The NHL announced yesterday that the 2014 Winter Classic will be held in Detroit as it was supposed to be this year, and it will feature the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings in an Original Six match-up just as it was this season before labor strife killed the event. There were many leaks online about two jerseys that were thought to have been those intended for the 2013 Winter Classic, and the NHL simply confirmed those rumors on Sunday.
I like Toronto's look. It comes directly from the sweaters worn by the team from 1927-1930, and is entirely accurate in its striping and logo. I happen to love stripes on a hockey uniform, so the selection of this uniform in comparison with others in their history gets a major thumbs-up from me. The best part of the whole thing? The Leafs hold true in their traditional blue-and-white, not blue-and-off-white or blue-and-vintage-white. Big marks from me in going with their pure white color because that screams "Toronto Maple Leafs" to me.
We've seen Detroit honor their past during the Winter Classic game in Chicago, so it would make sense if Detroit went back to their history and brought back another great look. Instead, they went off and pieced together a uniform from various eras to make an entirely new, yet retro, jersey. So how can something new be old?
Detroit, as the Red Wings, has never worn the city's name in an arch around their logo, but another Detroit team has: the 1928-29 Detroit Cougars. From there, the striping isn't really from any specific era, but it's sort of a grab-bag of stripes from over the years. They went away from their traditional red-and-white scheme for the off-white "vintage" look, but it really doesn't work for the Red Wings. I like their red-and-white colors, and I believe they should always wear red and pure white whenever on the ice. So for a team that can't really nail down an era to represent nor represent themselves accurately through color, thumbs-down for me on these features.
The Red Wings will do something that hasn't been seen for a very long time: the captaincy assignments will be worn on the sleeve! It's kind of a cool feature and I want to see what it looks like on the ice, so we'll have to wait for that. It appears that the Winter Classic logo will appear on the right shoulder of Detroit's uniforms - a suitable place with the number location and captaincy designations appearing on the left. These features get a thumbs-up.
Overall, however, the look of Detroit's Winter Classic jersey just isn't what I was hoping for when they have such a rich tradition of looks. Toronto's look is excellent, though, so I may have to do the unthinkable and cheer FOR Toronto simply because they are the fashionably-dominant team in next year's New Year Day's tradition.
If the Red Wings jersey looks familiar, it's simply the previous jersey worn by the Red Wings at the Chicago Winter Classic, only updated in dark colors rather than white. It looks snazzy, and I am impressed by the look of it. If anything, the current iteration of the Red Wings should be wearing this as well as it is infinitely better than the jersey shown at the top of this article. Thumbs-up from me on these uniforms.
The Leafs will be wearing similar uniforms to what they wore through the 1980s, so there's a good chance that they'll collect as many wins on January 1, 2014 as they did through that decade - ZING! Ok, I had to get one shot in. In any case, I've always associated some of the best Leafs in their history with these uniforms - Sittler, McDonald, Salming, Rick Vaive - and we'll probably see a number of these guys playing in these uniforms. Thumbs-up from me once again.
While I realize that some will disagree with me, these games are supposed to be a way to honor the game's past when teams actually played outdoors. I get that Detroit has a complicated history in terms of being the Cougars, Falcons, and Red Wings, but pick one look and go with it, Detroit. You're better than this, and you've worn much better than this.
That being said, the one thing that must be pointed out is that this game will be color-on-color as both teams will wear colored uniforms rather than having one team in white. This should make for a gorgeous picture against the white ice, so prepare your eyes for a feast of color! If nothing else, at least the Winter Classic will be wrapped in a swath of primary color beauty!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!