The 2020-21 National Hockey League regular season is finally getting underway tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Philadelphia Flyers at 5:30 pm ET, four other games will follow giving us our first night of regular season hockey in nearly a year. Here today I will give you a look at the changes to the divisions and playoff format as well as a team-by-team breakdown of any logo or uniform changes that we’ll be seeing this year.
This season will feature just 56 games, reduced from the usual 82, all teams will play an intradivision schedule – facing only clubs within their re-aligned divisions. Those teams in an 8-team division will play their seven other opponents eight times, those in the one 7-team division will play either nine or ten. The playoffs will be division-based, 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd with the winners meeting in round two; the third round will re-seed the four remaining teams based on regular season points with the two winners from that round meeting in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Why were the divisions realigned? Because cross-border travel just isn’t possible right now due to COVID-19 quarantining restrictions, this necessitates that teams play schedules entirely within their country. All seven Canadian teams will play together in the new North Division, all twenty-four U.S.-based teams will be split evenly among the new Central, East, and West Divisions.
With an abbreviated, temporarily re-aligned season awaiting us there are some significant changes across the league. There will be no All-Star Game this season (it was set to be held in Sunrise, Florida) so there’s no 2021 All-Star Game logo or uniforms. The 2021 Winter Classic and Stadium Series games were also scrapped but replaced with the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe Game.
The league is using the shortened, reduced attendance season as justification for the addition of more advertisements in the game. First, the four new (and temporary) divisions will all feature sponsored names, and will also come with new division logos:
Teams are also now permitted to make deals to place advertisements on the sides of their helmets. Helmets may only contain one corporate logo but teams may make separate deals for their home dark and road white helmets. Again, the league assures us this is a temporary, one-year-only arrangement. We’ve gone through each team’s helmet ads right here.
The Reverse Retro program is also new in 2020-21, every team in the league introduced a new uniform which features a remixed version of a previous design, in some cases, we saw bizarre looks from the 90s brought back in new colour schemes, in other cases (Islanders!) teams didn’t do much. We broke down the Reverse Retro program in detail when it was first introduced in November right here.
The Boston Bruins are adding a gold Reverse Retro jersey throwing back to 1990 which they will wear during the outdoor game in Lake Tahoe against Philadelphia. The Bruins are also wearing TD Bank decals on their helmets, as well as a memorial decal honouring Travis Roy on the back of their helmet.
The Sabres brought back their old royal blue and gold colour scheme across the board — the home and road uniforms, as well as their primary logo, were all updated to incorporate the lighter colours. The Sabres also introduced a white Reverse Retro uniform throwing back to 2001 and announced two helmet ad sponsors.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
New Jersey introduced a green Reverse Retro uniform featuring the design of what they wore in the 1980s as well as adding the logo of Prudential onto their helmets.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
The Islanders’ Reverse Retro uniform is just a mildly tweaked version of their current look — darker colours and swapped stripes. They’ll be wearing two different logos on their helmets — Northwell Health at home and UBS on the road.
NEW YORK RANGERS
The Rangers threw back to their Lady Liberty alternate uniforms for their Reverse Retro look, they also announced the addition of a helmet ad for their practices but not yet during regular season games.
Philadelphia has a Reverse Retro uniform which they will wear at the Outdoor Game in Lake Tahoe, orange with black sleeves. The team will also be wearing the logo of TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) on their helmets.
The Penguins will have a white version of their mid-1990s road black uniforms, featuring PITTSBURGH written diagonally down the front, as their Reverse Retro design. The helmets will also have a PPG Paints logo on the sides.
The Capitals will unveil a new alternate uniform at some point… soon, we imagine… but while we wait for that we’ve got their new Reverse Retro jersey which brings back the eagle logo from the ’90s but re-coloured in red, white, and blue. They’ve also announced CapitalOne as their helmet ad sponsor.
Carolina is again channelling their origins as the Hartford Whalers with their new grey Reverse Retro uniforms which they will wear twice in 2021. The ‘Canes will also wear the logo of their arena naming sponsor PNC across all four of their helmets.
The Blackhawks are wearing a black version of their 1940 uniforms as their Reverse Retro design, they’ve also added a United logo to the sides of their helmets.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
The Columbus Blue Jackets are celebrating their 20th anniversary with this commemorative patch on the front of their uniforms. They’ll also occasionally wear a red version of their inaugural season uniforms as their Reverse Retro set. For helmet ads, it’s a logo of Nationwide on their road white helmets and OhioHealth on their home blue helmets.
An all-new alternate black uniform will be added to the Stars uniform rotation this year, trimmed with bright neon green striping and the team’s secondary logo on the chest. The team’s Reverse Retro design is just the opposite, an all-white uniform with their early 2000s logo and star-inspired striping. As for a helmet ad, the Stars will wear the AT&T logo on all their helmets this year.
DETROIT RED WINGS
The Detroit Red Wings will be wearing the initials of United Wholesale Mortgage on both their home red and road white helmets, both featuring a large “UWM” on either side. Their Reverse Retro uniform combines the striping of their home red sweater (now on white) with silver striping inspired by their 2017 Centennial Classic uniform.
The Panthers are throwing back to the mid-1990s for their Reverse Retro uniform, a navy blue version of their inaugural expansion look. On the helmets, the Florida Panthers announced two deals on December 23, 2020. The team will wear the Ford Motor Company logo on their helmets during actual gameplay for both home and road games but will wear the logo of Baptist Health during team practices.
The Nashville Predators announced a helmet deal with Bridgestone, their arena naming rights holder, on December 22, 2020. The Predators will wear the company’s logo featuring a red and black “B” on the side of their home gold and road white helmets. The team’s Reverse Retro uniform is a gold version of their expansion season design.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Tampa Bay is going back to 2004 for their Reverse Retro uniform, wearing a blue version of the previously black design. The defending cup champs will wear two logos on their helmets. On their home blues is the logo of DEX Imaging while the Tampa General Hospital (TGH) logo is on their road whites.
Calgary, like the Sabres and Senators, is going back to a past uniform and logo design. The Flames are bringing back the uniforms worn by the club from 1980 through 1994, it eliminates black from their team’s primary colour scheme and also brightens the shade of red. The Flames’ previous home jersey, that design with the black “C” and the flag patches on the shoulders, is still alive and will be worn as an alternate uniform this year.
For the Reverse Retro series, the Flames are bringing back their flaming-horse black jersey last worn in the mid-2000s with moderate changes to the design. Helmets will feature the Scotiabank logo.
Edmonton has added a memorial decal to the back of their helmets honouring the life of former coach John Muckler. Their Reverse Retro uniform is white with orange shoulders, a more orange-heavy version of their 1980 design. Helmets will have the Rogers logo added to either side.
Montreal is wearing a blue version of their familiar red home sweater for their Reverse Retro, the blue stripe across the front now blue for this design. On their helmets, the Habs will wear the Bell logo.
Ottawa is throwing back to their 1990s design with minor tweaks. The 2D centurion style logo is back as the primary logo now with a little extra gold and the uniforms are returning with some changes to the striping patterns. The Reverse Retro uniform goes back to this same design but now in red rather than black. On the helmets, we’ll see the logo for Bell on their home black helmets and Canadian Tire on their road whites.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
The Leafs are throwing back to 1970 for their Reverse Retro design though the jersey will instead use the logo from 1967 on the chest. The team’s helmets will include the Scotiabank logo, white on the home blues and an unfortunate red on the road whites.
Vancouver brought back the team’s old gradient style alternate uniforms from the early 2000s as their Reverse Retro design, now in green and blue. The Rogers logo will be added to the helmets.
Winnipeg is honouring the life of original Jets legend Dale Hawerchuk as well as celebrating the 10th anniversary of their move from Atlanta with a single patch featuring Hawerchuk’s number 10 on a Roman numeral X. Winnipeg is also bringing back the original Jets 1979 uniform recoloured in blue and grey as their Reverse Retro design. Jets players have also been spotted wearing Bell logos on their helmets during practices, we’re unsure if those will be worn during the season.
No helmet ad has been announced for the Anaheim Ducks yet, but they will be bringing back the Wild Wing third uniform from 1996 as their Reverse Retro design, now in white rather than green.
The Coyotes made a few changes, the kachina throwback uniform previously worn as a third jersey is now the club’s home uniform and will be trimmed with silver numbers to celebrate the club’s 25th anniversary since moving from Winnipeg. The ‘Yotes will also wear two different variations of a 25th anniversary patch on their jerseys, one with a kachina logo for the throwback-styled home uniform, and one with the modern howling-coyote logo for the road white and alternate (previously home) uniform.
Arizona’s Reverse Retro is a purple version of their desert landscaped green alternate uniform, first worn in the late 1990s. An “LA49” memorial decal has been added to the back of their helmets honouring the life of Leighton Accardo and the team will be wearing two different advertiser’s logos on their helmets. For home games, the Mountain America logo would be worn, and for road games with the white helmet, it will be that of Dignity Health.
Colorado made some minor, yet still significant changes to their uniform set… if that’s possible. The jersey stays the same, aside from the addition of a 25th anniversary patch, but the pants and helmets have been changed from black – as it had been for all 25 of those years – to now blue. The third uniform will be paired with a dark navy blue helmet and pants.
As they celebrate 25 years, the Avs will honour the previous incarnation of the franchise with a re-coloured version of the Quebec Nordiques 1979 uniforms for their Reverse Retro design. This set will also be worn for the club’s participation in the Outdoor Game series at Lake Tahoe against the Golden Knights. As for helmet ads, the Colorado Avalanche will wear the logo of the Ball Corporation, which is also the new naming rights holder of their home arena.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
The Los Angeles Kings have thrown back to a couple of eras for their Reverse Retro uniform, the 1970s colour scheme applied to the 1990s jersey template gives us, essentially, a purple and gold version of the Wayne Gretzky era uniform. Looks great. As for helmet ads, the Kings are bringing awareness to the California Hope Crisis Counseling Program by wearing the CalHOPE logos on their helmets.
Minnesota, like the Jets, will recognize a former NHL team that previously played there with a Reverse Retro jersey styled like the 1978 Minnesota North Stars. The North Stars colours and jersey striping with a recoloured Wild logo on the chest. Minnesota will also wear the logo of Xcel Energy on their helmets.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
The Sharks have added a heritage jersey throwing back to their 1991 road teal design to their set in honour of the club’s 30th anniversary, and yes, there will also be a 30th anniversary patch on their uniforms throughout the year. The Sharks are throwing back to the late 1990s for their Reverse Retro set, going with a grey version of the team’s former third uniform of the era. For the helmets, the Sharks are wearing the logos of SAP and Zoom.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
For their Reverse Retro uniform, St. Louis is throwing back to the 1990s, wearing a red version of their unusual uniforms featuring a musical staff as diagonal striping — the team wore this as a heritage uniform just last season. The Blues have also announced two helmet ads, Enterprise on the whites and Stifel on the blues.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Golden Knights have introduced a new, metallic gold third uniform which is a straight-up gold version of their usual home and road set (as a third uniform should be!). Their Reverse Retro uniform is red with the club’s alternate logo on the chest and will be worn when they face the Colorado Avalanche in the outdoor game at Lake Tahoe. The Golden Knights have also announced they will wear two helmet ads, Credit One at home and Allegiant on the road.
That’s it, that’s all your changes for 2020-21 that have been unveiled thus far, an abbreviated season doesn’t necessarily mean abbreviated uniform changes apparently — and we still have a new Capitals uniform to look out for.
Aside from those helmet ads, overall, an upgrade to the look of the league. The return of the brighter colours of the 1980s and 1990s is welcome as teams like the Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres look to stand out among their peers by fully embracing *their* proper colours; the Reverse Retro series continues this look back while putting a modern spin on some of the uniforms we grew up with. Welcome back, NHL.