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Alterations to Classic sweaters proving to be a hit

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- As excited as hockey fans are about the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic game, they seem just as happy to outfit themselves in products related to the League's midseason outdoor extravaganza.

NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing Brian Jennings said Wednesday that consumer-product sales for all items have enjoyed "double-digit increases across the board" heading into this year's game, between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers on Jan. 2 here at Citizens Bank Park.

Jerseys, as is always the case, are the biggest sellers. Traditionally the clubs involved in past Winter Classics have worn some combination of a unique logo and color scheme.

For this year's game, the Flyers' jersey includes their traditional crest, but it's positioned on an orange that's darker than that used for their usual jersey, and features black accents on the shoulders.

There are more significant changes to the Rangers' jersey, most significantly a longer, slightly thinner shield that is rounded at the bottom. The jersey is cream-colored, with red-and-blue striping.

"The Philadelphia uniform, Mr. Snider has a real passion for the Philadelphia logo itself, not a lot of alterations to that. In the past years, a lot of teams have allowed us to do a fusion type of Winter Classic uniform, but he felt strongly in what the (logo) represents."
-- Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing

Jennings said creating the jerseys is a three-pronged collaborative effort between the League, the participating clubs and Reebok, the jersey manufacturer.

"It truly is a collaboration," said Jennings. "We'll sit down and when we know the teams that are participating, we'll give the signal to the Reebok guys to go out and start to really think about what the uniforms could look like. We'll give them some level of creative brief, the guidelines we'd like to stay in and then they'll go and start that process."

Reebok creates the ideas, and then Jennings and his staff pare those ideas down and begin presenting them to the clubs, who have a great deal of input into the final product. In Philadelphia's case, founding owner and team chairman Ed Snider insisted in not changing the Flyers' logo.

"The Philadelphia uniform, Mr. Snider has a real passion for the Philadelphia logo itself, not a lot of alterations to that. In the past years, a lot of teams have allowed us to do a fusion type of Winter Classic uniform, but he felt strongly in what the (logo) represents."

The uniqueness of the Flyers' jersey comes in the darker orange -- taken from an old sock design -- and the use of Pennsylvania's traditional Keystone logo as part of the design of the captain's C and assistant captain's A's, as well as a special font and lettering for the names and numbers on the jersey.

In the Rangers' case, the motivation for the tweaks to their main mark came from a picture more than 80 years old.

"It was a trainer back in the 1920s who was the inspiration behind the primary mark there," said Jennings, who said the crest the Rangers will wear was taken from a patch on the trainer's cardigan sweater.

The jerseys might be the most popular sellers among fans, but all Winter Classic gear -- from team-branded to Classic-themed -- have been big sellers.

"On Cyber Monday, Winter Classic products represented 15 of the top 20 positions in product demand online (at NHL.com)," said Jennings. "In our store in New York and stores in Philadelphia, demand was quite robust. … Not just the jerseys, but all the other products are really going along right now in double-digit increases across the board."

Making that even more impressive is the fact that the jerseys this year arrived later than in years past.

"The jerseys didn't arrive until a little later," said Jennings. "I'd have to look at the numbers through the holiday to see whether we hit the same threshold (as years past), but … I know they've been some of the hottest on demand."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

 
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