Friday, 24 August 2012

Uni Watch Ranks Hockey

Uni Watch is a fantastic blog where everyone shares an obsession for the smallest details on uniforms. I happen to prefer the hockey chatter more than NFL or MLB, but I'm not here to rain on anyone's parade. Paul Lukas, the writer of the ESPN articles and the blog, was given an assignment by his ESPN editors to rank the 122 professional sports franchises' uniforms from the four major North American pro sports. Of course, this is a huge task, but he did it, and there were some surprises. Personally, I was really only interested in the hockey rankings, and that's why I'm writing this article today.

I'm not here to rip Paul's rankings apart. Rather, I want to know what you, readers, think of his rankings. I will tell you that I disagree with where some teams finished, but there are some teams that absolutely deserve their rankings. What I will do, though, is post the list from #30 to #1 with Paul's overall ranking out of 122 pro teams in parentheses. After that, we'll discuss. Good? Good. Here's the list.

#30(118) - Colorado Avalanche: "Once upon a time, this was a passable-looking team. Not great, but passable. Now, though, it's a jumble of ill-fitting elements -- the apron-string jersey stripes, the pointless side panels, the laughable number font, the alternate jersey that's just a Rangers rip-off. If a team could get a game misconduct for its uniform, the Avs would certainly deserve one."

#29(117) - Dallas Stars: "You know how people like to say, 'Less is more?' It's often true -- but not always. Sometimes less is less. Granted, there's something perversely amusing about a flashy city such as Dallas being saddled with such a snoozer of a design, but come on. Did the team's graphics department go on strike or what?"

#28(112) - Los Angeles Kings: "The reigning Stanley Cup champs deserve better. The crest is too cartoonish, the stripes down the shoulders and sleeves don't work, and let's not even get started on that alternate uni. The whole set feels like what a minor league affiliate should be wearing."

#27(107) - Washington Capitals: "Yeesh, all those apron-string stripes and sleeve panels -- way too busy. And the shoulder logo has always looked like an eagle being impaled on an oil can. The throwback alternate helps, but it's too little, too late."

#26(104) - Edmonton Oilers: "Some logos look timeless and age nicely; others feel visually tied to a particular era and end up looking dated. Guess which category the Oilers' primary logo falls into? If there was a TV program called 'That '70s Team,' this would be its logo. Come on, guys -- you've have the exact same logo for 40 years now, and it's clearly outlived its expiration date. Surely you can update it at least a little bit."

#25(100) - St. Louis Blues: "The Blues have been ill-served by Reebok's Edge template. The apron strings, swoopy stripes on the pants, the collarbone horns -- it's all too much. And the third jersey feels like a pro forma stab at traditionalism. If they want to look traditional, it's easy: Just strip all the nonsense elements from the home and road designs. A shame, because their primary logo is still among the strongest in the league."

#24(99) - Ottawa Senators: "Anyone else out there think the Sens usually look like an AHL team that took a wrong turn on their way to the minor league arena? The main problem is their centurion logo character, who's always felt a bit lacking in gravitas. The black lines are too thick, especially on his face -- give him some details, some feeling, some dignity. The barber pole throwback is a hoot, though."

#23(97) - Anaheim Ducks: "There's lots of potential here: The orange and bronze tones work really well together, the giant webbed foot is an icon in the making, and the wordmark (usually a no-no for hockey jerseys) isn't bad. But the diagonal striping on the home and road jerseys feels too gimmicky, and the alternate design is weighed down by the side panels and the phony yoke outline. One day this will probably be a very good-looking team. But not today."

#22(94) - Nashville Predators: "The collarbone horns are somewhat defensible, since they sort of mimic the teeth on the crest logo. But the apron strings going down the length of the jersey -- front and back! -- are too much. Clean that up and then we'll talk."

#21(91) - Carolina Hurricanes: "What's the deal with all these NHL teams that now have fake shoulder yokes? If you want a yoke, use a real one, like the Rangers or Devils -- don't just draw an outline to show where it would go. Aside from that, not such a terrible set."

#20(81) - Tampa Bay Lightning: "Once you get all the Shazam and Grateful Dead jokes out of the way, it's not such a bad uniform. The wordmark on the road jersey is a mistake, though, and there's no need for those shoulder patches when you already have lightning bolts on the chest and pants. The bigger problem, though, is that awful alternate design. Eliminate that and you'll have the very definition of addition by subtraction."

#19(79) - Calgary Flames: "Black has never felt like a good color for this team. You're the Flames, not the charred ashes! Change the black crest to white on the home jersey, and clean up the underarm area and side panels on the home and road designs, and you have a perfectly solid wardrobe. Bonus points for using the franchise's old Atlanta Flames logo for the alternate captaincy designations."

#18(76) - Phoenix Coyotes: "Admit it: You miss their Cubist phase. Sure, it was silly, but playing hockey in the desert is a silly enterprise to begin with, so why not run with that? There's nothing wrong with their current look when viewed in a vacuum, but it feels a tad unadventurous, no?"

#17(73) - Vancouver Canucks: "Free Willy! The problem here isn't the Orca logo, which has actually developed a little bit of gravitas after 15 years (can you believe it's been that long?). The problem is the city name, which doesn't belong on the jersey and needs to go."

#16(72) - Winnipeg Jets: "The Jets are ahead of the curve: While every other NHL team rolls out a blue alternate uniform with a circular crest, the Jets have used that concept for their primary uniform. It's fine, but it's nothing special. Also, there's only one NHL team that should be wearing a maple leaf on its chest, and Winnipeg isn't it."

#15(64) - Florida Panthers: "Look, you can have a long panel of color running down the sleeve or you can have stripes wrapping around the sleeves, but you can't have both. Aside from that, this is a pretty good-looking team right now, especially since they've decided to retire the alternate uni, which always felt like a bad fit."

#14(60) - San Jose Sharks: "Originally part of the teal invasion of the 1990s, the Sharks have grown into their look quite nicely. The logo is starting to feel like a modern classic, and the orange trim on the home and road uniforms really enhances those designs. Now if they'd just scrap those front uni numbers."

#13(55) - New York Islanders: "That logo is starting to feel dated, but they can probably squeeze a few more years out of it. For now, this is a very serviceable home and road set. They'd rank higher if not for the alternate, which might be the single worst uniform in North American sports."

#12(54) - Buffalo Sabres: "The old-school crest is a quantum-leap improvement over the Buffaslug, but the torso stripes and front uni number are unnecessary. Docked a few notches for retiring their excellent alternate, which will be sorely missed."

#11(49) - Chicago Blackhawks: "There are more colors in Chief Blackhawk's headdress than most teams have in their entire uniform program (all rendered in beautiful jewel-toned chain-stitching, to boot). Against the white background of the road uniform, those colors pop. But the red home uni is so loud that the chest design can't compete with it, like a pop tune that gets drowned out by a heavy metal anthem. Yet another argument for the NHL going back to wearing white at home."

#10(43) - New Jersey Devils: "You don't think of the Devils as a bastion of old-fashioned traditionalism, but consider this: They've never had an alternate uniform. It's like they're the Yankees or something! And really, why bother with an alternate design when your basic look is as solid as this one?"

#9(41) - Columbus Blue Jackets: "America's coolest state flag (the only one that isn't a rectangle, don'tcha know) is the basis for the NHL's most interesting jersey crest. The home and road designs are excellent, but that alternate uni feels like retro-by-numbers. Circular logo? Check. Contrasting shoulder yoke? Check. Lace-up collar? Check. Off-white "wheat" tone? Check and mate. Come on, people -- if you're dead set on coming up with a third jersey to sell, try to design one with a little more thought behind it."

#8(32) - Minnesota Wild: "Almost every design move by this franchise has been a winner, from the primary logo (love the North Star as the bear's eye) to the handsome script on the alternate uni. The circular logo on the home uniform feels a bit forced -- it's a little presumptuous for a team to go old-school when it's existed for only a dozen years -- but it's still a good-looking design. Whoever's running the graphics program here, keep it up."

#7(26) - Pittsburgh Penguins: "How can you resist a skating penguin? That's a trick question -- everyone knows there's no way to resist a skating penguin, because a skating penguin is literally irresistible! Once you have that kind of karma going for you, the rest of the uniform falls into place pretty easily."

#6(23) - Toronto Maple Leafs: "If you like stripes -- especially striped socks -- then you're gonna like the Leafs. If you don't like stripes, well, the Leafs probably aren't for you. But if you don't like stripes, why are you reading Uni Watch to begin with? Another case of an Original Six team that totally gets it."

#5(17) - Philadelphia Flyers: "After an ill-advised flirtation with black uniforms, the Flyers have gotten back to basics. Their current look is a sharp update of the design from their 1970s glory days. Some fans don't dig the contrast-colored nameplates, but other observers -- including this one -- really like them."

#4(15) - Detroit Red Wings: "Man, those Original Six teams got it right, didn't they? If you want to understand the difference between designing by hand and designing by computer, take a close look at the Wings' logo -- you'd never come up with that on a Mac. Bonus points for the vertically arched lettering on the player names."

#3(11) - New York Rangers: "The Rangers present the best argument for why the NHL should go back to having teams wear white at home: Their white design crackles with contrast and crisp highlights (arguably the strongest single uni in the NHL), while the blue set -- well, it's solid, but it doesn't have the razzle-dazzle of the white. Toss in an unnecessary but unobjectionable retro alternate and you have one of the NHL's best-dressed teams. Just wish they'd wear their top outfit at home."

#2(5) - Boston Bruins: "A traditionalist's dream, the Bruins' set has everything a hockey wardrobe should have: a strong, bold crest, sharp colors, tasteful stripes and a killer throwback option. First-rate."

#1(1) - Montreal Canadiens: "Proud standard-bearers for a league, a sport, a nation and now for the uni-verse as well, the Habs have it all: an iconic logo, two distinct but equally classic uni designs (it's odd that the wraparound chest stripe only appears on the home jersey, but the road design works fine without it), and an ideal balance of red, white and blue. This isn't just a perfect hockey uniform set -- it's a perfect uniform set, period. Unlike the old-school classics in the other sports (Yankees, Celtics, Raiders), it has some major visual pizzazz. Puts the biscuit in the basket, and then some."

There you have it, folks. So what say you, readers? Is Montreal's iconic uniform the best in the NHL? Should Detroit or Chicago be moved up? Is Pittsburgh the NHL's seventh-best uniform set? Have your say in the comments, readers!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Peter Santellan said...

I feel that Boston should be a couple of spots lower on the list. The extra outlining on the name and numbers kind of hurt the design. The only other ranking I would personally disagree with would be Edmonton, who I feel should be higher. I've always been a sucker for Edmonton jerseys, save for the 2008 versions.

I'm not surprised Ottawa ranks so low because the the home and away just don't do much.

Jim BC said...

I'm on holidays so haven't had much time to review Paul's list in too much detail, however, I do have some preliminary thoughts:

Paul has already mentioned that the Oilers will be much higher when his rankings are updated and I totally agree. I think he deducted way too much marks because of the outdated logo. Bottom line is the Oil upgraded in a major way by going back to the retro look. My goodness those initial Edge jerseys were awful!

He's taken quite a bit of flack for the low ranking of the Hawks and I totally agree. Chicago's design is one of the best in the league and should be way higher.

I'm not a fan of the Pens jerseys which would benefit greatly by going back to yellow so I would say the #7 NHL ranking is way too high.

Those are my main disagreements - I agree on many of his assessments, the most notable is the Blues. The logo is one of the best out there but the jersey is a mess - look no further than the back which accommodates the "Reebok" logo way too much!

This was a huge undertaking by Paul and there is no way he could satisfy everyone so good on him for taking this on! Thanks Teebz!

Robert Ullman said...

I've seen a lot of folks up in arms over the Blackhawks' relatively low ranking, and though I personally would rank them much higher, there's something gutsy about placing them below the Blue Jackets, Wild and Devils, just based on personal preference. Still, it's his list...don't like it, make your own!