Sunday, July 29, 2007

The New Uniforms

When the NHL announced last season that the entire league would be adopting Reebok's new EDGE Uniform System, and every team would have the opportunity to design a new sweater, I figured the Islanders could go one of two ways: finish the restoration of the classic uniform that began in the 1998-'99 season (my hope), or go in an entirely new direction that would leave me scratching my head and muttering, "Why can't we get this right?"

I have never considered the restoration of the classic Islanders uniform to be complete. It's not so much that I dislike the navy blue. I just think that it's not quite right. I know that there is an entire generation of fans that doesn't feel any strong attachment to the royal blue uniforms that, to me, represent the true blue of the Islanders. In fact, I believe that a significant segment of the Coliseum faithful prefers the navy. But I don't think I'll ever be swayed.

I've also never been a fan of the current number style, which uses an offset outline to create the appearance of a double trim. The jersey color creates the first outline. On the blue sweater, the white numerals are trimmed in blue, and then in orange. On the white sweater, the blue numerals are trimmed in white, and then in blue. Somehow this double outline makes the numbers look weaker, if that makes any sense. I much prefer the old style of outlining the numbers with a single color. It's a bolder look.

One concern about the RBK system is that it is template-based, with seemingly many options for adding panels of color and extra piping. It was my sincere hope that the Islanders would resist the temptation to do something "new and exciting." I was looking for them to keep it simple, and, if it was not asking too much, bring back the royal blue. As some of you may know, the following picture has been circulating around the Web for a couple of months now:

This is not what I was hoping for

I have seen this photo posted in numerous places over the last couple of months, but I have never seen it credited to anyone. More and more evidence (i.e., Internet chatter) suggests that if it is not the exact sweater that the Isles will be wearing this year, it is close. I'm sure it will grow on me, but I am disappointed. I want the Islanders to be the type of franchise whose look is timeless. While the franchise has not been around as long as teams like the Habs, Bruins, Yankees, or Dodgers, it did make enough of an impact on the NHL records books to make it an historic franchise. I think a classic looks goes a long way to protecting that status. Winning consistently doesn't hurt either.

There has been some great discussion of this issue on the Hockey's Future Islanders Board. This thread and this thread in particular present some good opinions, nuggets of news (granted, we can't verify them), as well as mockups of new uniform possibilities.

And I can't say enough about how good the team looked paying tribute to the '72-'73 season last year. The orange letters were a little tough to read, and these aren't the exact uniforms I grew up with, but I'd sign on for this look in a second.

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