advertising behind the benches; the panels appeared to have a suction cup system. During the regular season, the height of the ads are limited to not impact sightlines of fans sitting behind the bench. With the seats tarped, the ads could go to the top of the glass. Will be interesting to see if this changes through the duration of the playoffs.

    • Joe Sewash | July 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm |

      Noted local ads during today’s Lightning-Panthers game. During face off close-ups, you could see the pristine white for ads while space between the ads on the boards has marks from pucks.

      Similar note: Ad signage appears to be swapped behind the benches, too. Looks like they’re using a suction cup system on the back of the ad panels. The panels still only come to shoulder height on the bench, consistent during regular play so as to not obstruct fans sitting behind the benches. With the seats tarped, the ads could extend to the top of the glass. Will be interesting to see if this changes during the playoff run.

  • Jason Wileman | July 29, 2020 at 8:18 am |

    Regarding the Tugboat Captain’s beekeeper suit, is anyone else noticing an uptick in insect populations this year? We’ve seen tons of bees and flies around our house this year, and I’ve talked to quite a few others who’ve noticed the same. Anecdotal evidence, I know, but I assume this is somehow COVID-19 related.

    • Heisenberg's Hat | July 29, 2020 at 8:41 am |

      Yep. I’m in the midwest and I’ve noticed an increased presence of wasps, yellow jackets and beetles. I suppose some of it could be related to the COVID quarantine but I figured it was due to an incredibly mild Ohio winter.

      • Andrew | July 29, 2020 at 10:07 am |

        I’ll second this. We’ve had really mild winters the past few years down here in south-central PA and I’ve noticed all manner of bug populations getting worse since this started becoming a thing (yellow jackets, beetles, spotted lantern flies, stink bugs, ticks…)

      • RS Rogers | July 29, 2020 at 12:54 pm |

        Same anecdotal experience in south-central Wisconsin, which kind of mystifies me because we didn’t have a particularly mild winter and I’m also observing more numerous small bird populations. (Cranes too!) I’d have expected that more swallows would tend to balance against more insects.

        I wonder if there’s less non-agricultural pesticide use going on in general this year.

  • Wade Heidt | July 29, 2020 at 8:24 am |

    Was 2 NHL teams wearing white in their home arenas last night. Maple Leafs did as mentioned but the Oilers did too.

    • SRP91 | July 29, 2020 at 5:56 pm |

      Both wore white at home, but both were the visiting teams in the game. In Toronto the Canadiens moved into the Maple Leaves dressing room, Carey Price went the wrong way going out to the ice.

      In Edmonton they offered the Flames use of the Oilers dressing room, but the Flames refused. They instead used the visitors room. Even though the Flames declined the Oilers room, the league wouldn’t allow the Oilers to use it, instead they used the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings’ room.

  • Wade Heidt | July 29, 2020 at 8:39 am |

    We love the use the term “dressing like an arena league team” for football uniforms. Good to see the Columbus Wilddogs taking that responsibility seriously! :)

  • Nestor Chylak | July 29, 2020 at 8:55 am |

    Don’t say “pretty unique”.

    • Tim | July 29, 2020 at 5:56 pm |

      How about:

      Nearly Sure
      Almost Original
      Reasonably confident

  • iain | July 29, 2020 at 9:14 am |

    The beekeeper’s suit needs a Uni Watch patch

    • Paul Lukas | July 29, 2020 at 9:23 am |

      Oooh, now that’s a good idea!

      • Lee | July 29, 2020 at 5:19 pm |

        Kind of speaking of which, does Mary ever wear Uni-Watch merch?

        Just curious.

        Lee

        • Paul Lukas | July 29, 2020 at 5:25 pm |

          Occasionally at UW events. Otherwise, no.

  • Kevin | July 29, 2020 at 9:29 am |

    I was thinking Wilmer Flores wore his orange belt that he had with the Mets. Some guys are creatures of habit. I recall that Wilmer really loved being a Met.

  • Robert Ullman | July 29, 2020 at 9:43 am |

    Banal or not, my wife and I find ourselves asking each other that same question most days at dinner, even though we spend the majority of our time 8 feet apart, just separated by a thin plaster wall.

      • TIm | July 29, 2020 at 12:10 pm |

        OMG Paul, that Kramer clip was the first thing I thought of after reading your pandemic cocktail comments. My wife and I routinely mimic that scene, “It’s dinner time. And what do you do at dinner? YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR DAY! Well what kind of day was it, a good day or a bad day?” Hysterical.

    • AJ Kane | July 29, 2020 at 10:10 am |

      I’ll do you one better–my wife and I spend 80% of our days about 12 feet apart, and we work in the same office at the same university. We know all the same people, and yet we still do the “How was your day?”

  • Adam | July 29, 2020 at 9:50 am |

    I just wanted to give some support to S. Preston who designed and donated the Bugs raffle. I own three of his prints, two of which hang in my office. I met him at one of the MLB FanFests. A really nice guy.

  • Aled Thomas | July 29, 2020 at 10:01 am |

    Which anthem did they play for two US teams playing in Canada?

  • Justin | July 29, 2020 at 11:18 am |

    Bumblebees don’t have stingers. Only yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps do.

  • Ross | July 29, 2020 at 11:39 am |

    Second the Bugs prints being awesome! Except the Cubs version has red sleeves…the disease is spreading (see yesterday’s post)

  • Phil P | July 29, 2020 at 11:55 am |

    The MA town in which I live decided yesterday to drop the mascot Sachems from the high school.The town next to my hometown uses the name Indians for their high school and I think pressure is building on them to change (the committee had said in late 2019 that they wouldn’t, so no credit to them when the name actually changes)

  • Mike S | July 29, 2020 at 1:29 pm |

    Those Bugs Bunny prints are great! Unfortunately, the Mets Bugs is shown in the home white pinstripes in the gif on your page but the version for sale is the blue alternate :(

    I wonder if he has different versions that I’m not seeing

  • roche | July 29, 2020 at 2:43 pm |

    In the NHL arena, are they changing out the sponsors on the boards for each game based on who’s listed as home/away? I recognize NovaCare and Yuengling for the PHL/PIT game.

    • DJ | July 29, 2020 at 6:04 pm |

      Yes, they had Tampa- and Miami-area advertising for the Lightning-Panthers game earlier today.

  • Wade Heidt | July 29, 2020 at 3:39 pm |

    Not just Winnipeg Jets wearing Hawerchuk Strong decal. Canucks Tanner Pearson with it on his helmet today in morning skate. Pearson was coached by Hawerchuk in junior with the Barrie Colts.

    https://twitter.com/Canucks/status/1288543155160137729

    • John H. | July 29, 2020 at 4:11 pm |

      It’s very sad to hear about Dale’s plight. He is, no doubt, the NHL’s most under appreciated superstar of the last 40 years. How he was left off of the top 100 players list in 2017 is beyond comprehension. All of Winnipeg wishes him well.

  • walter | July 29, 2020 at 4:09 pm |

    I guess when you don’t have a horse in the race, it affects your opinion of the issue. If “Ole Miss” has to be referred to as “The University of Mississippi”, nothing of value will be lost.

  • Mark in Shiga | July 29, 2020 at 11:06 pm |

    I’m looking at Ethan Bear’s jersey and I can’t figure out what it actually says.

    It doesn’t say “Bear” (or “Ethan”); it seems to say “Maskaw” or “Maskwa”. Is that the Cree word for “Bear”? Did he not just use his native orthography but also translate his English name into his native language too?