Entries in concepts (14)


Top 13 Concepts of 2013

After the Blog, the Concepts page has always been a favorite of Icethetics readers. It's updated daily with fresh concept art designed and sent in by fellow readers with a knack for the artistic. And at the end of the year I like to take a look back at the highest-rated designs.

13 ∙ Team Germany by Bastian Schmülling

If there was a list of the top rookie concept artists of the year, Bastian Schmülling would certainly be among the leaders.

His consistently solid work impressed many in 2013. But it was a design for his home country's national team, posted April 28, that earns him kudos on this list.

Now if only Germany had qualified for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Keep an eye out for more of Bastian's work later in this countdown to the top concept of the year. 

12 ∙ All-Stars in Anaheim by Matt McElroy

If you consider the IceHL Project to be Icethetics' premier concept design contest, then Matt McElroy was easily the breakout star. He was responsible for designing the winning visual identities for five teams over the summer.

But on July 23, we got a look at his take on what would be Anaheim's first shot at hosting the NHL All-Star Game. Of course, we now know Columbus will take on those duties in 2015.

Matt's excellent design is definitely in the same league with other NHL All-Star logos we've seen in recent years. And voters recognized his talent with their ratings.

11 ∙ Senator Stripes by Nevill Carney

In a season where the Ottawa Senators will participate in the NHL Heritage Classic, we got a look at a stripe-filled concept from Nevill Carney on Nov. 28.

In fact, Nevill originally submitted this design back in October 2011, so it took two years for him to get his proper due. (Sometimes my inbox gets backed up.)

He actually created these jerseys as companions to the black Heritage Jersey the Sens had just released at the time.

In the email, he wrote, "Hopefully, they can find a home on Icethetics at some point."

Sorry to him — and to you guys — for taking so long to get them posted.

10 ∙ Toronto Throwback by Victor You

Cracking the top 10 is Victor You with a well-received retro uniform set for the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14.

Maybe it was the extra dark shade of blue. Maybe it was the updated to a classic crest. Whatever the reason, Icethetics readers loved this one!

Neonix called it a "wonderful piece of art." Etrusken Raider asked, "when will this be on the ice?" And Simon wrote, "my god, this is perfect."

High praise well-earned on this one.

9 ∙ Winnipeg Throwback by Bastian Schmülling

Back-to-back throwbacks mark this point of the countdown thanks to the efforts of the talented Bastian Schmülling.

On Aug. 22, he helped us imagine a great third jersey for the Winnipeg Jets. He matched the striping and number style of the existing uniforms, but wowed us with a classic crest and colors.

"Absolutely perfect," said DanC. "This one gets 6 stars out of 5," added Kevin Y.

By the way, I can't imagine it'll be too much longer before the Jets introduce us to a real third jersey.

8 ∙ Ohio Pride by Avi Stein

Avi Stein felt like the Columbus Blue Jackets should do more to promote themselves as "Ohio's team" so he came up with this simple alternate jersey idea.

He called it Ohio Pride and it went over huge with readers!

"Why isn't this already their regular white jersey?" asked jonathanc. "These are amazing," added d'sA. "The new best I've seen on this site."

Some readers were also keen to point out out the Ohio-shaped captain's patch — a great callback to the Cleveland Barons.

7 ∙ Heritage in Vancouver by Ryan Haslett

The highly-anticipated 2014 NHL Heritage Classic — being hosted in Vancouver's B.C. Place — was the subject of one of the best concepts of the year.

Coming in seventh in 2013 was Ryan Haslett's take on Canada's only outdoor NHL game of the season.

It was the middle of summer (Aug. 17) so it was pretty hard to think about outdoor ice hockey, but we found a way.

Ryan reimagined the opposing teams in more modern colors — the Canucks in blue and the Senators in a cleaner white. Though he did manage to keep the overall feel of the game we'll be seeing this March.

6 ∙ Fixing the Flames by Laurent Elbaz

Not long after the Calgary Flames debuted their new third jersey, we were reminded by Laurent Elbaz of what they were leaving behind.

His retro-inspired Calgary sweaters were among reader favorites in 2013. He also included a third jersey design that was strikingly similar to the Flames' new look — a design he came up with long before the leak revealed the design.

Of course, the black-free set is what got voters excited on Oct. 22. Shawn V said, "Love this. It's a perfect renewal of old style, making it worthy of a new team. Ken King needs to see this, in all seriousness. Well done!"

5 ∙ Retro Blues by Tristan Mani

In 2010, Icethetics readers voted the St. Louis Blues' logo the best in the NHL. So it's not surprising to see a classic jersey design featuring the Blue Note rounding out our top 5 concepts of the year.

Tristan Mani's simple yet stunning design garnered major acclaim from his fellow readers on Nov. 6.

Ryan M may have summed it up perfectly with the first comment on the post. "Where can I buy one!!!!!"

The design even broke down barriers. Joe wrote, "Love it! Not a Blues fan at all... but this sweater is great!"

Not to spoil anything, but don't bet on this being the last time we see Tristan in this countdown!

4 ∙ Minnesota's Winter Classic by Matt Madore

You may know Matt Madore as the designer of the IceHL's Milwaukee Lagers jersey — the only IceHL jersey that actually exists in the real world!

In fact, Matt also joins our 2013 concept countdown at number four with his idea for an NHL Winter Classic matchup hosted in Minnesota in 2016.

He not only designed jerseys for the Wild and their proposed opponent — the Blues — but also included a unique logo for the game. Click on the graphic to the left to see the full post.

The Dec. 7 concept also marks the debut of Matt McElroy's IceBorn jersey template in our countdown. Mr. Madore put it to great use here. And readers agreed.

"Both of those are absolutely fantastic," Tyler wrote. "Especially the Blues."

"That Blues jersey is absolutely perfect," said Kris K, "and I wouldn't mind it if they wore this full time!"

Take note of how the Blues seem to be taking over as we inch toward the top.

3 ∙ The Red Blue Jackets by Matt Madore

Look who's got back-to-back entries in the countdown! Matt Madore takes the third spot and it all started with an outside-the-box proposal for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 26.

As the title suggests, this concept post started with an unusual red jersey for a team with "blue" in its name. And while that design was well-received on its own, the numbers soared when Matt brought the blue with a revised design later in the day.

Icethetics readers loved this one!

"Matt Madore, bravo!" cheered Henry Stebbins. "This is a wonderful set. I hope this finds its way on to someone's desk in Columbus."

2 ∙ Christmas Sweater Redux by Matt McElroy

Readers felt a bit of deja vu this past Christmas Eve as the Concepts page played host to another holiday sweater by Matt McElroy.

And you might be feeling it again as it enters our countdown as the second most popular concept design of the year. (Matt's 2012 holiday sweater was seventh in last year's countdown.)

Apparently you guys really love a good holiday sweater. Who knew? But after two years in a row, will Matt do another for 2014? And will he be able to top himself?

He's got 354 days to figure it out.

As for now, it's time to reveal the top concept design of the entire year...

1 ∙ Retro Blues (revised) by Tristan Mani

The last stop in our countdown brings us to a familiar place. Remember Tristan Mani's retro St. Louis Blues concept back at number five? Apparently, you loved his encore even more!

The highest-rated concept of 2013 was the white version of Tristan's Blues jersey from Nov. 6. As a matter of fact, it's the only design on the entire site that still averages a full five stars after almost 700 votes! That's unheard of!

Big Jim Sports wrote, "I don't know about anyone else, but I tweeted the Blues directly about this concept. You deserve to have them see this. THIS is what the blues should be wearing. These are gorgeous. Amazing work!"

The praise was well-deserved. Congratulations Tristan on having some of the best concepts of 2013!

Who will be on this list at the end of 2014? Stay tuned to the Concepts page all year long.


20 Years After the Redesigned Penguin

Design firm reveals work that led up to new logo in 1992

It was the summer of 1992. The Pittsburgh Penguins had just completed two consecutive Stanley Cup victories. Enter a controversial new owner and a controversial new logo. Now, the company that Howard Baldwin hired to design that new mark is taking a look back at how it all came together.

First of all, believe it or not, it wasn't Baldwin's idea to rebrand the Penguins in the first place. He was just following through on a plan that had already been set in motion prior to his arrival. Vance Wright Adams was the Pittsburgh firm he called upon to come up with the team's modern new look.

And no matter what you think of that look, it's always refreshing to see the design process and some of the options that were rejected on the way to the final look. Vance Wright Adams is now sharing a few of them with all of us two decades later.

A nickname jersey proposed before it was "cool"

These are some of the hand-drawn options that were considered during the design process. Note that Vance Wright Adams came up with a "PENS" jersey long before those "BOLTS" and "SENS" jerseys ever became a reality. And what do you think of the more realistic looking penguin trapped inside the gold triangle?

Vance Wright Adams proposed the Penguins use 4 jerseys

According to a video produced by the Penguins to introduce their new look, VWA actually proposed four jerseys that season — two homes and two roads. The NHL wasn't too keen on that, of course. But those four sweaters might've looked a little something like what you see above. Really like the black one on the right!

Vegas gold was a possibility long before it was a reality

And here's proof that Vegas gold was in the running long before the third jersey it was introduced with in 2000. That third jersey, by the way, resurrected the classic skating penguin eight seasons after it was retired. Only two years after that, the new streamlined penguin was relegated to the shoulder patch by owner Mario Lemieux. And when Reebok came along in 2007, it disappeared from the uniforms for good, ending a 15-year run.

See more concepts and sketches from Vance Wright Adams

You can find more high-resolution uniform concepts and sketches from Vance Wright Adams by visiting their website. I highly recommend it. I also have to send up a huge thanks to those guys for posting their old work. It's not often we get to see this stuff but always a treat when we do.

Vance Wright Adams is also responsible for creating the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins logo as well as logos for a number of other teams.

Now I'll leave you with the video the "Back-Checking the Penguins" video produced by the team to launch their new look back in 1992.


Top 10 Icethetics Concepts of 2012

One of the most popular sections of Icethetics is the Concepts page. This site has always been a haven for creative hockey fans who have new and unique ideas for hockey uniform designs. But these fan creations weren't always posted on a regular basis.

That changed in 2012 with the re-launch of the page. New hockey concepts, submitted to Icethetics via email, are now posted every day — like clockwork. Readers are asked to rate each design and based on those ratings, I have assembled the Top 10 Icethetics Concepts of 2012.

We're starting at No. 10 and working our way up to the highest rated concept of the year!

10 ∙ Two Kinds of Jets — Ross Taylor

Our countdown begins with a frequent contributor to the Icethetics Concepts page. Last spring, Ross Taylor began submitting a series of concepts that merged multiple team identities into a single cohesive look. On May 18, in Two Kinds of Jets, Ross melded the old Winnipg Jets of 1990 with the new team of the same name that arrived from Atlanta in 2011.

Ross earned a lot of high praise for this entry. "This is absolutely fantastic," wrote a reader named Tom. "He should mail it in to them. Would be one of the best jerseys in the NHL right now. Would love to see a home jersey that was red!"

Ross never made a red one, but that didn't stop requests for more versions. Rob S. commented: "Bee-YOOUUUUUU-tiful! We need to see the blue jersey now!"

Perhaps the best compliment came by way of tp71, who wrote: "That may be one of the best concepts I've seen on here in a long long time. This is fantastic. ... Usually concepts are a different take and may not be an actual improvement on what is currently used, but this to me, and I love the Jets current jerseys, is a massive improvement.

"If I could, I would give you a standing ovation for this. Well done."

9 ∙ Blue Eagles & Golden Sharks — Ross Taylor

Sure looks like Ross Taylor could very well dominate our Top 10 Concepts of 2012. (Not to worry, plenty of other artists are represented.) Coming in at No. 9 is another entry in Ross's brand-blending series, which found a home on our Freak Out Friday.

In Blue Eagles & Golden Sharks, posted on April 27, Ross mixed old with new in former NHL cities that got a second chance with new teams. St. Louis, Mo. went about 30 years between the Eagles and the Blues. The San Francisco area, on the other hand, endured 15 years between the Golden Seals and the Sharks.

"These. Are. Awesome!" wrote etown in the comments.

For both cities, Ross fused the logos of the original teams with the newer ones creating Icethetics fan favorites in the process. Ross followed up a week later with reader-requested jerseys for these two hybrid teams.

8 ∙ Spread Your Wings — Brian Brideau

At No. 8 we find another regular contributor in Brian Brideau. He tackled an old standard on Nov. 22 in Spread Your Wings, and did it better than anyone else ever has.

The "old standard" to which I'm referring, is the oft-tried Washington Capitals third jersey concept featuring the secondary logo — affectionately called the Weagle — front and center. Many designers have attempted this but no has done it better than Brian — at least according to the ratings.

"I don't give out five stars normally," commented Phil, "but this thing is gorgeous." The sentiments were shared by many readers included fellow contributor Justin Nahhas.

I have always been the minority that has not wanted to see the Weagle as a main crest, nor a blue jersey in the Capitals arsenal. But this concept changes my mind. I would love to see a home and away set based off of this (without the Weagle of course). Five stars, though — props on this one.

Finally, it seems Andrew O. posed the best question: "Why hasn't this happened yet?"

7 ∙ A Visit From You-Know-Who — Matt McElroy

Lucky No. 7 showed up on Icethetics just over a week ago, on Christmas Eve. Matt McElroy's self-titled "Ugly Christmas Sweater" was featured in A Visit From You-Know-Who on Dec. 24.

Matt told me he planned to pitch the design to a minor or junior league team as a possible theme night sweater. I'm not sure whether he had any success, but he should have. I know I'd buy one of these in a hurry.

Matt has an interesting Icethetics story. His work was first featured on Jan. 8, 2010. It was a Kings jersey with a bizarre color combination that yielded rather harsh comments from me and more than a few commenters. It lit a fire in him.

Earlier this year, on May 7, Matt submitted a new Kings concept that blew me and others away. Matt explained how the reaction to his first submission fueled him to improve his skills. Two years on, he's responsible for some of the best and most memorable concepts ever to grace these pages.

It's so much fun to watch stories like this unfold over the five years Icethetics has existed.

6 ∙ Revisiting the Winter Classic — Justin Cox

It seems Justin Cox has a knack for creating crowd-pleasing concepts. His talents were clearly on display July 29 in Revisiting the Winter Classic.

Long before any talk of a lockout, much less the cancellation of the 2013 NHL Winter Classic, Justin was working up ideas for uniforms the Maple Leafs and Red Wings could sport. Unfortunately, we won't know for at least another year if his concept was even in the neighborhood.

However, we do know it went over huge with Icethetics readers! One commenter, Brad, wrote: "So it's decided then. Those are going to be the Winter Classic unis. No excuses."

A few months later, the NHL canceled the game and any hope of seeing sweaters even remotely like these. But this isn't all we'll see from Justin. I get the feeling he'll show up again on this list.

5 ∙ The Colorado Rockalanche — Ross Taylor

Surprise, surprise. Ross Taylor is back in the countdown! Two weeks into his concept series, Ross created the crown jewel and standard bearer for his brand blends.

He mixed the Colorado Rockies logo with that of the Colorado Avalanche and produced one of the highest rated concepts in Icethetics history. He called the team the Rockalanche. An instant classic.

To this day, it still gets referenced anytime I post a new Avalanche concept. But even on the day it was posted, it's greatness was recognized.

"One word," wrote Mayhem in the comments. "AWESOME!"

A couple months later, Ross revisited the Rockalanche with full light and dark uniforms. Then in July he had a bit of a rethink. He left the logo unchanged but redesigned the jerseys. That concept is part of the top 20 of 2012.

Ross went on to create many more concepts using this theme, but none has been as popular as the Rockalanche.

4 ∙ That's Wild! — Michael Baumann

You could call Michael Baumann a one-hit wonder, but that wouldn't do justice to the concept he created for the Minnesota Wild. His simple, elegant design was posted on July 18 in That's Wild! and became an instant favorite of Icethetics readers.

Michael actually created four jerseys in this set (only two are pictured here), including a home red, road wheat, a green alternate, and a gold Winter Classic jersey.

As for the reader feedback, it was all glowing. John was rather straightforward with his critique: "Dude you did an incredible job. That's better than their regular set."

"Exceptionally well done," said Blitz. "Awesome job," wrote SabresFan. And Ryan added, "great friggin work."

Perhaps the greatest praise came from the designer who came just ahead of Michael on this list — designing for the same team. Justin Cox wrote, "these are spectacular!"

3 ∙ Minnesota Green — Justin Cox

While Justin Cox was extremely complimentary of Michael Baumann's Wild concept, readers found Justin's own design to be beyond spectacular.

Making our countdown at No. 3 is this design posted on Nov. 28 in Minnesota Green. One thing I pointed out at the time was that, whie the Wild are often mocked for their "Christmas colors," this uniform did not have that feel at all — despite keeping the existing color palette.

"You hit the nail on the head for me there," said Nathan in one comment. "I really do not like the current Minnesota jerseys mainly because of the colour scheme. At least that is what I thought was the problem. However, these jerseys show that this colour scheme can really work. I love them."

Proof that it's not the colors but how you use them that can make or break a hockey sweater.

In the very next comment, Tyler wrote: "Yes. Yes. Oh my god yes. These are perfect. They cannot be improved upon. Why on earth are the Wild not wearing these now?"

I second that. We all second that.

2 ∙ The Sens' Perfect Collection — Justin Cox

So talented is Justin Cox, it seems, that he takes two of our top three positions in the highest rated concepts of 2012. Justin's most respected design is this one for the Ottawa Senators, posted Dec. 10 in The Sens' Perfect Collection.

At the time I posted this, I wrote that Justin had solved the Sens' uniforms for good. I wasn't sure how many readers would agree with me. But it turns out almost all of you did.

Justin created a phenomenal set of jerseys that borrow's on the history of Ottawa hockey without feeling dated or dull. Instead, he's designed sweaters that anyone would be thrilled to wear.

"Perfect. Absolutely perfect," wrote Jim.

Tony Dunsworth couldn't fit in enough exclamation points as he said: "As a Sens fan from the day the team was announced, I would love these jerseys and buy them in a heartbeat! Wow! Impressive!"

"Can I place an order on these beauties?!?" asked Vaytch. "I'd buy three of each just [in case] I spill something over them! #INSTABUY"

"In one word: PERFECTION," touted Stephen. "Need I say more?"

You need not, Stephen.

With that, we arrive at the highest rated concept to appear on Icethetics in all of 2012.

1 ∙ 8-Bit Hockey Sweaters — Al McCready

It can be lonely at the top. This one-of-a-kind concept by Al McCready definitely broke the mold in terms of what constitutes concept art. But it did so with gusto. Icethetics readers were in love.

Al adapted 12 NHL sweaters into 8-bit computer style artwork in 8-Bit Hockey Sweaters, posted on Sept. 4. And actually, the piece of art sat in my inbox for almost a month before I realized the world needed to see it.

As it turns out, it was the highest rated item to be posted on the Concepts page in all of 2012. The good news is that if you like this, there's more! Al posted all 30 teams (plus a few vintage extras) to his Tumblr page for all to enjoy.

In the post some commenters speculated whether the difference in physical features was an attempt at recreating specific players in the 8-bit world. Al chimed in to say that, in fact, the Flyers character was a self-portrait!

So what do you think of this Top 10? Generally speaking, you should love it as it was your collective vote that determined this ranking. I hope to do another one of these to start 2014. Until then, keep checking the Concepts page for new artwork every day!


Concepts Page: How It's Made

I'll get back to the jersey and logo news in short order, but here's a little something different today. The video above is a time lapse of my screen as I put together the display graphics for the Concepts page. This time lapse was taken on Sept. 18. It features concepts posted between Sept. 21 and today.

I usually try to work ahead about a week or more in order to make sure the posts keep flowing on a daily basis. Hope you guys enjoy it.

I'm also hoping this video inspires a few of our more prolific concept artists to record their screens when they sit down to design a logo or jersey. I think we'd all enjoy watching the making of an actual concept. Who's game?


Buffaslug Designer Talks More About Process

The designer behind one of the most hated logos in NHL history is once again talking about the process of rebranding the Buffalo Sabres back in 2006 — a rebrand which has since been completely dispensed with.

Kristopher Bazen made news here last year after he asked Sabres creative services director Frank Cravotta to remove some old sketches of the "Buffaslug" from his online portfolio. Bazen said it might've been "misleading" since the design was a "collaborative effort." However, a year later, Bazen has posted more of that early conceptual work on his own website. Here's a look at those designs:

Buffalo Sabres conceptual work (2005) / Kristopher Bazen

There are a lot of neat ideas in there, but I'm not sure any of them would've been an improvement on the original 1970 logo — an updated version of which the Sabres use today.

On this subject, Bazen made the rounds yesterday on some popular hockey websites. He posted the above link on the SportsLogos.net message boards and spent a lot of time talking about the design process. If you have some time to kill, there's some stuff worth reading. Basically, for an artist, he's one thick-skinned human being and he's good at responding to questions. More on the SportsLogos.net blog.

Also yesterday, Puck Daddy had a long in-depth feature about Bazen and his work with the Sabres. I highly recommend taking the time to read this one. Greg Wyshynski leaves no stone unturned and if you like hockey logos, you'll find yourself fascinated by almost every word.

I think the reason Bazen keeps coming up is that despite the fact he is a fantasic logo designer, he's being haunted by what the higher-ups in the Sabres organization ultimately wanted. He doesn't need to defend himself as he's quite talented as you can see in his portfolio. But I like that he's giving us a little insight into how it all works.