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Dallas Stars reveal road to rebrand with loads of concepts

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Dallas Stars reveal road to rebrand with loads of concepts

About 18 months ago the Dallas Stars unleashed Victory Green upon the world. Now we're finally getting the whole story on how it came to be and what might have been.

The team released a video today that explained the process and included something to please every Icethetics reader — loads of concept logos and jersey prototypes. Check out some still frames from the video below.

It's fascinating to see how many options the Stars went through before ending up where they did. It sounds like many within the organization, lead by TV color analyst Daryl Reaugh, were eager to see the team go blue to match the other pro sports teams in Dallas — the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers and even MLS's FC Dallas.

In the end, the Stars decided to pave their own path, not only sticking with green, but introducing their own custom shade of green — Victory Green. The video talks about the NHL encouraging the Stars to stay green so they could own the color.

Perhaps the league forgot about the Minnesota Wild, who also wear a lot of green. And it's funny when you think about it because Minnesota itself is the only reason the Stars wear green today. The North Stars wore it and the franchise chose not to change the logo after relocating in 1993.

In fairness to the Stars, theirs is a much lighter green than the Wild's, of course. But that Minnesota connection cannot be denied. Here's the full video.

If you want more to read on the Stars' rebrand in 2013, I wrote a three-part review after being invited by the team to cover the unveiling event last year. I got the chance to speak with Stars broadcast/creative AVP Jason Walsh, who spearheaded the rebrand project.

So what do you think of the many concepts above? Any that stand out to you? Did they make the right call ending up where they did?

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Capitals, Canucks past prototype jerseys surface on ebay

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Capitals, Canucks past prototype jerseys surface on ebay

Tonight, we're taking a look at a couple of purported Reebok Edge prototype jerseys thanks to one ebay seller with a rare stockpile. And they are fascinating!

Photos by manonthemoon12345 via ebay

A current auction listing from manonthemoon12345 features what's described as a "rare authentic" Washington Capitals prototype jersey. The date on the tag appears to read Nov. 16, 2005 and notes it is a second version.

Most intriguing about this jersey is the crest which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Caps' Weagle logo — which currently graces the shoulders of their primary uniforms. In this version, the U.S. Capitol dome silhouette in the negative space is much more pronounced.

The design of the jersey itself, on the other hand, is much closer to the final product that was finally implemented during the 2007-08 season.

Photos by manonthemoon12345 via ebay

Back in July, another listing from the same seller offered an alleged "rare authentic" Vancouver Canucks sweater. The tag was dated September 2006, a full year before the blue and green jerseys were introduced.

This one is just painful. So many bullets dodged. First, remember that Reebok template I railed against earlier this week? The one Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Tampa Bay all used in 2007. Looks like Reebok was trying to push it on Vancouver as well.

Second, it looks like the Canucks considered sticking with the 1997 color scheme. I call it a dodged bullet, but in truth it was a unique look. No other team before or since has used it. But green and blue are definitely more fitting.

The best thing this prototype had going for it was the lack of the word "VANCOUVER" arched across the upper chest. Everything else about it... yikes.

What do you think of these jerseys? Have you seen any other interesting NHL prototypes?

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The Washington Winter Classic logo that didn't make the cut

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The Washington Winter Classic logo that didn't make the cut

Here's something cool. A couple of Icethetics readers pointed me to the Dribbble account of graphic designer Andrew Sterlachini.

It turns out Andrew not only created the crest on the Washington Capitals' 2015 NHL Winter Classic jersey, but he designed at least one other logo that didn't make the cut.

You can see above the W intertwined with a shape that looks like a D on one side and a C on the other. As clever logos go, this is by far one of my new favorites. It's just a shame the Caps didn't see fit to use it in some way. (At least not yet.)

If you're on Dribbble, give Andrew a follow.

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How the timeless Hartford Whalers logo came to be

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How the timeless Hartford Whalers logo came to be

A lot of you have been enjoying my series of NHL logo origin stories from the 1990s. Many of those designs were short-lived. Those that weren't are anything but uncontroversial today.

But roll back the clock and we find one of the most universally admired logos of all time.

In 1979, the WHA folded and the New England Whalers were one of only four teams absorbed into the NHL. The franchise was renamed and in need of a new logo. Peter Good was the designer hired to create a new identity for the Hartford Whalers.

On June 29, WFSB-TV in Hartford, Conn. aired an interview between Face the State host Dennis House and Good — from the Connecticut design firm Cummings & Good. During the 9-minute conversation, the two talked about the genesis of the logo and all things Whalers.

If you can't watch the video above, I've transcribed the good stuff below.

Things kicked off with an image of the old New England Whalers logo.

Peter Good: This was given to me as the starting point really. They wanted a new, fresh identity. They just moved to Hartford. There was a lot of excitement in the community. 
Like any project, I meet with them. In this case Howard Baldwin, Bill Barnes and I think Jack Kelly was the manager at that time.
Dennis House: And so you started sketching?
Still frame from WFSB-TV

Still frame from WFSB-TV

PG: This is where all design projects start. Those are the original designs that I presented not as a design solution but as a way of thinking about the identity.
Curiously, when I did these, Howard Baldwin actually said, "I like the lower right one." Shown here. With the trident. The trident was a reference to the harpoons.
I said, "Why do you like that one?" He said, "The 'H' is there." So I said, "Wait a minute, that was a not a requirement. It was just an idea that I had. But now that I know that it limits the field. So let me have another three or four days to play with it, to go back and rethink this given the idea it should have the 'H' integrated.
DH: And you came up with this?
Still frame from WFSB-TV

Still frame from WFSB-TV

PG: This is how it started. I was bothered by the idea of harpoons anyway because their mascot is a whale. So why would you have a symbol that suggests killing your mascot? That seems contradictory.
So I said, what do we have to work with? I have the letterforms 'W' and 'H' and I have a whale. And whales are kind of amorphous creatures. They're not like a tiger where you could characterize it very simply. But the whale's tail is very, very formally interesting. It's symmetrical. So you have three symmetrical elements to play with. This was a gift.
hfd79.jpg
PG: I call it a marriage of convenience between a whale's tail, a letterform 'W' and the offspring is essentially the negative 'H'.
DH: What was the public's reaction when it was first unveiled and first showed up on uniforms?
PG: They liked it. My wife Jan and I designed the first uniforms. There was overwhelming support. I think a lot of it had to do with the idea of Hartford having a professional team. 

From there, the two discussed the process of designing a logo in today's climate. The video on WFSB's website becomes choppy at this point, cutting out parts of the conversation. It's impossible to know what they were saying but it seemed insightful. There's mention of focus groups and other things that tend to water down great designs.

Peter Good, Cummings & Good // Still frame from WFSB-TV

Peter Good, Cummings & Good // Still frame from WFSB-TV

Then came the question a lot of fans are curious about.

DH: Who owns the rights to the logo?
PG: Aha, well. This has been controversial since a long time ago. The NHL is licensing it and it's really been a cash cow for them. They are making a profit. We have started doing some things of our own in that we never did sign the rights over. We were asked but we never signed the document. It was never work-for-hire. I still have the check for a dollar that I never cashed to make it legal.
DH: So where do we go from here? Can you sell items?
PG: We're doing some shirts. The products that we're doing are quite different from what I've seen in the marketplace. When we first started this, Jan and I designed a lot of items. It was called the Designer Series and we sold them through the Whalers shop and it was umbrellas and tote bags and shirts and aprons. But they were very sophisticated. Beautiful embroidery. Very subtle. And to tell you the truth, it wasn't successful because sports fans like it big and brassy.

In wrapping up the conversation, House and Good mused on the possibility of the NHL returning to Hartford and whether the name and logo could be resurrected.

DH: How would you feel if the team came back and they hired someone else to change the logo completely?
PG: Believe me, that's happened before. Logos are things that every designer likes to think are timeless and enduring but some that I thought would last for many, many years tend to change.
There's so many factors. The team starts losing games, everything's on the table. Change the uniforms, change the logo and so forth.

Good may be referencing the fact that for their final five years in Hartford, the Whalers used an altered version of his logo with grey added to the color scheme. That came about in 1992.

hfd92.jpg

Seriously, what is it about the '90s?

FURTHER READING: A Tail of a Whale · Aug 21, 2010

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Designing the ’90s NHL, Part 3: Epilogue

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Designing the ’90s NHL, Part 3: Epilogue

Before you dig in, first catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.

What began as a feature on an unused Flyers third jersey design took me in unexpected directions. Exchanging emails with Ken Loh over the weekend got me thinking a lot about the jerseys and logos the NHL introduced in the 1990s.

PUT SOME TEAL ON IT

The decade welcomed nine expansion teams, including a pair in 1993 — one of which was the Florida Panthers. To my surprise Ken and The Mednick Group also worked on proposals for them. These logos have never been seen outside that circle before today.

These designs reminded me of a Miami Herald article from 2010 by George Richards.

Bill Torrey said he had to fight with then-owner Marti Huizenga regarding the team's colors and uniforms back in 1993. Said she preferred the Marlins black-and-teal color scheme, which then, was all the rage.

That quote is finally validated visually with this work which demonstrates exactly how black and teal might have been used. But Ken admits he was not particularly proud of it. 

I’m actually really glad that never saw the light of day since I felt it was too cartoony. I much preferred the simpler, more emblematic approach which, [in my honest opinion], had better potential for a longer lifespan.
However, I was a lowly designer, pretty fresh out of school at the time and, despite my credentials of having come to the agency with the New England Patriots work under my belt, I didn’t really have much pull back then.

Ken opposed incorporating a hockey stick into the design. Above you can see an unfinished sketch he shared — a version of the panther without the stick.

Other concepts from the Panthers' logo design process can be found on display these days in the team's arena in Sunrise, Fla. On the wall are framed drawings of early sketches.

My thanks go to Drew Goldfarb and David Silverstone for providing the original photos.

SURVIVING THE ’90s

The Panthers aside, I starting thinking about how many new logos were introduced during that most design-challenged of decades. How many are still around? The period was notorious for trendy designs that lacked staying power. Is that a fair judgment?

So I went back. Back to black. When many of us think back hockey design trends of the '90s, we conjure a simple but derisive acronym: BFBS — black for black's sake. In 1989, four NHL teams wore black jerseys. A decade later that number had tripled — 12 out of 28 teams had a black sweater in their arsenal. Let's begin there.

Be sure to click through the logos and read the captions as they offer insight into the designs as well as the years they were introduced and subsequently jettisoned.

Teams like Coyotes, Kings and Sabres suffered through some unfortunate designs at that time. Others like the Lightning and Stars were just plain boring and lacking in any sense of style — good or bad. But don't start thinking the non-black jerseys were immune.

In fact, these were some of the worst offenders of the '90s. Look at them all. What do they have in common? Ken Loh said it. The hockey sticks. Only someone who isn't a hockey fan would do that to a team logo.

And while the Caps logo above may not have a stick — though the secondary mark sure did (a lousy puck, too) — I'd bet money those open claws once held a stick at some point during the design process. Kudos to whoever forced that eagle to release it.

I'm certainly making the '90s out to be like the Dark Ages of hockey logo design. But truthfully, it wasn't all bad. Some logos are still around — after a bit of nip and tuck.

Perhaps more fascinating were two of the last logos to come out of this decade. The Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets didn't play their first games until 2000, but their logos were absolutely products of the '90s — though they couldn't have been more different.

Have I warmed you enough yet to the idea that not everything produced in the 1990s was bad? Because it wasn't. There are a handful of '90s NHL logos I haven't mentioned here. You know what they are. I held them to the end for the catharsis.

Let's bring it full circle. Back to the Sunshine State.

See? There were some gems. Granted, the majority were flops. Of the 20 logos that debuted in the 1990s, 15 did not live to see drinking age (21, I mean). But the ones that did deserved to. Survival of the fittest, you might say.

But didn't I just berate the Sharks and Predators for being too intricate? Why do I suddenly love the Panthers logo? Look closely. The difference is in the details. For Florida, it adds to the animal ferocity. It adds to the design — rather than detracting from it.

The Hurricanes logo was designed by a copy writer and hides a hockey puck at its core. Cardinal sins? Maybe, but you try to do better. No one else has yet. And there's been ample opportunity. So I'm happy to see it entering its 18th year. Stick tap to Peter.

As for the Avs and Blues, well there's simply no way to improve upon perfection. Period.

I grew up in the '90s and it's sometimes hard for me to fathom that it was two decades ago. I still feel like a kid most days. Time flies. But here's the thing. I was the target audience for those trendy designs back then. And now I do this. So was it successful marketing after all?

You be the judge.

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