Sunday, July 27, 2008

Howard Berger describes possible alternate jersey designs

Whether you keep a detective eye out for any information online from places like Icethetics, Chris Creamer's Sports Logos forum or, apparently Howard Berger of CJCL-AM (The Fan 590) in Toronto has reportedly seen what the upcoming alternate jerseys set to be unveiled in the future will look like. He posted the following information in his blog entry earlier today:

No Change In Leafs' Third Jersey

LOS ANGELES (July 27) – It isn't often that the business gurus at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment pass up a marketing opportunity, but that seems to be the case with the third jersey the Leafs will wear next season. Rather than producing an entirely new design – as many NHL clubs have done – the Leafs' alternate jersey will be identical to the one the players have worn, on and off, since 1998: A replica of the club's white road uniform from the mid-1960s, with the 35-point, blue maple leaf logo on the front; blue shoulder piping, and two blue lines on the arms and near the bottom of the jersey. A thick blue stripe encircles the tip of the sleeve. The neck has the lace-up feature prominent in the 1960s and early '70s.

It's a wonderful uniform; smartly designed and with loads of tradition. But, it's been on the market for ten years. Wouldn't it have been more prudent for MLSE to design a replica of the blue 1960s jersey – the one the Leafs wore at home? The jersey the club sported when it won the 1964 Stanley Cup over Detroit in Game 7 at Maple Leaf Gardens? The design the players wore on home ice throughout the 1966-67 regular season, when the club made its last Stanley Cup drive? At least it would have provided consumers with something fresh, rather than a reprise of the garment that's been available for the past decade.

NHL teams will again flaunt third [or alternate] jerseys in 2008-09, after a one-season absence that was part of the league's contract with Reebok. The RBK EDGE jerseys were introduced at the beginning of last season, and were supposed to be lighter and more aerodynamic. Instead, many players complained that they retained too much moisture, and became heavier. Most teams made minor changes to their uniform designs as part of the RBK unveiling; the Leafs, for example, removed the horizontal stripes from the bottom of their home and road jerseys.

I have obtained photos [front and rear] of most NHL third jerseys for the up-coming season. Here are some other highlights from around the league.

ATLANTA: The club will introduce a dark red jersey with the word "THRASHERS" on the front, just above the player's uniform number, which will appear on both sides of the design. A broad white stripe will adorn each arm of the jersey with a dark red number in the stripe. A broad white-and-dark blue stripe will run down the sides of the jersey.

BOSTON: The Bruins will unveil an all black jersey with the club's alternate logo on the front – a black bear with the word "BRUINS" above it in a semi-circle. Two gold stripes will appear on the arms, with gold numbering above the stripes and on the back.

BUFFALO: The Sabres will bring back their original road jersey – the blue design with the round "cross-sword" logo on the front, and the three gold stripes on the arms and the bottom of the jersey. It's the uniform the Sabres' first GM/coach, George (Punch) Imlach, requested; a design similar to that which Imlach's Maple Leafs had from the 1967 playoffs through 1969-70. And, it's the jersey Buffalo wore during road games from the beginning of the franchise in 1970-71 to the end of the 1995-96 season. Beginning in 1996-97, the Sabres switched to a black, red and white uniform, and completely redesigned their logo. Another redesign occurred prior to the 2006-07 campaign, with the team returning to its blue and gold color scheme.

CAROLINA: The Hurricanes will introduce a black third jersey, with red and white trim – different than their customary red home uniform with the black and white trim. Each arm will sport red and white angular stripes. The bottom of the jersey will feature a narrow white stripe and a thicker red one. In between, will be 10 white stars. The club's red logo on the uniform front is placed within a white triangle, presumably to honor the famed Research Triangle that dominates the Raleigh-Durham area.

CHICAGO: The Blackhawks will return to the predominantly black third jersey they have worn in recent years. A white stripe flanked by two red stripes will appear on each arm, and at the bottom of the jersey. A wide red stripe is featured at the tip of each arm. The traditional Blackhawks Indian-head logo appears, as usual, on the front.

DALLAS: The Stars' third jersey is simple… a white uniform with the word "DALLAS" crowned on the front, atop the jersey number, which appears on both sides. Parallel dark-green and black stripes appear on each arm. There are no stripes at the bottom of the jersey.

EDMONTON: The Oilers are going back to their glory days with the predominantly blue jersey Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier et al wore on the road while winning five Stanley Cup titles between 1984 and 1990. Orange shoulder piping will re-appear, along with a broad orange stripe at the tip of each arm. Two white stripes flanking an orange stripe are on the arms and near the bottom of the jersey. The original round Oilers logo, with the orange oil drip and blue team name, is on the front.

LOS ANGELES: The Kings will unveil a predominantly black jersey with the letters "L A" inside a pencil-point logo on the front. Broad white stripes will adorn each arm. A thin white stripe will run horizontally on each side of the jersey, just beneath the shoulder. There are no stripes at the bottom of the uniform. The color purple – widely evident in the Kings’ primary jersey – will likely be featured in the number outlines of the alternate, though the photo copy I have doesn't clearly show it. A better idea would have been a reprise of the Kings' original purple and gold uniforms from 1967, but the club marketers are apparently not bent on tradition.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: The Isles are going back to their original road jersey from 1972-73, when they joined the NHL along with the Atlanta Flames. It is a royal-blue base, with broad orange and white stripes on the arms and at the bottom of the jersey. The uniform numbers – as they appeared during the club's inaugural season – are orange with white trim. Player names will also be orange. The Islanders switched to white jersey numbers after their dreadful first year in the league; when they compiled a 12-60-6 record… worst, to that point, in NHL history.

OTTAWA: A dramatic change in the Senators' third jersey will see a predominantly black uniform with the word "SENS" angled upward on the front. A fashionable red stripe will run from the arm pits, down the side of the jersey, to its base, where the stripe turns inward. A pair of narrow red and white stripes will adorn each arm, and the very bottom of the jersey. It's quite a sharp design.

PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers are also going for tradition, bringing back the predominantly orange jersey the club wore at home when it joined the NHL in 1967-68. White shoulder piping will again run the length of each arm, with orange numbers trimmed in black. A large black stripe is affixed to the tip of each arm. A broad white stripe adorns the bottom of the uniform. The Flyers' stylized "P" black logo with the orange dot is on the front.

PHOENIX: The Coyotes will unveil an all-new design... a predominantly black jersey with a leaping desert-red coyote as the front logo. A large, dark-red stripe will run down the side of the jersey, broadening at the base. A similar dark-red stripe, only smaller, is affixed to the latter half of the arm, beyond the white numbers.

PITTSBURGH: Kudos to the Penguins for staying with the jersey the club wore during the Outdoor Classic in Buffalo last January 1st. It's a replica of the home jersey the Penguins wore starting in 1968-69, their second year in the NHL: Predominantly light-blue in color, with broad white stripes trimmed in dark blue on the sleeves and uniform base. A large, dark-blue stripe is at the tip of each arm. The neckline is dark-blue with the lace-up feature. The dark-blue, circular Penguins' logo is on the front.

SAN JOSE: Though the photo I have is a bit grainy, the Sharks will wear a predominantly black third jersey with aqua and white stripes on each sleeve. The back number is white. The traditional Sharks' "biting-stick" logo is on the front.

ST. LOUIS: Another significant change. The Blues will introduce a dark-blue alternate jersey with a white stripe trimmed in black on the sleeves and uniform base. The club's traditional "blue-note" logo appears within a circle on the front of the jersey, with the city's famous Gateway Arch in the background. It will also have the lace-up feature.

TAMPA BAY: Also completely different. The Lightning will introduce a predominantly dark-blue alternate with the word "BOLTS" angling downward in white on the jersey front. A narrow white stripe is featured above a broad black stripe at the uniform base. Grey and white stripes are on each arm, and the latter half of the sleeve, to the tip, is black.

VANCOUVER: The Canucks are going back to their inception in 1970-71 by bringing back the predominantly blue road jersey the club wore. At the bottom of the jersey – and on each arm – is a broad green stripe flanked by a pair of white stripes. The club's original "hockey-stick-in-a-rink" logo is outlined in green and white on the front.

I will pass on more third-jersey designs as I receive them.

I'm disappointed with some of the speculated designs such as teams following Dallas' lead by sticking a team name on the front of their jerseys instead of the primary logo. The Stars themselves are rumored to just be putting out there a white version of their black home jerseys that were unveiled last summer. Then teams like Atlanta, Ottawa and Tampa Bay want to put their nicknames on each of theirs? Seriously, they have gotta be kidding me.

Looks like at least there are those teams that stuck with tradition or honor their past in some way that recaptures their more popular old looks like Buffalo, Chicago, Edmonton, the Islanders, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh (with the Penguins, think of those Winter Classic jerseys they wore). I'm not too keen of the Islanders using orange numbers AND nameplate lettering for theirs.

Phoenix and San Jose intrigue me the most while the Blues' new alternate logo I'll pass judgment on when I see it.

Not all teams are participating in the third jersey program as two teams have yet to do so since its inception. That would be Detroit and New Jersey. Notably the New York Rangers aren't a part of it this time around while Minnesota was not on this list, but are expected to have an alternate jersey for the second time in the eight-year history of their franchise.

Also, Howard Berger had added that the Montreal Canadiens will not be participating in the alternate jersey program during the 2008-2009 season, but instead for a select amount of games be wearing four different sets of uniforms to commemorate the franchise's centennial anniversary. On all uniforms, the Canadiens will have the 2009 NHL All-Star Game patch on the front of the jerseys.

Given as fact those teams on the above list have not unveiled their alternate jerseys, this is unofficial information at this point. Berger is a journalist that does have inside knowledge of happenings around the NHL, so it's safe to say that he wouldn't put his job on the line if he wasn't reporting legitimate information. I'm taking what he passed along for what it is.

No comments: