There was big news at last night’s NHL All-Star Game, but it had nothing to do with Reebok’s much-vaunted new uniform system. The real story, flying beneath everyone’s radar, was the refs. Why were they wearing silver armbands instead of red? And why were the refs in Tuesday night’s YoungStars game doing likewise? Was this just a special all-star thing?
Nope — turns out this is how the refs will look next season. According to an NHL spokesperson who e-mailed me last night from Dallas, the idea is to give the armbands “a consistent look with the new NHL logo.” Never mind that the “new” NHL logo is now a season and a half old. Or that the old one was black and orange, not black and red, so the refs’ armbands never matched up with that logo to begin with. Or that hockey refs all over the world wear red-banded sleeves, regardless of whether they work for leagues with red logos. Or that the silver bands blend in with the refs’ zebra stripes, making it tougher to tell the refs from the linesmen. Or that the whole idea of basing this particular uniform element on the league’s logo colors is completely arbitrary. Or that not a single word was said about this major change to the game’s look until somebody (me) asked. I don’t like to pile on the NHL, but seriously, what the hell are they smoking over there?
As for the player unis, what a big fuss over nothing. Yes, the actual graphic designs were total crap, but so what? All-star games always look like crap (see any similarities between this and this?), so that’s no surprise. The actual engineering of the new unis, which is the only thing we’ve seen so far, looks mostly fine.
But I emphasize “mostly.” A few things are cause for concern. To wit:
• I cannot stress enough how much I hate the look of those stretch-mesh panels that come up from the armpit to the collar. They were glaringly visible on the Eastern Conference jerseys, but less so on the West, which may mean Reebok still has some work to do in terms of getting the white fabrics to blend under TV lights.
• As if we all didn’t know already, jersey side panels and striped breezers tend to misalign when the players are actually moving. Why is it so hard for the NHL and Reebok people to grasp this simple fact?
• And as if we all didn’t know this too, that deep wishbone collar looks ridiculous, especially with the NHL logo pushed down so low. Fortunately, this collar style will not be a league-wide thing, but let’s hope no team uses it. V-neck, square neck, lace-up, whatever — anything’s better than this.
As for the slimmer fit and all that, I thought it looked fine. Wake me when the Canadiens announce their 2007-08 jersey.
All-Star Jersey Raffle — Last Call: Okay, forget all the negative things I just said about the NHL All-Star jerseys, because this one is being raffled off tonight. If you haven’t entered yet, PayPal me ($5 for one virtual raffle ticket, $10 for two, etc.) at paul_lukas at earthlink dot net by 10pm eastern in order to get your name in the hat. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.
Post-Holiday Cheer: Got a visit yesterday from the UPS guy, who delivered a very light, flat package. Inside was this embroidered emblem and the following letter from reader Jeff Stephens of Middlebury, Indiana:
Happy Holidays! I know it’s a little late, but here’s a piece of “holiday cheer” I had made up for you. My mother has an embroidery business on the side, and she has an old chenille machine that she uses to make letters, chevrons, names, graduation years, and just about any kind of patch you might see on a letter jacket. I’ve had her make patches and such before, and her work is very good. So I asked her to make this “UW” patch, and she did it in no time flat.
I know the font is not exactly like the Uni Watch logo, but the colors match. You could purchase a jacket or display it in some other way. I just wanted to send something to thank you for all the hard work you put in on the blog and your ESPN column.
Man, is that a super-cool gift or what? Über-thanks to Jeff and his mom! And I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Uni Watch readers are the best. Thanks to everyone for all the contributions — chenille and otherwise — that flow into Uni Watch HQ each day. You people all rock.
Uni Watch News Ticker: This AP photo shows a scene from the very first Cleveland Browns game, in 1946. “What’s really interesting is the numbers are orange with a white outline,” says Jeff Lindquist, who discovered the photo on this message board thread. “Most Browns fans know that the numbers have been solid white on the dark jerseys and seal brown on the white jerseys for most of the team’s history (although those awful orange unis from a few years ago had drop-shadowed numbers).” … “Mascots usually wear a uniform jersey consistent with what the team is wearing on the field/court/ice,” writes Doug Keklak. “But look at this photo, which ran in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Compare that jersey to Pitt’s two hockey squads, here and here. I’d be curious to hear from any other Pittsburgh-area folks if that jersey the Panther is wearing has ever been worn by the team.” … According to this article, the Florida Panthers will have “a much more contemporary look” next season (with thanks to Perry Gattegno). … And as many of you already know, Minnesota is making changes too. … “I just came across this article,” writes Jack Krabbe. “I’m really confused as to why Satchel Paige has his name on his jersey.” Anyone..? … Good hockey equipment timeline (reprinted from this booklet) toward the end of this blog post (with thanks to Vincent Vignola). … “I just got the 1987 National League Green Book on eBay for a project I’m working on,” writes Jesse Spector. “It had two pages of uniform specs for that season, so I scanned them and am passing them on.” … Eric Carsner has come up with another collegiate logo mascot wearing a sailor and/or freshman cap, as seen here. “I remembered this Michigan logo being on some of my older Rose Bowl shirts, but I don’t recall seeing them anywhere else.” … The NBA All-Star Game uniform packages (including shorts, warm-ups, etc.) will be officially unveiled tonight at 7pm. I’ll have coverage tomorrow. … NFL officiating executive Larry Upson has cleared up a point we’ve occasionally discussed here: According to what Upson told me yesterday, NFL teams wearing black shoes must wear black shoelaces, and white-shod teams must wear white laces. So this is technically a violation. … White-laced black shoes are also visible here, but the real story in that photo is Thomas Jones’s socks (good catch by Jacob Reed). … Our own Scott M.X. Turner sent along this photo of his 1975 Pony League team in Greensboro, North Carolina. That’s Scott at front left, No. 5, looking pretty classic. But check out the kid next to him — higher stirrups and white shoes with green laces! Major clash of styles there. … I did a really fun interview last night with the here or stream it here (either way, my segment, which lasts about 20 minutes, kicks in a little more than halfway through the two-hour show).