Wednesday, 14 September 2016

All About The Birds

It's not often that HBIC can feel like the National Audubon Society, but today is all about the birds on this blog. Two species of birds shall be covered as we look at a California-based bird and a Massachusetts-based bird. Both of these birds have come out with a new look as the AHL teams who have adopted those names have released updated uniforms! Today, we travel to Bakersfield to look at the alternate jersey for the Condors, and we hit the road for Springfield where the Falcons have a whole new look!

Alternate Condors

We start with the Bakersfield Condors who have already adopted the colours of the Edmonton Oilers, but had yet to follow suit with an orange-and-blue alternate jersey. The Condors finally made the reveal six days ago, and I have to say that I am a fan of these alternate jerseys.
Ok, unnecessary dramatic music aside, that orange jersey looks good! While the Condors opted to use the secondary oil drop logo, they added the talons from a condor to make the logo somewhat Bakersfield-centric. To me, though, this jersey's logo feels a lot like the Oilers alternate that they wore from 2001 to 2007. I, of course, am a big fan of that oil drop logo as well.
Leaving the last decade out of this, I really like what the Condors did with the oil drop logo. It occupies much of the front of the orange alternate so that there's very little dead space, and it's very clear through both the logo and colours which team is on the ice.

Well done, Bakersfield! A solid alternate jersey is being added to the rotation, and I can't wait to see it on the ice!

Falcons' New Feathers

If you've been following the AHL moves this summer, you know that the Springfield Falcons moved to Tucson, Arizona to become the Roadrunners. With Springfield looking to keep a team, the Portland Pirates moved into Springfield and became the Springfield Thu7nderbirds. Now that you're up to speed, the new bird-based team in Springfield have a new logo and new jerseys thanks to their affiliation with the Florida Panthers. The old logo, seen above, has flown the coop or some other wisecrack about birds, but I have to say that I really like the new logo for its simplicity.

Yes, it's still an angry bird, but the Thunderbirds logo is certainly better than the Falcons logo as seen above, and there's a hope that the Thunderbirds can bring a Calder Cup back to Springfield. The colours, as you may notice, have a strong emphasis of blue in the logo, but also incorporate the red and yellow colours worn by the Panthers as another AHL team will resemble its NHL affiliate this winter, but has elements that make the jersey unique to Springfield. In other words, I like what Springfield has done.

We'll start with the red jerseys that Springfield will be wearing. I am posting the large mock-up of these jerseys with the Pantone colours in order for fans and designers to get a jump on any future designs such as an alternate jersey. In any case, here are the red jerseys.
There are some likes and dislikes in the design, so let's start with the less-than-positive stuff such as the half arm stripes. That's a no in the hockey world, and it really does nothing to improve the jersey except to add the lighter blue colour to the colour scheme. Had those stripes gone fully around the arm, I believe it would look better, but that seemingly useless navy blue underarm splash ruins the stripes. Which leads me to...

That seemingly useless navy blue underarm splash. Why is it there? Is it because the jersey needed more colour? Here's a thought: add a hem stripe! You have it on the socks and sleeves, so toss in the the same striping pattern on the hem! Instead, the Thunderbirds went for the slimming vertical side colours which, I assume, will be incorporated on the breezers for the players to make one long vertical stripe. If it doesn't or if the Thunderbirds decide to wear navy blue breezers as contrast, these side panels will look ridiculous.

Also, if you read carefully, the Thunderbirds have decided to adorn the US flag on the right shoulder. I believe in flag patches for international competitions and perhaps all-star games, but wearing it because you're based in America? No. It didn't work for the Calgary Flames, and I don't like it here. If you aren't a team made up of 100% American-born players who are traveling internationally, this is just overkill in the nationalism department. Hockey is a global game. Keep it that way.

Lace-up collars are so yesterday. Phase them out too. Especially when your team was never part of "old-time hockey".

Ok, so we've ran over the negatives, but here's the thing: the jerseys look fairly good! I'll explain why under the white jersey mock-ups.
First off, your eyes are drawn to the logo in the middle of the chest because it contrasts well with the red and white background colours. The blue really stands out, and this focuses the eyes on the logo which is the most important part of the jersey. Yes, I was critical of the striping and colour splashes, but the uniform isn't as busy as it could have been - no apron strings or chest numbers! - which really makes the background work with the contrasting logo. While the stripes do break up the background, the stripes and splashes don't pull your eyes off the logo. Again, this all goes back to the logo which is the most important part of the uniform.

As much as I ragged on the US flag patch, the Thunderbirds are wearing it as a tribute to the US military, and they're going to wear it right. From their release, "The flag patch is reversed in much the same way military members adorn the flag on their uniforms, suggesting that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward." That attention to detail is something the Uni Watch crowd and Paul Lukas always note, so kudos to the Thunderbirds for getting this detail right as per military rules. Do it right or don't do it at all.

Because the team was dealing on such tight deadlines, it's interesting to note that "Springfield will wear a different jersey design for a pair of preseason home games on Oct. 7-8 at the MassMutual Center" as stated in the release. You wonder if they will wear the old Falcons jerseys for those two nights or if they have some mocked-up Thunderbirds jersey that were made by local silk screening company. In any case, the real Thunderbirds jerseys, as shown above, will be ready for the opening of the AHL season on October 15 when the team travels to Lehigh Valley, and fans can purchase the new threads sometime in October as well.

Overall, the Thunderbirds get a passing grade for their new jerseys from this writer. They aren't the best jerseys out there, but the negatives certainly aren't as glaring as they seem to be. For that, Springfield should look fairly good on the ice as a team.

The AHL is really improving its look this season with these three jerseys. I'm excited for the season to start so we can see these teams wearing their new threads on the ice! Head down to an AHL arena this season, and maybe you'll be able to catch one of these new uniforms in action!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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