Is it time to address the (white) elephant in the room?
I’m the first to applaud a team for trying something new, something different, something daring. An all-white uniform for the Toronto Maple Leafs certainly meets that requirement, so despite never really being a fan of hockey teams wearing white pants I tried to keep an open mind when I first heard of the Leafs’ plan seven months ago, “I’ll wait until I see it on the ice?” I would try and convince myself with.
Last night I saw it on the ice. I’m sorry to say it didn’t work.
Media members and fans tweeted mentioning the white uniforms were nearly impossible to see on white ice, the poor lighting for the nighttime outdoor game certainly didn’t help.
Those Maple Leafs outdoor uniforms could have used a little more blue just so I can tell the players from the ice !
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 4, 2018
— Chris Doucette (@SunDoucette) March 4, 2018
The Leafs uniforms for this outdoor game make them look like they’re constantly about to break into a team dance number
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 4, 2018
Watching at home on television you could tell things weren’t going to go well right from the start, Ron MacLean opened Hockey Night in Canada on CBC mentioning the Leafs uniforms, trying hard to hide a chuckle in his voice as he introduced them; the uniform was then the first question asked by CBC’s panel to Leafs president Brendan Shanahan during a guest appearance on the pre-game show. Shanny responded quickly pointing out they were in tribute to the Canadian Navy and they were proud to pay their respects to them.
The right idea was certainly there, and I like that with the venue being the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium the Leafs wanted to finally pay tribute specifically to the Canadian Navy, often overlooked at these specialty uniform events.
Let’s be clear here, the *jersey* the Leafs wore were great, I had no problem with it, and the nods to the Navy on the jersey worked well: the inner collar motto of “Ready. Aye. Ready”, the white with blue trim, and calling back to the design used in their last outdoor game, the Centennial Classic, added a layer of consistency with the team at this sort of event.
But they lost me with the pants and the gloves.
And that’s okay, they tried it, it didn’t work, it’s just for one game and will certainly not be their regular look going forward. As fans we don’t purchase pants or gloves as part of our support for the team (uh, usually), and as I said earlier the jersey on its own was perfectly fine. When it comes to adding to our collection or wearing something to a game the look of the jersey is all that really matters.
Shortly after the unveiling of this set back in February we saw a few “tweaker concepts” come in from Twitter… I try not to feature these too often; people always love the results of them but they have the benefit of already knowing and being able to improve upon what’s been released without having to give the audience something entirely new with nothing to compare it to. The actual uniform and logo designers and teams do not get this leg-up.
But in this instance though I genuinely liked the tweaks, the simple addition of just blue pants, not even the gloves, really improved the overall look of the uniform, in my opinion:
— KP8 (@KP8Design) February 10, 2018
Would the above design have had as many people talking about it? Not a chance.
What would people have thought of this set without ever seeing the all-white uniform released first? Who knows, but I imagine there would be complaints and other tweaks applied to it in order to make it “perfect”.
In conclusion: the jerseys were great, (pants aside) the uniforms were too, and trying something new is always important and should definitely be done but now we know an all-white uniform in hockey doesn’t work, so… let’s not do that again.