HbD News: 2014 Winter Classic Jerseys Announced!
(Photo above from the Associated Press. I had complications that prevented me from attending the press conference and photographing it myself. Like not knowing about it. And living on the other side of the continent.)
Just this morning, the NHL announced the return on the Winter Classic featuring the teams that should have participated in he 2013 Winter Classic, had one been held (Yeah, remember the lockout that happened? Don’t worry, neither do I.): the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings at the University of Michigan’s “Big House”.
They also showed off the jerseys that are going to be worn for the Winter Classic. Over a year ago, when the 2013 Winter Classic was announced, I wrote a post explaining what I thought would be the perfect jerseys to wear for the event. And I totally nailed the Red Wings jersey. The Maple Leafs, not so much, but I had thought it would be quite a stretch for them to bring back a St. Pats jersey, as awesome as that would have been.
First, the Red Wings. They’re taking their 1928-era Detroit Cougars jersey, with the word “Detroit” curving over the logo. But, just like I suggested, instead of having some weird-ass pixelated cougar-looking thing on the front, they’re using their original Red Wings logo from the 1930s. What I love even more is that instead of having a white jersey, they went with a red one.
But there’s elements here that brings the jersey into the contemporary aesthetics as well. For example, the stripes on the jersey aren’t exactly what the original Cougars jersey had, but it’s quirky enough to look historic, especially with the double-stripe at the shoulders which pays homage to an era when stripes were definitely in, but not as bizarrely overbearing as they could be.
The font is also different from the original Cougars jersey, using one that’s contemporary but meant to look historic. I’m not a huge fan of the font, but it works alright for the “Detroit” across the front. Where it really fails is with the numbers on the sleeves and (presumably) the back. Until 1993, every hockey team in history has used the traditional blocky with chopped-off corners font for their numbers, the one that many teams still use today, including the Red Wings. This WC jersey font, for the numbers, is too contemporary because of it’s complete lack of acknowledging history. It’s the only fail on an otherwise awesome jersey. And it’s miles ahead of their 2009 Winter Classic jersey.
The Leafs went with a slightly modified version of their 1930-34 jerseys, complete with the overbearing stripes and the strangest maple leaf shape to ever grace their jerseys. I recently went into more detail about this jersey when discussing the Leafs in my Worst to First Jerseys series. In that post, I argued that this is the worst jersey the Leafs have ever worn, and I stand by that. The thing is, when you’re the Leafs and have worn some of the finest jerseys to ever grace a hockey player, your worst jersey is still not too bad. And when you’re wearing it as a one-off to celebrate the history of the game, it works quite well.
The only change that I can tell so far from the original 1930-34 jerseys to these Winter Classic ones is that the stripes on the sleeve are moved down slightly to make way for the sleeve numbers. Which raises the question: are the sleeve numbers even necessary? The Canucks didn’t think so when they played in their historic Millionaires jersey a few weeks ago. I’m curious if it’s an issue with the broadcasters being able to see their numbers when they call the games from a couple hundred feet above the ice? No idea, but the Leafs decided to put them in there. The only other difference? The numbers appear to be solid white, instead of blue and outlined in white.
But, the absolute best thing about these jerseys? They’re both going to wear their home jerseys: Detroit in reds, Toronto in blues. It’s going to be a colour explosion on the ice, with neither team wearing white jerseys. Because both teams use only one colour in their jerseys and those colours are very different from each other (as opposed to say, if the Red Wings were playing the Blackhawks, or the Flames, or the Hurricanes), it will work. And it will work well.
To me, that’s the best part about these jerseys, getting to see all that colour moving around a sheet of white ice against the background of a blue sky. I can’t wait!