Earlier this week Adidas, the NHL, and EA Sports together unveiled a unique new concept, six digital-only uniforms for hockey’s historic “Original* Six” franchises, uniforms designed to be used by players of EA Sports’ NHL19 video game.
For these six teams, the youngest of which is ninety years old, this was an opportunity to try something completely off-the-wall (for them) and just let the creative process fly without much need to feel *too* tethered down to their individual visual histories.
The Boston Bruins design pays tribute to the fact they were the original U.S.-based team in the NHL adding thirteen stars around their standard logo representing the original thirteen colonies of the United States. With the Chicago Blackhawks, they took advantage of the team’s underused full colour scheme by integrating the blue, green, and yellow from the logo’s feathers in their logo into the striping pattern of the uniforms.
The New York Rangers turn their entire uniform into their logo while the Toronto Maple Leafs have the top half of theirs popping up from the bottom in a look that feels familiar to Canadian hockey fans (almost a nod to the ’72 Summit Series?).
In Detroit, the Red Wings play it cool by just adding a couple of horizontal racing stripes to their jersey – based off their original expansion season uniform while the forever historic Montreal Canadiens play around with their usual horizontal stripe adding in the city’s abbreviation in place of the logo, the team’s “C” logo now used (without the “H”) as the captain’s patch.
To get a better idea of how this project came about we spoke with Matty Merrill, the Design Director at Adidas Hockey.
Chris Creamer, SportsLogos.Net: How did this project get started? Who approached who?
Matty Merrill, Adidas: Right away we realized we shared core values with EA. We are two authentic brands that the fan admires and engages, both looking to stay one step ahead of the pack. And, most importantly, we both love hockey. In the past, we had just worked together to make sure the uniforms were accurate. Just the facts. Now, we treat them the same as we do one of our athletes, like a Creator we can build something amazing with.
CC: Is this the same design team that works on actual NHL team uniforms?
MM: Yes, the same folks that design the on-ice unis designed Digital 6. This group is basically the dream team of Hockey design. Needless to say, everyone was stoked to try something completely new. The lion’s share of our job is to deliver authentic, expected hockey product that fans are already passionate about, but we also just really love hockey and want to bring it to new people, new places and push the boundaries. This is definitely our biggest swing at creating the new in hockey so far.
CC: Any new challenges designing for a video game vs real life?
MM: Actually, it was very freeing to design for digital instead of real life. As you can imagine, there are a lot of restrictions on the traditional briefs we receive from teams, especially when it involves an Original Six team – these are the most storied brands in all of hockey, in most of sport in general! They don’t make changes lightly but as the “creator sports brand”, it is our role to push the boundaries to innovate, design, and create. It seemed like just the right opportunity for the historic franchises to make history again.
CC: How involved were the teams on the project?
MM: The teams were very involved – this was a true collaboration. Just like us and EA, they were stoked to try something new. The first call was pretty intense. All of the Original Six teams were on the line at the same time. Adidas, the NHL, and EA pitched this crazy idea to them and there was, what felt like a full minute of silence, then many of the teams chimed in to say they were in. At that moment we all knew this was going to be special.
CC: Could we ever see these worn in an NHL game someday? Or made available at retail?
MM: Early in the brainstorming process, we came up with some completely crazy ideas. Eventually, we decided to keep the designs in a place where they could potentially be sewn into actual garments. So, technically, it is possible. Whether they ever make it on the ice, who knows?
Players can get one of these six jerseys by entering “Hockey Ultimate Team” in NHL19. Players must redeem the Digital 6 choice pack located in the HUT store before November 19. There are also six HUT Challenges featuring an Original Six team that can be completed to earn the remaining jerseys in the game.