This installment of the Worst to First Jerseys features the Edmonton Oilers, and part of the series is hosting the full posts on the blog of the team that’s being featured. The full version of this post is on the blog Oilers Nation. You can check it out by clicking here. And much thanks to Jonathan Willis from Oilers Nation for hosting this post.
Do you want your team featured? I’ll be contacting blogs for each team throughout the year, so keep a look out for it. Or, let me know which blog I should be contacting for your favourite team. For now, here’s a preview of my post about the Oilers:
The Oilers are the epitome are consistency in a league that tends to treat design like a revolving door: easy come, easy go. Aside from the Original 6 teams, only Philadelphia and St. Louis have kept essentially the same logo since the Oilers joined the league in 1979. (Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the NY Islanders have all gone back to their circa 1979 logos, but not before dabbling with other atrocities.) And the Oilers’ jerseys have remained admirably consistent as well.
Here’s how this works: I’ll count down, from worst to first, all the jerseys the Oilers have ever worn. Homes and aways will be lumped into the same category (so, more of a jersey “era”) and I won’t worry about small changes (like slightly changed positions of piping for example). Third jerseys will stand on their own. And I’m focusing on the jerseys only, not the entire uniform. The jersey images are compliments of the fine people over at nhluniforms.com. For the Oilers, there’s 4 different jerseys/eras. And we’ll start with the worst one:
4. 2001–2007 Third Jerseys
I respect Todd McFarlane. I really do. He’s an accomplished artist, cartoonist, writer and business person, achieving more than I probably ever well. But of all the things he is, one of them is not a graphic designer, and while his alternate logo that graced the Oilers’ third jerseys is well-constructed, it’s such a departure from the legacy of the Oilers that it’s hard to not say it pales in comparison (I ranked the Oilers at #11 for the best team logos in the NHL, which you can read about here).
I know the legacy is built into this logo with the 5 gears representing the 5 Cups they’ve won, but you’ve basically got to re-design this logo whenever the team wins another Stanley Cup. To me, it says, “Well, we’re not winning another one anytime soon, so we’re safe to keep this logo going.” The Islanders do a similar thing, but the integration is much simpler and subtle and not as integral to the overall design. This post, though, isn’t about logos, but about jerseys and I have no idea how much input McFarlane had in the design of this one.
I’ve stated numerous times on my blog how difficult it can be to disconnect legacy and heritage from a cold analysis of the design of a logo or jersey, and this is one of those instances. In the mid-’80s, Glen Sather assembled what is arguably the best teams to have ever existed in the NHL, winning 5 Stanley Cups with 6 of the players from those teams sitting in the Hall of Fame. So, that logo, that jersey, that era, is almost holy. And this third jersey threw that all away.
That being said, outside of that context, these are not bad jerseys, and a valiant effort to forge a new identity for the Oilers that, at the point these jerseys were worn, were over a decade removed from those glory days. True, they had a run in 2005, but anybody except for the most delirious Edmonton homers who tell you that such a run was completely expected should be psychologically evaluated. If you ignore all history of the dynasty years, these jerseys are pretty solid but not without some things to complain about.
The best thing about this jersey is the simplicity and minimalism of it. The piping is simple but strong, complementing the jersey and the logo rather than overtaking it. I’ve always been a fan of including lacing at the collar, giving it a instant sense of history and legacy.
But the biggest complains about this jersey comes down to a pet peeve of mine, a blue so dark that it becomes almost black, which then begs the question, why even bother? The Oilers are by no means the only team guilty of this, with Buffalo, Columbus, Florida, St. Louis and Winnipeg all doing the same thing in this past season alone. I’m not against using a dark blue, but just lighten it up enough that it’s obvious that it’s a dark blue.
What the dark blue also does is also make these jerseys a combination of almost-black/grey/white, lacking in any sort of visual punch anywhere. I’ve never liked that on the LA Kings, and I don’t like it here either, especially when you have such an awesome blank canvas like a white sheet of ice to work with. Colours work so great with hockey that it doesn’t make sense to essentially not include any.
This is also the first and only time the Oilers played with using a font on their jerseys other than the angled-off block font that’s a sports staple. I commend the effort in trying something different and wish more teams would play around with this, but it’s a bit of a miss, looking more like a oddly squished Game of Thrones-esque font. Meh.
Jersey Recommendation: #83 Hemsky – A great player with lots of skill, but either because of injuries or other issues, has never really lived up to expectations. Kind of like McFarlane and this logo/jersey.
Read the rest of this post by clicking here.