Rory Boylen

Rory Boylen is the editor of Post-to-Post and has been with The Hockey News since 2007. A former OMHA referee for 10 years out of Coldwater, Ont., he grew up an unlikely fan of the Florida Panthers and - perhaps even more unlikely - was crushed by Uwe Krupp in 1996. Toss out Big Lebowski lines and he'll be your friend for life.

NHL logo rankings No. 18: New Jersey Devils

Rory Boylen
New Jersey Devils

Jersey Devil, you’re up.

The New Jersey Devils franchise has been relocated twice before: from Kansas City to Colorado and from Colorado to New Jersey. Through that, the team has had three different nicknames and three vastly different logos, with slight variations made to the devilish look over three decades.

The history of this franchise was marred with failure until it finally found success in the 1990s after Martin Brodeur and the neutral zone trap came along. But before that came the Kansas City Scouts, who departed the city after just two seasons, and the Colorado Rockies, who made the post-season just once in their six years of existence and didn’t win a game. The most famous thing about the Rockies may be Hardy Astrom, made famous by coach Don Cherry who dubbed him ‘The Swedish Sieve.’ And Astrom only played two seasons with the team, while Cherry was behind the bench for only one before heading off to start Coach’s Corner. Of course, Colorado did also have the much better Chico Resch in net for their last season in the city before moving to New Jersey. But when I think of the Rockies, I think of Cherry and Astrom – because this team was just terrible.

The current Devil design is a clever logo that no one felt tremendously passionate about placing in the top 10, or despised enough to place in the bottom 10, so it fits in neatly to the middle of the pack.

Do you think you can come up with a design that would move the Devils logo up in our rankings? Here’s your chance. Send in your Devils logo redesign to editorial@thehockeynews.com in whichever color scheme you wish and we’ll run our favorite reader redesigns at the end of our logo ranking rollout. And if you enjoy doing that, why not try redesigning other NHL logos, too?

All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

HISTORY OF THE SCOUTS/ROCKIES/DEVILS LOGO
In 1967, the NHL began expanding into markets beyond the traditional Original Six. Six news teams were added in ’67, two more in 1970, another two in 1972 and the cycle ended with two more in 1974. The Kansas City Scouts were one of the teams added in ’74, but they didn’t last very long.

The Scouts were named after a statue in Penn Valley Park that depicts a Native American on horseback. According to VisitKC.com the “sculpture was originally created for the Panama-Pacific Expo held in San Francisco in 1915. On its return trip east, The Scout stopped over at Penn Valley Park. Citizens enjoyed the sculpture so much they raised $15,000 to purchase it for the city.”

The Scout statue that overlooks the city was featured in the Kansas City logo. The team was originally going to be named the Mohawks, to bring the border states Missouri and Kansas together. “MO” for Missouri and “hawks” to represent the Jayhawks of Kansas.

Kansas City Scouts

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Vin Scully to return for 66th season with Dodgers – listen to his story about skating against Jackie Robinson

Rory Boylen
Vin Scully

Vin Scully is a Major League Baseball icon and Hall of Famer who never played the game as a professional. For 65 years, dating all the way back to the days when the National League’s Dodgers played out of Brooklyn, he has been the play-by-play voice of the team. He’s literally a one-man show – Scully calls the game and does the color commentary all by himself. He’s as good a story teller as he is a caller of baseball games.

And last night the gods smiled: Scully announced he would return to the Dodgers in 2015 for his 66th season.

What does his announcement have to do with hockey? Well, nothing really. But it does give us an opportunity to recall a story Scully told in May of 2012 during a Dodgers-Giants game. In it, Scully remembers the time he went skating with the legendary Jackie Robinson and his wife – and that Robinson wanted to race Scully.

The problem was, Robinson had never skated before. Scully, on the other hand, was an East Coast guy who was familiar with the sport. But I’ll stop now. Let’s hear Scully tell the story: Read more

The Maple Leafs are finally waking up, sign Jake Gardiner to five-year extension

Rory Boylen
gardiner-187909785

Late Tuesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jake Gardiner came to an agreement on a five-year extension with a $4.05 million cap hit as reported by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

This past season, Gardiner was in the rumor mill often as trade bait for Toronto to potentially land the No. 1 center they’d covet. After the season, it was speculated he and the team would work towards a short-term bridge contract, kind of like the one P.K. Subban signed with Montreal two years ago. But with the obvious cultural and strategic changes going on in Toronto’s head office, it shouldn’t surprise us that the team deviated from its old patterns.

If all goes according to plan, these surprisingly good moves will become less and less surprising.

If Gardiner hits the peak of his potential, he will become an elite and swift puck-moving blueliner, the kind you need to succeed in a league that is starting to put a premium on possession. But even if his development flattens, his natural skill set is valued in the NHL – and he doesn’t have a no-trade clause attached to this deal (just sayin’).

And though we’ve caught glimpses of Gardiner’s huge upside (especially this past season) his numbers haven’t yet flourished on such a poor team. The 24-year-old’s corsi for percentage at even strength last year was a rather low 46.4 percent, but it was still the highest on Toronto’s roster. His 10 goals and 31 points topped his full-season totals from 2011-12 – and 19 of those points came in the final 41 games, when Gardiner was playing some of his best NHL hockey yet. He was second only to Dion Phaneuf in average ice time per game.

What the Leafs are betting on with this five-year pact is that there’s plenty more to come from Gardiner and he’ll grow into a contract that will look like a steal by the end of it as he matures and the cap ceiling rises. They also bought one of his UFA years, which could be extremely valuable by Gardiner’s age 27 season. Seems like a good bet for a terrible team to make – the latest in a trend that should have Leafs fans excited. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 19: Calgary Flames

Rory Boylen
flamescover

Another Canadian team bites the dust.

At No. 19 in our NHL logo rankings come the Calgary Flames, a team transplanted from Atlanta in 1980. Starting from the bottom, we’re 12 logos into this process and five Canadian teams have already appeared. Not only does the biggest hockey nation struggle to put playoff teams on the ice, it appears they struggle with logos, as well. Edmonton and Montreal remain.

And judging by some of the comments at the bottom of previous logo posts, a lot of you would have liked to see the Flaming C of Calgary even lower in our rankings than 19. But, there are some people who love the red and yellow combination and the simplicity of the look. Where do you stand?

Think you can improve Calgary’s look? Here’s your chance. Come up with a new logo for the Calgary Flames, send your work to editorial@thehockeynews.com and we’ll share our favorite redesigns at the conclusion of our rankings. And if you had fun with this one, try your hand at redesigning the other NHL logos, too.

All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

HISTORY OF THE FLAMES LOGO
The Flames started, of course, in Atlanta for the 1972-73 season as the NHL expanded to fight off the rival World Hockey Association. Atlanta joined the league at the same time as the New York Islanders and, well, didn’t have quite the same success.

The team nickname originated from the burning of Atlanta during the American Civil War and only lasted eight seasons in the American south. Citing heavy financial losses, team owner Tom Cousins sold the team to a Calgary group led by Nelson Skalbania, who once signed Wayne Gretzky with the Indianapolis Racers and then traded him to Edmonton just three years before landing the Calgary franchise.

The red and white A’s with a yellow border is a classic look and, in a way, still appears on the Calgary sweater for its assistant captains.

Atlanta Flames

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NHL logo rankings No. 20: Columbus Blue Jackets

Rory Boylen
bigbluejackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are a 21st Century NHL team – entering the league in 2000-01 – so they don’t have a long track record of redesigns or touch-ups. But the Blue Jackets are all about history. The team name is a nod to American history and the region’s role in the Civil War, which made Ken Hitchcock a perfect fit for the franchise.

So don’t let Stinger the hornet mascot confuse you. This team is named for the Blue Coats, not the buzzing Blue Jackets.

But did you know the Columbus NHL franchise was almost called the Justice? When majority owner John H. McConnell’s team was figuring out a name for the expansion franchise, the two finalists were the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Justice. That name would have been way worse and, we imagine, the logo would have been awful, too.

A Justice logo would surely have ranked lower in our rankings than the current Blue Jackets logo does at No. 20. There were some mixed opinions in the THN office about this look. Some like the color combination and the slick design that ties it together, while others saw a very basic and bland design fit for No. 30. Do you think you can design a better look for the Jackets?

(Aside: I would rank Columbus very high if they would use the blue cannon as their primary logo.)

Try your hand at coming up with a new design for the Columbus Blue Jackets logo and submit your entry to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the end of our rankings, we’ll share all our favorites redesigns of the 30 NHL logos. And if you had fun creating one for Columbus, you can send us more art work for the other NHL teams, too.

HISTORY OF THE BLUE JACKETS LOGO
If I had to rank the two primary logos Columbus has used in its decade-and-a-half of existence, this one would rank miles behind the current look. This one is too “Saturday morning cartoons” for me and includes a touch of neon the NHL was pushing for. Yuck. Here’s what the Blue Jackets’ website says about the first logo ever used by the franchise:

“The primary Blue Jackets logo that was selected features a star-studded red ribbon unfurled in the shape of the team’s initials, CBJ, with an electric green hockey stick cutting through the center to represent the “J.” The 13 stars represent each of the original 13 U.S. Colonies and signify patriotism. The star on top of the stick signifies Columbus as the state capital.”

bluejacketslogo

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Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya a good bet to lead Florida back into the playoff picture

Rory Boylen
Roberto Luongo

On Friday, the Florida Panthers signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year contract extension, though the long-time rumor mill subject may not play out all three seasons with the Panthers. We’ll see.

With Kulikov, the Panthers defense is taking pretty good shape. Brian Campbell, despite carrying a very heavy cap hit, is the most productive and best possession player on their blueline. Kulikov and likely third-pair guy Dylan Olsen had positive Corsi relative percentages in 2013-14, while Erik Gudbranson had a 51.2 percent 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage – not bad at all for a defensive blueliner. Willie Mitchell replaces Ed Jovanovski for that experience and Aaron Ekblad is brand new.

Florida is a team of promise and hope that never fulfills its prophecy. Jonathan Huberdeau should bounce back some from a disappointing sophomore season. Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad have all sorts of potential to become a dominant 1-2 force down the middle, but they’re a few years away from hitting their primes. Jussi Jokinen was a good, quiet signing. Dave Bolland provides depth and, hopefully, doesn’t see more than third or fourth line duty. If the Panthers’ younger players could just grow a little and give the team some more, the pieces would be in place for this team to make a jump up the standings.

Ya. We’ve all heard this tune before.

But what if the Panthers could get into the post-season, or at least into the race, if their kids did not improve at all?

The pieces are in place for that, too. Florida will be in the hunt next season. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 26: Tampa Bay Lightning

Rory Boylen
lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been around since 1992-93 and have had different variations on their logo, but their current look is the only one that doesn’t have lettering on it.

I’ve got to be honest – when seven THN staffers sat around debating and ranking these logos, I was voting for the Lightning to go a little higher than 26. Usually – though not always – I’m not a fan of logos that have the team’s name in it, so I have to give Tampa Bay credit for dropping the text from their look. The blue lightning bolt and circle may look plain to some, but to my eyes, it’s the most refined look Tampa Bay has had in its 20-plus year history.

But when it came to ranking all 30 NHL logos, Tampa Bay didn’t get much love from most of the seven staffers. It’s plain and it doesn’t grab the attention of everyone. So here we are, with the Lightning ranked at 26, just ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.

Think you can design a logo for Tampa Bay that would make our judges reconsider such a low ranking? Get your creative juices flowing and, using whichever color scheme you want, come up with a new look for Tampa Bay and submit it to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the conclusion of our logo rankings, we’ll share our favorite reader re-designs. And if you enjoyed coming up with a new look for Tampa Bay, try your hand at the other NHL logos too.

HISTORY OF LIGHTNING LOGO
The original Tampa Bay Lightning look was a design put together by Phil Esposito and colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul. From the Lightning’s website:

Together with colleagues Mel Lowell and Henry Paul, Esposito began sketching out designs for what would eventually become the Tampa Bay Lightning logo.

“I literally would go home at night, and sit in my office and draw pictures of lightning bolts on notebook paper,” Esposito said. “And remember, I am no artist. But all of us would come in the next day and sit down with each other to compare what we had come up with. And let me tell you, between the three of us, there was a lot to look at.”

…Initially, Esposito had just settled on a silver lightning bolt with the word “Tampa” across the top. Lowell and Paul then altered it slightly to include the circular backdrop on which it is emblazoned, which still is incorporated in today’s logo, unveiled in the spring of 2011.

Perhaps the most key contribution, however, came from long-time Tampa sports journalist and pioneer Tom McEwen, who advised Esposito to include the word “Bay” as well, signifying a union between Tampa and its neighboring communities.

“Tom told me it had to say “Tampa Bay” no matter what, and that, honestly, was the best decision I could have made at the time,” Esposito said. “There was such a great divide between Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg that I could not believe. So I thought, yes, in order to be successful, we have to unite.”

lightning1

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Ever wanted to be an NHL mascot or anthem singer? Apply to the Calgary Flames

Rory Boylen
Harvey the Hound

Have you ever watched a professional sports mascot do his thing and think “well I could do better than that”?

Have you ever heard a rendition of the national anthem that you didn’t particularly like, laughed at a singer for flubbing the lyrics, or slipping and falling to the ice?

(Feel bad for the lady; still going to watch the video.)

Well, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.

The Calgary Flames have a couple job openings within the organization. First, the team is looking for someone to sing the Canadian and American national anthems at Calgary Flames, Hitmen and lacrosse’s Roughneck games (plus other performances as requested) for the upcoming season.

From the job posting on Workopolis: Read more