I've been really fascinated by Olympic hockey in the last few weeks. Never used to be a fan. Didn't really care about international hockey. After having watched all or parts of every single game of the men's tournament in Vancouver, I've changed my mind.
Now that we're a day away from the games that determine who will play for the gold, I thought I'd share some observations I've made. Feel free to share yours as well.
- The Vancouver Connection Most teams are using the same fonts on their jerseys. Obviously, Nike was heavily involved in making all the uniforms look uniform, but I think it's strange that 7 of the 12 teams in the tournament use the same font found on the Vancouver Canucks' jerseys: United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Belarus and Germany. (It's called Agency.)
- Canada's Tradition I thought it stranger still that Team Canada is the only one using traditional/standard block letters and numbers, similar to the San Jose Sharks. Interesting that 4 members of the Sharks play for Canada. Coincidence?
- Seeing Red Every team except Sweden has red in their uniforms. Seven of 12 teams have red jerseys (if you count Latvia's maroon as a shade of red). Ten of the 12 countries represented have red in their flags, which usually symbolizes courage and sacrifice — as in sprawling out in front of a Zdeno Chara slapshot. Only Finland and Sweden do not use red in their national flags.
- Another Option The United States is the only team with a third jersey. In terms of striping, it's a dead ringer for the New York Rangers' white sweater. It's meant to be a throwback to the jersey worn by the Americans in 1960 at Squaw Valley, commemorating the country's first gold medal in hockey.
- Czech Out the Numbers The Czech Republic uses the same number font as the Atlanta Thrashers. So Pavel Kubina's No. 77 looks the same on both jerseys. (Would've worked for Ondrej Pavelec's No. 31 too but he never saw action.) The Czechs still use Agency for the nameplate though. Only Belarus has a unique number font.
- Neutral Numbers Switzerland the Scandinavian nations, Sweden, Finland and Norway, all use a Futura-type font for their sweater numbers. The nameplates appear to be something like Akzidenz-Grotesk, if you care to know.
- Canada's Collar Modification The white stripe around the collar of Canada's new sweaters mysteriously disappeared before the first game. Graeme wrote in to say it made the collars too tight and "the players had trouble getting them on."
- Which Hossa is Which? Normally when brothers play for the same team, their first initials will be used on the nameplates. For example, on the Czech team Zbynek Michalek's jersey says Z. MICHALEK while his brother Milan's says M. MICHALEK. Same with Daniel and Henrik Sedin of Sweden. The trouble starts when you have a situation like Marian and Marcel Hossa. Oddly enough, Marian's jersey says M. HOSSA. Marcel's just says HOSSA, no initial.
- Don't You Ever Wash That? The Swedish team never wore anything but their yellow jerseys throughout their run in the Vancouver tournament. According to the IIHF, Sweden had a blue jersey available, but did not get around to wearing it before being eliminated by Slovakia in the semifinals. All other teams have worn both dark and light-colored jerseys at some point.
Here are some other non-uniform-related observations:
- Ryan Has the Puck! Seven of the 23 players named to the U.S. team are named Ryan: Goalie Ryan Miller, defensemen Ryan Suter and Ryan Whitney, and forwards Ryan Callahan, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Malone and Bobby Ryan. Ryan is of Gaelic origin meaning "little king." Team Canada has yet another Ryan in Ryan Getzlaf, for a total of 8 at the 2010 Olympics.
- Too Much Tomas While scratching your head over all the Ryans, it's easy to overlook the 5 different guys named Tomas playing for the Czech Republic: Goalie Tomas Vokoun, defenseman Tomas Kaberle, and forwards Tomas Plekanec, Tomas Fleischmann, and Tomas Rolinek. Tomas comes from the Aramaic name Thomas and means "twin." The Slovaks added another with Tomas Kopecky.
- Sibling Rivalry It was cool seeing the Swedish brother-sister duo of Tobias and Tina Enstrom playing for their country. Tobias was eliminated last night. Tina still has a shot at the bronze when the women's medal games get going today.
I'm sure there's more I'm not thinking about at the moment. Did you guys notice anything interesting, jersey-related or not? Comment and I'll add some of the good ones to this post.
If you haven't been reading through the comments, here are a few things worth noting that Icethetics readers have brought up.
- The Vancouver Connection, Redux Bando makes an interesting observation. Is it a coincidence that Germany's dark jersey is nearly identical in design to the black one the Canucks wore from 1989 to 1997? Check out the striping. It's awfully similar. Or maybe we're just seeing what we want to see.
- Canada's Type Dallas, who works at a jersey shop, commented on the lettering font used on Team Canada's jerseys. Earlier, when I said it was similar to the Sharks' I was speaking in general terms so as to draw attention to the large number of San Jose players on the team. But more specifically, Dallas tells us the numbers and letters are actually the same as what the Oilers and Stars currently wear.
- Ruutut? Tom added a funny image to the discussion. I don't think this was seen by American viewers, but on TSN it was pointed out that prior to one of Finland's games (I'd assume the first one), Tuomo Ruutu skated out onto the ice for warm-ups with his name mispelled, RUUTUT. His brother Jarkko, however, had the correct spelling. Obviously, it should've said T. RUUTU. Chalk it up to seamstress error.
Thanks to everyone who contributed observations!