[First, a disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Uniwatchblog.com, as in, I'm a paid member with a membership card and everything. I'm serious about "athletics aesthetics" and I think that how a team looks on the playing field/ice/court/pitch/etc. is almost as important as the way they actually play.]
Today, the Avalanche unveiled their new white and dark RBK Edge jerseys (pictured above). While the official word from the Avalanche prior to the big reveal was "very little will change," it turns out that very much has changed, indeed.
First off, I think the new designs suck. Hard. I think the Avalanche blew a great opportunity to refine their fan-loved and league-respected uniform designs and instead tried far too hard to look cool (or at least different). The end result is something definitely different, but not cool at all.
The initial response so far has been overwhelmingly negative, especially on the Avalanche.com message board and the NHL Tournament Of Logos blog. But unlike most people, I'm actually going to explain (in detail) why I think they suck.
There is no reason why a hockey jersey should look like an apron or a smock, but the front piping (already seen on the new shirts of the Predators and Panthers) creates that illusion. The piping shrinks the chest area, takes away room for the C and A worn by captains and alternate captains and makes the logo-filled front of the jersey seem even more crowded. Worse, vertical piping such as that on the new Avalanche jerseys eliminates the best feature of traditional hockey design: horizontal stripes. It completely changes the "language" of what makes the hockey sweaters of old so distinctive. What now separates the Avalanche from a football team?
Enough about piping, though. Let's look at the atrocious sleeve design. Gone are the jagged lines of old that tied the previous jerseys' overall aesthetic to the jagged A of the team logo. In their place are straight lines without any divider between burgundy and blue. In this photo you can clearly see the difference between the older version worn by Curtis Leschyshyn (center right) and the newer version on John-Michael Liles (center left). The new jerseys now look like the cheap knock-offs of the old ones that seemed to pop up in the most awkward of places. I guess we now know where the Avalanche got the inspiration for the sleeve re-design.
Now, on to the shoulders and neck line. Paul at Uniwatch has long complained about logo creep (the growing presence of corporate logos on American professional sports team jerseys), and I share his frustration. It's not the "Reebok Colorado Avalanche", it's just the Colorado Avalanche. With that in mind, the giant logo on the back of the new jerseys is both ugly and inappropriate---especially since the lines of the shoulder are broken only to highlight that logo. It's crass.
Speaking of broken color consistency, what the hell is up with the armpits? Why change colors under the arms anyway? And what's with the jagged little strip that extends down from the armpit? What on earth is the purpose of that? Sure, I know the jersey is broken into a series of panels, but there's no reason every panel has to have a different color. It's unnecessary.
Finally, from a non-jersey standpoint, the "socks" (more like spandex leotards) are OK, generally maintaining the theme of the Avalanche socks of old. Also, in the lone bid for true consistency, the pants have remained black, which is actually something that always bothered me. I always felt the team would look better if they wore burgundy pants with the white jerseys and navy blue pants with the burgundy ones. But I guess black will have to do.
Side note: I think it's funny that the Avalanche chose John Michael-Liles to model the new uniforms. He's generally mocked pretty heavily already for being "the pretty one", and it says a lot that Super Joe wasn't present for the unveiling---out with the old, in with the new, I suppose.
So, in sum, I think the Avs made a huge mistake and dropped a popular, sophisticated tradition that wasn't nearly old enough to be truly behind the times. While teams like the Rangers, Bruins and Red Wings stuck to tradition and were applauded for it, teams like the Islanders, Vancouver and now the Avalanche tossed aside great traditional designs and went in the wrong direction entirely all while claiming to have the past in mind. Bull.
I think this guy's expression says it all. The Colorado Avalanche team might play much better this season, but they're going to look a lot worse.