Review: New Star Rising, Part 3

Photo from Dallas Stars (via Facebook)

First, my apologies for the delay. I know you were expecting this review Monday (probably because I told you to) but events conspired to keep me busy elsewhere. Not only did I have 11 pages worth of polls to post (IceHL logo voting!) but there's also that pesky day job of mine.

The Dallas Stars unveiled their new logos and uniforms at an event last Tuesday. Let's pick things up at the end of that event, when I got some close-up, hands-on time with the two new sweaters.

After the fans departed the Winspear Opera House, the media mob of which I was now a member crowded around three men up on the stage. Jamie Benn, Mike Modano and Stars owner Tom Gaglardi had a lot of microphones and cameras pointed at them, mine included.

But to be perfectly honest, I didn't care what Benn and Modano were saying. I wasn't there to cover hockey operations. I was there to cover the new branding. So while the "real" reporters were squeezing in for questions about offseason training habits and plans for next season, I was squeezing in for photos of the brand new threads.

Initial Reactions

The first thing I noticed when Benn and Modano stepped out onto the stage, this is a very striking green. Truthfully, I took a moment to consider whether I was even awake. Here I am sitting in Dallas watching the Stars unveil new logos and uniforms — and it turns out they're the greatest shade of green I could imagine — something I've been pushing hard for over the past six years. Was it really real?

But a dream it was not. Or if it was, it had come true in that moment. The Stars' new look feels like one of the better designs we might see on the Concepts page — where many readers would undoubtedly declare it would never come to fruition. But this one did.

As we get started, the one thing I have to tell you is that photos simply don't do this color justice. If you get an opportunity to go see the Stars next season, I highly recommend it if only to see this green I'm so nuts about.

The Home Uniform

Unfortunately, I haven't seen any great photos of the full uniform on a player like we got from the Hurricanes. While this graphic shows all the important details of the look, it's sterile and detached. You don't get the same impressions as when it's being worn over full gear.

The Stars have gone back to a classic, retro style, following the trend in hockey uniforms of late. The simple, traditional striping cleverly draws the eye straight to the sharp new crest. The one-color numbers and letters are subdued yet unique. And while back in Raleigh the Hurricanes opted for a less sparkly silver in their crest, the Stars have fully embraced it.

Up close, the detail is stunning. This is going to be a great hockey uniform and should be around for a lot of years. The Stars were part of the NHL's first expansion in 1967. And somehow this logos feels like it could've been introduced back then only to be updated now, 46 years later. Even the green feels like an update to what the North Stars originally wore.

I think what I might be happiest to see is that for the first time in two decades, the Stars aren't wearing a wordmark on their chest. That's been my biggest pet peeve with them over the years. It's the reason their uniforms have always been at the bottom of my list. Now suddenly they find themselves at the top.

One Reebok trend I actually like is the "Hanger Effect," as they're calling it, where some sort of design detail is incorporated into the inside of the collar. That means it's only visible on a hanger, so you have to own the jersey to be able to appreciate it. 

On the green jersey, it reads STARS in the collar. Meanwhile, as you'll see below, it reads DALLAS in the collar of the white jersey. It may not be as cool as Nashville's piano keys or Carolina's storm flags, but it's a nice detail to include in the design.

So what is there not to like about this jersey? A few things, actually. I mentioned that I liked the traditional striping style. But it runs into a problem similar to Carolina's in that it isn't strictly unique. I know positioning stripes on a sweater in a unique but traditional way is a difficult task, but the sleeves are straight off a Chicago Blackhawks jersey.

However, the matching waist stripe is where the jersey differs from Chicago's and helps the whole look stand on its own. Gaglardi said he wanted the colors of the team to be green, black and white. This accomplishes that and makes me wish the Lightning had considered keeping black two years ago.

There's another great story about Gaglardi and his stripes. After the event, I spoke with Jason Walsh, the Stars' VP of production and entertainment — the man who ushered the rebranding process. He explained how involved Gaglardi was. Multiple times a week they met to look at new designs. And when one of the final prototypes came in from Reebok, Gaglardi glanced at it for a moment and immediatley asked for a ruler.

The three sleeve stripes were supposed to each be the same width. But the the black one happened to be 1/8 inch too big. He spotted the problem that quickly. That's how dedicated this man was to the details. That's how much he wanted to get this right.

The other thing that bugged me was the placement of this alternate logo. The Stars came up with a new Texas-shaped mark only to bury it on the pants. I think I would've like to see it on the shoulders — as its predecessor had been in years past.

But in fairness, Walsh told me that idea was among the 236 variations the team looked at during the process. And he said it just didn't look right. I understand the state of Texas has an odd shape, but I'm just not thrilled about the outbreak of circular logos.

As circular logos go, this isn't a bad one, but I don't feel like it brings anything to the overall identity. It's a wordmark surrounded the D-star of the primary logo. That said, I think it serves its purpose, which is to have a shoulder patch. Carolina went without them and I do think that was a mistake.

I don't mean to keep bringing up the Hurricanes but they're fresh on my mind because both unveilings happened on the same day. And there are plenty of comparisons to draw anyway, with both teams going the traditional route with their new looks.

The Road Uniform

Moving on to the white jersey it's clear we're looking at a brand new template from Reebok. Every since the launch of the Edge jersey in 2007, fans have bemoaned the lack of variation in the uniform designs. But with the Stars' rebrand, a new one was certainly added to the mix.

The first thing that stuck out to me, in fact, was the shoulder yoke. It's not simply rounded as is typical with hockey sweaters. But it's not square either, like the new design we saw from Carolina. It's a neat touch that makes this jersey unique among not just NHL clubs but all Reebok-clad teams.

Mike Modano sure does wear it well. It's just a shame we'll never see him in action in it. But it is nice in the transition to get to see the new jersey with No. 9 on the back — since it will be the last time. As we learned Tuesday, it gets raised to the rafters next spring.

While we're looking at these photos, let's talk striping. It's still a three-stripe design like the green uniform, but it's not quite an inverse. And also like the green one, as some fans have noted, the striping isn't exactly novel. In fact, it's a lot like what the University of North Dakota has worn (both the green and white jerseys for that matter).

But despite that, both jerseys retain a feel that's uniquely Stars, and indeed unique in the NHL.

The crest varies slightly depending on the jersey. As we saw on the green sweater, the D-star is outlined in silver. Here on the white uniform it's green. It's the only green in the primary logo, in fact. But it's all you need. You don't want the logo be primarily green if that's the color you want for your sweaters.

As I mentioned before, both jerseys have Reebok's Hanger Effect. You can see the DALLAS wordmark inside the collar of the away jersey. And also noticeable here is the lace-up collar. It's featured on both sweaters and it's one of those things you add to a jersey when you're going for that traditional appeal.

Just from an aesthetic standpoint, I like it. And I probably wouldn't mind if every NHL team did it. Is it functional? No. But it is a treatment that is unique to hockey sweaters. You wouldn't find it a football or baseball jersey. For that reason alone, I like it. But I can't give you a good reason for why I think it works. It's just something that appeals to my design sense.

I have to squeeze in one more close-up of the shoulder yoke. I really like the idea of the Stars differentiating their look this way. Could any other team have tried this? Sure. But the Stars did it first so now they get to own it. It's one of those details taht makes me love this sweater.

And it's also why I'll have a difficult choice to make in the fall. Do I buy the green one or the white one? Maybe both.

If you'll permit me to compare/contrast the Stars and Hurricanes once more, the biggest point I have to make is how each franchise approached its identity. I wrote that I felt like Carolina lost what made it unique. On the other hand, the Stars have gone out of their way to create a look that is both unique and beautiful.

In a nutshell...

I'll wrap this up with a summary of my thoughts.

The Good:

  • GREEN! (Again!)
  • Unique shoulder yoke
  • Wordmark gone from the crest

The Bad:

  • Striping, while fitting, is somewhat unoriginal
  • The circular logo on the shoulders is a bit tired

So you've heard my take. What's yours?