Draft day has become the unofficial season for leagues to foist new uniforms on their fan bases, and this past week has been no exception, as the NHL and NBA have unveiled a slew of new designs that will likely leave the average sports fan slack-jawed, scratching his head and muttering, "What team is that?" Fortunately, you are no average sports fan -- you're a Uni Watch reader, which means you're about to get the full scoop on all the changes.
The Basics: Changing from this and this to this and this (additional photo galleries available here and here, and additional info here).
Uni Watch's Take: The Hawks have worn some real eyesores over the years, along with a few keepers. But what did all of these, as well as the team's most recent incarnation, have in common? Hello, red and yellow! How can the Hawks wear navy? Looks ridiculous. The team is claiming that the new color scheme "harkens back to the St. Louis Hawks and early years of the Hawks in Atlanta," but that's clearly more of a convenient coincidence than a conscious nod to history (Uni Watch is willing to bet that there's nobody in the team's front office who can even name a single St. Louis Hawks player). In the end, is this a bad design? No. But does it have any character, any life? Also no. Feels like Team Generic -- inoffensive but irrelevant.
Official Uni Watch Grade: B-minus
The Details: The B at the center of the team's classic spoke/hub logo now has serifs, and the club's 1920s logo is the basis of a new shoulder patch, which features the team name on the home jersey and the city name on the road jersey.
Uni Watch's Take: Such a magnificent upgrade that the Uni Watch grounds crew had to spread a tarp across the Uni Watch offices because puddles of drool were beginning to form. The sleeve stripes, the hemline stripes, the lace-up collar, the two-tone shoulder yoke (which evokes the team's classic era) -- this is what a hockey uniform is supposed to look like, people. After all the hand-wringing over what Reebok's new snug-fit template might do to the game, it turns out that you can barely even see the various stretch panels. A welcome burst of sanity in an increasingly nonsensical uniform world.
Official Uni Watch Grade: A
Uni Watch's Take: Actually, maybe this is what a hockey uniform should look like. This version of the team's logo (inspired by Ohio's state flag, don't ya know, which of course is the coolest of all state flags because it's the only one that isn't rectangular) has always been miles better than the club's letter- and insect-based insignia. Although the streamlined look isn't very traditional, Uni Watch likes it, right down to the thin hemline piping. Only problem is that the jersey is so clean and crisp that the breezers and socks look clunky by comparison. Uni Watch is just thinking out loud here, but is it possible that this jersey would actually look better with Cooperalls? Just askin'.
Official Uni Watch Grade: A-minus
Uni Watch's Take: Bit of an upgrade, but only because the outgoing designs were so putrid. The sleeves and side panels are way too busy, the bottom of the shoulder patch is supposed to look like the Capitol dome but instead looks like a bird impaled on one of these, and making the upper socks the same color as the breezers creates a leotard effect. A major missed opportunity.
Official Uni Watch Grade: B-minus
And more changes are likely coming. Images leaked from various sources suggest that revisions are in the offing for the Hurricanes (looks like they're just adding some shoulder piping), Kings (the hemline word mark is now free-floating, which makes it look even stupider than before, something Uni Watch wouldn't have thought possible), and Islanders (such a complete mess that it defies pithy commentary), but Uni Watch will refrain from serious analysis until these have been confirmed as official updates.
New York readers should stop whatever they're doing and head directly to Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street in Manhattan, where the Museum of the City of New York has just unveiled an exhibition called The Glory Days, which focuses on New York baseball from 1947-1957. Uni Watch was lucky enough to be in attendance for the opening reception on Tuesday night and was plenty impressed by all the artifacts, which include some unique uniforms, uni-related advertising, ticket stubs and a lot more. For a more complete rundown, check out Uni Watch's full review here.
Someone in the MLB office apparently read Uni Watch's recent column about MLB players eschewing the new batting practice caps. Remember how the Mets had stopped wearing the new BP lids altogether, opting instead to wear their blue game caps during pregame activities? A team source informs Uni Watch that the MLB brass has put the kibosh on that: "We had to go back to the horrible BP hats. Orders from MLB/New Era. We wore them last weekend, and will continue to for the near future." A deeply chagrined Uni Watch offers a sincere apology to the Mets and their fans for possibly having helped bring about this sorry state of affairs.
Paul Lukas has already gotten a new tarp for Uni Watch HQ, thanks. His Uni Watch blog, which is updated daily (and is also where you'll find info on the Uni Watch membership program), is here, his answers to Frequently Asked Questions are here, and his Page 2 archive is here. Got feedback for him, or want to be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted? Contact him here.