In 2016, the New York Rangers will mark 90 years in the NHL. It's an impressive milestone and one that's likely to be celebrated in some form. Five years ago, the Rangers wore an 85th anniversary patch on their uniforms for a season. Will they have one this year too?
I bring it up because earlier in the week, a reader tweeted a photo of a supposed 90th anniversary patch for the Rangers. He was wondering if it was the real deal.
To answer, I've done a little research. Settle in.
The obvious place to start is with the team itself. In offseason marketing via their website and social media platforms, the Rangers have made no mention of their 90th anniversary — let alone any special events or logos to mark the occasion.
By comparison, the Avalanche, Wild and Sharks have all already begun heavily implementing new anniversary logos into their 2015-16 marketing efforts.
If the Rangers had planned to use an anniversary logo this season, one might expect to see it in use by now. Either they are not doing anything special for their 90th year, or they'll come a little late to the party.
Still, the logo in the tweet may look familiar to you. That's because the Rangers actually used two variations of their 85th anniversary logo during the 2010-11 season.
You saw the primary version at the top of this post. Below is the secondary version.
The two marks had distinct uses. Most obvious to us, the primary mark was used as a shoulder patch on the jerseys that season while the secondary was painted onto center ice at Madison Square Garden. (I've not seen an embroidered version, so if you have, please let me know.)
Now let's move on to the photo itself. Domenic's tweet contains a photo of a photo on a computer screen. But the original photo can be found in an eBay listing that is currently active as of this writing. It shows 13 of the patches have been sold with 10 more available for about $7 each. Nowhere to be found is any indication that it is an officially licensed NHL product.
I'm not linking to the listing because I believe it to be a counterfeit item and would not encourage readers to support such a seller. (Though obviously you can do your own eBay search for the item if you feel so compelled.)
Why do I believe it to be counterfeit? Let's compare the 85th patch with the one in question.
First, the 90th patch has very shoddy embroidery in comparison with the official product on the left. Look at the "O" and "B" in "Hockey Club," for example. Also, note the differences in how the Rangers shield is embroidered on the two patches. Note the differences in the fonts.
And there's our smoking gun — the fonts.
That brings us to the world-famous SportsLogos.net. Great website. I'm a huge fan. I've even contributed to their database on occasion. But sometimes finding official artwork of certain specialty logos (like the Rangers' 85th anniversary mark) can be a challenge — even for them.
In those cases, the guys at SportsLogos.net may resort to doing their own re-creations of a logo. Those are noted with the website's star/maple leaf logo in place of a registered trademark symbol. Sometimes their work is spot on. Other times, not so much.
On the left is the official logo from the Rangers. On the right is the SportsLogos.net version.
Ignore the color variations and focus on the details of the design. They're not obvious at first. Click on one to enlarge it and use the navigation to switch back and forth between the images. That will make the differences crystal clear. And there are a handful, including — wait for it — the fonts.
If you have an eye for typefaces, you'll notice the fonts in the 90th anniversary patch more closely resemble those on the remade logo. And while the "85" is pretty close between the official design and the remake, the "90" on the patch is completely different.
In order to make an embroidered patch, you need to start with vector artwork — a file comprised of scalable shapes rather than unscalable pixels. If you search the web for a vector version of the 85th anniversary logo, you'll find the SportsLogos.net version fairly easily. If you know how to manipulate vector artwork, replacing the 85 with a 90 is a breeze.
I'm absolutely positive that is how the 90th anniversary patch was created. It's not an official design and it's based off a remake of a past logo.
In the headline I asked, "will the Rangers wear a 90th anniversary patch?" While I cannot definitively say they won't, I am confident that if they do, it will not be the patch seen in the tweeted photo. And if you are a collector of Rangers memorabilia, this would only be worth buying if you also collect other non-genuine items.