Monday, January 31, 2011

Yea! New Uniforms Means I Get to Buy a New Jersey!

As Russ Geller once said, “No one likes change”. And so it appears in regards to the new uniforms the Tampa Bay Lightning unveiled at the St Pete Times Forum Monday afternoon. The changes, which had been hinted at for a few weeks, were revealed at the first in a series of press conferences orchestrated this week by ownership to keep the team in the news in the lull of the All-Star break. Tuesday’s conference will be about community involvement and Wednesday will be about changes to the Forum.

Yeah I totally took this photo from the official Lightning website

Reaction to the new uniforms has been tepid at best. While the white road uniform has been generally accepted, the home blues have been almost universally panned as bland, unoriginal and too blue. One of the most repeated themes is the absence of silver and black in the color scheme. Most of the older fan base, at least the ones that use the internet, associate those colors with the team since they have been present from day one.

From a quick perusal of Puck Daddy, fans of other teams have responded with a “meh” or “fail” attitude and then moved on with their lives. Fans with more of a vested interest in the team have not exactly embraced the changes either.

With the aforementioned lack of silver and black, the other main complaint is that the uniforms bear too much of a resemblance to the Maple Leafs. While I see why that comparison begs to be made, I don’t see why that‘s necessarily a bad thing. Do San Francisco Giants fans get upset because the Baltimore Orioles have the same colors as their team? There are a lot of professional teams out there, the Bolts were bound to resemble an existing franchise.

The designers are dealing with a limited color palette. Once they decided that the colors would be blue and white, there wasn’t much they could do that wouldn’t mimic an existing team. Colors are colors, in the end they’re not that important. No one is inventing any new colors anytime soon and some colors should never appear on a professional sports team uniform (think of the original Devil Rays uniforms).

Speaking of the Rays, one of the things that struck me when I saw the new uniforms is that it was quite the coincidence that the colors were the same. Well close to the same, none of that powder blue that shows up in St Pete from time to time. Wouldn’t it be odd if the sports franchises in the TBA were slowly moving to a unified coloring scheme? Alas, I doubt the Bucs will change from red and pewter anytime soon, but it was nice to think of what it would be like. One of the few things I like about the city of Pittsburgh is that everything is gold and black.

One problem that I do have with management is that they said they sought to create a look that was “iconic” and “classic”. Well, I tend to believe that those things can‘t be created. They have to become them. The Yankee pinstripes or Dallas star weren’t created to be classic. They became iconic because of the success and longevity of the team on the field.

Which means for these new uniforms to become what Steve Yzerman and Jeff Vinik want them to be, they have to leave them alone. Don’t tinker or change. Let them be and build a successful organization on the ice and the rest will take care of itself. No one will care what the crest looks like when the team is skating the Stanley Cup around the ice.

That they were willing to change the brand of the franchise so boldly speaks to the strength of the owner and front office. While the previous regime made minor changes to the existing uniform, Vinik and company were confident the changes would stand the test of time. So far they’ve made the right decisions on the ice, time (and merchandise sales) will determine if they made the right decisions off the ice.

Fan unrest over the uniforms will die down with time. Three years ago the third jersey design was met with scorn that has since dissipated. The outcry over the bland look of the Rays uniforms has died down as well. They made the change, accept the change and get back to rooting for the team on the ice.

It will be odd next season looking at the new cards with the old uniforms on them while watching the team skate around with the new sweaters on. Always disconcerting.

Compliments of we see Chris Kontos rocking the original black and blue

And for the record, I would take Chloe at the copyshop over uptight Rachel any day of the week.


Captain Canuck said...

for me, I like the changes. The 'road' whites look really good, and are close to the Tampa Lightning look of old. The new 'home' blues? Well, the black is gone. Good. Black is a horrible hockey colour. Remember Calgary's third jersey from a few years back? Management almost got run out of town over that one.

But my take is this. Take a look at the new Tampa blue and whites. Now compare them to Detroit's red and whites. Very similar. I think this is the classic look that Stevie Y was looking for...

Fuji said...

I'm not a fan of change... but I love the positive attitude. A new jersey in one's closet is never a bad thing ;-)

Justin G. said...

Cap'n: a lot of folks have made that comparison with the wings. I see it and it makes sense. Black is really overused these days, but man is that a lot of blue especially if they have blue helmets.

That being said I really like the road sweaters. That will probably be the one I buy.

Fuji: change is tough. Alas, my job has taught me to embrace it rather than rail against it.