By: Jacob Walsh
Sept. 30th, 2022: Three months after Nathan MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche raised the Stanley Cup, a new NHL season is once again upon us. This year’s offseason was full of notable signings, uniform changes, arena moves, and retirements.
The NHL started its 2022-23 preseason back on September 24th, though these games do not mean much to the average fan it still brings excitement to the return of hockey.
Signings: When the Pittsburgh Penguins fell in game seven of the first-round last year it looked as if the team’s three-man core would break up the band after 16 straight seasons together. Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin became unrestricted free agents. Most speculated the two would sign with new teams, However, Kris Letang was the first to resign to Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin would hold out until the eve of free agency to resign, keeping himself, Crosby and Letang in the steel city for likely the remainder of their careers. One big player who switched jerseys was forward Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk was traded by the Calgary Flames to the Flordia Panthers where he signed an 8-year deal. Another Flame dissipated as Johnny Gaudreau left Canada for Columbus, signing with the Blue Jackets for 7-years.
Uniform changes: A few notable updates on the uniform front is the Edmonton Oilers switching from their navy blue and light orange color scheme unis to their classic royal blue “Gretzky” Era look. The San Jose Sharks released all new uniforms, going with a heavy teal scheme (Home and Away) while dropping orange from the sets. The Vegas Golden Knights have changed their primary uniform from their inaugural season grey jersey to their previously alternate glitter gold jerseys. The Knights have also switched from black pants to grey. The entire NHL will be participating in a new phase of the “Reverse Retro” uniform campaign (A team’s current look and colors combined together with its past looks and colors). The new phase is expected to be revealed in November.
Arena moves: The only arena movement that comes out of this offseason is the Arizona Coyotes being literally kicked out of the Gila River Area due to financial constraints. Arizona scrambled for new home ice and found it with Arizona State University’s ice. The embarrassment of this situation is that Mullett Arena’s capacity is 5,000, and the average NHL arena capacity 18,230.
Retirements: The two biggest 2022 retirements came from long-time veterans Zdeno Chara and P.K. Subban. Chara was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1996, he played for 26 seasons and played for 4 teams: Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, and Washington Capitals. “Big Z” was a 6-time all-star and won a championship with Boston in 2011.
P.K. Subban, a rival of Chara’s Bruins when drafted by the Montreal Canadians in 2007. After playing with the Habs for nine seasons and was then traded to the Nashville Predators. A year later Subban lost in his only cup appearance against the prior mentioned Crosby, Malkin, and Letang Led-Penguins. Subban was traded once more to the New Jersey Devils in 2019.
The NHL preseason runs till October 6th. The league drops the puck for regular season play on October 7th when the Predators and Sharks meet in Prague for the NHL’s Global Series. The regular North American opening starts October 11th with the Lightning and Rangers facing off.