NHL Playoffs 2013 Predictions (Round 2) HbD-Style
Once Ovechkin shook the hand of King Henrik, the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs ended. But not before some epic collapses by a trio of Canadian teams, all in strangely different ways. All in all, a pretty exciting first round.
And as for my design-based picks, I went a respectable 5-for-8 (including calling Bruins in 7 in OT perfectly, much to the Leafs’ chagrin), with only the Canadiens, Canucks and Blues letting their brand down. So, I’ve already matched the miserable record of 5-for-15 from last year. Everything beyond this is now just gravy.
For those just going, I’m taking a look at the playoff matchups from a branding/design perspective. Some of the content is regurgitated from last year, but there’s some new stuff too for the new teams that weren’t invited to the dance last year. We’ll compare the overall branding of each series and see how they match-up. This includes the logos, alternate logos, jerseys, historical logos and jerseys, and everything else that builds a team’s brand.
(1) Pittsburgh Penguins v (7) Ottawa Senators
As I said previously about the Pens, there was generally a lot of disagreement about ranking the Penguins logo at #6, but I’m obviously still a huge fan of it. It’s the best logo they’ve had in their history, ahead of the yellow (not gold) penguin of the ’70s – ’90s, the corporate-looking winged penguin of the ’90s, the older penguin within the thick band of text, and the original penguin who looks like he’s going to join Bonhomme at Quebec’s Winter Carnaval. But the Pens do get points for a fantastic Winter Classic jersey (but also get points taken away for a not-so-fantastic one).
And as for Ottawa, it has what I previously called a borderline minor-league logo, which is still an improvement over their incredibly flat and oddly shaped original logo, which is also an improvement over the typographic disaster that was the logo created for the expansion team in 1991 but never used. They gain points for introducing their historic “O” logo and jerseys recently – which are decidedly excellent – but there’s enough miscues throughout the life of the franchise to mitigate the new third jerseys.
Both teams have make some mistakes in their designs and are heading in a positive direction, but the Pens started that direction much sooner than the Sens.
Pittsburgh in 6.
(4) Boston Bruins v (6) New York Rangers
Another classic Original 6 match-up between two teams with an excellent history of some awesome branding! As I mentioned in the previous post, the Bruins were ranked with the 2nd-best logo in the BTLNHL Coundown. It’s iconic, it’s got history and they have lived up to their brand of being the Big, Bad Bruins almost every season. They know their team, they like their style of play, and everything meshes together beautifully. When teams play the yellow and black, they know what they’re in for. They have their brand, their identity, stamped on everything. Their big misstep is their alternative logos and jerseys over the last 40 years. From the bizarro leopard-bear of the ’70s, the smiling Smokey Bear in the ’90s and ’00s, the overly complex and oddly shaped alternative logo of today, and the “meh”-inducing logo for their Winter Classic jerseys, they’ve kind of stunk up the joint. And the alternative jersey with Smokey on it? Awful.
And as for the Rangers, they were ranked 12th best logo in the league. The Rangers have a history of a solid logo concept since the 1920s and nobody in the league save the Canadiens can match the uniqueness and iconic nature of the Rangers’ home jerseys that have stood the test of time. Often imitated, never duplicated. Their alternate logo is just okay, but not enough to take away from the brand overall, and their jersey for the 2012 Winter Classic more than compensates, and it’s way better than the Bruins effort. But, they’re still up against a team that has all the same strengths that they have, and they pull them off slightly better.
Boston in 7.
(1) Chicago v (8) Detroit
From a branding perspective, this is ultimate match-up in this round. Another Original 6 match-up with two teams that have some of the best logos and jerseys in the league.
As I mentioned about the Blackhawks, their logo ranks at #7 in the BTLNHL Countdown, which is very decent, but they also have one of the absolute best jerseys in the league, both home and away. They have history (as the logo hasn’t changed at all since 1964, and the same concept since their inception in 1926), the Madhouse on Madison, a passionate fanbase, overall high-quality design, a good Winter Classic jersey addition and Vince Vaughn on their side. Actually, scratch that last part. Does anyone even care about Vince Vaughn anymore? Seriously, The Internship looks pretty bad. The ‘Hawks had a tough go of it through the ’90s and early ’00s, with bad ownership and lack of a on-ice quality product, but overall, from a branding perspective, they’re a beast.
And everything Chicago has on their side, Detroit has as well: history, a passionate fanbase, high-quality overall design, a decent inclusion of a Winter Classic jersey, and a better version for the upcoming Winter Classic. On top of that, they’ve had 20 years of consistent excellence on the ice and have some of the most respected, classy and feared players in the game. Oh, and octopi. Oh, and did I mention that their logo is the absolute best in the league? This match-up is like Predator vs Alien, Godzilla vs King Kong, Harry vs Voldemort, Kirk vs Khan, or whoever that new villain is.
It’s incredibly close, but in the end, the better logo takes it.
Detroit in 7. In triple OT.
(5) Los Angeles v (6) San Jose
As I’ve said about the Kings, they’ve been retooling their logo for years. In 14 years, they’ve had 4 distinctly different logos, and each of the previous three are better than their current one, with a crown too small to make out and letters that look awful on a home plate shape. And they forced the greatest player to play the game to wear one of the worst jerseys ever created in the NHL (not as bad as that St. Louis one though). But, they’ve kept to their black and white motif (with flashes of a regal purple thrown in now and again, which also makes a connection to their original colours) for over 24 years, a scheme that no one else in the league has toyed with, so it’s all their own. That’s a great bonus for establishing an identity, but overall, it’s a bit of a mess with no solid future ahead, aside from their (lack of) colours.
The Sharks, on the other hand, have never strayed from their original concept (albeit in a much shorter timeframe), but as my interview with the designer Terry Smith revealed, they’ve owned the teal in a market and era that hugely embraced it, and for a water-dwelling animal like a shark, the teal makes a bit of sense. I’m a fan of their original logo more than the newly designed one (ranked at #25), and I find their new jerseys awful, with the numbers on the front and overly-outlined striping making the whole thing a visual mess. And say what you want about never getting to the Cup, but they’ve been a perennial Western power for a long time now, and that kind of success can build a solid brand, despite it’s negatives. This is actually a pretty close match-up, but the more consistent Sharks brand takes it.
Sharks in 6.