HbyD Breakdown: Tampa Bay Lightning Stadium Series Jerseys
Ally kicked off our Stadium Series breakdowns with her thoughts on Nashville’s letterpressed Smashville look. As she mentioned, and I totally agree with, the Stadium Series has definitely become the NHL’s venue to break the mold and get very experimental with jersey design. It’s a nice contrast to the Winter Classic where nostalgia and retro vibes take center stage. This year’s Stadium Series is no different, with both teams leaning into non-traditional looks.
So here we go – let’s take a closer look at what the Lightning will sport when they hit the outdoor ice at Nissan Stadium in Nashville on February 26th.
…and you get a Nickname!
For this iteration of the Stadium Series game neither team will display their actual city name, team name or primary logo…instead, they’ll both feature nicknames. Nashville with their “Smashville” moniker and Tampa Bay with “Bolts” emblazoned diagonally across the chest.
For the Lightning, they at least have a history of using “Bolts” on an alternate jersey and I must say, the new Stadium Series take feels like a nice evolution of the “Bolts” look when compared against the previous versions.
The overall look is simplified: the black and extraneous striping patterns are both gone; replaced with bolt shaped blocks of color and a color palette reduced to their current blue and white. Yes, as with all Stadium Series jerseys most elements are oversized, but for this Lightning look the sleeve numbers are the biggest culprit in that department.
The Lightning Bol(d)t Strikes
Large, bold color blocking has been attempted before…I’m looking at you 2020 Stadium Series. However, the Lightning strike a much better balance this year by showing a little more restraint in their execution of this design element.
Where the Kings may have missed the mark, Tampa Bay took notes and hit the target when it comes to a two-tone jersey with a bold color block used as the primary feature. The blue doesn’t extend halfway up the chest like the white does on the LA jersey, and the block of color doesn’t connect with the chest logo/lettering either…both of which allows for some visual breathing room and overall cleaner aesthetic. A clear point in favor of “less is more.”
Lack of Flash
Overall the biggest complaint related to this jersey is that there really isn’t much to it…especially given the typical nature of experimental Stadium Series jersey designs. On the other hand, Nashville went for it all – pushed the envelope, drew inspiration from local design and printmaking history (which I think went over the head of most hockey fans) and they’ve received wildly mixed feedback…most of which probably landed on the non-favorable side of things. So, it’s a case of pick your poison: either go for it and risk a swing and a miss, or play it safe and risk an underwhelming response.
The additional details of the jerseys are pretty straight-forward: the stylized block numbers have a slight angle design element to compliment the chest wordmark. The shoulders are adorned with the Stadium Series logo on the right and a silver-accented Lightning shoulder patch on the left. Again, all nice touches and pretty standard for a jersey, but by the standards of a Stadium Series jersey it almost seems too traditional.
Actually, Just Make this the Third Jersey
So I’ve never been a huge fan of Tampa Bay’s black gradient third jerseys, as documented in a previous Hockey by Design Breakdown. I know the Lightning have a history with the color black, and it’s for the fans, and they won a Cup in black, etc…but they should just trot out a version of the Reverse Retro look every once in a while to suffice the need to rock a jersey with some black.
For this Stadium Series jersey, you could easily reduce the size of the sleeve numbers and probably slightly decrease the size of the chest lettering too and then bingo! …It now becomes the regular third jersey that fits very well into the overall Lightning brand aesthetic.
Comparisons impact perceptions when it comes to many things in life. Hockey jersey designs are no exception! When compared to their Stadium Series opponent in Nashville, Tampa Bay’s jersey might seem a tad boring or unimaginative. But when compared to last year’s Stadium Series looks from Colorado and LA, the reigning Stanley Cup Champs definitely score a win this year.
Overall it’s a bold, clean and simple look. Which of course isn’t bad at all and is usually the way to go when it comes to jersey design…it’s just unexpected at this point for a Stadium Series jersey. As mentioned, this game is typically an open book to create something unique, maybe a little futuristic and something that knows it’ll only be worn for one game. This Lightning look didn’t strike those marks…but maybe they intended to strike another mark entirely.