Outdoor hockey, on thin ice?

Is outdoor hockey likely to stay?

It took a puck to the crotch following the Heritage Classic in Calgary a few years back.

Instead of praising the fun and tradition of the game, as has happened in past al fresco forays, several reporters are stuck on the cons – and probably still, to their frozen seats.

Look we understand: it’s difficult to be perky about outdoor hockey when freezing your butt off. Then again, when was the last time reporters sat in the bleachers, 1919?

Criticism covered the bitter cold winds, chipped ice and the tennis-ball like puck. Not to mention the Calgary Flames flamboyant vintage uniforms which offended more than a few. Hey, the fans seemed to enjoy it game in technicolor.

David Stubbs of The Vancouver Sun wrote:

“The temperatures were so cold, in fact, that the McMahon sheet was little better than playground quality, requiring monotonous work by repair crews and manual flooding between periods, Zamboni machines kept off for fear they’d crack the surface.”

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote:

“Those 41,022 freezing fans at McMahon Stadium on Sunday may have attended the sporting event of their lives. The question now for the NHL: How many more towns will have that feeling before the thrill is gone?”

Randy Sportak of The Calgary Sun wrote:

“Was it a classic? Not really. The calibre of play was more akin to the level you’d see on ESPN Classic.”

Yes, ice conditions weren’t stellar, and okay, it was minus-8.6C at puck drop. But this was hardly premised as a hockey clinic. It was always a clever marketing activity – a brilliant way to pique the interest of new and fair-weather fans – no pun intended.

And come on, how good are those jerseys?

Advertisements

Top football technology

With the NFL season halfway through, let’s talk football technology.

Style + Tech For Men once posted a Top 11 Highest-scoring Advancements in Super Bowl Technology. It’s a good list, with my favorite being No. 2, Supervision, a system of multiple high-speed cameras.

These cameras provide us football nuts with high-def, ultra-slow-motion replays, which have revolutionized watching the pro game in particular. Just think about David Tyree’s legendary helmet catch, or Santonio Holmes game-winning-back-of-the-end-zone-grab. Neither would have reached such heights without the advent of super on-field shots.

The best replay moments certainly occur, however, when your favorite back is tearing up the field, arms pumping, legs churning, ball tucked high and tight. Slow-mo poetry.

Tampa Bay vintage

New Lightning jersey

The Tampa Bay Lightning Leaf-style look is still great, despite more mixed reviews than a Super Bowl anthem singing.

News sites, blogs and fan polls about the flash digs differ in their views with those in favour hardly overwhelming the detractors.

I find this strange because the new jersey is all class. I’m no Armani but I don’t know how you could conjure something better – even with Giorgio himself leading the design team. Some fans are tough to please I guess.

The two-tone uniforms with simplified lightning bolt logo hark back to another era. And that can only be a good thing. Let’s face it, the old jersey was caught in that early 90s design vortex that has hurt so many hockey team identities – as well as teen idols like Luke Perry and various R&B stars.

General Manager Steve Yzerman and the club consulted strategic brand development firm SME to develop the new brand, with an emphasis on a “classic” and “iconic” look.

And I think they succeeded. The blue and white incarnation is reminiscent of classic Maple Leafs uniforms, which hopefully for Tampa’s sake, inspires classic Leafs-like victories.