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Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, in Edmonton, Alberta. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Last week, the Big Board debuted with the things I was most eager to see in the 2022-23 NHL season.

With games getting fully underway last week, plenty of storylines have emerged to sink our teeth into. Let’s dive right in.

1. Reverse Retro jersey leaks

It was announced ahead of this season that adidas’ Reverse Retro initiative would be returning for a second round of hybrid throwback jerseys, and the leaks are already coming our way.

A Twitter user by the name of Ali Murji presented us with mockups for all 32 teams this past week, and there’s A LOT to digest. It should be noted that these are mockups and not official final products, but most fall pretty close in line with what has been reported so far. So let’s have some fun and look at a few of the leaks.

We’d be remiss to start anywhere other than with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will do their very best to keep a straight face while playing in these monstrosities this season.

I’m all for using the Reverse Retro initiative to revisit a strange chapter and get ironically bold/weird for a few games, but every man has his limits. Your designers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. These are psychotic.

A couple of other notable irony-laden returns: The New York Islanders are finally revisiting the Gorton’s Fisherman jerseys, with a color scheme twist. I’m absolutely in on these.

And the Boston Bruins will be bringing back the Pooh Bear jersey in white. Since I am so damn humble, I won’t even bother mentioning that I accurately predicted/designed this jersey (and the Bruins’ first Reverse Retro jersey) back in 2020.

Anyway, there are plenty more fun Reverse Retros on the way, and I’ll probably end up ranking all 32 once they become official. For now, you can get a look at the other mockups on Murji’s Twitter account.

2. Maple Leafs goaltending

t took less than one week for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation to hit crisis mode, as Matt Murray was placed on injured reserve and will miss a minimum of four weeks. That led to a little bit of panic late last week as the cap-strapped Leafs rushed to find an emergency backup goalie.

It’s somewhat comical, considering goaltending was Toronto’s most glaring need this offseason and now the new plan is already in shambles just a few games into the season. However, I’d also like to see what the Leafs are capable of getting from this new goaltending duo before the bottom falls out.

The good news is that Ilya Samsonov has looked pretty decent through his first two appearances (both Leafs wins), and he has a pretty good opportunity to seize the reins as the team’s primary starter over the next month or so. Maybe this will all end up working out for Toronto, but if the Leafs were hoping that this new tandem would provide more stability, it’s off to a rocky start.

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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (35) makes a save on Ottawa Senators' Claude Giroux (28) with help from Auston Matthews (34) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

3. Connor McDavid gets going

Well in case there was any doubt, it turns out Connor McDavid is still pretty good. He kicked off the season by scoring three times in the Edmonton Oilers’ season opener, helping him hit 700 career points in the process.

A couple quick takeaways from that achievement: It’s insane to think McDavid is just starting his eighth season and already has 700 points to his name, especially when you remember he’s missed a full season’s worth of games to injury and another half season’s worth due to the pandemic. So basically, he’s recorded 700 points in five-and-a-half seasons. That’s laughably good.

Also, of McDavid’s eight seasons in the NHL, he’s managed to log a hat trick within two games FOUR separate times. My man knows how to get a party started.

4. NHL 23

Last week, I mentioned that I’d gotten my hands on NHL 23 a little early and would be prepared to give the game a mini review this week. Well, I’ve been playing it for about a week now and, unfortunately, I’m still not totally sure how I feel. Very helpful, I know.

The biggest complaint you typically hear with the NHL video game franchise is that there aren’t many big year-to-year changes and the new release is just an expensive roster update. Admittedly, this season’s game largely feels, plays and looks the same as NHL 22, and I wouldn’t really blame anyone for being turned off by that.

But with that being said, I enjoyed NHL 22 and there are some small but noticeable improvements with NHL 23. Hitting physics seem more realistic, speed gaps are more noticeable and crowd atmosphere is more authentic to specific game situations. I’m enjoying the experience for the most part, even if it’s pretty familiar.

If minor changes aren’t enough for you to justify purchasing the new game, I totally get it. I certainly wish there were deeper improvements and that my favorite game modes (franchise and Be-A-Pro) didn’t feel so neglected in favor of online modes year after year. However, I know offline modes aren’t as lucrative.

I guess I’ll just try to be happy that there’s positive familiarity and not regression. The franchise still has a ways to go to catch up with the depth and immersiveness of other sports titles, though.

5. TV board advertisements

Last week I mentioned the digital board advertising the NHL is working into broadcasts this season. This is what I had to say:

“I was initially concerned because animated ads can be a distraction for viewers and hockey can be difficult enough to track for newcomers watching at home, but from what I’ve seen so far it’s been barely noticeable. Hopefully it stays that way.”

Narrator: It did not stay that way. Here are a few examples of why this method of advertising is dangerous when not executed properly.

There’s a lot more creative freedom that comes with superimposed digital ads because it opens the door for animation, but that’s also where most of my concerns lie. Obviously, advertisers want to get you to notice their ad with animation, which is a great way to increase those odds, but there is such a thing as being attention-grabbing to a fault. The latter example above is a great case of that.

As a fan who watches a lot of hockey from home, I don’t know if I’m ever just going to be OK with these ads actively trying to take my attention away from the game. We have to find a happy middle ground here.

There’s plenty of time to work out the kinks, but this wasn’t exactly a flawless rollout for the NHL this past week.

6. Islanders proposal gone wrong

I have a bit of a hot take to share: I don’t really have a problem with people proposing at sporting events. If the team/sport is a strong bonding element between the couple, it makes sense. Plus, people find lamer ways to propose every day. If it makes them happy, who cares?

However, I do think there’s an element of decorum that should typically be followed when it comes to marriage proposals at sporting events. First, if possible, try to avoid popping the question if your favorite team is getting its doors blown off. Read the room. Second, don’t propose at a preseason game. If you can’t at least drop down to one knee at a meaningful game, find another setting.

But most importantly — and this should apply as a general rule to ALL proposals — if you’re going to ask the question in front of thousands of people, you should be VERY confident that your partner will be receptive and answer with an emphatic “YES.” And if they don’t — leaving you to be humiliated in a very public setting — you should at least make sure you’re wearing a shirt.

Pop the tarp or pop the question. Don’t do both.

Unfortunately, that memo did not make it to the Islanders game last week.

While I hope and pray this moment was staged for crowd entertainment and internet virality, I unfortunately am left to believe it’s real. First, it’s hard to fake that sort of awkwardness, even with a paid actor. Second, the Jumbotron cut away from this moment even before the girl said no and walked away. If you’re going to stage it, wouldn’t you see it through? Like, this moment was too awkward even for the Jumbotron. That’s saying a lot.

In any case, I hope this couple was able to hash things out and find a way to move forward. Relationships are hard, and sometimes lessons need to be learned along the way in order to open the door for long-term happiness. It turns out “sucking down a few Bud Lights before proposing shirtless” was not the path forward for these two. Not even on Long Island.

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