Several years ago I was regularly asked, “so, what’s next?”, this was usually accompanied by the well-intended, yet immediate suggestion, “you should start a podcast or host a radio show!” Though it felt like something I’d end up doing one day, it was still an idea that didn’t seem terribly appealing to me, this is, after all, a very visual topic. I’d instead quickly respond that I’d rather write a comprehensive book about logos and uniforms, but that I doubted it would ever happen.
While it seemed pie-in-the-sky, I just couldn’t escape my own ambitions. I called designer Todd Radom with the details of my idea and an invitation to join me on the project as a co-author and illustrator. We quickly worked together to nail down an exact focus and got to it, we secured a deal with a publisher (Sports Publishing) and followed that up with three years of travel, research, interviews, illustrations, layouts, edits, working out photo rights, and of course writing.
Now here we are, the big day.
I’m beyond excited to announce that my first book, co-written with Todd Radom, Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL’s Names, Logos, and Uniforms has finally been released! It can be found on the shelves of book stores all across the United States and Canada and online. You can also grab it as part of a special limited-edition dual-signed VIP package directly from Todd and I.
Finally the true stories behind every NHL franchise’s name, logo, and uniforms have been told, they’re all right here in this book across 280 pages. If they played a game in the league, they’re included, from the 1917 Montreal Wanderers who lasted about two weeks before folding to the future expansion club Seattle Kraken set to debut in the fall of 2021.
Unsatisfied with the usual team name origin stories that were no more than “they picked it in a contest!”… I wanted to know *why* they picked that name, I wanted to know what the finalists were, I wanted to know who won the contest, I wanted to know what they got as the prize, I wanted to know how the media and fans felt about it at the time.
Or how about, “they just took it from the minor league team that used to played there”. Okay great, but why did *that* team pick the name? How did it even become a part of that market’s hockey history? Did they ever think about going in another direction instead of recycling the old name? And just how did they get the rights to use the name?
Oh yeah, we dug!
Did you know the Vancouver Canucks got their name in the 1940s — three decades before they even started in the NHL. Did you know the Canucks were named by a bootlegger? How about that they almost picked an entirely different name before a local newspaper blasted them daily for daring to even think about using another name? Or even what a “canuck” is, the history of the term and why it means so much to Canadians.
And then there’s the logos.
Of course, we went just as deep in revealing the stories behind the logos, colours, and uniforms. We spoke directly to those who designed the logos and others who were the decision-makers. I spent an afternoon at the Air Canada Centre talking to Brendan Shanahan about the Leafs’ 2016 rebrand. Exchanged many texts and phone calls with Seymour H. Knox IV learning about the Sabres switch from blue to black in the 1990s. Designer Bill Frederick gave us a peek behind-the-scenes about the Mighty Ducks trying to move on from the Disney-era, including his original logo sketches and some rejected proposals from 2006.
That’s just a small example, we spoke to many others sharing their own stories, in many cases for the first time ever. And if a logo was designed far too long ago to talk with anyone who was involved we would instead dive into the archives to uncover long lost quotes from the designers and all sorts of forgotten details.
Todd and I spent two days exploring the Hockey Hall of Fame’s resource centre in Toronto, an airport hangar-like warehouse filled with the game’s greatest treasures. A Cleveland Barons uniform designed for their 1978-79 season that never came? Yeah, it exists, it’s there, and a photo of it is in this book. How about a full-colour logo patch from a jacket worn by the 1928 Pittsburgh (hockey) Pirates? Ever seen that? I hadn’t! And now it’s in this book for all to see forevermore.
We had the incredible honour of bringing hockey legend Lanny McDonald on board the project to write our foreword. A Stanley Cup champion, five hundred goals scored, and now the Hockey Hall of Fame’s chairman of the board sharing his love of hockey uniforms including his playing days donning the colours of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Rockies, and Calgary Flames while recalling what it was like to face off against the classic Red Wings uniforms as well as the Canucks yellow V’s.
Finally, the true origin stories have been told. A bonus that it’s been presented this way, with over 150 photographs and exclusive illustrations showing the history of hockey uniforms over the past 100-plus years. The unusual and absurd, the designs from the early days of the games, the absolute beautys, and the iconic looks.
The book, Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL’s Names, Logos, and Uniforms is available now, signed by Todd Radom and Chris Creamer here, online at the usual heavy hitters (or independent online outlets), as well as your local bookstore!
Without you, the readers of SportsLogos.Net over the last 23 years, this book simply does not happen. I thank you so much for your continued support.