Thursday, August 16, 2007

The New Uniforms, Part II

Well, they're here. Initial reaction: Not what I wanted. Don't totally hate them. The official site has additional pictures and more articles than you'll need.

The good:

  • The crest remains untouched and sits prominently in the center of the jersey
  • Horizontal stripes are retained at the bottom of the jersey
  • No trendy, slanted, unnecessarily modern font is used for the numbering and lettering
  • Numbers and letters have a traditional looking, one-color border
The bad:
  • Overall, its a very busy look
  • No switch back to royal blue
  • I don't hate the numbers on the front, but given the choice I would probably leave them off. Apparently the broadcasters appreciate them. That either makes a lot of sense or it's a long way to go for a justification.
  • The orange upper-arm accents just aren't necessary. They do look much better on the blue jersey than the white, and in that case they remind me of a traditional design worn by a lot of college teams and the Red Wings. In the picture of Brendan Witt in profile on the official site, I even kind of like the orange upper arms. But I only like them from the side.
  • The horizontal stripes that ring the bottom of the jersey could be thicker.
Okay, I'm just going to do this once and then I'll let it rest. What follows are some quick modifications I made to the new look. In the first photo, I removed the orange upper-arm panels from both jerseys as well as the front number on the white jersey. In the second one, I gave the same treatment to Brendan Witt. I left the shoulder piping alone because it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would.

It's just a much cleaner look in my opinion. I always thought that the Islanders looked very powerful wearing a clean, white sweater. The orange sleeves detract from that. And I like orange. I was happy they used it as the primary color for the now defunct 3rd jerseys. I might have taken a different approach to the rest of that design, too, but it would have definitely been based on orange. With the white jerseys now being worn on the road, I don't mind the added color as much. But if the league ever switches back to white at home, I'd really like to see a change.

Finally, just a thought on how the organization presented the unveiling online. As you may know, the home page of the Islanders features five main news stories. Today, all five touted the new uniforms and were chock-full of testimonials and marketing talking points. It did seem like the team came out with all of its guns blazing in anticipation of backlash against the new design. A quick survey of Internet chatter suggests fan reviews are very mixed, which is to be expected, but opinions weigh in favor of a less busy and more traditional look. For now, I get the feeling that a lot of us are wondering why the team seems to go out of its way to give us exactly what we don't want. The decision to give us what we do want seems so simple. But when you're in the business of selling hockey, do you please the existing fan base, or try whatever you can to widen it?

The Islanders, I'm sure, spent a lot of time on this.
In the organization's best case scenario, a "new and exciting" design translates to increased merchandising revenue. The team just has a different point of view than the longtime fan, which is typified by this statement: "The Islanders’ newest jersey design combines the heritage of the team with its magnificent logo, along with a unique trendy appeal." For people like me, heritage is important. Trendy never even enters the picture.

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