Monday, 15 March 2021

Looking Like The Alumni

Charity points. Staged fights. Coronavirus. Black hockey jerseys. If you're looking for a common thread in all these things, the right answer would be "things that Teebz hates". The last one - black jerseys - bothers me a lot when hockey could be such a colourful sport with the many hues worn by NHL teams, but the Flyers' choice of a black jersey always got under my skin because they proudly wore orange as their road colour for so long despite having black prominently in their colour scheme.

To me, a black jersey is simply lazy. It takes zero effort to remove colour and "add intimidation" or whatever marketing jargon one wants to use in coming up with a black jersey, especially on teams that feature such vibrant colours like orange, eggplant, red, and teal. With black not even being defined as a colour, it should only be used as an accent colour unless part of the long-storied history of a team such as Boston and Pittsburgh. Even then, we can do better than black jerseys thanks to the millions of Pantone colours humans have developed.

But I'm not here to rail against black jerseys. Instead, I may have to change my tune about the Flyers' black jerseys because it appears that a specific group of the Philadelphia Flyers wore black long before it was trendy in sports!
This image was posted to Twitter today by the amazing Gillian Kemmerer who is the go-to person when one needs Russian hockey information. As you can see, Vladislav Tretiak is sitting on the left in what appears to be a non-Russian Federation or non Soviet-approved jersey while talking to Bobby Clakre who sits in a Philadelphia Flyers alumni jersey that is entirely black! The year of this photo? 1987 - a full ten years before the Flyers unveiled a black alternate jersey in 1997! Did the Flyers use their alumni jerseys as inspiration for their black alternates?

I haven't found any proof of that being the case, but, as you can see to the left, the Flyers alumni wore all black uniforms in the same style as the NHL Flyers did during that same era. The shoulder yokes are similar, the striping is similar, and the colours are clearly Flyers colours. If I were a betting man, it would appear that the Flyers alumni had black uniforms made for their charity games and exhibitions to distinguish themselves from the NHL team while still paying homage to their NHL roots as Philadelphia Flyers. I don't know how popular the Flyers alumni team was when it came to fashion sense or setting trends, but it would appear that the Flyers do, in fact, have a history with a black jersey design, albeit not at the NHL level.

Does this absolve the Flyers from my dislike of black jerseys? Unfortunately, no, but I think it lends more credence to how we should investigate hockey history deeper and use those links to tie the past to the present in the game. Had the Flyers used this link to their alumni more often in their marketing pizzazz that they spew when introducing black alternate uniforms, I might be willing to begrudgingly accept that their alumni are an important part of the Flyers Family. Since they don't do that, though, they don't get that benefit of the doubt.

Regardless of Philly's history with the black jersey, seeing Tretiak and Clarke in the photo is awesome, and a big thank-you goes out to Gillian for posting it today. Perhaps there is some tie to the alumni team that the Flyers mentioned at some time in their history of black jerseys, but it's pretty safe to say that the Flyers alumni team were way ahead of the fashion trends in sports with those black uniforms!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: