Mikko Rantanen hails from Nousiainen, Finland, but Colorado is quickly becoming his adopted home after being drafted 10th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2015.
"Colorado is a great state, I love it. I've been here now for four years, and it's been awesome," Rantanen told ColoradoAvalanche.com. "The weather is amazing and the mountains are beautiful. I don't ski obviously, but I go to the mountains every year to hang out and it's super cool up there."
It is due to Rantanen's growing pride of being a Coloradan that he appreciates Adidas' forward-thinking design for the Avalanche's 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series jersey.
"I think it looks pretty cool," he said. "It has an Air Force look to it and a little bit with the Avalanche as well. When I saw it live, I thought it looked really cool. The logo is pretty good. It's big, it's unique, pretty cool."
The NHL Stadium Series outdoor game has a history of pioneering the sport and looking ahead to its future, and this year's uniforms are no different. It is an opportunity to be expressive and bold, and there are plenty of innovative touches to the Avs' latest jersey.
The team's crest is inspired by Colorado's winter sport culture along with elements of the U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, where the Avs will play the Los Angeles Kings at Falcon Stadium on Feb. 15. The triangular shape is modeled after Air Force's Cadet Chapel. The sleek, angular lines of the campus' buildings and its jets has been blended with the Avalanche's DNA to create a hybrid with the Air Force.
"The location of the game was a huge point of inspiration," said Matty Merrill, director of design for Adidas Hockey. "The Air Force is known for pushing the limits, so we took the traditional markers of Stadium Series, futuristic looks and stadium-size numbers, and pushed them to the absolute bleeding edge."
The Avs' Stadium Series crest is the largest ever implemented on an Adidas ADIZERO jersey, and it might just be one of the biggest to be produced for a hockey jersey.
"The Avs crest has been maxed out. We had to completely re-engineer how we build cresting," Merrill said. "It is probably the largest hockey crest of all time on perhaps the largest hockey stripes of all time. The entire body becomes the stripes. We joked that it might be visible from the International Space Station or an F-22 Raptor flying at the edge of space."
Video: The inspiration behind the 2020 stadium series jersey
Rantanen will be playing in his first-ever outdoor game at Air Force, and he is looking forward to donning the jersey in front of what should be a passionate crowd in Colorado Springs.
"I think it's going to be a great game, great atmosphere, and it's nice to have something different with us wearing those jerseys," the right wing said. "It's nice having something new and something special that is just for the outdoor game and won't be worn again. I definitely want to keep it and bring it home to Finland with me and hang it on my wall."