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Making sense of the NHL's new uniforms - what's changed, what's the same

Monday, 09.24.2007 / 4:33 PM / News

The Canadian Press

Black is the new green in Dallas, what's old is new again in Washington, and it's yet another change in Vancouver.

All 30 NHL teams will be wearing the new Reebok Edge jerseys when the 2007-08 season starts later this week, but the Stars, Capitals and Canucks stand out as the teams with the most changed looks.

San Jose, Ottawa and Tampa have also made alterations to their logos while the Columbus Blue Jackets decided to adopt the logo from their former third jerseys.

Every NHL team will wear only two jerseys this year - a dark one at home, and a white one on the road. Eighteen of the 30 NHL teams used at least three different jerseys last year (Edmonton had four).

The Canucks new design has probably been the most heavily discussed. Their new jersey features the team's original blue, green and white colours and has the word "Vancouver" written on the chest above the orca symbol the Canucks have used since 1997.

Many fans were disappointed with the new design, especially because Vancouver has had four totally different looks in less than 40 years in the league and has experimented with various alternate jerseys in recent years.

However, the players have been supportive of the uniform.

"When I first heard about the 'Vancouver' across the jersey I was a little skeptical but after seeing it, it looks good," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa.

Indeed, an initial outcry does not necessarily mean a new design will ultimately be a failure.

Prior to last season, Buffalo Sabres fans were raging after the release of a jersey redesign. The uniform ended up being among the best selling in the league and is now being emulated by other teams.

The Sabres were the first NHL team to have numbers on the front of their jersey in more than 50 years when they did it last season. The Dallas Stars, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have joined them this year.

The Stars new home jersey is sharp. It's all black with white and gold striping on the sleeves and "Dallas" written in strong lettering across the front. Each player's number is displayed beneath the logo.

"I really like the black," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said when the jersey was released. "It's intimidating, and I think a group of 20 of us in these uniforms, it's going to be a strong feeling of unity."

In Washington, Alex Ovechkin will now be wearing a uniform that will remind Caps fans of days gone by. The team has returned to its traditional white, red and blue colours and logo featuring the 't' in "Washington" as a hockey stick.

The Rbk Edge uniforms are made of more modern material that makes them lighter, cooler, slightly tighter, more stretchable and more water-resistant.

They took more than two years to develop and were first unveiled at last year's all-star game. Players, including Reebok-sponsored Sidney Crosby, gave plenty of feedback during their development.

Complaints about them during the pre-season have mostly been limited to tough guys, who have found the jerseys tough to grip during fights. Some have also had them rip.

But overall the player feedback has been very good.

"We're very happy with what we have," said Brian Jennings, the NHL's vice-president of marketing. "It's just about impossible to get more than 700 people exactly on the same page on anything."

All 29 American Hockey League teams will also be using the new jerseys for their home (white) and away (dark) designs. AHL teams can wear alternate jerseys, but they will not be Rbk Edge.

Every NHL team had the opportunity to revamp its jersey design, but only a handful made sweeping changes. Several teams have made minor tweaks like adding or removing stripes.

Among the Original Six franchises, Boston and Toronto will be sporting the most different looks. The Bruins have reverted back to bolder-looking B on the front of the jersey and added a shoulder patch of a Bruin that was formally part of the team's crest in the 1920s.

The Maple Leafs removed the stripes from the bottom of their jersey along with both shoulder patches, which has left some suggesting the simple uniform looks like something that is more appropriate for practice.

In Ottawa, the Stanley Cup finalists tweaked their Trojan logo to make it look stronger and less cartoonish. The new jerseys also feature a brighter red.

Senators centre Jason Spezza is among those who likes the new jerseys he's seen around the league.

"I'm a big fan of them," he said. "I think they're pretty nice. I like the way they're cut a little tighter. The materials are better and I like the sleeker look throughout the league.

"It's going to take a little bit of time for traditionalists to kind of warm up to but I like the way they've gone with them."

Besides, this was not solely an exercise in aesthetics.

Testing has shown that the jerseys are 14 per cent lighter, cause nine per cent less drag and can keep players cooler.

"The focus on this was never about fashion, it was never about retail," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Canadian Press earlier this year. "It was about getting the players into a uniform that would be better."

Quote of the Day

I think you always have to look internally before you look externally to see, 'Do we have these players within our organization?' And I think we do.

— Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Pierre Dorion on the Binghamton Senators (AHL affiliate)