Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Wrinkle Over Colors

The Bruins and Penguins have had some lively battles over the last few years as these two elite teams looked to add to their respective Stanley Cup totals. However, there have also been battles in their history that have taken place off the ice. One of the more memorable battles came in 1980 when the Penguins applied to change their color scheme from their blue-and-white scheme to the black-and-yellow as the other Pittsburgh-based sports teams wore.

The Bruins tried to block the Penguins from wearing the iconic black-and-yellow, claiming that color scheme was historically worn by the Bruins through their history. They claimed that the Penguins had applied for the change only after the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers had won the Super Bowl in 1980. The Penguins, of course, stated that their fans demanded the change.

It's pretty ludicrous to think that a team can own a color scheme. After all, the Canadiens, Rangers, and the New York Americans all wore red-white-and-blue during their histories at the same time. Toronto, it should be noted, wore blue-and-white forever, and that's the scheme with which the Penguins broke into the league albeit in different shades.

The key in this whole protest debacle is that the Penguins changed their uniforms in the middle of the season! The Bruins may not even had a chance to protest the change had the Penguins actually used their heads on this one as well. I want to bring to light an article in Montreal's The Gazette from January 25, 1980.

According to the article, "the Penguins ordered the uniforms from the pro shop at Boston Garden", and it appears this caused a delay in the new uniforms being shipped to the Penguins! Boston Garden was home to the Boston Bruins, as you may know, so the Bruins may have had a hand in delaying the shipment to the Penguins! Call me crazy here, but it may not be the best idea to order your new uniforms from the team that is protesting your uniform change.

Thankfully, the NHL came to its senses, and John Zeigler allowed the Penguins to wear their new black-and-yellow uniforms. Of course, they still didn't have the uniforms thanks to the Boston Garden pro shop not sending them for the home-and-home series against the Bruins on January 25 and 26, 1980. So when did the Penguins start wearing their new colors?

According to the Palm Beach Post on January 30, 1980, the Penguins would take to the ice in their new uniforms against the St. Louis Blues on the same date! Five days after the Bruins' protest, the Penguins skated out on home ice in their 50th game of the season in their new uniforms! The new uniforms wouldn't help on that night, though, as the Penguins fell to the Blues by a 4-3 score. In fact, the Penguins recorded six straight losses - including a 9-0 loss to Buffalo - in their new uniforms from January 30 through February 10 before finally defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on February 13, 1980.

The Penguins would finish the season 11-18-2 in their new uniforms after having gone 19-19-11 in their old blue-and-white uniforms. Personally, it's a pretty cool note to see that the Penguins ordered their new uniforms from the Bruins, and that the Bruins delayed the shipment while they protested. However, you can mark it down on your calendars that on January 30, 1980, the Penguins officially went black-and-yellow and never looked back!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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