Lets travel back to 2007 for a few moments. The NHL was undergoing a serious makeover retooling their look for their official uniforms. That was a time when many NHL teams have taken the opportunity to re-brand their image to fans and establish team identity. Teams weren’t given the option to introduce alternate sweaters so they had to have one home and one road jersey. Many teams took a deep dive into the trend. Speculation and hype ensued for much of the summer of 2007. When the season started in the fall later that year, the Reebok Edge jerseys were born.
How did the unveiling of the Edge jerseys go?
Not good. Not good at all.
For whatever reason, many NHL teams have taken their traditional look and adopted these odd looking pipes overlaying the front base of the jersey. A lot of teams went with this move and it backfired. All of the jerseys displayed above have been repealed and replaced with much better, bolder, traditional inspired jerseys that proved to be much more successful with critics including myself. Only the Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames have kept the front based piping on their sweaters for the entire Edge jersey era.
Fast forward to the present and the hockey world is faced with a similar situation. With Adidas taking over the jersey contract with the NHL for 7 years, there will be changes for sure but many are speculating on what kind of changes.
NHL Commisioner, Gary Bettman said in an interview in late 2015 that changes will be subtle.
“The history, tradition and respect that goes with NHL sweaters is something that we and Adidas are very respectful of,” he said. “So reinventing isn’t something that we’re about to embark upon, but if there are better fabrics that are more comfortable and help performance, that’s one thing. We happen to like our jerseys a lot, and we think our fans do as well, as evidenced by the fact that when you go to one of our games you see how many people are actually wearing club jerseys.”
On the other side of the coin, Michael Rossi, president of Adidas Canada has stated:
“In terms of future growth, the potential is big.” Rossi further continued, “The NHL is experiencing tremendous growth across the board, and we’re excited to help the league continue this momentum.”
Overall, it does sound like there is a mutual consistency and a positive direction between the NHL and Adidas. It is very likely that Adidas would be the ones to influence new designs to coincide with the new material but it is all a matter of getting the NHL and the clubs on board with their presentation of new ideas. The NHL will likely hold their ground when it comes to sticking to traditional designs as well as most NHL clubs.
Personally, I think the traditional looks will stay but there will be a ground-breaking fabric technology introduced as early as Fall of 2017. Some teams do want to want to changes, but most won't be drastic. The NHL doesn’t want to repeat the same mistake in 2007 by rushing sketchy jersey design features that generated poor taste with fans. Some teams do need a fresh look but most have already made changes in recent years.
Just like in 2007, there will be no alternate jerseys next season as mandated by the NHL. This mandate will force some decision making as to what direction each team will take for their image going forward. Despite having no alternates, the good news is that there will still be new Winter Classic and Stadium Series sweaters introduced next season.
What We Know:
New Jersey Devils will change their look entirely
The Devils have been wearing the same home and road sweaters since 1992 but that will change next season. According to an anonymous source who works with the design team for the New Jersey Devils, there will be a “full jersey makeover” by the time Fall of 2017 comes around. Many faithful Devils fans are nervous about the change as change is something that doesn’t happen too often with the New Jersey Devils. The good news is that the primary colours of red and black will still be used as their main colours but what comes from their new design using those colours will prove to be interesting.
What We Know:
Edmonton Oilers adopting their orange alternate as their new primary home jersey
The Oilers have went back to their classic blue and orange jerseys in 2011 and now they’re looking to get even more retro as the Oilers have announced that the orange alternate sweaters used since 2015 will be their new full-time home jerseys. The Orange sweaters were a reintroduction of the Alberta Oilers sweaters when they were in the WHA back in 1972. This is a welcome change as this sweater is representative of the “McDavid era”. Why it’s called the McDavid era is because Connor McDavid was the first person to officially wear the orange jersey on camera when he was drafted in 2015.
Will be their full-time home uniforms in the Fall of 2017.
What We Speculate:
Ottawa Senators adopting their black alternates as their new primary home jersey
This wouldn’t be a discussion if it weren’t for the NHL mandating the “no alternate jersey” protocol. Why this topic is even part of the discussion is because the black alternates are way more popular than their current home and road jerseys. There are also rumours that the Sens are considering making this change so it is likely that this will happen. If they do make the changes then it makes perfect sense to inherit the 2014 Heritage Classic jersey as their full-time road jersey as well.
What the speculated homies and roadies could look like together
What We Speculate:
Calgary Flames switching to their retro uniforms
The Flames have retired their red prairie jerseys in 2016 and have brought back their vintage sweaters as their alternates. There has been speculation about implementing their vintage jerseys as their new primary uniforms in the past but it hasn’t generated a lot of buzz. After 10 years of using the same jerseys that got mediocre reviews, it might be time to turn the dial to the glory days. The Pittsburgh Penguins did just that last year when they reintroduced their old uniforms that were used in the early 1990’s when they back-to-back Stanley Cups. The Flames won their only Stanley Cup in 1989 using the vintage jerseys in question so they might want to revive that kind of glory once again.
The Flames current alternates plus a possible reintroduction of the matching roadies?
What We Speculate:
Colorado Avalanche retiring their current uniforms
The Colorado Avalanche have some of the most unpopular home and road jerseys in the NHL today. They don’t sit highly with critics and they don’t appeal to fans either, even the most dedicated Avs fans. When the Avs unveiled their “Back To The Rockies” jerseys in 2015, they were a major hit and it was the nicest jersey in the Avs jersey lineup in many, many years. Fans deserved a great looking jersey like that and now they need a kickass new home and road set when Adidas officially takes over manufacturing in the summer. We have no idea what the Avs might change but they need a change regardless. They can’t go anywhere but up with improving their current designs. If they don’t change their current look, it’d be a major disappointment.
Pittsburgh Penguins jersey leak
The Penguins just switched to new jerseys last year so why was there a leak on a new practice jersey that has new features on it? Nobody knows but it could be a test beta for future Adidas jerseys. They’re probably getting a feel for what the final draft of the jersey will be so they can get ready to swing into full production during the summer of this year. If there is an outdoor game that the Penguins will participate in next season then it’ll explain a lot but right now it is still unclear what the use of this jersey will be for. It is very doubtful that the Pens will change their current home and road uniforms, they’re already very nice as it is so why mess with a good thing.
Pittsburgh Penguins leaked jerseys.
Vegas Golden Knights new uniforms
The Vegas Golden Knights will enter the Adidas era straightaway as a brand new NHL franchise. They already have the logo, now they need the jerseys. The colours in the logo will be the main colours of the body as well. The main home jerseys will most likely have a black body to match with the boldness of the logo. There could be dark gold and dark green stripes on the waist and wrists as possibly the secondary colours of the makeup of the sweater. There could also be red outlines along those strips because the secondary logo has red in it. It’ll be interesting to see what the final draft will look like but the wait for the grand reveal will still be a long time away.
The Vegas Golden Knights primary and secondary logos
Also Hype But Still Highly Speculated:
San Jose Sharks secondary marks
I’m sure a lot of people have forgotten about this by now but on August 9th, 2016 the Sharks unveiled three secondary marks for their marketing applications on promotions and events for the franchise. This leaves one to wonder what the big picture is for these marks. The Adidas deal was already signed much before this unveiling so there is definitely a pattern that is tying together. It could very well be that the Sharks were applying these logos to see if they would be popular enough to use for their new Adidas jerseys starting in 2017. If their marketing experiment was successful, these logos could be their new image for the Sharks but time will tell to see how that plays out. At this point, nobody from the Sharks organization is commenting.
San Jose Sharks official test logos for their marketing experiment