Hawks, Bruins go classical

View this post on Instagram

◾️▫️◾️©️◾️▫️◾️

A post shared by Chicago Blackhawks (@nhlblackhawks) on

There are few things that stir our drink like a throwback jersey. And let’s face it, throwbacks typically don’t come any smoother than those produced by the NHL.

The Winter Classic games in particular, help bring some pop to their designs, mostly because the jersey makers are working with yesteryear’s template: simple colours, uncluttered logos and quite often forgotten fabrics.

The latest iteration of the Bruins and Blackhawks jerseys for the Classic even boast felt for the numbers and logos, a neat touch but also a clever way to entice merchandise fanatics.

All that’s left for these items, perhaps, is an old timey smell. How about a combination of Lentheric aftershave, Brylcreem and sweat?

Now that’d be truly vintage.

Advertisements

Outdoor hockey, on thin ice?

Is outdoor hockey likely to stay?

It took a puck to the crotch following the Heritage Classic in Calgary a few years back.

Instead of praising the fun and tradition of the game, as has happened in past al fresco forays, several reporters are stuck on the cons – and probably still, to their frozen seats.

Look we understand: it’s difficult to be perky about outdoor hockey when freezing your butt off. Then again, when was the last time reporters sat in the bleachers, 1919?

Criticism covered the bitter cold winds, chipped ice and the tennis-ball like puck. Not to mention the Calgary Flames flamboyant vintage uniforms which offended more than a few. Hey, the fans seemed to enjoy it game in technicolor.

David Stubbs of The Vancouver Sun wrote:

“The temperatures were so cold, in fact, that the McMahon sheet was little better than playground quality, requiring monotonous work by repair crews and manual flooding between periods, Zamboni machines kept off for fear they’d crack the surface.”

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote:

“Those 41,022 freezing fans at McMahon Stadium on Sunday may have attended the sporting event of their lives. The question now for the NHL: How many more towns will have that feeling before the thrill is gone?”

Randy Sportak of The Calgary Sun wrote:

“Was it a classic? Not really. The calibre of play was more akin to the level you’d see on ESPN Classic.”

Yes, ice conditions weren’t stellar, and okay, it was minus-8.6C at puck drop. But this was hardly premised as a hockey clinic. It was always a clever marketing activity – a brilliant way to pique the interest of new and fair-weather fans – no pun intended.

And come on, how good are those jerseys?

Tampa Bay vintage

New Lightning jersey

The Tampa Bay Lightning Leaf-style look is still great, despite more mixed reviews than a Super Bowl anthem singing.

News sites, blogs and fan polls about the flash digs differ in their views with those in favour hardly overwhelming the detractors.

I find this strange because the new jersey is all class. I’m no Armani but I don’t know how you could conjure something better – even with Giorgio himself leading the design team. Some fans are tough to please I guess.

The two-tone uniforms with simplified lightning bolt logo hark back to another era. And that can only be a good thing. Let’s face it, the old jersey was caught in that early 90s design vortex that has hurt so many hockey team identities – as well as teen idols like Luke Perry and various R&B stars.

General Manager Steve Yzerman and the club consulted strategic brand development firm SME to develop the new brand, with an emphasis on a “classic” and “iconic” look.

And I think they succeeded. The blue and white incarnation is reminiscent of classic Maple Leafs uniforms, which hopefully for Tampa’s sake, inspires classic Leafs-like victories.

Jets flying home to Winnipeg?

winnipeg jets logoIt’s true – the Winnipeg Jets are being wished back into existence, remarkably after being exported to Arizona as a potential “cash cow” (or, er, coyote).

So much for that idea. How much was the Phoenix Coyotes’ bankruptcy price, $140 million? And according to The Toronto Star, the club is now a further $20 million in the hole after this season. We give you Gary Bettman ladies and gentlemen – a man with a dream.

Incredibly, the idea that Canuck teams are too small time to make good money, is now being shunned by pundits because Canadian locales are surely better off than struggling post-GFC American cities, as Randy Turner explained in The National Post this week.

And there’s the moral of the story. How can anyone, in any pro sport, seriously contemplate relocating a popular team again for the sake of a few bucks? It’s nuts. It doesn’t matter which way you slice it – fancy new TV deal, the promise of more bobble head sales, or potentially robust attendance figures – loyal fans always deserve to keep their team, and in the end, will stand by them.

When the chips are down, do the ambitious movers and shakers of business really believe fans in the desert, on the beach or cruising the bayou will really be enamored with hockey – on ice? These people have football, basketball and baseball. They prefer ice in their lemonade to ice in their arenas. It’s just common sense.

Hey, nobody’s disrespecting the fans that do support the Phoenix Coyotes, or the Nashville Predators for that matter. In fact, we tip our inflatable hockey hats to you. But the way in which the Winnipeg-Phoenix saga has played out needs to be a lesson for all: tradition and passion count for more than the bottom line (at least in Any Town, North America). As long as us – the fans – are happy, who cares about the league’s desire for expanding markets?

Following a sports team isn’t a game for us, as it is for many owners. It’s an emotional relationship, in which nobody wants their heart broken – especially not for a few dudes wanting a better lining in their pockets.

Hopefully the potential re-relocation of the Jets reinforces this message. And while we’re at it, maybe there’ll be some recognition that you don’t mess with a classic sports brand. The Jets logo, after all,  was – and maybe is – one of the best to ever grace a rink.

Flyers need song, stamp and more to win

Kate Smith stamp

The Philadelphia Flyers are working with the US Postal Service to unveil a stamp of legendary singer Kate Smith at the Spectrum this month. As The Inquirer recalled yesterday, Smith performed “God Bless America” before the Flyers played the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1974. And she’s been a good luck charm ever since because the Flyers won that game and the series. If only the Philly players could take the tune on the road, maybe play with their iPods on or something. They’ll need it against the Bruins in Boston, where they haven’t won a playoff game since 1976.

Canucks celebrate

Vancouver Canucks“Canucks Day” has been announced in the city of Vancouver, following the team’s dramatic first round series win against the LA Kings. While some fans are not thrilled by the idea, we think it’s great to see the mayor and the city embrace the club. They’re even sending Fin the Canucks mascot downtown to hand out white towels. He’s working on an off day – give it up folks.

Vince and Hawks fans hope for 3-2 lead

Vince Vaughn at Blackhawks gameVince Vaughn and wife Kyla Weber talk forechecking at a recent Blackhawks games. Or maybe Vince is deciding on hot dog toppings. Either way, you have to love the team dedication. And isn’t Kyla a Flames fan? Respect.