Monday, 24 November 2008

RHI Expansion Teams

After infuriating fans of the San Jose Sharks with my article regarding the Sharks' new alternate jerseys, it's time to light a fire under a couple more fanbases. I'll address the outrage in San Jose at the end of this article, but let's get to the jerseys. Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes unveiled their new alternate jerseys this weekend, and it really looks like the NHL is working hard at becoming a roller hockey league. Phoenix's jerseys are questionable while Tampa Bay's jerseys are downright ridiculous.

Phoenix admittedly has one of the better looks in the NHL with their brick-red home jerseys. The road whites are fairly easy on the eyes as well, giving them a great look whether at home or on the road. Yet the Coyotes felt it was necessary to adopt a black alternate jersey for some inexplicable reason. I can't understand why teams who already have a good look insist on adding a black alternate jersey to the mix.

For a team that is bleeding red ink year in and year out, it's obvious that the Coyotes are trying to earn a few more merchandise dollars. This is the same team that designed and wore a bionic coyote alternate jersey a few years ago, so you know this is all about revenue and not the look. After all, who wears a black hockey jersey in Phoenix, Arizona as a fashion statement?

The jerseys themselves aren't that bad, though. The side panelling really goes nowhere, but that seems to be a common theme in the Reebok jersey designs. Phoenix rolls out a brand-new logo with their new alternate jerseys, and I'm not high on it. Is it a coyote? A red fox? A border collie?

However, Phoenix adds their distinctive logo to the right shoulder, and adds a brand-new patch to the left shoulder. I like the new patch simply because it's far more relevant than the old "PHX" patch they have been using.

Overall, these are solid but unspectacular jerseys. I'm still disappointed with the Coyotes introducing a black alternate jersey, but it seems to be the way of the NHL world. If they added a shoulder yoke of colour, I'd give them a higher grade, but these are simply palatable at this point. If you're looking to increase your revenue streams, Phoenix, there are better ways to do it.

The other team that debuted their new threads were the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is a team that has seen its ups and downs, and has a Stanley Cup to show for it. They have secured themselves a spot in hockey's folklore, and are still firmly entrenched in a large part of a sports market that was thought to be unattainable in the Tampa Bay area.

The Lightning and Senators came into the league at the same time, but that's basically where the comparisons end. Yet these two teams are brought back together thanks to their awful alternate jersey idea - the nickname. Just as Ottawa did with billboarding their nickname across their chests, the Lightning have chosen to follow the same path. Why on Earth would any team do this?

First off, the colour is an improvement from the all-black look of their normal home jerseys. How much better does the blue look compared to the black jerseys? Infinitely, if you ask me. Another improvement is the loss of the shoulder number. I have never been a fan of the cluttered mess on the front of the jersey when you add patches and captaincy designations, and I'm glad that the Lightning didn't try to add the numbers back in on this alternate jersey.

The victory stripes under the arm - a constant on every Lightning jersey since Phil Esposito ran the club - are still present. The hemline stripe features a "Tampa Bay" workmark in case you had no idea where the "Bolts" came from. And the Lightning are the first team to alter their font for the new alternate jerseys. Normally, the font has a white-on-blue-on-silver outline, but the new outline is white-on-silver-on-black, essentially eliminating the outline effect. While I'd consider this a wash in terms of being good or bad, some people may consider this a drawback.

And can I make one simple request? Players need to start wearing their socks properly. Steve Eminger looks like a hockey player with the stripes around his shins, but Radim Vrbata does not. I noticed at least six or seven players wearing the stripes around their ankles rather than on their shins. Maybe it's just me, but it's an aesthetics thing, and I prefer the stripes worn properly.

Overall, the nickname idea is beyond stupid, but the blue jerseys are a nice look for the Lightning. They continue the tradition of wearing the victory stripes, but the rear hemline workmark is minor-league at the best of times. Another poorly conceived jersey, but I'll rank it higher than Ottawa's alternate jersey simply because it brings back some colour.

Lastly, to everyone on The NHL Arena board who want me to reconsider my thoughts on the Sharks' alternate jerseys, I still think the jerseys are terrible. Here's why:

  • The San Jose Sharks are a professional NHL hockey team. They do not need to sell Seagate's latest product for Seagate. In fact, I would bet that of the 18,000 people that show up to Sharks' games, 80% of the paying customers have no use for Seagate's latest product nor would they even have a clue about what "BlackArmor" is. The entire jersey is a billboard for Seagate now, and your team is better than that. Or at least I thought they were.
  • "Every heard of ‘HP’ Pavilion, ‘Oracle’ Arena, ‘Monster’ Park, etc.?" Yes, I actually have heard of them. They are stadiums. They are not jerseys. Arena owners use that naming revenue to help pay for things like improvements, renovations, and new arenas. Your team sold the ENTIRE alternate jersey to a corporation's marketing team. That's the definition of selling out. Are the Sharks that deep in the red that they have to sell off an entire set of uniforms? Otherwise, why not give away Seagate BlackArmor units to the first 5000 fans who purchase a new alternate jersey? Wouldn't that be a win-win for both the Sharks and Seagate?
  • "[L]est people forget that the Sharks are located in one of the most tech savvy places in the world". That explains the 12-year partnership, but it certainly doesn't qualify the Sharks to sell an entire set of uniforms to a company.
  • "I think if they had slapped a Seagate logo on the jersey, I would have protested too." But selling the entire uniform to a company to promote its product, and branding it as such, doesn't warrant the same protest?
  • Clearly, the HTML coding doesn't transfer through on a copy-and-paste. There were a number of strike-throughs being used for comedic purposes in comparing Venom to Seagate, Spiderman to the Sharks, and Peter Parker to Patrick Marleau.
  • As for "some blogger that's impressed with himself", I'm simply pointing out why I don't like them. While I appreciate you guys taking time to read my work, I'll gladly disagree in thinking that these jerseys are special. They're not. But that's my opinion, and that's precisely what I am saying.
  • "That writer is absolutely ignorant." I must be completely ignorant. I mean, the Sharks only started this season 17-3-1 in their regular jerseys featuring the burnt orange accents. Joe Thornton jerseys were only the 9th-hottest seller in December of last season out of all the players in the NHL. In February 2007, Thornton jerseys were still the 13th most popular. So it seems that as "unpopular" the colour is, burnt orange has no effect on the sale of Sharks jerseys. Thanks for being ignorant of that fact.
Look, I don't like black alternate jerseys. The Sharks have enough history that they could have done so much more than gone with boring black uniforms. In a sport that has seen jerseys of all colours, there is more to a team than a black alternate. Of course, we all have different opinions, and I respect that people in San Jose may not like the burnt orange highlights. I even pointed that out. However, as one person said, "it's just a friggin' jersey". Should we spend this much time on one person's opinion of them? That's up to you.

It's not like I'm suggesting someone should attempt to purposely injure a Shark. It's not like I've wished upon a star for Thornton's hands to turn to stone. It's not like I've placed a voodoo curse on them, hoping that they will crash and burn for the next 60 games. I could understand the rage if I had suggested any of those options.

I, as a person, like the Sharks as a team, and I am relying on them to keep their strong start going as they are helping me immensely in my fantasy pool. They're consistently a strong team, and they have an excellent front office staff who keeps them in the upper echelon of the NHL. I just wish they'd steer away from the black jerseys, much like I'd prefer Chicago and Carolina to avoid the black alternates. As for the fans, you guys are an incredible bunch, extremely passionate, and highly knowledgeable of all your team's activities. And isn't that what every NHL team wants - smart, engaging, passionate fans?

Honestly, though, thank you to everyone who has a comment and/or criticism. The fact that I've generated discussion amongst everyone is a sign that we're all passionate hockey fans. And nothing brings a smile to my face like having an intellectual discussion with passionate hockey fans.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

the st. louis blues broke out their black alternates last night. YUCK! can't wait for pink to be the new black!

Sage Confucius said...

Woodpeck, they aren't black, but they certainly look it. I was at the game and at first thought they were black too. That extremely dark blue makes it difficult to tell even in arena light. However, the dark color aside, the alts look nice on the ice. I only had my phone with me so I don't have any good pictures to share.