It’s not often that I devote the lead entry to a retail operation, but reader Scott Johnson recently told me about a truly impressive outfit called Vintage Minnesota Hockey. The good news is that you don’t have to be from Minnesota to appreciate their outstanding work; the better news is that they’ve got an online store featuring some gorgeous jerseys, which break down into two main categories:
Plus they’ve also got Frozen Four patches and game-used Gophers socks. And if you want a custom job, they claim to have over 30,000 fonts, which they’ll apply for reasonable prices. Not sure how these folks eluded my notice until now. Anyone out there ever dealt with them?
Meanwhile, speaking of good hockey jersey outlets, Stan Olechowski has found a site that sells uncrested sweaters from various leagues and affiliations — an excellent middle ground if you’re thinking about embarking on a DIY project but don’t want the hassle of applying all the stripes, yoke panels, etc.
Was the XFL more influential than we thought?: In yesterday’s Ticker I mentioned that Hammonton High School in New Jersey appears to have taken its athletics program logo from the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen. That led several to several comments pointing out some other schools that have adopted the Hitmen’s stylized “H,” including Hebron High in Texas, Hillcrest High in South Carolina, and Highland Regional in New Jersey (sorry, no photo yet). Yes, I realize that lots of high schools “borrow” logos from professional and college teams, but c’mon, the XFL? Also, nobody has mentioned any high schools using other XFL logos — just the Hitmen’s mark. Seems like a very odd trope to me.
The Reebok Chronicles, Continued: As you may recall, a few weeks ago I reported that I’d been assured by a Reebok spokesman that the company’s wordmark will not be replacing the vector logo on NHL jerseys next season. Simple enough. But on Wednesday I was contacted by a sports retailer who sent me this image. That’s the cover of a new Reebok wholesale catalog. I spoke with the retailer, who said his Reebok sales rep had told him just that day that the wordmark would be used at the beginning of the 2009-10 season but that Reebok was being coy about it because they had a lot of unsold vector-clad merch that they wanted to clear out first.
Late Wednesday afternoon I e-mailed the catalog image to Reebok corporate communications manager Dan Sarro (who was the one who’d originally told me that the wordmark wouldn’t be appearing on the jerseys) and asked if he’d like to amend his earlier statement. Later that evening he wrote back that the image was a “Photoshop error” and reiterated, “I can assure you that the logo treatment on the jerseys will not change next season.”
That sounded a little fishy to me, so yesterday I spoke with Sarro. The basic points of our conversation break down like this:
• He was surprised when he saw the catalog image, so he showed it to Reebok’s NHL uniform director, Keith Leach, who was also surprised but confirmed that the wordmark will not be appearing on NHL jerseys next season. (Sarro also offered to have Leach call me so I could hear this directly from him. This hasn’t happened yet, but it’s been less than 24 hours, so I don’t think that means anything one way or the other.)
• So why is the wordmark shown on the catalog image? Sarro basically said (I’m paraphrasing from memory here), “It’s true that we’ve been replacing the vector with the wordmark on a lot of product, so someone in the design department probably just got overzealous and thought it was changing on the NHL jerseys too, and then it ended up on the catalog cover without anyone catching it.” He also said there are no other images in the catalog that show the wordmark on an NHL jersey. I checked back with the retailer, who confirmed the accuracy of that statement.
• And what about the sales rep who told the retailer about the impending change? Sarro said any such claim is simply mistaken, and that Reebok will communicate with its sales force to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
If someone else had written this text and I’d just read it, I’d probably think, “Man, what a bunch of bullshitters — they’re totally gonna change the logo.” But I’ve interviewed a lot of people over the years, and I don’t think Sarro is bullshitting me. Do they need better quality control on their catalogs and better communication with their sales force? Yeah. But are they trying to pull a fast one here just so they can sell some merch that’s about to be obsolete? I don’t think so. I think Sarro is being straight with me.
So why am I even bothering to report this if the bottom line is that the situation remains unchanged? Because I suspect the catalog cover will be finding its way to other media outlets, so I want to nip this one in the bud before that happens.
Uni Watch News Ticker: The Pirates and Rangers will unveil new uni sets today. … According to this story, the Blackhawks will have a new alternate jersey next season — basically the same design they wore for the Winter Classic, except the tomahawk shoulder patch will be added. … The Patriots have unveiled a 50th-season logo. Not sure if it’ll be worn on jerseys, but I suspect the answer is yes. … Check out Paul Brown’s cap (with thanks to Jason Hillyer). … Coupla more close-ups of those Inauguration Day sneakers here. … Wait until you see the shorts on this old basketball uniform. … This dame is MLB’s newest mascot. Additional info here, and lots of photos here (with thanks to Nick Houser). … It’s late January, which means it’s time for the annual story about the factory that makes the Super Bowl footballs (with thanks to Stu Taylor). … Tons of great neon signage on display here (with thanks to Lee Wilds). … How great is this? Answer: Very, very great. That’s the logo of the Fenn College Foxes, now known as the Cleveland State Vikings (tremendous find by Stan Olechowski). … Jeremy Brahm reports that the Yakult Swallows have a new uni set: front, back, 40th-anniversary patch, road close-up (note the odd red top button). Also, a fifth-anniversary patch for the Rakuten Eagles. … RNOB alert: Tommie Liddell III of St. Louis (with thanks to Harrison Bobbins). … Nice shot of sleeved New Mexico State hoops jerseys here (with thanks to Brian Borkenhagen). … Happy birthday to my father, Irwin Lukas, who turns 85 today (and who totally Gets It™). See you in a few hours, Pop.