Friday, March 23, 2012

My Rage Against "College Numbers" in the NHL

While many people are doing previews of the NCAA Hockey Tournament, I don't know enough about it to actually fake through it. Other places actually have people paying attention to it and god love 'em because they're good at what they do. However, the tournament allows me to talk about my hatred for the "college number" motif that has made it's way into the professional ranks.

With the new EDGE system the NHL brought in almost five years ago, the biggest things that irked me were the templated design, the unnecessary piping on some jerseys, and most importantly-- the front numbers.

Of course, this all started a year before in the 2006-07 season when the Buffalo Sabres brought in their new "buffaslug" design equipped with the front numbers, basically making their design EDGE ready when they were rolled out the next season. With the number on the front right chest area, it just seems a bit too much like amateur hour and very out of place from the traditional hockey design everyone has come to know and love.

Yet, much to my dismay, the 2007-08 roll out of the the EDGE format really brought my blood to a boil. First, the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, and New York Islanders had a total overhaul of their jersey, adding the front number like the Sabres did. However, both the Bolts and Isles have overhauled their design again, removing their front numbers-- while the Sabres went modernized retro, but still have the front numbers.

Then the Dallas Stars went from having a logo on both their jerseys to their away jersey showing the Stars logo, while their home jerseys had "DALLAS" in the front with the number of the player underneath it, which is silly because they're at home, the fans know they're in Dallas. That even manifested itself into their away jersey going to the "DALLAS" design, basically doing away with their logo all together. The Islanders would bring back their front numbers with their awkward black third jersey with "ISLANDERS" on the front with the number underneath. That is what the kids call the "college number," as many teams in the NCAA have that sort of design for their jerseys.

I can understand why the college teams have it because it's a traditional design for their area of hockey, but at the same time-- it shouldn't manifest itself into the professional game. The front number in the NHL prior to all of this went away in the 1947-48 season with the Boston Bruins and really shouldn't have come back at all. Hell, I even understand some minor league teams doing it, but with NHL teams putting it out there makes it look a little off-putting. The same goes with the front helmet numbers, which-- no clue why it was still done, but it seems like an unnecessary aesthetic to put out there for the sake of it.

Yes, I am a bit of an aesthetic nerd and take these things a little bit more extreme than others, but the old adage is "If you want to make a million bucks, you got to look like a million bucks." A good looking jersey will not only have your own fans buying the jersey, but other people buying it because of how sharp it actually looks in the grand scheme of things.

Credit to NHL Uniforms for their vast information and pictures of the jersey timelines. 

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