Friday, 6 December 2013

The NHL Minimalist Series

I sit here tonight with a couple of thoughts rolling around in my head. I'm not sure why the NHL and its member teams seemingly feel they need to re-invent the wheel every single time an opportunity appears to wear some sort of special uniform, but they do. And secondly, I'm not sure why common sense and traditional values need to fall to the wayside when it comes to designing a new uniform. There seems to be a lack of common sense in the design departments in hockey, and this becomes overly apparent with the three Stadium Series uniforms unveiled already. Welcome to minimal thought when it comes to designing a uniform.

With the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings set to battle in Dodger Stadium, those two uniforms were released this week. Earlier in the week, the New York Islanders put their newest design on display as they prepare for a pair of games in Yankee Stadium against the Rangers and Devils. However, I'm not any of these uniforms will be remembered favorably, perhaps falling alongside the likes of the Wild Wing jersey, the Burger King jersey, and the Fisherman jersey in hockey uniform lore. Although, this writer holds the Fisherman uniform in high regard.

Let's start with the New York Islanders who, admittedly, might be the best of the bunch, but that's nothing of which they should be proud. The Islanders are sticking to a navy uniform which is a good quality. That white shoulder yoke looks solid, and they will wear the Stadium Series patch on the right shoulder and their normal Islanders logo on the left shoulder. So far, so good, right?

I have absolutely no idea what's going on with that logo. Generic? Yes. You wouldn't even know these are the Islanders if it weren't for the shoulder patch, and people who are new to the game wouldn't have any idea who this team was at all. If this is the uniform they are considering for their move to Brooklyn, they have missed the mark in a very large way. This is almost as bad as Dallas' collegiate look, but only slightly better.

The back of the uniform sees the Islanders employ a contrasting name bar. I've never been a fan of this look, but some teams have a history in using the contrasting bar, so I can give them a pass. The Islanders, though, have never once used a contrasting bar, so why introduce it? It's not necessary. In fact, I'd prefer the clean look of white lettering on the blue uniform. I gotta say that is a negative. Also, if you look closely, that shoulder yoke isn't actually a yoke at all, but two white shoulder pads! I'm not really into that look either. Who came up with this design?

The breezers will also use the interlocking NY logo - again, a minus in this examination since this team is now simply a generic New York team with no identifiers of their actual team name and brand outside of the little shoulder patch. And what's with the white-fingered gloves? This is unique, but it seems extremely unnecessary since most players have a brand of gloves they prefer or are signed to a contract to wear a manufacturer's gloves. Maybe this is just a Tavares thing, but it looks ridiculous.

Personally, the Fisherman jerseys would look infinitely better, as they do in most cases, and rank slightly higher than the Islanders' pylon alternate. But they're definitely not as bad as the current alternate jersey that the Islanders use. They're still bad, though. In other words, I'm not a fan.

I guess that the Islanders couldn't go orange because one team decided to be the most orange team in all of hockey for its Stadium Series game. Ryan Getzlaf is showing you the Anaheim Ducks' version of their Stadium Series uniform, and his facial expression may say more than he's letting on. There really are a number of comparisons that one could make, but Anaheim fans had better hope that the Kings don't blow them out in their games. Otherwise, we could hear a lot of pylon jokes about these orange uniforms. And we probably will anyway. I commit to you, though, that I will not make that comparison in this article!

Charles Schulz was a big hockey fan when the California Seals came about, even lending an illustration for the team to use in promotional merchandise, so it's kind of ironic that another California-based team would dress themselves as the Great Pumpkin (sorry, couldn't resist)! There is a little bit of black under the arms that goes down the sides of the uniform, but these jerseys will be beacons on the ice. The NHL may want to warn the Los Angeles Port Authority to tell boats not to sail towards the orange glow.

Ben Lovejoy made a good point that folks in the cheap seats at Dodger Stadium won't have any problem seeing the Ducks from their seats, so it's not just me making jokes. I do want to say that I thought it was a nice touch that the Ducks will be wearing an "OC" patch on the shoulder to represent Orange County, making them the first team to represent a county they play in. I guess we can call that a plus.

Simply put, this Ducks uniform may burn retinas in the bright Los Angeles sunlight, and I can't really see many fans lining up to add one of these to their uniforms unless they need it to complete their collection of Ducks uniforms or are building an ugly jersey collection. Their black alternates weren't overly memorable, but they aren't bad in comparison. Wild Wing was ugly but wearable due to its garishness and its ability to make people smile. Heck, even a Disney Mighty Ducks jersey would have been awesome. This uniform doesn't have any of those qualities going for it.

Los Angeles, since eliminating all purple from their colour scheme, seem to think the game is televised in black-and-white. They were black with white accents at home, they were white with black accents on the road, and now they're going to wear gray with black and white accents at Dodger Stadium. Look, I'm not asking for the bright yellow uniforms or the purple-with-gold uniforms to return, but this game will be played in 2014 with high-definition televisions that display all sorts of bold and bright colours! How does someone let this happen in this day and age?!?

While I applaud the Kings for making use of the crown logo on the chest, this uniforms are about as bland as one can get. Like the Ducks, the Kings will wear "LA" on their shoulder, also showing off a little love for their county, but I'm pretty sure that these are the worst uniforms the Kings have ever worn. Yes, even worse that the Burger King jerseys. They could have gone white to make these jerseys much more palatable. In fact, this uniform done in white would actually get very high marks from me because it really would be sharp. But this gray? C'mon, Kings, you're better than monotone. Much, much better.

What really would have been awesome? Make this game a throwback to 1993 when the Ducks were founded and the Kings were still wearing their silver-and-black uniforms. The Los Angeles Kings could wear their home whites as they did in '93, and the Mighty Ducks could wear their eggplant beauties they've already worn this year in their 20th anniversary season. Slap the current logos on both jerseys, tweak the colours of the Ducks logo, and we'd have jerseys that would be at or near the top of their respective team histories. Honestly, how perfect would that game look? Add the two shoulder patches - the "OC" and the "LA" - and this game is spot-on with the right amount of uniqueness.

Look, maybe I'm too much of a traditionalist, but I'm really unsure why the NHL teams, Reebok, and the NHL allow for designs that the public seem to dislike. There's still hope that the Rangers, Blackhawks, and Penguins come up with something fantastic, and the rumours of the Devils wearing their red-and-green uniforms already put them at the top of the Stadium Series uniform set.

With the rich histories of each NHL team's uniform sets, small tweaks would make them look fantastic and keep them unique. Re-inventing the wheel each time for these games is an absolutely ridiculous idea, and these three uniforms comfortably fit into the "ridiculous" category.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

Why are the Kings routinely criticized for wearing purple and gold? I never hear anyone clobber the Lakers for the very same uniform colors.

Teebz said...

I actually like the purple and gold, but there's a tie-in to the Lakers and previous owners much like Charles Finley had done with the Seals.

It's part of the their history, though, so I'm all for them wearing the old colours. :o)