NHL teams unveil new logos, uniforms
Hockey isn't a summer game. Or is it?
That photo, which you can buy on eBay, dates from 1926. It shows a group of female hockey players in bathing suits watching a guy named Arthur A. Maas, who's using an iron to smooth out strips of synthetic ice.
We probably won't be seeing anything quite that entertaining this summer, but the warm-weather months are nonetheless a surprisingly active time for NHL uniform news, in part because the NHL has finally figured out what the NFL and NBA have long known: The draft is a good time for uni and logo unveilings. Here's a look at what several teams have been up to:
• When the new Reebok jersey template was introduced in 2007, one of the saddest changes was that the Maple Leafs' jersey was so plain. Now they've finally done something about that. Amazing how much impact those two stripes at the bottom have, right? The new lace-up collar is nice, too (here's a bigger photo and some additional info). And in another upgrade, the outlined uni numbers and clunky nameplate typeface on the back have both been revised for the better. So when applying the standard Uni Watch litmus test -- is it good or is it stupid? -- we can definitely say this one is good.
• The Islanders have finally confirmed what had long been an open secret, namely that they're going with a straight throwback job for their road whites (here's the rear view). Hard to imagine anyone being upset about this move, given how the previous design looked like a cut-and-paste mishmash. Very, very good.
• Uni Watch had heard that the Kings were planning to introduce a purple throwback alternate jersey for a handful of games this season, but instead they trotted out a gold throwback at the NHL draft, which looks like a win-win (i.e., better than their standard uni and better than the rumored purple version). Word through the grapevine is that it'll be worn for the season opener in Vancouver. Good.
• The Sharks have unveiled what has got to be history's biggest package of 20th-anniversary logos. Can you guess which one will be worn as a jersey patch? Think about that for a minute -- we'll come back and revisit the question after looking at some other teams' patches.
• The Blue Jackets have a new 10th-anniversary logo. Uni Watch is generally a fan of this team's design program, but repeating the Ohio flag at the top and bottom of the logo seems like a bit much. And once you use the logo as a patch, the jersey becomes a complete flag-o-rama (here are some additional photos and info). Stupid.
• Another team celebrating its 10th birthday: the Wild. Almost every uni-related move this team has made over the past decade has been pure gold, so it's a little disappointing to see it go with such a boring patch design. Not awful, but not particularly distinctive either. Let's call it good enough.
• Still more anniversary antics, this time from the Canucks. Boy, nobody can accuse them of having overdesigned that logo, eh? No official word yet on whether it will be worn on the jersey, but that seems like a safe bet. Technically speaking, this is neither good nor stupid -- just bland.
• OK, back to those Sharks logos. Can you pick out which one will be the jersey patch? The fin logo at lower-left seems like the most obvious choice, and Uni Watch suspects that's what the team originally had in mind, but they're actually going with the horizontal design shown at the top. Here's the probable explanation: The Sharks can't put an anniversary patch in any of the usual spots -- left chest, right chest, or shoulder yoke -- because those areas are already occupied by uni numbers, captaincy designations, and logo patches. So they've announced that the new patch will be worn on the left sleeve, in between the sleeve number and the stripe. That's a horizontal space, so they needed a horizontal logo design. So far the only photo of the patch in situ has been this partial view, but several fans have been coming up with Photoshop versions. Looks awfully busy, no? And to think all this could have been avoided if they hadn't violated one of the simplest rules of hockey design: Don't put uni numbers on the front of your jersey. ˇEstupido!
• And if you want to look even further ahead, the logo for this season's Winter Classic game, which will be held on New Year's Day in Pittsburgh, has been given a soft launch. Uni Watch loves the Fort Duquesne Bridge motif, although the mix of typography is a nightmare, and it's way past time for them to retire that goofy W. Like so many things in life, this one is a bit of good, a bit of stupid.
From worst to first
Quick, what's the best best-dressed MLB team right now?
Here's a hint: Ten years ago they were the worst-dressed team.
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's your Tampa Bay Rays, who wore some absolutely magnificent striped hosiery for three of the final four games on their recent homestand. The fourth game? That was the one where they got no-hit by Edwin Jackson. You do the math.
If you take a closer look, you'll see that Tampa's striped hose are patterned after the ones worn by the Cardinals (there's a story behind that, which you can learn about here). The difference is that only a couple of St. Looey players hike up their pants to expose the stripes, while Tampa's entire starting lineup was high-cuffed Sunday, which was enough to make the Rays the finest-looking team on any MLB diamond, at least for now.
Paul Lukas thinks his job would be a lot more interesting if there were more female hockey players wearing swimsuits. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted, or just ask him a question? Contact him here.