The "Black and Blue Hockey" era started in Nashville last night with the team renaming the city "Smashville" as they donned their new jerseys for the first time. If you kindly recall, the Predators used to have an alternate jersey that was the colour of mustard at best and the colour of puke at worst. With the announcement that they would wear brand new alternates this season, there was hope that improvements would be made. After a few leaks of the new alternate jerseys in action, we finally saw them in action against the St. Louis Blues on Friday night.
Honestly, when the Predators first debuted these new uniforms, I was blown away. The Predators, for the first time, actually looked respectable in terms of having a traditional hockey look. Gone was the ridiculous piping off the front. The addition of some traditional hem striping made the "apron look" a thing of the past. Honestly, these might be the best Predators jerseys to date in my view.
Again, we see another team going with a lace-up collar. If you're keeping track at home, that's 17 teams that feature at least one uniform with a lace-up collar. We need to find a new detail for teams to exploit. It might be the only thing that detracts from the overall aesthetic of this jersey.
The Predators went with an altered colour scheme, eliminating the yellow off these new alternate uniforms entirely. While I disagree with the idea of removing a primary colour, the fact that they didn't introduce a colour that wasn't in their scheme originally actually scores them marks. The silver and navy blue were always there, and black was a contrast colour just as before. Because of this, they changed the colours on their logo, and I have to say that this newly-coloured logo looks fabulous. The sabre-toothed tiger actually looks fiercer in the darker colour scheme.
The shoulder logo remains the same in terms of the design, but the Predators added a circular outline and a checkerboard pattern to the background. The new shoulder logo has an old-time hockey look, and the checkerboard pattern is subtle enough that it doesn't draw your attention away from the secondary logo. That is good design, kids, and the Predators should be recognized for it.
Just as an aside, head coach Barry Trotz has stated that the fossil logo worn on the shoulder on past jerseys was actually supposed to be the primary logo on the old alternate jerseys instead of the cartoonish cat's head. The NHL felt that the fossil logo was a little extreme as a primary logo, and asked the Predators to change it on their old alternate jerseys. Trotz talks about it below at the 1:14 mark.
Pretty cool story, right?
Anyway, carrying on with the new alternates, those hem stripes that I said were "traditional" are actually a combination of old-style stripes with a modern twist. The navy blue between the white stripes are actually more of that checkerboard pattern. Reportedly, that checkerboard pattern is a tribute to Nashville's rich motorsports and NASCAR community, but it is an element that hasn't been seen before in terms of its subtlety. If you notice, it is practically invisible unless you're looking at the jersey up close. Unfortunately for the Predators, I have to say this is a poor design element. If you can't see it, it doesn't exist.
The Predators moved away from their traditional font, opting for a more basic block font. The Predators also move away from the two-colour numbering on the jersey to the one-colour white numbers. In theory, this should represent a savings for fans who want to customize their new alternate jerseys, but that's totally up to the retailer. Overall, no complaints with keeping the font simple. It's clearly legible and easy to read, and that's good for the fans. While I don't necessarily believe that their traditional font wouldn't work, keeping it simple does work.
The one thing that really stuck out on this new uniform was actually not on the jersey, but on the breezers. The Predators have a new "NP" logo on their breezers that I have never seen used before. I don't really think it works all that well, and it is a little difficult to decipher when one quickly glances at it. The "NP" don't really jump out as those two letters. I'd lose this lettered logo if I were given the option.
Overall, I like these new jerseys. While I'm not particularly fond of the number of navy blue jerseys I'm seeing this season, the Predators' navy blue alternates work for them. They have traditional elements mixed with some modern additions, and the design comes together very well.
Just as a note for the teams who are unveiling alternate jerseys next season: November is a bad month in the standings for new jerseys. So far, teams that have debuted their new alternate jerseys this season are a combined 0-3 on their debut nights, and are now 0-5 in games wearing their new alternates. Colorado got thumped by the Canucks and lost to the Predators, the Panthers lost to the Penguins and Maple Leafs, and the St. Louis Blues ruined the Predators' big night last night.
Black and Blue Hockey is alive and well in Smashville. And they look good playing that brand of hockey while wearing these new uniforms.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!