Friday, 14 November 2008

History Revisited

It's always a refreshing concept in the NHL when teams avoid using a black alternate jersey and actually try to embrace their traditions and history. Far too often, we see teams trying to capitalize on the black jersey which says to me that their design team has zero imagination. I am highly appreciative of teams that avoid the black look and stick with their primary colours or return to a previous colour scheme that they once used. The Vancouver Canucks, who already had an extremely popular alternate jersey two seasons ago, have decided to return to that traditional and historical look.

A few seasons ago, the Canucks broke out a vintage jersey that featured their traditional stick-in-rink logo. The colour scheme and traditional look was a big hit with fans and sold a ton of Canucks merchandise, so the Canucks decided to incorporate the look as an alternate jersey before the conversion to Reebok. Goaltender Roberto Luongo even went a step further and went head-to-toe in the colour scheme with his equipment, while introducing an alternate mask for games featuring the alternate jerseys. One of the most endearing qualities on that mask was Johnny Canuck, the logo on the side of the mask and seen above.

Fans loved the look of Johnny Canuck, and is regarded as the most popular logo of all-time over the Canucks' history of PCHL, WHL, and NHL days. Originally, "Johnny Canuck" was created as a national personification of Canada, much like "Uncle Sam" refers to the personification of the United States of America. He appeared in political cartoons in the 1800s before reappearing in 1942 during World War II to help Canadians "fight Nazism". While his popularity decreased, the Canucks franchise absorbed his famous caricature when they joined the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1945.

Now that we know where Johnny Canuck came from, let's take a look at the new alternate jerseys that Vancouver unveiled yesterday.

The Canucks returned to their traditional stick-in-rink jersey, but modified it on their new jersey. Why? No idea. Personally, it doesn't detract from the jersey, so I'll rationalize this move as a "modernization" of the old logo. Was it necessary? No.

The side view of the jersey reveals the Johnny Canuck patch on the shoulder. Again, a throwback to history is huge in this writer's books due to the time-honoured traditions found in the NHL. I like the understated look of the patch with Johnny Canuck's face over the "V", and it doesn't stick out like an eyesore on the jersey.

The font and jerseys themselves don't change from what Vancouver is currently wearing, so this is mainly a logo and patch adjustment. Thankfully, someone in Vancouver's front office came to his or her senses and killed off that ridiculous "Vancouver" wordmark on the front of the jerseys.

All in all, these jerseys are decent, and something that Vancouver fans can take pride in. The homage to Johnny Canuck is a great touch, and something that more teams need to start doing. Reconnecting with your past is a great way to bring back the old-time hockey fans with something they remember and can connect with, and Vancouver has done that on this alternate jersey in a number of ways.

In keeping with the new alternate theme, we already looked at Roberto Luongo's alternate mask that he previously wore with the old stick-in-rink jerseys. Well, Luongo is carrying on that tradition by breaking in a brand-new mask for this season's alternate jerseys.

As seen in practice yesterday, the left side of the mask has the captain's "C" on it, unlike his current mask that features the "C" on the throat protection. The right side of the mask is a mirror image of the left side minus the captain's designation. The back of the mask feels a little empty, but it does feature Luongo's #1. High marks to Luongo, though, for carrying on a cool tradition he started.

So there is your look at the Canucks' new look. It gets a passing grade from me, and Luongo's efforts are commendable. And just because it hasn't been seen in action yet, Curtis Sanford's new mask looks pretty solid. In other goaltender news, former Canuck and current Capitals goaltender Brent Johnson also got a new paint job done on his mask that features some great historical aspects. You can read the article, written by Dan Steinberg on the DC Sports Blog on, and see the pictures here.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Eighty-Two said...

I agree.

This Penguins fan would love to see Pittsburgh go back to "Columbia" blue, Navy and white full-time. Ditch the black and gold.

Let those colours signify the Mario years. Let the Crosby-Malkin years be aesthetically different.