Sunday, 27 October 2013

I Just Want One Good Alternate

Ugh. I'm really struggling in trying to comprehend what some NHL teams are thinking when it comes to trying to give their fans a different look and/or grabbing a few extra dollars in jersey sales. The above image comes directly from the Calgary Flames, and it appears the Sea of Red is in full effect. However, the front of the uniform calls into question the design team that worked on this uniform because I can't understand why there is any need to replicate a baseball uniform.

If we're to believe the Flames' news page, this new uniform "combines the western heritage of Calgary, the vast Alberta landscape and the legacy of the Calgary Flames and using a blend of several concepts produced by the designers". I get that everyone uses rhetoric when it comes to selling their wares, but "western heritage" and "vast landscape"? Is anyone even trying to sell me a jersey any longer? I feel like I'm taking an art gallery tour. And this is a modern art masterpiece!
Let's break down the rhetoric and marketing jargon by tearing this new uniform open thread by thread. There's a lot to like, but there's a lot to regret as well.

"A western style shoulder yoke and tie down laces on the front represents strong western heritage." Except they don't. What, exactly, is a "western style shoulder yoke"? So is this going to be a Western Conference thing since the Dallas Stars wear a similar style of yoke, or are we simply grasping at straws here? And since nearly every team wears "tie down laces", how exactly does this represent a western heritage? Why not just say that the tie-down laces will match the other two uniforms already in the Flames' jersey set?

Look, I'm tired of the tie-down laces in general. There's an over-abundance of tie-down laces in the NHL. I'm tired of seeing them. They were unique once, but now they are over-used. The yoke, however, does look good. I like the contrasting color despite it being black, and it helps to frame the red color nicely. Thumbs-up to the yoke, but thumbs-down to the lace-up collar. And an absolute fail on the rhetoric used in the rationalization of these components.

"[A] new shoulder patch, created to celebrate the unique landscape of southern Alberta." You mean one that is different from the Alberta flag that Calgary wore to reflect their unique location globally (despite the Oilers being from the same province)? Or the Canada flag despite the other six Canadian teams also being from Canada? From what I can see, it appears there is some sort of field leading to the mountains with a C-style sun rising from behind the mountain. I'm not sure how this shows the "unique landscape" when there are a pile of other places that have fields that meet mountains, but I guess we're rationalizing as much as possible today. Can't they just use some sort of alternate logo instead of trying to re-invent the shoulder patch wheel? Thumbs-down.

"The jersey also features a new two colour name and number font." It sure does. But there's something peculiar about that font. Could be that there is no "5" in that font? It sure looks Mark Giordano is wearing an upside-down "2" when you compare it to Curtis Glencross' number, no? I'm not quite sure, but normal English fonts come with a "5" from what I've seen. And it's not like this is just a problem on the back of the jersey. Shane O'Brien's #55 on his sleeve is just an upside #22. Simply brutal planning and execution on this one. Thumbs-down.

"[A]lso keeps with tradition by including the Atlanta A for the assistant captain letter." As you can see, the normal captaincy designations are being used just as they are used on the other two Flames uniforms. But this is where I find fault. They talk about keeping with tradition, yet they are introducing an alternate jersey. Does one really need to be traditional here? Why not jump back into the past and allow the captain - Mark Giordano - to wear a white flaming "C" in the same vein that Theoren Fleury once did? How cool would it be if the Flames used both a flaming-C and a flaming-A on their alternate uniform? I'll give this one a wash only because they currently use the designations already, but I think they missed a glorious opportunity here.

"[E]very time the Flames wear our third jersey 'Calgary' is front and centre on television screens and newspapers around the world." While I appreciate Mr. Peplinski's enthusiasm, frequent readers of HBIC know how I feel about city names on jerseys outside of the logo. I hated it when Vancouver did it, I hated it when Nashville did it, and I hated it when Dallas did it. And guess what? I hate Calgary for doing it. Why do teams spend all this money on branding themselves with a logo only to write their city name above or in place of their logo? Does the logo not tell me who you are?

Now some will point out to me that the logo is, indeed, on the front of the uniform. But the logo says "Calgary Flames". It cannot be misconstrued - they are the Calgary Flames whenever that logo is worn on the front of the uniform. So adding the city's name to the uniform now reads as "Calgary Calgary Flames". If that sounds stupid, it's because it is. I cannot stress enough how important a logo is for a team's brand. If the Flames wanted tradition, they now look more like a baseball team. Thumbs-down. Way down.

"The uniform still maintains its high performance qualities as the current uniform including increased range of motion and significant weight reduction on the crests compared to standard two layer twill. The uniform will consist of a new style sock but will use the same black pant and gloves. A black helmet will also be worn but will include the new script logo on the sides." Yay for Reebok. No one cares. Although that script "Calgary" will be on the helmet, so there's that. Whoopty-doo. Chalk this up as a wash because it's nothing new or unique.

Speaking of not new or unique, does this uniform remind anyone of Buffalo's alternate from the last couple of years? An angled city name with the team logo beneath the end of the city name - seems all too familiar. I'm not saying that Calgary copied Buffalo's former alternate uniform, but it appears that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Except that Buffalo's alternate is from their history. Calgary's alternate uniform is not. Thumbs-down.

I can say that there are a couple of positives. No more Detroit Pistons-esque flaming horsehead. I hated that uniform for a pile of reasons, most notably because it was black and had a stupid logo, so this new uniform isn't the worst in team history. But it doesn't rank high in my books.

Personally, I would have loved this traditional look. The Flames won a Stanley Cup in that uniform, their best players in franchise history - with the exception of Jarome Iginla - wore this uniform, and the vast amount of Flames fans today grew up with this look. That color scheme screams Calgary. But that would just be too easy, right?

Keep it simple. It works in almost every situation in hockey. Including this one.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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