Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jersey Day Wrap-Up

For more on the jersey unveiling, see Jersey Day Photos and Jersey Day Interviews.

I suppose the only appropriate way to close the book on the reveal of Penn State hockey's new look is to offer an opinion. There's just one problem - in a way, I already have. Once again, here are the jerseys:

Hannah Lane/Onward State

Now look at this set of concept jerseys I posted back on August 10th:

The two alternates are obviously throwbacks to the 1940s varsity teams - and yeah, I still want to see those at some point - but the regular home and away? Pretty similar, I'd say. Just so I don't lose my jersey geek card, the differences are that the concepts:
  • don't have a tie-down.
  • do have a name on the away jersey and don't have the little Nittany Lion logo under the back collar on the name-free actual away jersey.
  • have a slightly different font for the numbers - compare and contrast the 2s on (real) Max Gardiner and (concept) George Saad.
So it's pretty safe to say that I approve. I mean, all I did was endorse an (essentially) identical design before the fact without inside knowledge and without (in my recollection) ever so much as speaking with anyone involved with either program about jersey design until the unveiling. I'm not alone in that opinion, as this latest reflection of the classic "Penn State look" has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from all corners of the college hockey internet. The pro hockey internet's reviews were a little more mixed because...well, can you really blame them after staring at Don Fehr's scowly face all day every day? Their rods and cones are messed up or something.

This may come off as overly picky (and it probably is), but if I had to offer a couple of criticisms...
  1. There's a reason I didn't include a tie-down in the concepts: I'm just not a huge fan of them unless used on a vintage-style jersey intended to look and feel like something from back in the day. Otherwise, they come off a little bit like an attempt at forcing something that isn't there.
  2. Although the Icers put surnames on the home jerseys but not the away jerseys for the last several years, the decision to keep that tradition (I guess it's a tradition) going is a little curious. I don't know that I categorically disagree with doing so, but I wouldn't mind hearing the rationale behind it.
  3. The tiny chipmunk on the back collar of the away jerseys is a nice touch, but why repeat the logo from the front of the jersey? I'd place a block "S" or even a "Penn State" wordmark there instead.
  4. I wouldn't have minded seeing some difference between the men's and women's jerseys. Even keeping the striping pattern consistent and going with the logo on the front of one and a block "Penn State" on the front of the other would have helped the teams keep their own identity to some degree without violating the "One Team"/synergy ideal. It admittedly is a little bit odd not seeing some form of "PSU"/"PS" or "Penn State" on the jersey for the first time in Penn State hockey history.
Just to re-iterate, I give these jerseys a solid A. I don't want there to be any confusion about that. And yes, I will get my fanboy on and buy an authentic version in each color. Along those lines, I'm sure the athletic department would appreciate my pointing out that jerseys are available through the Penn State Bookstore (both the HUB and All-Sports Museum locations) or by calling (814) 863-0205. Authentics will run $125 and will ship in early November, while the replicas are $80 (adult) and $75 (youth) and will ship in early October.

Maybe the best thing about Tuesday is that the outstanding new design finally and officially buries the previous Icers jerseys after 13 years. Despite being part of the longest-running uniform set in team history, and despite my support of the student-athletes who wore them and the team and school they represented, they were most certainly not my flavor. They were garish (by PSU standards, anyway), dated (the general design was used by several Nike schools in the early aughts before being dropped by everyone but the Icers), and perhaps worst of all, contained grey, which is not a Penn State color. So here's one more picture for the road, before I make every attempt to use photos involving the new threads whenever possible.

Goodbye. Adieu. Auf Wiedersehen. Gesundheit. Farewell.


  1. I noticed that the helmet and gloves are Bauer, not Nike. But as far as I'm aware, Nike spun off Bauer a few years ago.

  2. Reed, Nike sold Bauer to a private firm a few years ago. The reason why I know is because Cornell was Nike-sponsored and now all sports but hockey are Nike-sponsored. Bauer has now taken over the sponsoring of Cornell's hockey team and the swoosh is nowhere to be seen on current uniforms. They still sponsor teams together, see Penn State: Bauer gloves, sticks, and helmets. I find the relationship very odd.

    Kyle, I find it interesting that you think the Nittany Lion logo on the back should be the State "S." Usually, you are not a big fan of that design/branding. I like the "S" idea a lot. I can attest that the Cornell online crowd likes them and things they look classic. They are a tough crowd to please with respect to classic hockey jersey/sweater looks. And, there was only one joke saying that if the logo was replaced with block text it would be on to something (like the Cornell jerseys from 1962 through 1980, and 1996-present). I like that the men's and women's jerseys are the same. It, in my mind, shows that the program is giving them equal weight. Most universities that sponsor both tend to treat women's hockey as an afterthought and it is manifested in a cost-cutting jersey design for women often. Most ECAC teams, including Cornell, do that. Cornell's men's white jerseys, like Penn State's NCAA era jerseys, are entirely customized and cost more money from Bauer because they are not an exact replica of the nearest pro jersey, the Red Wings. A few years ago the AD tried to switch the men's jerseys to Red Wings jerseys (red sleeves) and that caused an uproar. But, women's jerseys at Cornell have been the much cheaper Red Wings design and still are for a very long time. So, that's why I like that the two teams have the same jersey because, in my mind at least, it shows equal prioritization.

    I think the no name on aways is both symbolic and strategic. i thought it was a nice touch. Symbolically, it shows that when away especially, the team ceases to be individuals and plays as a cohesive whole more than a group of celebrate individuals. Strategically, not having names on the back of away jerseys makes it harder for skilled heckling crowds to incorporate names in taunts. It tends to be more intimidating when the opposing fans are chanting your name and incorporating it into chants "Hey, Princeton, your Bonar is looking kinda limp" (a taunt used against Princeton's goaltender with that unfortunate surname) or even a simple "Hey, 14, you suck!" is less intimidating than "Hey, Olczyk, you suck!" Also, the not having names requires the other teams to research who each player is which on someone level creates a contradiction because if someone truly sucked, would the other team know his name? I think it will soften some of the taunts from the lesser invested crowd, but I know that the Lynah Faithful dig out their smart phones as soon as they see a team without the names on their jerseys because it is but another way to taunt them to the opposing team's surprise. So, strategically I think it will work against most fanbases, but a select few it won't.

    1. Great insight, thanks!

      I haven't reversed field on the S, believe me - I just couldn't think of anything else that is an "active" part of Penn State's branding. Even the S is getting harder to find, it's all chipmunk and Helvetica "Penn State" these days. As sharp as both of those things are, it's helpful to have a secondary logo sometimes. You know, for when you're designing a hockey jersey and need something for the back collar that doesn't repeat the front logo.

      The "Red Wings" sleeves are okay, but it's always bothered me that the white and red jerseys don't match. That sleeve was developed right around 1960, but what preceded it was essentially the Cornell design. Kind of hoping the Wings bring that back for the Winter Classic, complete with the slightly different logo of that day. Not a huge fan of the fauxback trend, but my idea probably isn't splashy enough to move product.

      I agree that it's nice to see the women's program given equal weight, but I'm not sure using the identical jerseys but with a different logo on the front indicates some other reality. If anything (to me, anyway), it sort of comes like "eh, we'll just give them whatever we design for the men." Good point about the names, hadn't considered something like that - it's going to be unusual seeing road games attended by more than the parents and girlfriends of a typical ACHA road crowd (exceptions given to Ohio and Delaware of the frequent Icers opponents). Do any other teams do that? I'm waaaay too exhausted to take on something like that today haha.

      What was on CU's jerseys between 1980 and 1996?!? I'm horrified - didn't realize they ever used another design. Glad they switched back.

    2. "I agree that it's nice to see the women's program given equal weight, but I'm not sure using the identical jerseys but with a different logo on the front indicates some other reality. If anything (to me, anyway), it sort of comes like 'eh, we'll just give them whatever we design for the men.'"

      You know what I mean there...don't feel like fixing it haha.

  3. Jerseys are OK... I didn't expect much.

    The touches I would make

    Names on away jerseys... if PSU is going to grow and be sold to alumni in the non State College area, they should market the players to the new Penn State fans. I want to know the players--NOW.

    The back collar-- leave it blank or if you just cant resist putting something there, I would have put "2012", or maybe even "Thank you Terry"

    1. Yeah, they should put the URL on there too ;) There's certainly room for something on the whites, so I don't even know that you can argue that the logo is "in place of" the name on the blues. It's not really a one vs. other choice. As someone who will be going to a few away games, I wouldn't mind the help. I'm brutal with remembering numbers.

      If there's a good reason for no names (like the one Aaron mentioned above - team unity in hostile environments, etc.) they should play that up. If there's not, then just put the names on.

  4. Thanks for that background on the Nike/Bauer thing. I guess they have a complicated contract to co-sponsor stuff. I recall that even when they were together, Nike sponsored the USA and Bauer was on the Canada jerseys in the olympics. I guess Bauer is just more respected among Canadians and hockey people in general, even if it's really all the same.

    Overall, I'm just really relieved. While there are some things I would do differently, I'm just really glad they are blue and white and don't have something dumb like a growling lion biting through a stick or somesuch. And no more silver or light blue or any other trim color. Awesome.

    No names on the away sweaters cuts some costs (I'm told names are expensive) and for all the reasons mentioned above, it's just as well not to have them on the road. I suspect that they'll wear the home jerseys for the game in Wilkes Barre, etc anyway so the alums going to those games will see the names.

    One reason for PSU not to use the "S" too often is that PSU probably cannot copyright that so it's more knockoffable, so to speak. An S on the collar or the pants would be ok, however. I'm not bothered either way. The gloves say Penn State. That's nice.

    I also imagine that the design is deliberately setting Nike up for "third jersey" options. If and when PSU plays an outdoor game, I imagine we'll see the old-school S or PS get a run-out. I hope they don't do the pink jersey thing (is anyone really "unaware" of breast cancer these days?) ever, but that's a possibility.

    The other way to go would be some kind of script writing like Michigan State or diagonal block lettering like Wisconsin, but beyond the schools that have always had that, it's kind of played-out now. The Wild have the script thing and the Penguins did the Wisconsin look. It's not clever any more and it doesn't have an history at PSU.

    Maybe we need to put one of those STOP signs on the back collar, so that the kids who have to wear that on their sweaters don't feel like it's quite so uncool. Or how about the anti-child abuse blue ribbon or "FTK?" All ideas that could be implemented later on.

    I imagine the men's jerseys will soon have that dumb B10 logo like the football jerseys have. I find that to be a far worse affront to PSU tradition than names on the jerseys. The Nike logo isn't desirable, but it's good business, so we should tolerate it.

    The collar ties on non-throwback jerseys now seem to be very common. I'm starting to think that maybe that's a feature that players actually like to have. Bobby Orr, for example, took the string out of his, which leads me to think that players like the option of keeping that tight or loose as they see fit. Just a hypothesis.