One thing that sets every pro-sports league apart is the design of the uniforms.
The National Lacrosse League is no different, with each team striving to make a statement on the floor with their outfits.
This year, the NLL has adopted similar style uniforms to those the NHL has, manufactured by a single company, whose name I shall not advertise at this time.
Minor rant: Every time I've seen this particular manufacturer take over production of all the uniforms for a single league (this is the third one I'm aware of), it makes things worse.
Teams change their look to conform to the new design and it invariably takes away from the uniqueness of some of the teams' outfits.
In fact, I believe this particular manufacturer wants every league to adopt a single universal style of uniform—with only a white and grey version.
Add to it the team's name and the players' numbers, written in large black numbers, in Helvetica font, and every team looks exactly the same.
Where is the uniqueness for each team?
But I digress.
As with all leagues, some of the unis are winners and some are, shall we say, not winners. And, to be fair, I think there's more good than bad in the NLL.
However, I think most of the changes to the uniforms this year are not for the better, with the exception of the ugliest uniforms in the league being only marginally improved.
Also to note, I'm not going to look at third jerseys or other one-off products.
Generally speaking, I find these things to be gimmicky money grabs that almost never improve the product.
One general comment before we get going: The NLL seems to really like red and black as a color combo—four teams out of nine have that color scheme.
Starting with the eye-damaging worst, here are all nine teams.
I mean, I can see where they're going with this design.
The color palette and general-styling strategy is obviously part of their bee-related name. But, the yellow and navy blue stripes down the arms give me a headache and it seems to be that much worse, for me, in the dark jerseys.
New for 2012 is the beehive pattern on the shoulders. Not really an improvement, although it does hide a couple of the stripes.
I suppose the upside is that they're not wearing screaming yellow jerseys with blue trim.
And that logo, the lacrosse stick with bee wings? Lame.
This is all just so very wrong.
No. Just no.
So, this is what they're calling an improvement on the 2011 model? Yeesh!
The honeycomb pattern on the shoulders of the home jersey is blue instead of yellow. The good news is this breaks up some of the hideous yellow-and-blue piping down the sleeves. The bad news is that it still looks awful.
Like, really, really bad.
And dropping the team sponsor's name on everyone's back side isn't making things look any classier, even if it might be helping pay the bills.
Sorry, Minnesota, but your uniforms are an abomination.
To be fair, there's nothing particularly wrong with the Edmonton Rush uniform.
But, the white and silver on black is just so boring. It's basically the antithesis of the Minnesota Swarm, going from brash and over-the-top to dreadfully dull.
I'm not sure what that's meant to say about the Rush or the city of Edmonton, but I'm pretty sure it's not a positive message.
If you're going to go monochrome, the design of the uniform has to be what catches your eye.
Unfortunately, there really isn't any visual element here that makes me want to sit up and take notice.
New for 2012, the Edmonton Rush away jerseys have substituted the team logo for "Edmonton" written in script, with a wee little "Rush" logo underneath.
Given that the team's logo is the coolest element of the whole scheme, this isn't an improvement.
Again, to be fair, there's nothing particularly wrong with the Rush home uniform.
The logo is fairly distinctive and kinda cool, the patterning of the shoulders, stripes and lettering all works reasonably well.
It just isn't very exciting.
Looking at the picture, I can feel my eyes drawn to whatever team the Rush are playing because they at least have some visual appeal.
The grey/silver on the shoulders, trimmed out in black, is a nice idea, as is the light-to-dark fade on the lower sleeves, but the shading isn't strong enough to really have a major visual impact, in my humble opinion.
I assume the Rush have gone with black and white because they think it's bad-ass.
But, it's only bad-ass if you look at their uniforms and are intimidated. I look at their uniforms and barely notice there's someone there.
I had the Roughnecks in third place on this list prior to seeing the new uniforms.
The new outfits are a significant step down and they've been dropped way down the list, accordingly.
Their original jerseys had a number of cool elements, from the oil derrick design down the sides, to the grey rivet pattern that outlined the black stripes down the shoulders and arms.
The new outfits eliminate all the cool and replace it with a bunch of... meh.
The arm stripes have been shortened to only cover the shoulders, the oil derricks and rivet designs are gone completely—replaced with the graduated color stripe that is now mostly standardized on the NLL's jerseys.
There is still a hint of derrick on the logos found on the shoulders which feature a big "R" with an oil derrick pattern on the back. A nice touch, but too small to notice without being up close.
While I have always kinda liked the team logo up close, it's so complicated that it really doesn't reduce effectively, so it's just a busy smudge on the jersey from more than a few feet away.
And the red shorts along with the red tops—the new design looks more like a pajama set than a uniform.
Calgary's home uniform is marginally better than their away gear, but still not anywhere near as cool as their original uniforms.
Again, we have the graduated stripe up the sides which is less than half as cool as the old oil derrick pattern. The white shorts look silly—they needed to stick with the black bottoms they used to have.
Overall, the Roughnecks have gone to a new design that is decidedly unremarkable—proving once again that change is always bad.
Has a professional team's uniforms ever looked more like some kid's jammies?
The Wings' new outfits are fairly similar to the Calgary Roughnecks' new outfits. Fortunately for Philly, their winged "W" logo is pretty sweet and this element alone pushes them up the charts over Calgary.
The sleeves in full black give them a little more oomph than the Calgary away gear as well, so they do have marginally more going on.
However, going with red shorts under the red jersey just makes them look like they're getting ready for a big ol' pajama party sleep over, not a lacrosse game.
And there's the now-ubiquitous graduated color stripe up the sides.
That element, which is now part of four out of nine uniforms, gets real old real quick once you start seeing it everywhere.
Once again, the Wings have a home uniform design that is nearly identical to the new Roughnecks gear.
The key differences—which make all the difference in the world—are the red shorts and black helmet, which give the Wings a much sharper look.
The downside, as with Calgary's uniforms, is that they've taken away some of the elements of the old uniforms that made it look really cool.
Gone is the "feathered" trim that matched the wing element of their logo. In its place is solid blocks of black on the shoulders and the same light-to-dark stripe up the sides that practically every other team in the NLL now has.
Unfortunate, too, because I used to think the Philly uniforms were among the best looking in all of sport.
Now, they're just okay.
The Stealth's uniforms are mostly unchanged from previous years, although they have swapped out their old "bullseye" logo for one that now has the team name over a pattern of Washington state.
I consider this a downgrade. Overall, the look, though, is pretty sharp.
They've done a nice job of integrating some bold, red and black coloring down the sleeves and along the collar as well as some black piping up the sides to give the uniform some real pop.
Add in the black shorts to provide a little contrast and you really have something cool going on.
I consider the Stealth's away gear to be slightly more visually appealing than the home gear.
The black uniform with white shoulders and red piping looks sharp, so there's some decent visual appeal going on here.
I still don't love the new logo, however.
All in all, this looks fairly bad-ass, which is what every athlete wants when you get right down to it.
Teal can be a difficult color to get away with, but I think the Knighthawks pull it off admirably.
That said, I think their away outfits are a little too monochromatic for me.
Aside from the graduated color stripe up the sides—which half the league has this year—it's all too much the same.
I mean, that is A LOT of teal for your eyes to deal with. Perhaps if they had gone with their navy blue contrast color for their shorts or something?
Just throwing it out there.
They may not look genuinely bad-ass in their teal duds, but the blue-on-blue color scheme works and gives them a real sharp looking uni.
With the teal shoulders and shorts, this outfit has just the right amount of color to make things look snappy without getting overwhelming.
The stars on the collar are also a nice touch.
The same light-to-dark side stripe that half the league has adopted shows up again here, which takes away from the uniqueness of the outfit, but they have a bold logo, and the whole look is quite distinct and impressive.
The Rock have made very few changes to their uniforms this year.
The color from the bottom of the jerseys used to run up the sides and the undersides of the sleeves. The new jerseys eliminate most of that, with a little color remaining on the bottoms of the sleeves.
My biggest complaint with the Toronto uniforms historically is that the blue, red and white color scheme is a little overdone in the sports universe.
I've deducted a couple points on that basis, although there is a reason so many teams have gone with those colors—they work well together.
I am finding the white home jerseys a little plain as a result of the removal of that color up the sides and arms.
I'm also finding that the wavy business in that color pattern at the bottom of the jersey—which is meant to reflect the similar wavy pattern of the maple leaf in the team logo—looks more like an arrow pointing at the player's crotch than anything else.
Probably not the look they were going for.
I find the blue uniforms a little better looking than the home gear, although they fall victim once again to being a little too monochromatic this year.
The red stripe at the bottom of the jersey just kind of blends into the shorts, leaving the look of a massive field of blue on top.
The downward-pointing swirl under the logo on the away jersey is even more prominent than on the home jersey, drawing a big blue "look at my groin" on all the Rock players.
And why is it that every Toronto team needs to have a maple leaf in their logo?
It's like they all feel that they are the rightful claimants to the title of "Canada's Team," which is BS and makes the rest of Canada hate Toronto just a little bit more.
For me, both the new uniforms are a half step down from the previous versions, but still pretty decent overall.
I kind of dig their logo.
It is right on the verge of being too fussy or complicated, but still has some flair and manages to stay on the good side of the line.
The uniforms themselves are largely unchanged from years past, with only minor cosmetic changes.
As with other teams in the league who didn't make any significant changes, this seems to be a good choice resulting in a positive effect.
The away uniform is a little on the bland side, being all black, but there is just enough color to hold my interest when you mix in the numbers and lettering.
As opposed to Edmonton's monochrome scheme, this black-dominated look works for me.
The numbering and logos on the sleeves help to break up all the black and are a nice change from the standard stripes and shoulder colors everyone else uses.
There's enough black and orange on the Bandits' home jersey to keep it from looking too stark. I do like that they maintained the full black and orange stripe from the shoulders all the way down the sleeves to the hands.
The purple trim in the logo's lettering is thankfully not repeated anywhere else and is subtle enough to add just a hint of flavour without making things silly.
Mix in some black shorts for contrast and you have yourself a nice looking uniform with some real appeal.
Overall, a very solid piece of work.
There aren't many changes here—and that's a good thing.
This is a damn fine outfit and I quite like it.
The color scheme includes maroon, rather than red, which sets it apart just a tad from all the other red and black uniforms in the league.
There's a nice balance of color, between the black shoulders and lettering, the maroon on the bottom of the sleeves, the collar, and the shorts, and the line drawing of the mountain scape on the bottom adds a nice little touch as well.
They've also adopted the graduated dark-to-light color up the sides of the jersey, like many of the other teams with this new jersey style.
The team logo is simple, clear, and pretty sweet.
I like the tusks on the "M" logo—it's a well thought-out, well designed emblem.
The Mammoth away uniform is even sharper than their home gear.
The mountains at the bottom of the jersey are more prominent on the away jersey, standing out in white against the maroon and black background.
It really pops!
The maroon is really eye catching on this uniform, giving them a dark, strong look that sets them apart from the rest of the league.
This is a winner, no question about it.
Well done, Colorado! This uniform is definitely a keeper.