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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Return of the Cash Cow

That's right kids - the magical, mythical and incredible marketing scheme that has made the colored jersey at home the current and ridiculous staple of the NHL is coming back with a vengeance this season.

The third-jersey is back, baby!

Get ready to drop anywhere from $120 to $300 for your new, and quite possibly, horrendously all-time ugly team jersey!

All-time ugly is something yours truly is a great appreciator of, after all, when you're sporting a collection of jerseys that outnumber U.S. states...these things happen. The beauty of this being the off-season and now merely a month away from the start of NHL training camp, that means we're that much closer to getting the official unveiling of these potential atrocities to sports fashion.

While I'm wont to give credit to a certain other blog site, I will say that Howard Berger has managed to finagle a view of all of these new jerseys and he reports on what they're going to look like, and, frankly some of these descriptions have "horror" written all over them.

If this is a topic you should want to follow further, I'll point you to nowhere else other than to the Icethetics blog, which I did have linked to the right side for a while when it was formerly known as the Tournament of Logos.

I'll readily admit here that I'm borrowing the graphic that was posted at Icethetics, and likely elsewhere as well, so that I can help visualize things for you rather than send you to that site and then get my wonderful commentary while jumping between windows. Don't worry Icethetics, I'm linking to your post and your site very much here. Fear not! Should that picture not show up large enough for your liking, feel free to click this link to get the larger version of it.

That said - here goes nothing:

I can already tell you right now which ones will go down as truly great ones and which ones will be held up in all-time infamy as ugly. I can also tell you that the folks in Toronto are either truly die-hard traditionalists or they're struck with permanent amnesia because their design has held up the test of time since Toe Blake was running around. Either the Leafs ownership group figured what was good before the lockout was good enough or they had this meeting break out:

"So, we need to develop a third jersey for this season. Any ideas?"

"Well, I was thinking... what if we took our logo from the 40s and 50s and made the uniform look like it also came from that era, you know, back when we were always winning the Stanley Cup and could beat the Red Wings and Canadiens with ease?"

"That's brilliant! It'll make everyone forget how poorly we've been for the last....40 years? Huh... how about that. Anyways - I like it! Let's run with that! Also, let's see if we can work out a way to make ticket prices even more ridiculous than they already are! LET'S GO LEAFS! LET'S GO LEAFS! LET'S GO LEAFS!"

Sounds about right, doesn't it?

First of all, big ups to some of the teams for dusting off old favorites (yes, even Toronto). The Blackhawks, Islanders, Oilers, Sabres, Canucks, Flyers and Penguins have all gone back into the vault to break out iconic jerseys from the 70s and 80s. For this guy who grew up on hockey in the 80s in the times of Gretzky, Lemieux, Beaupre and Wreggett it'll be a treat to see these jerseys back out on the ice again.

That said, having to see them up against the ones that will be sported by the Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings. Out of those four, the Kings jersey has the most potential to look good, but I'm hesitant to be positive on this right now.

The Stars jersey I don't actually mind, I'm just taking points off for them being thoroughly unoriginal as their's is just the white version of their current home jersey. Soft serve I say.

The Thrashers jersey is thoroughly baffling. They're going with a deep red version with script lettering. These ideas aren't bad unto themselves except that the entire Thrashers marketing for their home games is that they're Blueland. "WELCOME TO BLUELAND!" can be found all over Philips Arena and now you're going to have your team come racing out on home ice in red?

Ridiculous and stupid. Typical of a team that still needs their public address announcer to tell the fans what the hell is going on in a game.

The Senators and Lightning jerseys just don't do anything at all for me. I don't generally have a problem with script lettering at all, except that the Senators appear to be doing theirs in the opposite direction from what we've seen with other teams that letter diagonally and the Lightning just don't seem to have a look that's at all good. For shame.

As for new and innovative styles, the Bruins are head and shoulders above all others. The old logo with the current color scheme is perfect. I would buy one of those jerseys. Now if only the Bruins didn't play a dreadfully boring kind of hockey.

The Blues, should their style be correct, will also be big hits. Adopting the style set forth by the Minnesota Wild was a good idea here as was incorporating the St. Louis Arch into the design. Very well done. The Coyotes and Sharks are also coming correct here, although going with a black jersey, while predictable, is a bit of a let down.

The jersey I'm left undecided on is the Hurricanes. There are two designs on that graphic, one inferior to a great degree and the other being head and shoulders superior and in the class with the Bruins and Blues. Should the current shoulder logo be put on the front, that is a big winner for me. Going with the current crest logo and a triangle (meant to stand for the Research Triangle in Raleigh) is an immense bore and a complete loser.

I can't get too down on the black jersey here, but I think going with a red jersey with the shoulder logo would be a huge upgrade.

Now that I've put away my Mr. Blackwell suit and eye for fashion, I'll gear you up with some words of wisdom (yes, wisdom) from Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

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