Monday, 23 November 2009

Neutering The Ferocious

I'm glad I have a red Florida Panthers jersey before it went extinct in this world. If you have a red Panthers jersey, kids, tuck it away because it is officially a collector's item at this point. I don't think you'll ever see the Florida Panthers go back to red after they unveiled their new alternate jersey tonight against the Penguins. You'd have a better chance of seeing a baby blue Panthers jersey than a red one at this point in the franchise's history. But I digress as we're here to rip apart examine their new threads. As the title of this article states, I was seriously underwhelmed by this effort. There are good elements in this jersey, but I think you'll come away like I did: disappointed, frustrated, and having more questions than satisfaction.

The Panthers, as you may be aware, already have a blue home jersey. There is something seriously wrong with NHL teams that create a third jersey in the same primary colour as one of their current jerseys. I'm thinking a distinct lack of imagination, but it could be other reasons. In any case, you can clearly see that yellow and red are accent colours for the Panthers, so there should be no mistaking what colours are in their scheme, right?

So I ask you, dear readers, where do they find the light blue?!? What is with the NHL's sudden obsession with light blue? Pittsburgh brought back their light blue alternates with great success. Atlanta decided to go light blue at home, and that design is still ridiculed throughout theleague. And then we had Colorado just a few weeks ago making their alternate jerseys into a celebration of baby blue. So, if you're the Panthers, why not follow the trend?

Here's a newsflash, Florida Panthers: YOU'RE NOT LIGHT BLUE.

Aside from the Penguins alternate jersey, the other two teams were oh-fer-two. You've now made it oh-fer-three, Florida Panthers, by joining the baby blue revolution. This is almost as bad as the teal influx into the league when San Jose joined as an expansion team. This had better be the last team to adopt baby blue as a "new" colour in their colour scheme, or I'm going to snap.

In terms of the design, there are a couple of things that I like. The new logo has been turned into an old-time logo by simplifying the panther's face and adding the circle around it. Yes, it bothers me that the whiskers are now gone, but the logo is admittedly a decent effort as a redesign. Could it have been more? Yes, definitely. You'd expect a more cartoonish logo on an AHL team, but the Panthers need to attract some new fans because the old ones are dressing like empty seats. And that's not good for the health of the franchise.

I'm not sure what effect that the new shoulder patch is supposed to be making, but perhaps they want to draw in the seniors and Canadian snowbirds with their TV morning show-like patch. Look, I get that these jerseys are supposed to be "new" and "different", but these seem half-assed right now, especially in light of what should have been.

The rear font moves away from their normal look, and throws in some useless Nashville Predators-esque lettering along with goofy block numbering. This is a weak effort, and it's going to be hell for jersey customization when considering names like "Clemmensen" or "McCabe".

Ok, so maybe I'm being a little too harsh. I mean, we haven't even seen them in action yet. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait long as the Panthers took to the ice in Miami wearing their new jerseys.

The list of positives will be short. Again, we see a team break out the lace-up collar. I get that an old-time hockey jersey looks a little more vintage with the lace-up collar, but I'm starting to tire of it. It seems as though every team has at least one set of jerseys that have a lace-up collar.

Referee Kevin Pollack takes an up-close-and-personal look at Keith Ballard's new logo. While it would take some keen eyes to spot the whiskers missing at full speed, the new logo works on an elementary level. It looks clean and crisp despite being anatomically inaccurate. While I'm still not entirely sold on this logo, the fact that it looks like a panther while the players are moving means that it is doing its job.

That "Wake Up Florida" shoulder logo, however, doesn't even come close to their normal secondary logo. The palm tree-hockey stick logo actually makes one think of hockey in warm weather. If the Florida Panthers want to attract more youthful fans, they should stick with their classic logos, and stay away from the morning talk show logos. The new shoulder patch just looks dumb in game action. And to make matters worse, the Panthers are also wearing the logo on their breezers.

It still astounds me that the Panthers refused to go back to a red primary colour. This is exactly how I refer to the Panthers when I think of them, and it was helped by their Stanley Cup run in 1996. So how good would Tomas Vokoun look in a red jersey with his crimson red pads as opposed to the new alternate jersey? With Vokoun already wearing red pads this season in combination with his red-accented navy jersey, why can't anyone from the Panthers see how good that looks? There would be enough stripes on the alternate jersey if they used the same design that the monochrome look would be broken up. To me, a red alternate jersey would be a no-brainer in this case.

Also noticeable in this image is the single-colour lettering and numbering. Very clear white-on-navy blue font makes it easy to read. The Predators-style lettering isn't visible whatsoever, so it appears that they may be another useless addition.

I like the aesthetic that the socks create in terms of the dark over light look. It appears on a quick glance that the Panthers have their socks pulled up to the bottom of the knees. There's good striping on the socks as well, so everything is defined very clearly. Again, I'm not sold on the baby blue, though, so there is still some tweaking that could be done.

In saying this, there is little joy in Miami tonight. The Penguins defeated the Panthers 3-2 in overtime, and there is little to be excited about in terms of how the Panthers' new look. Sure, they scored a few points with their logo, their socks, and the legible font, but there are so many drawbacks to this alternate design.

All we are saying is give red a chance. It's part of your colour scheme, Florida, and you should be embracing it. The Panthers looked ferocious in red. They look tame in navy and light blues. And nothing is worse in a vicious catfight than cat with no moxie.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


JTH said...

OK, powder blue for powder blue's sake is just stupid. I don't have a problem with it, though. What I do have a problem with is that this just seems to be a complete ripoff of Pittsburgh's alt.

A couple tweaks would really make this a lot easier to stomach:

1) Get rid of that ridiculous FLA/sun logo.
2) Take the panther head circular crest, shrink it down and you've got your new secondary logo for the shoulders.
3) Take the stick/palm tree logo and make that the primary logo for the jersey.

Would these changes make the uniform great? No, but they'd be an improvement if you ask me.

Without any tweaking, it's a nice-looking uniform, but not for an NHL team. It'd look great on a youth league team. I'd be happy if my kid was on a team that dressed like that.

Spyboy1 said...

I agree with your assessment wholeheartedly except for one part. If you are going to make a retro, old-school looking jersey, don't use a modern Predators-like font.

Personally, if they were going to add light blue, the numbers should have been light blue with white outlines in a simpler font without the modern flair counter to the entire rest of the package, which by the way is pretty much a direct ripoff of the University of Maine.

Unknown said...

If Pittsburgh ever adopt their third as the home jersey then they should definitely adopt this look for their new third. Florida did a great job designing a uniform for a team thousands of miles away but this does not saw 'Florida' to me in the least. The bright red and yellow evoked a warmer atmosphere despite the ferocity of their logo. Navy blue and baby blue make me think of a team in the Northwest territories or something. This is not a warm-climate jersey. And do we really need another dark jersey in the league right now? This decade has brought far too much black, blue and red to the league. We finally seem to be getting away from it and back to some originality in the league with the likes of Edmonton returning to their original jerseys, Minnesota adding some bright colours and green as a main colour, Calgary breaking out their anniversary jersey which I hope will become their home set soon, Vancouver harkening back to their original colours despite their poor jersey design, Pittsburgh doning their retro look, Philly embracing orange once again, Buffalo rediscovering blue and gold, the islanders uneartning a beauty from their glory days and now even the Devils will sport their red and green look later this season even if it's only for one game. The trend, which I love, seems to be bright and easily identifiable jerseys; something to separate one from the bleakness of early in the decade. Florida really missed the boat with this set. The actual design is not bad just the colours are all wrong. Too bad Florida doesn't have enough fans to make a noticable stink about these atrocities so they'll probably be around for a while.