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CryWolf

The Future of the NHL Jersey (+ Poll)

The Next Generation NHL Jersey - Do We Need a Change?  

16 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think about the possibility of changing the NHL jersey concept?

    • The NHL jersey is the most perfect jersey in sport - don't dare change a stitch on it!
      8
    • The NHL jersey is pretty good as is, but could use some minor tinkering or improvement
      5
    • The NHL jersey in its current form is finished! It is definitely time for a new, modern and fresh look to what is worn on the ice
      0
    • The league needs to move in the opposite direction, and do a better job of honoring the heritage and tradition of hockey. Let's go Old School!
      3


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Okay gang... this one is bound to be a very provocative and emotional topic for NHL fans, so I am very curious to see where this goes.

As some of you may have heard, it seems that change is likely on the horizon when it comes to our beloved NHL jersey. This change almost happened for this season, but was vetoed in the end. Although I can't reveal what is known about the timing and details of impending changes (partly because I don't really know the final details myself) I think for the purpose of this discussion we can assume that there are some pretty radical ideas that may move forward - I will let you guys discuss what you have heard and leave it at that.

I would like to know what everyone thinks of the possibility of change, and maybe even radical change league-wide when it comes to jerseys? Are we in love with the jersey as is? Can you agree to some modernization? Or are you all for a radical new direction to propel the game forward in the new MyNHL?

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Okay gang... this one is bound to be a very provocative and emotional topic for NHL fans, so I am very curious to see where this goes.

As some of you may have heard, it seems that change is likely on the horizon when it comes to our beloved NHL jersey. This change almost happened for this season, but was vetoed in the end. Although I can't reveal what is known about the timing and details of impending changes (partly because I don't really know the final details myself) I think for the purpose of this discussion we can assume that there are some pretty radical ideas that may move forward - I will let you guys discuss what you have heard and leave it at that.

I would like to know what everyone thinks of the possibility of change, and maybe even radical change league-wide when it comes to jerseys? Are we in love with the jersey as is? Can you agree to some modernization? Or are you all for a radical new direction to propel the game forward in the new MyNHL?

A month ago, I would have voted "The NHL Jersey is perfect as is... (the first choice)", but the new Sabres jerseys have taught me that minor change and innovation is acceptable. I like the Nike Swift jerseys and socks. I like the new Sabres jersey a lot. I think, however, that the NHL is a sport that is rooted in tradition and that making change universal throughout the league is a big mistake. First of all, the idea regarding tucking in the jerseys is ridiculous. It needs to be the players' decision. It just needs to be. It's all about preference. Second, I can't imagine teams like Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, NYR, Boston, Edmonton and so on in form fitting jerseys. The reason the Buffal jersey works is because it's unique. It's new and fresh. Something to talk about. If every team goes down that road than it will immediately become a stale marketing concept. I don't mind changes here and there. Minor adjustments to the uniforms. Updates. Some tweeking. But trying to push a new look on the entire NHL and requiring players to wear tucked in jerseys? That's just insane.

Hockey is a great sport, partly because of the personality and charisma that our players possess. Tell me when you see the emotion that hockey players show in other sports? During some ridiculous touch down dance? As an overweight first baseman trots around the bases after a home run? When Shaq finally hits a free throw? No way. Look at guys like Ovechkin. Look at any NHL player, actually. When a goal is scored, it's intense. Well, the personality of these players extends to every nuance (sp) of the way they play their game... including their decisions with regards to how they wear their gear. Chris Drury tucks his jersey into his elbow pads. Max Afinogenov tucks his jersey in. It's the variation from player to player that make it endearing though.

Listen - I'm all for the preservation of my favorite sport. I want ticket and merchandise sales to be high. I want fans of all ages to be engaged. I want TV viewership to be through the roof. I want the NHL to be healthy. But please, don't cheapen my favorite sport by forsaking our traditions and many of the things that make our game so great just so you can sell more merchandise. Don't 'modernize' our jerseys just to appeal to the casual fans, or those who aren't even fans at all. I mean, hockey might not have the largest fan base, but it might just be the most loyal one - don't betray us. After the lockout, ticket sales were at an all time high, with average attendance nearing 92%. After baseball's lockout, ticket sales were at an all time low. Says something about what kind of fans we have, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, statistics so far from this year are going to contradict every point I may or may not have just made. Merchandise sales on NHL.com are up 85% (reported today) from last year and the Sabres new uniforms are the number one selling jerseys. The way I see it, manufacturers will take this as a sign that the new look is well recieved and see it as incentive to make more changes in the coming years. It seems innevitable that changes are around the corner, but how far will they take it next? As I said earlier, I'm fine with innovation, but there is a boundary, somewhere, that had better not be crossed.

Sadly, I see Reebok plunging ahead with their new ideas. Hopefully fans will let them know when they ultimately step out of bounds.

Edit: Looking at Wolf's response from the Sabres/Ducks poll (which I hadn't seen earlier) I'll just add this: Yes, I'd taken note of the lack of stripes on the Sabres jersey, which is what prompted me to ask about the tuck-in rumor. As you can see above, I'm staunchly opposed to the idea, however. I just don't think league-wide change is what the NHL needs. I don't even think it's good for the NHL. I don't know how to prove this kind of thing to people - it's that omniscient feeling that only a long time fan will know - but this is the way I see things: Everytime there is a change, the NHL will see improved sales and thus, think that change is good, people like change,etc. etc. This will bring about more change. In the long run however, I think that change is very bad for the NHL. While you might see a few years of very good merchandise sales when the changes are first initiated, a little bit later fans are going to turn around and say "Hey, where's the NHL that I've been a fan of for so long?". See, change is good, to a degree. I'll admit that I'm, obviously, nothing but skeptical right now, but change is good. I just hope the NHL and Reebok come to the correct assumptions with regards to just how much change it is that will benefit the league most, without hurting it. I envision a fine line between what will be tolerated and what is too much.

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A month ago, I would have voted "The NHL Jersey is perfect as is... (the first choice)", but the new Sabres jerseys have taught me that minor change and innovation is acceptable.

Mach 9 I gotta thank you for the link to this message board, but I totally diagree with you. I hate the new Sabres jersey style & look & rumors of a tucked in & fitted "slim line" fitted jersey are very disturbing! I am a big guy , not obese mind you but big & my jerseys are already form fitting! I love the NHL jersey as is or go even old school and bring back more retro elements. I love the laces when they used to be "sweaters" and the collar laced. If Rebok has it's way the NHL will be a bunch of flash in the pan cartoon merchandising cash cow. I can't & won't stand for it. I saw boycott all Reebok merchandise if they don't leave their hands off the beloved NHL identity. Before long NHL gear will all be nameless, faceless, melange of color and marketing with no regard for tradition, class, or fan loyalty. I can't even imagine the rancor to be had if a team like the Leafs is required to drink the kool aid & follow suit with something spewed out from Reebok. Change can be good, but change for change sake is not. I guess if everything goes the way of the rumors, I'll have alot of money left from boycotting new NHL gear to buy the Vintage stuff I've always wanted. For example I'll be ordering only a Vintage Sabres Jersey this year instead of 3 (new home, new away, & vintage) That's leaving me extra money for one non Sabres Jersey I've alway wanted (Canucks 3rd jersey). If this keeps up I'll have them all.

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"Change can be good, but change for change sake is not. "

This was a point I tried to eventually get to in my long winded, and perhaps convoluted response. I agree with you here, and while we might differ on what degree of change is alright, I think our overall attitudes are the same. I'm all in favor of a little change here and a little change there, but seeing league-wide change would just be upsetting. I happened to like the Sabres jerseys, despite my initial reaction to the logo, and I hold now that the jerseys look sharp but the logo is something of a disaster. The fact that I was able to embrace anything with that logo on it, however, has proven to me that a little bit of change is tollerable.

Meh - I just hope the NHL doesn't lose sight of it's roots, Hopefully they'll be able to advise Reebok so that the right changes are made, rather than passively step aside and let Reebok have their way with our beloved sport.

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I'm as big a fan of tradition as the next guy, but the problem is marketing. The NHL doesn't have a good program in marketing outside of traditional hockey markets, like Canada and the northern parts of the U.S., to name a few.

As much as the traditionalist fan razzes Gary Bettman for trying to implement radical ideas, there is a method to that madness. Here in Detroit, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who isn't a hockey fan. But travel outside the hockey markets, and you quickly run into people who will complain that the biggest part of hockey they don't get is following the puck and knowing where the action is, or that it just looks like back-and-forth skating, so what's the big whoop?

The gameplay, the tradition, and history aren't going to draw in new fans or keep the casual fans.

To me, football is the most convoluted and overly complicated sport ever. 6 points for a touchdown, and one extra point for a field goal? Or 3 points for just a field goal? And what the hell is a 2-point conversion (I know what it is, but why it exists or why 2 points is a little beyond me)? The conferences and divisions don't make much sense either (why is Dallas considered NFC East?)

Yet it draws crowds like mad. Why? Marketing. Interesting or controversial personalities. Even I, the not-football-fan, know who Terrell Owens and Brett Favre are.

The NHL doesn't have that in order to draw in new fans. And for any sport, new fans are what keep the business end going. Eventually, old fans disappear whether due to time, interest, or whatever. The stands have to be filled by that continuing cycle. But if the NHL remains deeply rooted in tradition, new fans aren't going to get interested.

I look at jersey colors and logos from the '60s and '70s and with many of them, I see outdated designs. We might call them "vintage" or "throwback" nowadays, but if a modern team tried using a look from the old Oakland Seals, they'll be known more for their horrid uniforms than their gameplay or the excitement of scoring a goal on a breakaway.

The NHL has to modernize along with every other sport to catch and keep attention. That doesn't necessarily mean that every plan they try is going to succeed, and that fitted or tucked-in jerseys are the answer. But it's plain to see that if those are the ideas on the table, they're trying to model themselves after the success of the NFL in marketing.

I just hope that the NHL realizes that uniforms aren't the only things that make the NFL such a prominent attention-getter.

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Well put Crimson. Marketing for the NHL stops at "It's my game, It's my NHL".

Anywhere outside of North America, or the hockey parts of Europe, they wont even tell you whatt hockey is..

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In regards to marketing one major difference between Major League Baseball, The NFL, the NBA, and the NHL is that the NHL pretty much refuses to market individual players. The other 3 sports market the players while the NHL tries to market the team.

When they had all those new commercials last year when the league came back about My NHL, they could have shown real NHL players and pushed the marketing that way, but that is not what they chose to do.

When Crosby was drafted, he could have been a face for the NHL in the marketing because he was all over the news when it came to the NHL but that is not how the league wants to run it.

I mean (though I got sick of it) how much did you see going into this NFL season about the Manning vs Manning matchup in the opening week. You pretty much couldn't go a commercial break without seeing something about it.

When Crosby vs Ovechkin happened last year, how many people outside of hockey fans even knew that was happening?

The league should market its players. There are plenty of young faces who the public would want to see, but the league just won't do it.

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Good point! Not even just for rookies, veterans too! A lot of people would like to hear about players that they might have known back in their day or whatever. Players = Money, Money=Good, Hockey=Life. :P

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I did not mean to leave out the veterans, but it just seems like the star faces on the majority of the teams are younger players now.

Though there are plenty of veterans out there who could market the league as well.

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I did not mean to leave out the veterans, but it just seems like the star faces on the majority of the teams are younger players now.

Though there are plenty of veterans out there who could market the league as well.

Right, because EVERYONE knows who Wayne Gretzky is. Even if the extent of a person's knowledge only goes as far as "he was a hockey player, right?" that's still more than the average person might know about, say, Al MacInnis or Ray Bourque.

Several years ago, Nike was on the right track in getting attention for hockey and its players with the series of commercials where goalies were trying to get by in regular jobs, complaining about Theo Fleury or Sergei Fedorov. That had the right blend of "what the...?!" and humor. Unfortunately, the commercials were selling a niche product (skates) so it still wasn't playing to the general public.

But the NHL has a veritable gold mine of raw young talent to exploit in marketing terms -- Crosby and Ovechkin, without a doubt. Good, fast, young, amazing players because to the hockey-uninitiated, playing the point in a power play isn't as exciting and attention grabbing as a breakaway (which would be to Ovechkin's advantage vs. a Nicklas Lidstrom or Derian Hatcher).

Highlight-reel players will make the best commercials. On Canadian TV, I saw Cujo endorsing some power bar when he was still with the Leafs, dressed in a blue martial arts uniform. That's the kind of stuff needed to expand consciousness of hockey in weaker areas of the U.S.

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I did not mean to leave out the veterans, but it just seems like the star faces on the majority of the teams are younger players now.

Though there are plenty of veterans out there who could market the league as well.

Here is an area where we might be making progress. In terms of marketable personalities, Alexander Ovechkin is a god send. If the NHL can capitalize (no pun intended) on his great charisma and likeability, they might be on to something. We should have Ovie doing commercials.

I mean - vets like Peter Forsberg are in VS' commercials now, during hockey games, but the only people seeing those commercials are already hockey fans. The NHL needs to find a way to use the personalities of some of the games most dynamic players to aid there market campaigns. For as long as I've been around the game, the NHL has only reached out to already existing fans. Now, instead of finding an effective method of marketing the great game and tradition that we already have, they want to mix things up and attract people with a flashy new look.

Unfortunately, new jerseys won't help non-fans understand the thrill of a great break out that leads to an odd-man rush.

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Unfortunately, new jerseys won't help non-fans understand the thrill of a great break out that leads to an odd-man rush.

This is very true as well. This is where I appreciate ESPN's effort a few years ago when they did the NHL Rules presentation during some games. It did get kind of annoying to me as well as other hockey fans probably, but it was an effort on their part to get new fans in understanding the game.

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This is very true as well. This is where I appreciate ESPN's effort a few years ago when they did the NHL Rules presentation during some games. It did get kind of annoying to me as well as other hockey fans probably, but it was an effort on their part to get new fans in understanding the game.

I actually feel like, in a very large way, the responsibility of promoting the game falls upon the fans. In truth, the only way someone can really come to understand the sport is to have it shown to them in enjoyable contexts. Trying to learn all of the rules, or listening as they're tediously explained is boring. If the fans wanted to reach out to groups of kids and adults who aren't familiar with the game and introduce them it would be great. The NHL should try to introduce some kind of wide-spread program encouraging fans to maybe start pick up games with neighborhood children. The NHL should also partner with the educational system, as I found (from my children) that hockey is one of the only major sports that kids don't get to play in their gym classes. If the NHL introduced a campaign that showed hockey players reading, where they stated their favorite book, and advocating staying in school, perhaps the educational system could reward them by including floor hockey in their physical education classes? I just don't understand how young men in my neighborhood can love lacrosse and say they can't follow hockey. It's a reputation and inaccessability that hockey seems to have that keeps people from taking to it. If we made it a very accessable sport and really reached out, we might see huge rewards.

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Speaking of marketing, I love those Game On commercials, much better approach then the warrior/gladiator commercials last year. Humor is good.

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I have the advantage of using aspects of everyones posts in my reply.

I like my politics liberal, but I like my hockey conservative. I like my teams above the Mason-Dixon line and the outside during january games to be under 60 degrees.

But some would argue that I am what is wrong with hockey, and that my way of thinking is why hockey is not in the mainstream of sports. But I am willing to compromise... and I have. We all have.

A lot of us don't like Gary Bettman. But there is a method to his madness. While a lot of us would of rather have wanted a team in Hamilton or Windsor instead of Raleigh, North Carolina, how many hockey fans would the NHL have gained in Windsor? Now compare that to the number of people that would see hockey for the very first time in North Carolina.

I'm off topic... when it comes to the jerseys you touch a nerve of every hockey fan. Personally there's something majestic about seeing a winger fly through the neutral zone breaking past the defense all the while his jersey flapping away like a flag during a hurricane. So I don't like the idea of slim-fitting jerseys. I don't want my Flyers to look like football players on skates (which from the concept pictures I've seen it would be similar to that). The Flyers and another team back in the mid-80s experimented with long pants. They weren't too popular with opposing goalies and were eventually dropped. The same could be said for these form-fitting jerseys. It might happen for a season then realize it isn't what they're looking for.

As for teams going back to vintage jerseys, it's great for fans of those teams, but it's a turn off to people looking into the sport.

Think about it for a second. Imagine you are a kid from.... Arkansas. You know nothing about hockey but your dad gets a raise and purchases your cable company's largest sports package, which includes every NHL game. You never watched hockey before so you decide to see what it's about. You are amazed and decide it was time to pick a team. There isn't a team in Arkansas (yet, watchout Pittsburgh!!) so you decide to watch all these games and finally pick a team. He pins it down to the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Edmonton Oilers. He wants to pick a Canadian team because that's where the game started. For this game Vancouver is wearing their vintage jersey with the hockey stick in the hockey puck, while the Oilers are wearing their metallic oil drop third jerseys. My guess is, the kid picks the Oilers.

My point is... vintage is great for one game against a division rival. But incorporating it into your daily jersey routine could weaken the image of the team for outside fans. I doubt you're going to lose fans for going forward in design instead of going backwards to the vintage stuff.

Take my Flyers for instance. With the exception of the third jersey they have had the same jersey design since 1985, a year before I was born. Before that it was 20 years of another style. The Flyers have had the luck of getting fans by the names the team was able to acquire such as Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, Dale Hawerchuk, Peter Forsberg, etc. But I bet you that the Flyers would see a major increase in ticket sales and overall merchandise sales if they changed the style of their jerseys anddd possibly the logo (which Ed Snider said he has no plans of ever redesigning the logo while he is alive).

Changes will have to be made, and I'm sure the bulk of hockey fans might not like them. But I think in the end whatever happens, we'll be happy as long as pucks arent glowing on TV.

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Good response and insight. I'll agree with some of your sentiments, but overall, I probably disagree about certain things. The vintage Canucks jerseys are vibrant. You really can't tell they're throw backs. I think they're just as likely to attract a new fan, who has no idea they are vintage, as new jerseys would be (assuming you can cope with green...). As for the slim fits - I share the overall feeling that you do, and as a long time hockey fan, would rather my jerseys not be touched but, in the same spirit that you understand why the new fan might choose the Oil's third over a vintage looking throw back, I understand that hockey won't lose fans by adapting the jerseys for a modern era, but could gain fans who will be attracted to the sleeker, slimmer look. I also, being a Sabres fan, already have a slimmer fitting jersey to look at and I really can't say I dislike it (logo is a different story). All in all though, the NHL is always going to be held dearly by a small group and it seems doubtful that we will ever break into the majority. Personally, I'm not ashamed of that fact - I don't really want hockey to be the next baseball.

I don't want tickets to become more expensive and harder to come by, or people who barely know the game to be talking like they're coaches and GM's when I'm in a bar or restaurant. I kind of like the NHL the way it is. I just wish there was a way to give the NHL and other professional leagues more financial stability without having to exploit the game and make changes to cater to people who will never truly understand and embrace the sport. I hate going to a game, bar, etc. and sitting down next to a guy who just wants to see a fight. I can't stand the guy next to me who cheers for "Kasper" all night, just so he can have a chance at seeing someone be injured. That's not what hockey is about and there is less and less of a place for goons and pure enforcers in this league every day.

There are a ton of guys I know who go to games because they love the hits and the fights, but can't stand the "smacking the puck back and forth". These guys are all primarily football fans, and as much as the league benefits from them attending hockey games and buying hockey merchandise, I sometimes wish they wouldn't. I like the hockey purist, who understands the thrill of an odd-man rush. Hell, I have the most respect for someone whose familiar enough with the sport to get excited over a simple flick of the wrist. People who don't know the game probably don't even see it - they miss it entirely - but those of us who have played, or watched for ages see it and we know that with that simple flick of the wrist and drop of the shoulder, Jaromir Jagr made the defenseman drop out of position and created a passing lane to set up his teammate. Thats where the thrill of the game is and that's what so many people who "can't stand" hockey are missing.

So, fine, if we have to change the jerseys up and move into the future, in order to bring in new fans and more stability for the league, so be it. Even if the fans the changes attract won't ever truly understand the finer points of the game, it's revenue for the league and it helps keep my favorite sport on the ice. If I have to sacrifice the old school jersey design so that I can still be brought to the edge of my seat by that subtle flick of the wrists and precision pass, than so be it. Besides, the olympic and Sabres jerseys haven't looked half bad and the benefits (water weight) that the new designs might bring about seem worth it if it means they'll be a few more exciting plays per night. I say bring it on. Inwardly, I'm not really keen on the NHL becoming "mainstream", but logically, I understand that we need to do everything we can to keep revenue at a maximum. I'll make what sacrifices I have to in order to continue enjoying my game.

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Where do I get those new socks with vertical stripe?

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Where do I get those new socks with vertical stripe?

The ones seen in the olympics? I'm not sure if they're available for casual hockey players at this time. I'd love a few pairs myself, but I don't think they're being sold retail - only issued for the international play.

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I think we need to be carefully progressive on the supposed revolution of NHL clothing, like everything in the new NHL. Some of it we will like, some of it will annoy us, but not enough for us to beat our heads in, and some of it will be just plain terrible.

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Are there any images of these new jerseys? I keep hearing about them but have yet to actually see one. That being said, don't mess with perfection.

But that's just me.

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