The National Hockey League formally announced that the Detroit Red Wings will host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium in the 2014 Winter Classic in a Joe Louis Arena press conference on Sunday.
That wasn’t new news. That the Winter Classic originally scheduled for 2013 would be pushed back a year was all-but-assured when the 2013 game was cancelled due to the recent NHL lockout. The new part of Sunday’s announcement was the confirmation that the sweaters that leaked via a pair of eBay auctions in February are indeed the Winter Classic jerseys and there will be a separate set of jerseys for the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park.
The team’s original maple leaf logo adorns the front in a white felt-like material on blue mesh. At the bottom of the body are six white stripes, two sets of three. Each set is made up of a thick stripe bordered by a thin one on each side of it.
The sleeves of the Leafs’ jersey have four of the same stripe sets found on the body. The player’s number is above the top set of stripes in a block font. Across the shoulders is another appearance of the three-stripe pattern, with the Winter Classic logo appearing on the right shoulder.
On the back, the player’s name and number appear in a standard block font.
While the Maple Leafs wear a sweater taken almost directly from their history, the Red Wings will appear in a red “fauxback” uniform that combines elements from the 1982-83 season, the 1930s, and entirely new pieces.
Unlike the block fonts used for Toronto’s jersey numbers, the Red Wings will bring back the “fancy” numbers the team used in the 1982-83 season. That design element is carried to the front of the jersey, where the word “Detroit” appears in the “fancy” font arched over the original 1930s version of the team’s famed Winged Wheel logo.
The striping pattern is unlike anything the Wings have used previously, with a pair of white stripes appearing across the upper chest. The paired stripes appear at the bottom of the body and the sleeves as well, though in the lower body the bottom stripe is significantly thicker than the top one while the pattern is reversed for the sleeves.
A unique element is that the captain’s C will appear as white inside a red diamond in the larger of the two stripes on the left sleeve. The diamond is a carry-over from Detroit’s jerseys of the 1950s, as well as their throwback jerseys from the 1991-92 season.
The crest, numbers and nameplate – a standard block font above the numbers – are all in the same felt-like material as the crest of the Maple Leafs’ sweater. Also like the Maple Leafs, the Red Wings will wear the Winter Classic logo on their right shoulders. Both jerseys include laced collars.
With the Red Wings in red jerseys and the Maple Leafs in blue, it will mark the first regular-season game in the NHL’s modern era that both teams wear a dark jersey. Dark-on-dark matchups were common in the NHL’s early years. When the Red Wings adopted their first red jerseys in 1932, they were too similar to the Montreal Canadiens, forcing one of the teams to wear a white jersey when they played each other. By the 1951-52 season, all six NHL teams had adopted a white road jersey.
“Actually, we tested it with our TV partners. It was very important to the Red Wings that they be in red, it was very important to the Leafs that they be in blue, and we worked with the TV partners, we spoke to hockey operations, we spoke to the managers of both clubs; everybody is comfortable that this will work,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman explained.
Of future colour-on-colour matchups, Bettman cautioned, “Let’s see how this goes.”
For both alumni teams, the sweaters for the Alumni Showdown are a familar look.
The Red Wings alumni will appear in sweaters that are a simple inversion of those the team wore in the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field. The red body is broken up by a white stripe across the midsection, carried onto each sleeve. A red Old English D appears on the stripe and, in a change from the 2009 version of the sweaters, sleeve numbers appear inside the stripe on the sleeve. The Winged Wheel logo appears on each shoulder.
Like the 2009 jerseys, the jersey numbers are the same color as the body, in this case red outlined in white.
The 2009 Winter Classic jerseys were inspired by the 1926-27 Detroit Cougars sweaters.
The Maple Leafs’ jerseys will be the set the team wore throughout the 1980s. They feature a blue body accented by a thick white stripe stretching from cuff to cuff up each sleeve and over the shoulders. A white stripe appears around the waist.
The modern maple leaf logo in white is the crest for this jersey while a blue version without the “Toronto Maple Leafs” text is at each shoulder. The jersey numbers and nameplate are all a standard block font.