Red Wings unveil new jerseys
August 16, 2007
BY STEVE SCHRADER
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The first thing you notice about Nicklas Lidstrom's new jersey is the "C." It's on the right side instead of the left.
The Red Wings tried to protect the tradition of the Winged Wheel as much as they could with the new modernized Reebok jerseys that all NHL teams are using this season, but that's one concession they had to make.
And it only affects three players: Lidstrom and his two alternate captains, each of whom wears an "A."
The letters had to be moved because the new jerseys are constructed of multiple panels, more so than the old models, and there wasn't room for the letters above the tip of the Winged Wheel on the left side without hitting a seam.
And if you look at some old Wings photos -- ones featuring Ted Lindsay, for example -- it has actually been done that way before, too.
"It was important to everybody in the organization that our jersey look the same," said team spokesman John Hahn. "We have an 82-year history with that jersey or something very similar to it. We wanted to make sure we kept that look moving forward."
The Free Press got a sneak preview Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena, and everything else is pretty much where it used to be, red and white all over.
The other cosmetic changes fans might notice are:
• The collar: It comes down to a point in front, with a strip of fabric layered under it for the NHL logo, much like NFL jerseys.
• The bottom: Instead of a square cut, it's rounded, and the back flap is a little longer than the front, like a polo shirt. So instead of a solid white stripe around the bottom, it's more like two half-moons, front and back.
• The fit: Instead of the big, boxy look, it's sleeker, more form-fitting. "It fits more like a shirt," said Wings equipment manager Paul Boyer. "It almost follows the contour of the athlete." And that will go for goalies, too, he said.
Boyer said the new jerseys have been a two- or three-year project for Reebok, with some of the testing done at Central Michigan.
Besides the cut, the various panels incorporate four fabrics -- using Reebok's Playdry and Bead Away technology -- designed to give players freedom of movement while wicking away moisture and keeping them cooler, drier and lighter, so you can't call them sweaters anymore. There also will be hockey socks using the same principles.
Appearance-wise, the Wings were part of the process for their jersey's design.
"Reebok sent some prototypes to Ken Holland and Mr. Ilitch -- they were sending them back and forth," Boyer said. "Mr. Ilitch was really concerned about how it would look. Reebok did send a few that we didn't like, that cosmetically didn't look the way Mr. Ilitch wanted it to look. So after about six or seven tries..."
Other teams have made more radical makeovers -- using the multi-paneled construction as sort of a guide for splotches of color here and there -- and unveiled their jerseys at news conferences.
Because the Wings were more concerned with limiting change, Hahn said they opted to just start wearing the new jerseys without hoopla when the prospects camp opens in Traverse City next month, followed by training camp.
Boyer said Wings players already have taken prototypes of the jerseys for test drives in practice -- and some in last season's NHL All-Star Game -- and seemed OK with them.
He said an equipment manager's litmus test will be durability.
"I want to see how it holds up on the elbows," Boyer said. "I want to see what happens when a guy gets slashed or pulled or there's a piece of composite material that's sticking out of a stick, I want to see how easy it tears. Everything I'm seeing says it should be OK and it should stand up to the test of time."
You can judge for yourself, too. They still have some of the old jerseys in stock, but the Wings are taking orders for the Premier version (replica) of the new ones, too.
It's $130 blank and $155 with name/number and should be in stock in mid-September. Call 313-396-7583 or get an order form at RedWings.nhl.com.
The Edge version (authentic) will be available in October for $250 blank and $325 with name/number.
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