New Jersey(s)

It’s September … baseball finally is winding down, college and pro football are getting started. And – something I look forward to, anyway – NHL training camps are opening up, and that means I need to start writing on this again.

There are many new names in new places, but one thing that will highlight this season is the introduction of new uniforms for all teams.

Never mind that there are more pressing issues going on – a real television contract that is not shown on the Rodeo Channel, for one. Another would be the league continuing to repair its image following the lockout.

And while I’m on my soapbox, would it be too much to have every team play every other team each season, home and away?

I live in Chicago, but if I want to my beloved New York Rangers this season, I need to drive six hours northwest to St. Paul, Minn., because Central Division teams will not play Atlantic Division teams this season.

Sure. Makes perfect sense.

This is an issue that rankles a lot of fans, but – as Gurnee-based blogstatician Chris Altruda calls him – the Keebler Elf (read: commissioner Gary Bettman), it’s far more important to have more streamlined uniforms that, hopefully, will generate new revenue streams.

So, now, I will turn into Mr. Blackwell …

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – GRADE: B+: This one is easy to critique. The team may still be awful, but at least they will look better while struggling.

The biggest change was getting rid of the old CBJ logo with a stick planted in the middle of it for what was the logo on their third jerseys. The Ohio state flag makes a graceful ‘C’, and the shoulder patches feature a Civil War hat.

When the Jackets got started up, their logo included a neon green bug. So people were asking, is a Blue Jacket a bug native to central Ohio? Is the team name honoring Civil War soldiers? WTF is it?? Thankfully, that’s gone.

My big problem with Columbus, though, is it still uses a funky font for their names and numbers.

So I have to ask -- why? That may have been a hook with kids when the team first took the ice, but there's no need for it now six years in.

With a more grown-up look on the front of the jersey, they should have gone traditional on the back as well.

BOSTON BRUINS – A+: Simply put, they got it right.

In recent years, one of the league’s respected franchises wore a more modern (ahem ... uglier…ahem) version of the classic logo with a ridiculous yoke that extended down the entire sleeve. And, let’s not forget the gold Winnie the Pooh third jerseys. Bears, last I checked, evoked fear – unless its name was Yogi or Boo-Boo.

Last year, the Bruins scrapped the WTPs for a classic look that harkened back to the days of Bobby Orr and their last Stanley Cup. While the Cup probably isn’t heading to the Hub anytime soon, this set shows that modernization isn’t always better, and with hockey being perhaps the sport that draws upon its history the most, this set does it well.

Again, showing the coolness of retro, the shoulder patches do more than remind me of Bucyk, Park and Cheevers. Think Clapper. Think Shore.

MONTREAL CANADIENS – A: Again, nothing wrong here.

With all the technological advancements and stretchy fabrics that are going into these jerseys, it’s refreshing to see that history, in some cases, is left intact. The Habs logo hasn’t been changed since … let’s see … forever. Even a third jersey introduced several years ago, was a light colored sweater on a dark template.

No funky fonts, No bells and whistles. Clean and solid.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS – A: One thing about technology is that it will cost you. These new jerseys will set you back about $270, and that doesn’t include a name and number on the back.

If I were to order one of these jerseys, this probably would be the one.

On some logo message boards, this set was met with howls of derision. While there is a lot here, I think it all works together. First, the blue-and-green is back: the colors the Canucks wore when they first entered the league 37 years ago. Second, the classic stick-in-rink logo is on the shoulders and also will be on the pants. Third, the Orca logo in the middle even looks better on this set than it did on the dark blues or the ….shudder … gradient thirds they once wore.

The best part: Vancouver, prominently displayed and again, a nod to history. The Canucks of the old Western Hockey League sported that, and the Millionaires some 100 years ago had the city name spelled out in a block “V”.

Since $270+ is a little steep, I have a $24 blue Canucks T-shirt on backorder.

That’s all for now. What do you think? I’d like to know.

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