By Phil Hecken, with Mike Styczen
Back today with one of our friends from north of the border, Mike Styczen, who, amongst many other talents, serves at the de facto Uni Watch barrister. Mike’s here to take us through one of those things about which most American’s could care less, not because we don’t care (although we don’t), but because we’re not really privy to it on our American television sets. Canadian junior hockey. Yup. Now, with MLB in full swing, the NFL recovering from the draft, and the NBA and NHL playoffs
mercifully approaching their interminable inevitable conclusions, Mike will take us though a comprehensive look at the “Memorial Cup,” which is a pretty big deal in Canada, bought the NHL a first look at some of it’s current and past stars, and which features some pretty sweet uniforms. So, without further ado, I’ll turn this portion of the post over to Mike.
Sundown in the Paris of the Prairies
By Mike Styczen
The Memorial Cup got underway on Friday in Brandon, Manitoba.
The Memorial Cup is the championship of the major junior Canadian Hockey League, which is comprised of the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League and the Québec Major Junior Hockey League. It was first awarded in 1919 and commemorates OHL players who died in the first World War. The four teams playing for the Memorial Cup are the champions of each of the three leagues, plus the host team.
This years WHL champions are the Calgary Hitmen, who beat the Moose Jaw (Saskatchewan) Warriors, the Medicine Hat (Alberta) Tigers, the Brandon Wheat Kings (who go to the cup anyway as host) and Tri-City (Kennewick, Washington) Americans.
The OHL is represented by the Windsor Spitfires, the defending Memorial Cup champions, who beat the Erie (Pennsylvania) Otters, the Plymouth (Michigan) Whalers, the Kitchener Rangers and the Barrie Colts.
The QMJHL champions are the Moncton (New Brunswick) Wildcats, who beat the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (Nova Scotia), the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (Quebec), the Drummondville (Quebec) Voltigeurs and the Saint John Sea Dogs (New Brunswick).
The CHL is the top league for junior hockey players in the world. A total of 60 teams play in the three member leagues, and most of the top players are NHL draft picks. The majority of NHL players are CHL graduates. Most of the NHL’s top North American stars have played in the CHL at one time or another. [You may not recognize their baby-faces, but those photos belong to some pretty decent players — I’ll reveal their names after the article. — PH]
The uniforms are exactly what you expect for junior hockey. Lots of cartoon logos, lots of trim, very busy uniforms, though there are also some very classic uniforms as well. And if the uniforms weren’t busy enough, all the uniforms have a Reebok patch, a league patch, plus a Memorial Cup patch for the tournament only.
The Calgary Hitmen were originally owned by Bret Hart and originally wore his signature black and pink colours. Their uniforms are now a little less gaudy, though still cartoonish. Once a year they also wear special Christmas uniforms, hold a teddy bear toss and auction these awesome uniforms off for charity. The Hitmen have never won the Memorial Cup, and have gone to the tournament once.
The Windsor Spitfires used to have classic uniforms, with a stylized spitfire airplane, but more recently have gone to a cartoon airplane logo. The Spitfires have won the Memorial Cup once (last year) and have gone to the tournament one other time.
The Brandon Wheat Kings wear pretty ordinary black and gold uniforms. Their prior set was (in my opinion) a pretty nice look with stylized stalks of wheat on the sleeves. In at least one game of the Cup, they will wear uniforms commemorating the Canadian Armed Forces (the army has a very large presence in Brandon, at CFB Shilo). The Wheat Kings have been to the Memorial Cup four times, never winning.
The Memorial Cup is always a tough one to predict. The three league champions are all very strong, and while I have a soft spot for the Wheat Kings (no relation to the classic The Tragically Hip song, the host city rarely wins. The championship game is next Sunday, May 23rd.
Wow. Very comprehensive overview of the tournament. Pretty decent (and some very good) unis, in my book, especially when you consider it’s junior hockey. Even though I’m personally not nearly as into hockey as I used to be, I still think hockey teams have the best uniforms in team sports. Great job.
Oh. Those five “before they were great” pictures earlier? While you may or may not recognize their faces, but even the non-hockey fan amongst us will recognize the names: Orr, Gretzky, Crosby, Lindros and Lemieux. All of whom came up through the ranks. Will the next Number 4, Great One or Super Mario be playing in this year’s tournament? Maybe.
Big round of thanks to Mike Styczen for this fantastic piece.
So, how’d they do?
I’m not even gonna go there, ok? The Reds dressed like this. The Cardinals, for the most part, dressed like so although Adam Wainwright sported striped socks (not stirrups). I gotta admit, I only saw about an inning and a half of the game (at the very end), but from what I saw, it was kinda sorta like the Phillies/Brewers game from Friday night.
From The Squiddie Files: Back again with our Life Coach, Lance Smith, who’s back with more great stuff. So what does he have in store for us today? Let’s just say…it’s easy as 1-2-3. Here’s Squiddie:
Hockey and basketball have reached the playoffs. Baseball is underway. Most of the world is getting ready for the World Cup.
So what do I want to talk about today? Football! Yeah, we’re in that great point of the year where the pains of last season are almost healed and where every team (except the Lions) is a potential Super Bowl winner. Are you ready for some football? Yeah, sure you are.
Let’s look at some pictures.
C is for China. The NFL has been trying to cultivate new fan bases in Europe, Mexico and Japan. It’s next target is China. But as we can see, football was in China in 1947. (BTW: Best down marker ever.)
D is for Draft. The modern hoopla of the draft has developed gradually. Before the big boards and televised coverage, the draft was just a bunch of guys in a hotel ballroom. At least the Giants officials dressed for the occasion.
G is for Gaslight Girls. The Gaslight Girls were the draw at Chicago’s Gaslight Club. So as a promotional idea, why not dress them up in football jerseys and have them “practice” with the Chicago Cardinals. Hilarity ensued.
L is Lombardi. It’s still the Vince Lombardi Trophy, isn’t it? Given some of the NFL’s recent gyrations, you have to check periodically.
S is for Scoreboard. Do you recognize what game this one is for?
T is Television Blackout. Why do they still happen? Giants fans going to a motel to watch a home game in 1962.
U is for Unitas. Just remember, everything Johnny Unitas accomplished was done wearing those shoes.
W is for Harry Wismer. Shouldn’t this be under H? Shut up! Harry Wismer was the voice of the Washington Redskins and a charter owner in the AFL. He’s the one that came up with the idea of teams sharing television revenue. The man knew his plays and his ties.
Z is for Zebra. If an official doesn’t wear stripes is he a Vebra?
You thought all the boys from Benchies did was drink and play softball in the spring. Well, there’s more than just softball. Here’s Rick:
This time of year, it’s Fishing Opener somewhere just about every weekend. In BenchiesLand, lines have been getting wet all over the place, and even though the camaderie and libations both fill the gang’s favorite fishing vessel…well, nothing’s ever perfect. Especially if you run into an undersized but agressive Largemouth…
Here’s your Sunday Benchies.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: As we move a little closer in the quest for Lord Stanley’s cup, we turn our attention to the cylindrical rubber disc. Gotta crank up the way back machine though. Perhaps the weather will break and the drought will be ended. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard Date, location and final score, please, and be sure to link to your answer. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Lots to get to, and if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
Leading off today is Patricia Bradley, who has a soccer tweak. This is, I believe, the first soccer tweak I’ve ever received. With the World Cup fast approaching, I’d imagine this won’t be the last:
I messed with USA kit a bit. The US Soccer shield should actually match the US flag in my opinion, and what’s with the polka dot numbers? Might as well have tiny stars instead. Most importantly, removed the stains (Devil logo). What do you think?
Next up is Michael Hass, who has five very interesting NFL concepts. Really.
I have a couple NFL tweaks for you. After seeing your write-up of Danny Finocchio’s awesome baseball tweaks a couple months ago, I was inspired to draw up a new template for football uniforms. I just have fronts right now, but maybe down the road I’ll do one for the backs. First up, I have the Bears which is already great, but could be better in my opinion. I think the orange is underused in their current uni…it just always appears flat to me. So I amped that up and added some weight to the stripe pattern.
I submitted a Cards design for the Uni contest, but I think it may have been a little over the top for some people. Here I’ve retooled it so it’s more practical, and added a couple of stripes to the mix. Stripes never hurt anyone, right? (Unless they’re on a pair of 1960’s Broncos socks)
I’ve submitted this Bengals design before, but I wanted to see how it looked in this new format. Basically the concept was to not make them look like clown costumes.
I’ve always wanted to see what the Ravens‘ uni would look like if they integrated the iconic Baltimore flag, since they’ve already used it in their alternate logo and on the field. There may be a bit too much going on here for some, but it’s different and I kind of like it. But this probably wouldn’t be a primary uni.
There’s always a debate about the Chargers powder blue vs dark blue. So why not just combine them and be done with it? Also, I wanted to try a new way of placing the lightning bolts without having those annoying white panels behind them, and I fixed what I feel is a number-readability problem. That’s it for now — thanks for the forum.
And finally, we have a baseball redesign from Matthew Hager:
Here’s my Cincinnati Reds uni tweak. I am a Reds fan and have been since berth. The one thing that always bothered me about the Reds, even before I had ever heard of Uni Watch, was the “REDS” typeface in the wishbone C. I didn’t match the logo they used when I was little, nor does it match what they use on their jerseys now. They changed “Cincinnati” typefaces a couple of years ago, and it still doesn’t match the “REDS” since the C.
My tweak is to just get rid of it. Yes, the Chicago Bears use the wishbone C, too, but I doubt anyone is really confusing the two teams. I based my C off the 1980s “Mr. Red logo” C and went from there.
For the home look I went back to the past. My favorite Reds home jersey is the 1956 look. It’s simple and awesome. The Reds are a traditional MLB team and should have more of a classic, traditional look. No drop shadows, no BFBS, no gimmicks.
For the road jersey I decided to mix what the Reds do now and what they did the last time they won the World Series in 1990. I kept the current “Cincinnati” typeface but changed the numbers type. I also dropped all of the black drop shadows and decided to return white trim to the letters and numbers – like the Reds did away from home in 1990.
For the third/alternate I decided to go back to 1956 for a little inspiration. I went with a red top with the head of Mr. Redlegs replacing the wishbone C on the front. The Reds used Mr. Redlegs as a jersey logo on the road in 1956.
Finally, I should note the socks, which are red with five white stripes – much like what the Reds wore at home in 1956. The reason I did that was to honor Cincinnati’s five World Series champions from 1919, 1940, 1975, 1976 and 1990.
Thanks and keep up the good work,
Good stuff. Thanks to all the tweakers, back with more next time.
OK, everyone, enjoy your Sunday.
No one’s interested in something you didn’t do. — The Hip
And a Happy 4th Anniversary…I had mine last Friday…Uni Watch celebrates its #4 on Monday. Quite a first pitch. What a long, strange trip it’s been. Congrats Paul, and thanks for the ride.