The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs (the former Belleville Bulls or possibly even the former Hamilton Bulldogs AHL team, depending on what crazy timeline you personally believe in) have opened up a vote to allow fans to choose their new uniforms and colours for the 2016-17 season.
Uniforms were created via a fan design contest, open to anyone who chose to enter, the club received over one thousand entries and chose three finalists who captured the overall feel of the majority of submissions.
The three finalists are:
A black and yellow, retro Penguins rip
This one fits the colour scheme of the city of Hamilton quite well, the CFL’s Ti-Cats have used these colours forever and the NHL’s Hamilton Tigers went with this scheme for a few seasons in the 1920s. The problem here is that we’ve already got a few teams wearing this exact colour scheme in the OHL, the Sarnia Sting and Kingston Frontenacs, both of whom have been doing so for over two decades.
If the Bulldogs go with this usually unique scheme, that will be 3 of 20 teams in the league dressed in black and yellow (15% of the league). Despite the ties to the history of the city, I’d rather they try for something a little more unique to the league and perhaps not use a uniform template so obviously associated with another club especially in the same colours (Pittsburgh Penguins). Of the three, in a vacuum, this one gets my vote, but in reality it’s just too similar to other teams in the league and outside of it for me to support it.
This retains the colour scheme of the current Bulldogs team but adds silver to the mix, the AHL version of the team had used red, white, and blue since the mid 2000s as they were affiliated with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens during that span. Like the black/yellow proposal, this same colour scheme is currently used by multiple teams in the league (Sudbury, Sagniaw, Windsor) but at least the uniform template (while feeling like the old NY Rangers Statue of Liberty uniforms because of the colours) isn’t instantly associated with any other team.
It’s nice to see the colours as a nod to the old Bulldogs but that was a palette forced upon the city by a team most everyone in the region would consider to be a bitter rival (Hamilton is Maple Leafs county!). Time to move on now that those ties have been completely cut.
Blue, orange, and silver
Alright, I like the use of orange, but not paired with the blue and silver. This exact same colour scheme was *just adopted* by the OHL’s Flint Firebirds in a uniform which feels very similar (but not quite the same) to this style proposed here, Flint’s is much better though (a silver shoulder yoke? eh…), it’s similar enough that if the Firebirds adopted this exact uniform and colours as an alternate or warmup jersey (with logo swapped), you’d think, “Hey, that’s a nice alternate uniform choice!”.
I clearly am not in favour of any of these, so just what exactly do I think they should have done? Well as I said previously, I like the idea of going with orange — the Firebirds are the only team in the league to really use it and if you pair the orange with black (instead of blue and silver) it’s a throwback to the same colour scheme used by Hamilton’s lone NHL team during their expansion season (1920/21). Black and orange hasn’t been seen in the OHL since the Detroit Ambassadors over a quarter century ago, the only other team to come close to this scheme would be the Belleville Bulls who are now the Hamilton Bulldogs anyways. It works! Gives you both a unique look in the league and pays tribute to the history of both the city and the franchise. Win-win. Throw some “H”s under the arms for Hamilton (ala Tampa Bay), you only see them when the Bulldogs score a goal or win the Cup… call ‘em “Hammer Arms” or something.
Did I submit my entry? Nope. I designed one but chose not to submit it. We also did not promote this contest while it was still accepting submissions. I’m fine with fan design contests for a one-off/charity jersey, but not a full-time set, you gotta hire a professional for these things. One anonymous designer told me quite succinctly that he was “not a fan” of these contests and that they “diminish the profession and display a lack of respect to trained professionals.” You can’t argue with that. They later added that anyone charged with designing a new look for a club should have a strong understanding of how a design will look during a broadcast, not to mention keeping up with retail trends and manufacturing limitations. Bingo.
The quick and easy lesson here, don’t cheap out. You lose out on all that available expertise and talent, while convincing over a thousand “designers” to do work for you for free. Sure, one of these entrants will get a neat story to tell their friends for a few years as well as a pair of season tickets for a year, but it’s just not the best way to do things overall; legit designers out there have a wealth of talent, don’t be afraid to use that! It’s better for you, your brand, and really everyone involved.
Yeah, I ranted a bit, it’s been two weeks since I last posted here, give me a break.
If you’d like, you can vote here for the new uniform until March 1st.