Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Capital Gains?

The Washington Capitals are team with a limited uniform history. They have already brought back the throwbacks as their alternate uniforms, and their current uniform set mimics the throwbacks with some modern twists. Outside of the screaming eagle jersey and the black Capitol jersey, they run a little short on jerseys they can wear. This is both good and bad - good in that they have stuck true to their time-tested look; bad in that they can't really dive into their history when a special event occurs. Today, however, the Capitals added a new jersey and logo to their history as they unveiled their Winter Classic uniform.

The Capitals showed off their new duds at National park in Washington, DC where this year's Winter Classic will be played between the host Capitals and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. The Capitals went with a darker hue of red as they have since 2007, foregoing the opportunity to use the bright red they have worn in their history. Honestly, if there's a sunny sky on January 1 in Washington, no one will notice this darker hue. If it's cloudy, though, this darker red could will look maroon depending on how dark the winter sky is. They stuck with navy blue breezers, remaining true to their color scheme that works so well. I happen to be a fan of the white accents on these uniforms, and the white lace-up collar really stands out against the red background. For the first time in a long time, I like the lace-up collar.

I'm not really into the logo that the Capitals chose. It feels very "collegiate hockey" or, dare I say, baseball-ish in its design. While the "Capitals" pops off the red background, the stylized "W" almost vanishes in the sun. I like the three-star element on the chest and sleeves, bringing in elements of the current jersey as well as the historic jersey. The shoulder stripes do look good, although they serve absolutely no aesthetic purpose other than to add some more contrast, and the hem stripes make this uniform feel like a hockey uniform.

As seen on Backstrom, the Capitals are using oversized fonts for the names and numbers. The reason? "The numerals on the backs of the sweaters and on the sleeves are somewhat larger than the norm for NHL sweaters. Larger numerals will be useful in a Winter Classic setting where the sightlines aren’t as intimate as they are inside an NHL arena." Kudos to Reebok and the Capitals on this one as the rink at Nationals Park is a long, long ways away from a number of seats.

Some interesting stuff was posted on the Dump 'n Chase blog that should be accentuated. Mike Vogel writes,
Instead of paying homage to their own 40-year history in the design of the sweaters they'll sport on New Year’s Day, the Capitals and Reebok elected to dial the way-back machine a bit further, back to the 1940s and the days of the Uline Arena and the old Washington Lions of the Eastern Hockey League and the American Hockey League.

The decision makers and designers spent some time poring over old photos of players and sweaters from Washington's pre-NHL hockey history, and the result is the maroon, white and blue sweater emblazoned with stars and stripes and a "CAPITALS" wordmark over a large blue "W" revealed here today. The stripes on the shoulders, legs and arms give the uniform a decidedly vintage look, and the choice to go with a maroon sweater also lends a vintage air to the look.

"The ideas really ran the gamut," says Fishman. "[Reebok] came with one that was based on the Caps' traditional Winter Classic throwback uniform of the '70s. They came with one that had cursive 'Capitals,' and then they came with a variation that looked like the current version. But we quickly narrowed it down."
So it seems both Reebok and the Capitals are honoring the entire history of professional hockey in Washington with these uniforms. While I appreciate that effort, does anyone remember the Washington Lions of the EHL in the 1940s? I searched through Google and found a few pictures, but none of the design elements reflect anything from what was worn in the 1940s. Does anyone have historic photos of the Lions to support the claims made? Little help on this one?

All in all, it's a good Winter Classic jersey. I'd be bothered if it got more play than just an alternate jersey, but the Capitals did alright on this one. It's not their best work in their history, but it's certainly not their worst either. Overall, the Winter Classic will look just fine on the Washington side of the coin.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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