These last 13 weeks have been quite a ride for the IceHL Project. Eleven teams got rebranded and today I'm announcing the winners of the jersey design contest, the final phase of 13 Weeks of R&R.
With 39% of the three-way vote, Alan John Herbert had the winning design for the Boston Colonials. He's a regular concept contributor but this is his first IceHL jersey win.
As previously reported, Bastian Schmülling's design will continue to represent the Calgary club, now known as the Calgary Stallions. A second-round vote was unnecessary as Bastian's design was the only one to receive a net positive rating during the first round.
In the end, this team's name was changed but the logos and jerseys remained the same as before. The one thing that will change, of course, is the wordmark. You can get a peek at it on the Stallions' Twitter page. It will be officially unveiled in the yearbook this fall.
Stefan Lundrigan added another winning IceHL jersey to his portfolio as his Detroit Chargers entry garnered 65% of the two-way vote. Stefan created the winning looks for the Kodiaks and Gators last year.
Derek Heilmann became a first time contest winner. His Halifax Dragons jersey picked up 58% of a three-way vote. The Dragons now join the Hitmen, Lagers, Narwhals, Armada and Aviators with Canadiens-style chest striping. As commissioner, I don't mind saying I'm somewhat disappointed.
The winning Hamilton Steelcats jersey design is from newcomer Daniel Otters. It grabbed 38% in the three-way vote. In his submission, Daniel explain a key element of his striping design. He said the unique design is meant to be the "front view of a steel girder," also known as an I-beam. It also appears in the collar, emulating Reebok's "hanger effect." Daniel points out that if you rotate the I-beam it can be seen as an "H" for Hamiton. Very clever design.
Colin May has entered a lot of designs in the IceHL's jersey contests, but this year he finally enters the winners' circle with his Montreal Olympiques efforts. He won with 36% of a four-way vote.
With 40% of a three-way vote of Philadelphia Aces jerseys, Matt McElroy became the first designer to create the winning uniform of a team for which he designed the winning logos. Matt made his foray into the IceHL Project last year, creating the winning jersey for the Narwhals.
Now if you look at those last two jerseys, you realize we may need to do some tweaking to the final designs for Montreal and Philadelphia. Because of their color schemes, they're awfully similar. More to come on that.
Jon Wold may have been unseated as the designer of the Olympiques' jerseys, but he's back on top with the Saskatchewan Snipers. His work garnered 37% of the three-way vote.
Also unseated from the team he originally designed for was Gary Beatman. His Renegades jerseys were replaced when the team relocated but he's back with the winning design for the Texas Outlaws — and interestingly, another black jersey. He got the edge with 53% of the two-way vote.
Another newcomer joins the fray as Coin Magee had the winning design for the Vancouver Lumberjacks. His submission earned 45% of the three-way vote.
And finally, Caleb Fuller took a slim 35% margin in a three-way vote to be declared the top jersey designer for the Washington Sentinels. He's also a first time winner.
That gives us six first time winners out of a possible 11 jersey designs this year. Herbert, Heilmann, Otters, May, Magee and Fuller are now part of the IceHL's brotherhood of designers. Congrats to them!
Unfortunately, these guys managed to remove a handful of artists from that group. Kevin Dallatore designed the original Colonials jerseys. Mike Szalay did the original Outlaws. And Ryan Hawkes created last year's Steelcats jerseys.
Justin Nahhas, the previous leader in winning jersey designs with four, dropped to three when he lost the Lumberjacks. He's now tied with Stefan Lundrigan and Brendan Nashman, all with three apiece. But the designer who'll be taking the rebrands the hardest is Ricky Hajduk. He had two winning designs last year for the Motorheads and Arsenal. Both of those teams got rebranded this year.
13 Third Jerseys project on hold
All right, I've been saving the bad news for the end. After seeing how the jersey voting went for these rebranded teams, I'm not eager to start on a third jersey project using the same format. I think middle-of-the-road designs aren't bad for primary uniforms, but they don't work as alternates. And I'm afraid that's what we'll get by using this format again.
I'm currently working up new ideas for this project. I'm also considering whether to scrap it altogether. Before you panic, let me explain.
First, a new format could save this project. I'm open to new ideas. The original format had three of the teams being assigned an artist rather than using an open competition format. This would allow one person to really get behind their vision. Would we want to do something like that with all 13 teams?
Others have suggested a voting committee. I could perhaps gather 100 IceHL diehards and designers to put together a handful of designs then choose the best amongst themselves. But that breaks away from the original goal of the IceHL Project — a crowd-sourced league where the decisions are made by the community.
However, if these community votes aren't yielding the best winning designs, maybe that premise needs some rethinking. I don't know. Like I said, I'm open to new ideas. Feel free to share yours.
The other option would be to cancel the third jersey project altogether and replace it with something else. A while back someone suggested the idea of teams having a primary jersey and a contrasting, or "clash," jersey not unlike what you see in the world of soccer.
That idea has really stuck with me. And my thinking is that maybe we drop the third jersey idea in favor of changing the entire format of IceHL uniforms next spring. It would be another big project involving all 32 teams. We could start by selecting a primary jersey from the existing designs. Dark or light, doesn't matter. Then we'd do a competition to create clashing designs. Of course we'd still have to revisit the voting format, but later on down the road.
So let me know what you guys are thinking. I'm eager to figure out what's next for the IceHL, as I'm sure you are as well.