For months, it was known that the New Jersey Devils would see some changes to their jersey. It was a part of the league-wide change in apparel to adidas. The sportswear giant promised to #FormTheFuture with their new jerseys. Tonight, the jerseys were revealed - first through a leak and second through official channels.
Where do I begin with this.
The wizards at adidas Hockey took the classic look of the New Jersey Devils jersey, changed the collar, removed the bottom stripes (a.k.a. piping, hoops) to reduce it to one, and moved the stripes on the sleeves up to the elbow. All on a sleeker looking jersey. That’s it. No change to the logo. No change to the colors. No real change to the design other than dropping the bottom stripes. Oh, and a listing of Stanley Cup championship years on the inside collar that few will see in public.
My initial reaction: Why.
Don’t get me wrong. I would be absolutely livid if the organization changed their perfect logo. It’s a creative representation of both New Jersey and the Devils nickname. I like their red, white, and black color scheme. It was simple, yet it allowed the red to be bold and the logo to pop off the chest. I was never a fan of the red, white, and green scheme from the 1980s and early 1990s. I thought that would be the big change when it was becoming more prominent in promotional materials for next season. That didn’t happen. The font of the numbers and the lettering is the same. Again, all they really changed were the stripes. That was it. This shouldn’t be a big change. What I feared would happen, didn’t happen.
Yet, I look at this:
Some additional info on the NJ Devils jersey reveal. The collar! pic.twitter.com/CRUxhiaWr1— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 21, 2017
And I can only say: Why.
Why take a perfectly, well put-together jersey and make it look simpler and cheaper?
Why take a top-tier jersey design in a league that got it right since 1992 and move things around to make it seem inferior?
Why would adidas claim to “honor the original” of a Newark team that was a minor professional team for all of one season and had five stripes near its bottom with a single black stripe on the bottom?
Why would anyone want a jersey to reflecting something from the Colorado Rockies decades after they weren’t honored to begin with?
Why would anyone at adidas think that the Devils get this “wonderful” Rockies reference on their jersey when these elbow-stripes are seemingly league-wide?
Why would anyone proclaim that this really is a #FormTheFuture?
Most of all:
Why mess with something that was already good about the Devils?
Oh, but the team and the league and adidas want to make money. They have to make money. Great. Money making is good. I like making money too. You know what makes money? Successful hockey teams. Name players. Jerseys that don’t cost so much such that fans like myself will keep a jersey for years and years on end, making it difficult to really want a new design in the first place. And (this is something adidas actually has some control over) new designs that aren’t really all that new or aesthetically pleasing. I don’t even think this new design is necessary at the moment, either. The Devils are about to select a potential future cornerstone for the Devils on Friday. They would sell jerseys very soon based on that player alone. Plenty of money would still be made and the original look would have still looked sharp. Plus, there’s free agency and other potential moves; moves that could lead to fans wanting to get a jersey of the new Devil(s) ahead of 2017-18. Especially if said moves provides some hope that next season’s team won’t be so awful. Money could absolutely have been made with the previous design. They didn’t need a new look that isn’t really all that sharp. In fact, I agree with the Devils Insiders’ initial reaction:
Great jersey if you were a huge fan of the knockoff Devils jerseys Modells sold and that your parents told you were "just like the real one" https://t.co/0P1GEKdiV5— Devils Insiders (@DevilsInsiders) June 21, 2017
The sad thing is that as much I am pleased that the logo and colors have remained the same, I get the sense that adidas decided to be conservative with this new design. If the plan really was to #FormTheFuture, then go big. They could have done something more substantial with the design of the jersey itself. Instead, the future looks like a poor attempt to recognize what made the previous jersey design since 1992 so good while making some kind of change. In retrospect, the Devils organization should have followed Lou’s example in 2007 and made it clear to the designers to leave as much as possible alone. Instead, adidas tried to have it both ways and ended up with this less-than-stellar effort.
Honestly, I don’t hate this new jersey design with the fire of a thousand suns. And I can understand that there are those who will like it, or like it on players. I will say that the jersey itself is more form fitting. I’d like to think the fabric itself provides some benefit. And, hey, the logo remains top-tier even if the jersey design isn’t. But, to me, this is a letdown. In my view, the new design is a disappointment. And it’ll be a disappointment that we will see this in action for at least a couple of seasons. I certainly won’t be running to the Devils Den or clicking over to the NHL’s store for one of these jerseys anytime soon. Why, adidas and Devils, why?
Please leave your reactions in the comments. Thank you for reading.