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Canucks freak out Vancouver with green fashion jersey

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Canucks freak out Vancouver with green fashion jersey

Photos: @canucksstore via Instagram / @QuinnMellCobb via Twitter

The Vancouver Canucks made waves by introducing an eye-catching new product to their team store this week — a green fashion jersey featuring a Johnny Canuck crest.

Let's start by defining "fashion jersey" for the uninitiated. The first thing to know is that it is not a game jersey. You won't see the Sedin twins wearing it on the ice. It is produced solely as a piece of team merchandise no different from a hoodie or T-shirt emblazoned with a club logo.

It's difficult for many Icethetics readers to understand fashion jerseys because we tend to want the real deal or nothing. So these threads are generally targeted to a younger crowd less interested in tradition and more interested in what looks "cool."

In fact, there's a popular line of fashion jerseys out right now from Reebok called Cross Check. They're dark grey with black stripes and an accent color.

Screen shot from Shop.NHL.com

Those are very obviously not game jerseys.

So the reason for all the commotion in Vancouver is that this green jersey is manufactured to look like the Reebok Edge Premier (replica) version of a game jersey. Leading to the obvious question: Are the Canucks going to wear these at some point?

Instinct tells me no. This is probably more of a fan marketing strategy than an effort to rebrand the franchise on the ice. Having said that, if they sell well, anything is possible.

By the way, Icethetics has showcased green Johnny Canuck jersey concepts in the past. Last year, Rob Sulava created one that feels quite similar to what's hanging on a store shelf in Vancouver right now. And another design from Ben Macdonald in January even uses all the same logos.

I praised the use of the full body Johnny Canuck logo in those concepts, but seeing it here in the real world — not really a fan. Just looks out of place. I'll still push to see the V logo front and center at some point, though. And I'm absolutely convinced the Canucks should introduce a green jersey option immediately. What are they waiting for?

What do you think of this jersey? If you're a Canucks fan, will you buy one?

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NHL exec declares advertising is coming to sweaters

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NHL exec declares advertising is coming to sweaters

I've spent most of today contemplating a tweet.

A lot of people who are passionate about hockey sweaters read this blog, so I wanted to take the time to work out a measured response to the notion.

My gut reaction, of course, was probably quite similar to yours. Ridiculous. The NHL would never do that.

Would they?

Advertising on NHL uniforms is the very antithesis of what Icethetics stands for — great design in hockey.

I created this site out of veneration for hockey sweaters — during a moment in history when Reebok was given the green light to homogenize our league with generic, uninspired templates.

If what Allan Walsh reported today is true, it'll turn out I had arrived just in time to cover the death knell of the hockey sweater as we knew it.

It'll also mean Icethetics' days are numbered. If the NHL begins adding anything more than manufacturer logos to its uniforms, I'm done.

This website is done.

Was that measured enough?

– – –

I realize what I just said sounds like a bad knee jerk overreaction. It's not. I've thought about this a lot.

I thought about it just two months ago when the NHL's owners rejected the idea of placing ads on player uniforms — even though they could make a lot of money on it.

But the fact that they were taking the idea seriously enough to even have a vote was a bad sign, in my mind. And the fact that major money is on the line makes the whole thing absolutely inevitable.

We're on a collision course with NHL sweater ads and there's very little any of us can do about it.

Proof is right in front of us. Other leagues already have jersey ads. The European leagues are practically known for it.

Here in North America, it's less prevalent but a number of AHL and ECHL teams wear advertising — usually just a single sponsor with a small patch on the chest or below the number on the back.

But those leagues lack the big ticket draws like Steven Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin. So the extra revenue can often be critical to the operation.

NHL teams, on the other hand, aren't struggling to survive. Even at their worst, they are organizations valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. One even tops a billion. A billion dollars. You can't even begin to contemplate what kind of money that is.

Advertising on jerseys would be absolutely nothing more than pure, unfiltered greed. And despite what Gordon Gekko might have you believe, it's not good. Not here.

Not on a hockey sweater.

In fact, the league has gone to great lengths in recent years to keep non-manufacturer logos off the uniforms. Consider the major sponsor events.

Bridgestone sponsors the Winter Classic. Coors Light sponsors the Stadium Series. Their logos are everywhere — except the jersey patches, where a special unbranded version of each logo is used.

Branded and unbranded logos for the 2015 NHL Winter Classic

Branded and unbranded logos for the 2015 NHL Winter Classic

At least they're doing that right for now.

What's more, sit down in any NHL arena. There's literally no direction you can look to avoid being sold something. Ads covers every available space — even the very surface on which the game is played.

Then there's this.

Walsh mocks "hockey purists" because as an agent, he's conditioned to worship that almighty dollar and ignore what brings fans to the arena night after night. It's the heart and the tradition of the game.

So that's fine, but here's the thing. Fans don't clamor to buy the latest dasher board. The dasher board doesn't represent an aspiration.

We wear the sweater. Proudly.

Our hopes are reflected in it.

The sweater is a symbol of history and tradition. We rally around it. It means something. The greatest teams have never changed it.

It's bad enough when a club doesn't show enough respect for its history in its uniform. But we won't stand idly by and see it violated for profit.

Tough talk to be sure — but what's a fan to do, really? Money is a powerful thing in this world.

– – –

The sad fact is some NHL teams have already taken to wearing sponsor logos on their practice jerseys. Most of us never see them, but there are some jarring examples.

Photo from Los Angeles Kings

Photo from Los Angeles Kings

Los Angeles wears a yellow McDonald's logo. But Kings colors are black and silver.

Photo by Chris Smith/Icethetics

Photo by Chris Smith/Icethetics

Tampa Bay has a red DEX Imaging logo. But Lightning colors are blue and white.

Photo from Detroit Red Wings (2010)

Photo from Detroit Red Wings (2010)

And Detroit was the first to do this in 2010, having worn a blue Amway logo. But Red Wings colors, as anyone alive could tell you, are red and white.

You don't need me to tell you these sponsors' colors clearly clash with the teams' colors in alarming ways. Is this really the future of NHL game sweaters?

As an admirer of great design in hockey, I'd be left with no choice but to retire Icethetics. There'd be nothing left worth writing about.

Don't get me wrong, I am a hockey fan first. I'll still be in front of the TV to root on the Lightning every night from my living room with the same unwavering passion I've had since my very first game more than two decades ago.

Actually, fervor is a better word to describe it.

But if the sweater is desecrated in this way, there's simply no longer a reason for this blog to exist.

I'll have to find a new hobby.

– – –

Obviously, I have strong feelings on this subject. It'd be hard to keep up with a blog like this if I didn't.

But my opinions aren't really that important. Tell me about yours. What do you think of the idea of jersey ads in the NHL? Catastrophic or no big deal?

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Blackhawks reveal familiar sweater for 2015 NHL Winter Classic

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Blackhawks reveal familiar sweater for 2015 NHL Winter Classic

The Chicago Blackhawks will look very familiar when they take the ice at Nationals Park for the 2015 NHL Winter Classic in Washington, D.C.

As promised, the Hawks unveiled their newest outdoor game sweater earlier this evening — a design inspired by a uniform the team first wore almost 60 years ago, way back in 1957.

You can find more photos on their website.

At first glance, it looks a lot like the current road uniform. It kind of is — with a few differences.

  • The tomahawk shoulder patch has retro colors and is moved down the sleeve.
  • There's a lace-up collar.
  • The red outline is removed from the jersey numbers.
  • There's no black on the cuffs of the sleeves.

The reaction to the jersey unveiling on Twitter was mostly negative, despite the fact that it's nearly identical to a sweater many consider among the greats in NHL history.

That said, I'm not surprised. We've grown accustomed to traditional yet dramatically different jerseys for the Winter Classic. In fact, the Blackhawks were a great example of that in 2009.

This is certainly traditional but it doesn't feel different.

I am surprised, however, that the Blackhawks decided to be so conservative. During the 1920s and '30s, the franchise wore striking black and white sweaters that would've looked great against what the  Capitals will have on New Year's Day.

Perhaps they're holding out for a second Winter Classic in the Windy City? Wishful thinking maybe.

Regardless, I have to admit I'm among those that find this jersey to be a disappointment. It's not a bad design, but a little creativity goes a long way. And there's a lot in Chicago's historical arsenal that would've been cool for the NHL's marquee event.

But that's just me. What do you think of the Hawks' Winter Classic jersey choice?



Uniforms for the 2015 NHL Winter Classic in Washington, D.C.

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Blackhawks will unveil 2015 Winter Classic jersey Wednesday

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Blackhawks will unveil 2015 Winter Classic jersey Wednesday

The wait is nearly over for our first glimpse at the sweater the Chicago Blackhawks will wear to the 2015 NHL Winter Classic in Washington, D.C.

The team announced this afternoon that the jersey will be unveiled tomorrow at 5 PM CT — and it will be streamed live on their website.

The Washington Capitals, who are hosting the big New Year's Day game this season, showed us their uniform back in September.

It's red which tells us the Blackhawks are likely to wear white or the ever present "vintage white" that's gripped the NHL in recent years.

Earlier today, though, a Chicago sports bar called The Pony got people excited with a tweet implying this is what the new jersey would look like.

Before you get excited, I have to point out that this is nothing more than a well-executed fan-made concept designed by Ryan Haslett, a friend of Icethetics (he's actually featured on the Concepts page today). The design was posted in August.

The bar's graphic artist obviously just grabbed the first thing he found in a Google search. Dope.

Here's the full version of Ryan's work.

Concept art by Ryan Haslett, HJC

For the record, since the bar's tweet was getting so much play, the Hawks did eventually reference it.

Looking forward to the sneak peeks as well as the big unveil. Tomorrow looks to be a fun day for all us jersey geeks!

Washington Capitals' 2015 NHL Winter Classic uniform

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Utah Grizzlies celebrate Halloween in skeleton style

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Utah Grizzlies celebrate Halloween in skeleton style

The Batman theme jerseys we saw from Toledo the other day were cool. But not to be outdone, the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies went all out on Halloween night with these skeleton uniforms!

Images from Utah Grizzlies

What makes this theme night stand out is that they went beyond just the jerseys. Even the pants and socks were made to look like bones.

Impressively, the club raised more than $17,000 for St. Jude Children's Hospital in the post-game auction of the special sweaters. That's just awesome.

Unfortunately, the spooky costumes did nothing to rattle the visiting Colorado Eagles, who won 6-2.

But wait, there's more!

The Grizzlies are also celebrating their 20th anniversary season with a special jersey. The crest reads 1995–2014 — though it probably should say 2015. But the franchise's history isn't quite so straightforward.

The team we know today as the Grizzlies actually began play in Utah after a dormant ECHL franchise was resurrected in 2005. That franchise was founded in 1981 as the Nashville South Stars in the old Central Hockey League.

Two years later, the team moved to the Atlantic Coast Hockey League and became the Virginia Lancers. During a decade which saw a couple more name changes and a couple league changes, the franchise ultimately became a founding member of the East Coast Hockey League in 1988.

In 1993, the moved to Alabama and became the Huntsville Blast for one season. After that, they spent seven in Florida as the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks.

In 2001, the team relocated yet again to Georgia and got one of the greatest nicknames in minor league hockey history — the Macon Whoopee. Not kidding. But that only lasted a year, followed by a year as the Lexington Men-o-War in Kentucky.

In 2003, the franchise folded again and stayed that way for two years before it was mercifully transferred out of the south and sent west to Utah.

So where does the 20th anniversary claim come from? Glad you asked. The original Utah Grizzlies franchise began play in 1995 in the International Hockey League. It was one of the teams that jumped to the American Hockey League when the IHL folded in 2001.

In 2005, the franchise suspended operations while searching for a new owner. That's when the ECHL came knocking. But that original Grizzlies AHL franchise was reborn in 2007 as the Lake Erie Monsters.

I don't know what anyone could possibly do with that information. But there you have it.

So... how about those skeleton jerseys?

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