Last week, NHL teams began releasing preview images for their Reverse Retro jerseys. This is a league-wide project with adidas featuring color-swapped versions of noteworthy jerseys of the past. See if you can spot the problem with these:
The Problem: Every jersey features a year inside the collar, but those four teams feature a year when those franchises did not exist.
There were teams in Minnesota in 1978 and and Winnipeg in 1979, but those franchises are now located in Dallas and Arizona, respectively. That being said, I don’t have an issue with these retro jerseys since they reflect a piece of professional hockey history in each market. Many fans of the expansion Wild since 2000 were previously fans of the North Stars. Fans in Winnipeg honor the memories and achievements of the Old Jets rather than the Atlanta Thrashers.
My beef comes with the Hurricanes and Avalanche co-opting the previous identity of their franchises. The Canes began this process with the introduction of a green Hartford Whalers alternate jersey. Ironically, this revival of the Whalers identity has only happened under the ownership of Tom Dundon. The previous owner, Peter Karmanos, was the one who moved the team from Hartford to Raleigh. He focused instead on establishing a new identity in a new home. A home which is hours away from the ocean.
The Avalanche jerseys will feature the fleur-de-lis logo, which not only pays homage to the Nordiques, but to a symbol of the entire province of Quebec. Sure, the eastern half of Colorado was part of the Louisiana Territory under French rule, but it wasn’t widely settled then. If the Avs wanted to dig into older hockey history, they could reference the Colorado Rockies, who were in the NHL from 1976 to 1982 before moving to New Jersey and becoming the Devils. They have already brought the Rockies logo back from time to time.
The worst part about this is that both the Canes and Avs have much better history in their current cities! The Nordiques won just two division titles in 16 seasons, with just two appearances in the conference final (no wins). The Avalanche, meanwhile, have won nine division titles in Denver and two Stanley Cups.
The Whalers, despite a great jersey and theme song, were not a good team after joining the NHL from the WHA. In 18 seasons, they won just one division title, and one playoff series in eight appearances. Outside of that one title, they never finished higher than fourth in their division. In 22 seasons in Carolina, the Hurricanes have won three division titles, two conference championships, and a Stanley Cup.
I’m also bothered by the inconsistency. Who has more right to a defunct team’s identity, the host city or the successor franchise in a different city? Obviously as a Browns fan I am biased to the solution which the city of Cleveland negotiated with the NFL to keep the Browns’ name, colors, and history when Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore. I don’t want to see any teams moved, since it is so painful for the fans and the city left behind. But if a team must be moved, it should be treated as an expansion team, in terms of a new identity and history. Leave the old history behind, for any new team to adopt, whether in the NHL or as a development program like the Cleveland Barons.
About the CBJ jersey
UPDATE (10:13 a.m.): Here is the first official look at the Columbus Reverse Retros:
MrSwift already discussed possibilities for the Jackets’ Reverse Retro jersey last week. The team released this preview:
Icethetics created a mock-up based on the preview images:
The Metro Division #ReverseRetro jerseys were previewed today by @adidashockey and the #NHL. I have @Steinosaur19 and @orionataylor along to help with predictions.— icethetics (@icethetics) November 13, 2020
Here are the designs we expect and the stories behind them!https://t.co/t0rdcBSpgo pic.twitter.com/cF79SUEvr0
I’ll update this space with the official announcement if/when it comes out today.
The week that was
This is a beautiful video, including the jerseys.
Reppin' the cannon from beautiful Lake Tahoe— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) November 15, 2020
The Cannon Cast discussed the Gus Nyquist surgery, Vladislav Gavrikov extension, and drafted two all-CBJ teams.
Play me out
Is anyone else watching season 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+? As a lifelong Star Wars fan, I love it. I appreciate that it breaks away from the Skywalker Saga to essentially just be a Western set in the Star Wars universe (right down to guest appearances from at least three Deadwood alumni so far). Every aspect of the production is on point, right down to Emmy-winning score from Swedish composer Ludwig Goransson.