It's rare that fans get a look inside an NHL team's jersey design process. It's especially exciting to see prototype jerseys and imagine what might have been.
Today, John from the memorabilia-centric blog Blue Jackets Pucks and Stuff provided the world with a look at a concept from the earliest days of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's the kind of thing Icethetics readers live for.
Reader Nathan submits our latest feature, and it's a doozy! It's a Pro Player jersey concept for the Columbus Blue Jackets from around 1998 or 1999. The final jersey design was announced on October 15, 1999 so I would say this predates that announcement by at least several months. Prototype jerseys are exceedingly rare, and eagle eyed collectors are happy to obtain them when the opportunity arises.
John doesn't say where Nathan took these photos, but the jersey appears to be on display somewhere with other Blue Jackets gear around.
As far as the design, the Blue Jackets probably made the right call steering clear of the powder blue. However, they would've stood out in 2000.
Another way they would've stood out is the lace-up collar. At the time, only the Rangers and Maple Leafs had that feature. Today, of course, they're all over the place and less functional than ever.
But it was inevitable. The lace-up collar was eventually used on the team's first third jersey in 2003. It came back with the new third in 2010.
This is a nice bit of Columbus Blue Jackets history to be sure. I hope that someday fans and collectors can get a glimpse into other proposed designs from this era.
If you want to see more high-resolution photos I strongly encourage a trip to Blue Jackets Pucks and Stuff right now!
For more stories on unused NHL prototypes, check out these past blog posts: