NHL Jerseys: Grading the New Uniforms Debuting Next Season
Everyone knows the NHL and its teams are all businesses, and when it comes to the sales of merchandise, specifically replica jerseys, business is good.
While there are certainly those franchises who are exceptions, most teams seem to go through a uniform re-design every two or three years or so nowdays (except you Detroit... I'm looking at you.), and next season will see the debut of a handful of these new uniforms as well.
All in all, nine teams have confirmed that they will be wearing a new sweater at some point next season, with the possibility of there being more still to come.
However, I think it's time we take a look at the new threads that will be flashing across the ice in certain cities next season.
For those of you who are yet to see them, look no further than right here.
For those of you who want an opinion on them, I've got one of those too.
Here are my grades for the uniforms that will make their NHL debuts next season.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Edmonton Oilers will be bringing back their retro look of the Wayne Gretzkey era in the late 1980's-90's this season with this throwback road jersey that matches their orange-shouldered home uniform they adopted a few years ago.
The lines are simple and clean, the stripes are very classic, and the look brings back the memories of an Oilers team that was truly something to behold.
But as much as Oiler fans long for the days when Gretzkey, Kurri, and Messier were scoring goals by the bucketload and they were winning Stanley Cups faster than the Red Wings ever have, this new jersey just isn't going to hide the fact that the City of Champions is likely doomed to the bottom of the Western Conference yet again this year.
I don't absolutely love this uniform but at the same time I don't hate it. I think it works, and I do like the more vivid orange a lot more than the old navy and copper uniforms that wound up being a complete disaster.
I actually think I like this one a lot more than their home jersey, which those blindingly bright orange shoulders just absolutely ruin. I don't care how historic or retro it is, Edmonton fans, they look like someone cut a traffic pylon in half and stuck it over their shoulder pads to call it a jersey.
This one is much more mild however. Simple, yet powerful and definitely reminiscent of a once powerful dynasty.
Overall Grade: B+
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Nashville Predators have finally done away with the silver in their jerseys, going to a much simpler blue and white look that's a lot cleaner, and in my opinion a lot nicer.
While the new road look is pictured, Nashville is debuting both a new home and away jersey this coming season, using the slogan "Behold the Gold," referring to the new direction they've gone with their home uniforms.
Additionally, the team's logos have all changed, removing the silver and going with a yellow and blue combination on all of them.
While the road uniform is pictured above, pictures of the entire set can be found here thanks to icesthetics.com.
I'll tackle the road jersey first. I love the simplicity of the color scheme and the striping. The pinstripe that Reebok introduced into their jerseys when the EDGE system first came out has been great for some and been horrible for others. This is definitely one of the former. The thin blue stripe really pops particularly with the yellow accents.
The same can be said for the sleeves and the waist stripes, which in my opinion were a feature that was sadly for the most part lost to this new system.
The inside of the collar on both the home and away jerseys features a piano/keyboard keys pattern, which I really don't see the point of since it's going to be hidden for the most part and seen by nobody, but other than that I can't really find anything about this new away jersey I don't like.
However the keyboard does play into Nashville's musical heritage, which is kind of a nice touch. The same can be said for the numbers on each jersey, which have six strings running through them, like a guitar.
The home sweater, on the other hand, I can't say I'm too fond of, purely because the gold is more than a little overpowering. I love the blue and white accents on them, but to me the gold is just a little too bright. Not to mention, from playing experience, yellow is a terrible color to wear while playing. I'm wondering if the Preds are going to be thinking the same thing on the ice this season.
I guess it does give the Preds and advantage in that their opponents will be so blinded they won't be able to see their teammates for a pass.
Overall Grades: Home- C+, Away- A
Los Angeles Kings
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Los Angeles Kings seem like they release a new uniform just about every year now, and to nearly nobody's surprise, their black-based third jersey of the past few seasons has become their permanent home uniform which is now accompanied by their new white road jersey.
I've been a fan of the black and silver alternate sweaters pretty much since they came out: it's good to see them getting away from the purple as it really seemed to make their jerseys lose some of the power.
Same can be said for their old crown logo.
Instead, these new uniforms are entirely black, white, and silver, reminiscent of the era of Wayne Gretzkey when the Kings made their only appearance in the Stanley Cup Final (losing to the Montreal Canadiens in 1993).
Like the Predators, the Kings have brought back the waist striping which is a nice accent to go with the black pinstripes and matching black-and-silver armbands.
Their new logo, the simple "LA" crest with a miniaturized version of their former crown is much nicer in my opinion, and reflects the look of the jersey much better than the crown ever would have.
Plus, it makes a nice counterpart to the black uniform that now takes over the home game role full-time.
Additionally, the purple-shouldered crown jersey the team has been wearing for several years now has been relegated to alternate status, leading me to believe it's only a couple more years or so until it's mothballed permanently.
But in all of this, it still doesn't explain why their mascot that runs around the arena during games and annoys the heck of the spectators by making loud noises and blocking their view is a lion...
Overall Grade: A-
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The Florida Panthers have made some enormous changes this offseason in what seems like finally a decent attempt at turning the image of the team away from what it has become over the last decade.
These changes extend to far more than just the personnel in the locker room as well.
Florida has launched a new "We See Red" advertising campaign to go along with their newly redesigned home uniform that is, you guessed right, red based as opposed to the predominately blue sweater they've worn since 2007.
The jersey is largely the same as the previous red jerseys with the blue and red switched, however the design has been simplified largely by the removal of the extraneous gold piping all down the front and the sleeves.
I like that there is still a little bit of blue and gold on each sleeve in the form of an elbow cuff.
As far as I know their road uniform will remain the same except it will no longer have the blue piping.
The team will also be hanging on to their alternate uniform which they debuted in 2009.
That alternate, which uses a retro-like logo (much to my chagrin, vintage seems to be all the rage these days), features a navy and powder-blue combination that I really don't understand in relation to the team.
As for this new Panthers jersey, I like it. It's pretty mild and simple but I think makes a nice change for next season to go along with the team's sudden surge forward and newfound commitment to maybe winning more than 30 games next season.
Overall Grade: B
Tampa Bay Lightning
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Both teams in Florida are revising their closets this season. One of them did a pretty good job, and one of them did not.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are definitely in the latter if you ask me.
Even though GM Steve Yzerman really wanted to rebrand the team with their new "All In" advertising campaign, I can't help but feel they didn't go "all out" in designing this new uniform.
In fact, to me it looks like they really didn't put any effort into it at all.
The new logo looks like a crudely-drawn sketch that can be found on any high-school teenager's class notebook, and the jersey looks like they took a Maple Leafs sweater, tore the logos off, and sewed this slapdash emblem on.
And all of this is coming on the heels of the Lightning retiring what I believed was one of the best uniform systems in the NHL with their black, silver, blue and white combinations.
Now the black and silver are both gone completely and the Lightning look like they just wanted to make some serious budget cuts in the jersey aesthetics department.
The home blue is pictured, and the road white is exactly as you'd think it was: the same thing with the colors inverted, and the logo also boasts the words "Tampa Bay" over the top.
The only saving factor of these new jerseys in my opinion is that the much-loved "BOLTS" jerseys that feature the previous black pants with lightning-bolt accents will remain in use as pretty much the team's only link to their previous seasons.
The new logos look simple and boring, the jersey looks just like every other "vintage" blue shirt in the NHL (believe me at this point it's hardly "fresh" and nowhere near "original" people... get over this retro phase already) and I think the Lightning are going to be hurting from it.
Overall Grade: Home: D, Away: C-
Photo Courtesy of Fred Greenslade (Reuters) via CalgaryHerald.com
Well it's been a long time coming but the Jets have finally unveiled their new sweaters for the 2011-2012 season.
The franchise has already found itself in some pretty hot water with its fans after both a pretty poor performance at this year's Entry Draft and the unveiling of some new logos which some still really aren't too keen on.
However, those who are willing to let go of the team's past and get over the fact that this is an entirely new franchise seem to be slowly getting used to their new look, and with the debuting of their new sweaters for next season, the teams' identity has finally been really solidified.
The new uniform doesn't stray too far from the counterfeits that were circulating for a while, and really there's not many surprises in the colors scheme.
The dark blue, which they're officially calling "Polar Night Blue" is a powerful statement, and the lighter "Aviator Blue" works well to bring some accents to the uniforms.
The numbers and lettering on the back of the uniforms are very modern in style and actually fits really well in my opinion, and provides a much needed relief from this horrible trend of "vintage" uniforms that's sweeping the NHL.
The biggest accent however comes in the double-striping across the sleeves on these jerseys. This in my opinion is the only really big flaw on these uniforms.
As for the home one I think it works okay. It's a bit too bulky and attention grabbing, but the white holds its own on the rest of the jersey and the thin accent separating them out still looks rather sleek. Overall I'd say this one is pretty well done.
Their road uniform is a different story. Sorry Winnipeg fans but this one in my opinion is a bit of an eyesore. The dark-blue shoulders are way too overpowering in comparison to the rest of the uniform, and the sleeve stripes, consisting of silver (found only in one other place on the jersey - the logo) lining the "Aviator Blue" thicker stripes appear to clash horribly with the rest of the piece. It's loud, it's overpowering, and really the entire jersey appears to get lost in these two elements.
So overall I think it's a tale of two jerseys with the Jets new highly-anticipated uniforms, with one being respectable and the other being pretty deplorable.
Overall Grades: Home: B+, Away: C-
New York Islanders
Image courtesy Icethetics.com
Going along with another trend in recent years that I'm slightly more okay with, the New York Islanders will be introducing a new alternate uniform for this season that will be part of the "blackout" movement.
You guessed it, the uniform will be primarily black in color.
Much like the San Jose Sharks and the Ottawa Senators, the Isles will be getting moving slightly away from their normal primary colors of blue and orange for a new look that they'll be donning at select home games this season.
Here's the thing: this jersey hasn't been officially unveiled yet and the information out there has come from a leak from a graphic designer rumored to be working on these uniforms.
However, it has been more or less confirmed that this will likely be the new Islanders alternate for the upcoming season.
And all I have to say is this will only add to what is likely to be another long and miserable year on Long Island with the team looking like an early favorite to miss the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
This jersey looks like a four-year-old got their of an online uniform builder and went to town. The traditional orange and blue are almost non-existent and appear to clash completely with the rest of the uniform as accents.
The blue-outlined orange font reading "Islanders" in an arc looks like a design that even a high-school hockey team would be embarrassed to wear.
And for crying out loud.. grey?! Where in the history of uniform designing has that ever been a good idea as an accent color?
Additionally, the name plate is going to be another eyesore on these shirts, modeling a Flyers-like white background with blue lettering.
Overall, the new system looks like an NHL '12 custom team design gone horribly wrong and I can totally understand Isles fans outright rejection of the new system.
I don't think I've said this about any of the sweaters so far... this one is seriously embarrassing.
Overall Grade: F
Image courtesy of Icethetics.com
I really don't know how so many people hated the Ottawa Senators' most recent alternate jersey that featured the word "SENS" placed across the front.
I can understand how people hate the lack of a logo other than just the nickname across the front, but the black-themed jersey really stood out to me as a truly fresh, clean and modern jersey that actually, in my opinion, looked good.
However I'm definitely in the minority in that category and the Senators most recent third jersey is being laid to rest with the debut of a new alternate this season.
This new edition boasts an homage to "heritage" (modern jersey trend number one in this newest member of sweater unoriginality), while still being predominately black (modern jersey trend number two... seriously does anybody have any new ideas that don't suck right now?).
But here's the other thing that gets me: this whole "heritage" jersey is based off the Senators franchise from the early 1910's... a completely different franchise that no longer exists but simply had the same name.
So wait... why are the Sens celebrating a heritage that isn't even really theirs?
As for the jersey... it's one very small step short of the Canadiens "Barber Pole" fiasco from a couple seasons ago and that's not a good thing.
The giant "O" as a logo is plain and boring and really takes away from the club's modern identity.
The huge red and "vintage white" stripes (let's call it what it is people: horribly ugly beige) across the mid-section of the jersey are an eyesore and the sleeve striping doesn't help at all either.
In fact really the only thing on this uniform that isn't mind-numbingly horrible is the crests on each shoulder, one reading "Ottawa Senators" and the other reading "Sénateurs d'Ottawa."
So the Senators get a failed alternate uniform to go along with a failed heritage (I'm speaking to their modern incarnation because that's actually their history and not the 1910's team) and what will likely be a failed season as they're my early favorite to finish bottom of the East this season.
Sounds like a whale of a year coming up in the Canadian capital.
Overall Grade: D-
Toronto Maple Leafs
Image courtesy Icethetics.com
With the way the Toronto Maple Leafs have been playing over the past several seasons, it's easy to see why life-long Leaf fans have been so desperately clinging to their nostalgia for the past that it's become nearly sickening to just about everyone.
However, this new alternate uniform really only shows that now the management is pretty much at the same stage.
This new uniform is more or less a Reebok EDGE version of the jersey the Maple Leafs wore in 1967, the year the team last won the Stanley Cup. In fact the only difference (which you can't even really see in this image) is that the logo's inner-outline is a small silver stripe rather than the traditional blue one.
Sorry Toronto, but even bringing back the jerseys that won you Lord Stanley aren't going to help you into the playoffs this season (even though you could surprise me).
I'm not sure what this new uniform really demonstrates: the fact that the Leafs are afraid to move away from the same template and come up with a new idea for a sweater for once, or that they're really just out of ideas for how to improve the team.
Seriously, it's amazing how little the teams' uniform has changed over the years.
But the thing is it works for them.
Despite the fact that the sweater has undergone so many subtle revisions over the years, I really don't think I've ever come up with something too negative to say about them aside from the fact they might be just a tad on the plain and boring side (typical of "vintage" uniforms).
The typical navy-blue background and white striping will still be on this jersey and I actually like it.
It fits in well with the rest of the franchise's uniforms, and the silver outlining adds just the slightest touch of class if you ask me, giving some shimmer to what is already a pretty storied uniform (kind of like a platinum necklace on an already beautiful and respected lady).
So I give the Leafs credit for this one. For a vintage uniform I'm actually very fond of it.
Overall Grade: A-
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