Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Heritage Classic - Cowtown Style

There was some breaking news yesterday as Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, was actually spotted in a Canadian city! Ok, that's not all that impressive, but he was in Calgary, Alberta for the announcement of the 2011 Heritage Classic Game taking place in that city. This is the second time an NHL outdoor game will be held in Canada, and both have been hosted by the province of Alberta as Edmonton battled Montreal in the bitter cold in 2003. Montreal prevailed in that game, but the NHL was the real winner as the demand for outdoor games grew into the Winter Classic on New Year's Day annually. With 40,000 people watching Montreal and Calgary battle at McMahon Stadium, this game should be great as well.

Of course, we cannot forget about all the marketing being done by the NHL and the Calgary Flames to bring people in, and we'll look at that today. From logos to Heritage Classic uniforms, there was a pile of stuff to be seen and heard from yesterday.

We'll start with the Heritage Classic logo as seen above. I like that it is not adorned with any corporate logos or shenanigans. The maple leaf marks the Canadian event with something truly Canadian, and Calgary skyline represents the host city's inclusion on the logo. Thumbs-up with the Heritage Classic logo, and prepare yourself as you'll probably be seeing this logo everywhere once the season starts.

Montreal decided to roll-out their Heritage Classic jerseys by... um, doing nothing. The Canadiens will wear their everyday road jerseys in Calgary on February 20, 2011 with one slight modification: the Heritage Classic patch. I get that Montreal wore a ton of jerseys over the last two seasons, and they might be a little "jerseyed" out, but this is the Heritage Classic. It's not like it happens everyday. Thumbs-down to the NHL's most-storied franchise.

The Flames, on the other hand, will have a new uniform for the Heritage Classic, and it is modeled after the Calgary Tigers' uniform worn in 1924 NHL season. The Tigers won both the Prairie Hockey League and Western Canadian Hockey Championships that season, and were the first Calgary-based team to play for the Stanley Cup. Who did they meet in the final? The Montreal Canadiens. Montreal's Howie Morenz scored a hat trick in a 6-1 hammering of Calgary in Montreal, and Montreal's Georges Vezina stole the show in a 3-0 shutout win over Calgary in Ottawa to sweep the three-game series.

The Flames, going back in the city's hockey history, decided to honour the Tigers, but modernize their look. The yellow-and-black of the Tigers' sweater is gone, replaced by a dark-red-and-yellow look. The Calgary Flames' logo will appear on the chest of the players in white, and they will wear tan pants to fit the timeframe of the uniform.

Would I have liked to have seen the Flames bring back the Tigers' look? Undoubtedly. I like hockey history. But the two teams - the Flames and Tigers - are not linked aside from calling Calgary home. Designing the new uniforms in Calgary Flames-esque colours makes sense for the Flames as they can sell their newest creation to their rabid fanbase. The people of Calgary support their hockey team as well as any other city in the NHL, and this includes buying up jerseys with their favorite player on the back. This is a great sales opportunity, and I think the Flames are doing the right thing despite the historical inaccuracy.

There are a number of people on various websites who have said that this uniform is a "fail", but I disagree. As stated above, it's an excellent way to push jersey sales, and their look for the Heritage Classic is unique. The tan pants that everyone seems to be complaining about is no big deal, in my opinion, and there have been similar opportunities when concerning a heritage game. While the striping on the arms and socks does have a bit of a "Ronald McDonald" look to it, the uniforms are distinct and unique - something the NHL can use more of in spades. Overall, thumbs-up from this writer on the new Flames' duds.

It appears that this game will look pretty good with the contracts in uniforms between the two teams. All Calgary needs is some stable weather for this game, and this could be another very memorable outdoor game produced by the NHL. I'm looking forward to it already!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

***Photos taken by Brad Watson and Dylan Lynch!***


Jim BC said...

Teebz - The Habs Jersey actually is a little different from their everyday road jersey. They are reportedly going to go with the mid 70s to mid 90s numbering style.

I don't mind that they aren't doing anything too radical. The Habs jersey is a classic and shouldn't be tampered with. And with the seemingly endless 100th anniversary celebrations behind us, I'm glad they went with what they did.

Teebz said...

Good call on the Habs jersey, Jim.

I agree with this call. Too many jerseys over the last few years for the Habs, so I'm ok with this call.

Anonymous said...

No, as a Montrealer, clearly the Habs messed up. Missed the opportunity to at least use the jersey from the early 70s (red collar, lace up neck). They missed that completely, while they were busy going too far with their collection of ugly uniforms trotted out during the centennial...