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New Jersey Devils Goes Back to the Eighties Again with a Heritage Jersey

Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils went back to the 1980s era with the reveal of a heritage jersey that is basically the home whites they wore from 1982 to 1992 in adidas’ jersey material. In this reaction post to the news, I am not a fan of it. Maybe you are, though.

Sean Burke
Sean Burke did NOT make the hype video for this jersey reveal.

Earlier today, the New Jersey Devils revealed a new jersey they will use for part of the 2018-19 season. In conjunction with adidas, they are going back yet again to the Well of Nostalgia. Here’s the initial announcement from the team’s official Twitter account with a marketing video:

The New Jersey Devils have close-ups of the jersey (and pants, and glove, and white helmet) itself at their official website in a slideshow with the following text:

The New Jersey Devils are ready to kick-it old school. For the first-time in 26 seasons, Devils will be throwing it back to their original white, red and green home uniforms, which debuted during the Devils inaugural season in 1982. The original uniform scheme was worn for ten years (1982-1992) at Brendan Byrne Arena. The 2018-19 Heritage jerseys will be worn four times this season at Prudential Center.

Credit to the marketing department for including a way for fans to start ordering jerseys in advance of their release.

Opinions from what I’ve seen are mixed. Some are really hyped for this. Others are not. As the headline and the tone of this post suggests, I am not a fan of this news or this look.

I will say it is better than what adidas rolled out last year for the Devils’ jerseys. The new jerseys for New Jersey was a lazy t-shirt-with-arm-stripes-and-a-shoulder look. Like a rug in The Dude’s place, the bottom set of stripes tied the whole look together on what was a classic jersey design that needed no modification. I wasn’t happy with it when it was revealed on June 20, 2017 and I really don’t like it anymore as of today. At least this new heritage jersey looks like a complete one for hockey.

That said, I do not like the look. Yes, the green, white, and red pop under the lighting used in the pictures for this jersey. I think it pops too much, but I suppose that’s better than something too understated. Yes, one can see the updated jersey technology up close in the pictures. But that’s it in terms of any modern changes. At the end of the day, this is yet another retread of something from 1980s. There is no originality here. There is no twist or modern-day update to make it something that could last for sometime. Instead of taking the opportunity to do something interesting; the decision was to dive into the past and eschew anything different.

That is the point of it. It’s appropriately called a heritage jersey. But is this an era that needs to be celebrated again; especially after several years of throwing out the road jerseys from the 1980s in one-off or special games?

As this is based on a jersey from 1982 to 1992, how you feel about this depends on how you feel about that era. If you have fond memories of those days, then great. But even those who became diehard Devils fans in that era knows that things were better after then. Even the video used for this jersey is saying more than it thinks. Here are the highlights chosen to air over the heritage white jersey in its reveal with the Devils’ old pre-game song, Acroyali/Standing in Motion by Yanni:

  • Stephane Richer scoring a goal in the 1991-92 season, his only season in that uniform.
  • Scott Stevens skating with the announcer noting he just leveled some poor sap, which must have also been in 1991-92, the only season he could have been in that uniform.
  • A short view of a player in a white helmet looking on (Daneyko?)
  • John MacLean celebrating after scoring a goal.
  • Some fans cheering, wearing the home-whites of that era.
  • A brief clip of Chico in warm-ups and then after making a save.
  • Ken Daneyko knocking someone (a Capital?) down in a fight and then tangling with someone else in another fight.
  • As the camera pulled out to show the whole back of the jersey, Kirk Muller scoring a goal against what appeared to be Edmonton.
  • Camera cut to the front of the heritage jersey

That’s it. Not exactly a ton of history here, what with two clips definitely from the last season of the jersey and very little identifiable from the others. (Not to mention some missing names. Poor Sean Burke, he’ll just have to accept the headline photo in this post -one of the rare photos available of these jerseys back in its use) It is possible I do not recognize some of these moments as being “major” ones. I didn’t become a fan until the 1990s; perhaps these clips mean more to you. In my defense, the video certainly did not give any indication why these were chosen outside of wearing the same jersey back then. The video did not clearly state if any of this was from playoff win, a notable regular seaosn game, or a milestone. It has not one, but two brief snippets of Daneyko throwing hands. There’s just not a lot of history here for a jersey reveal based on the concept of heritage. Is there going to be a point where we can move on from celebrating this era of the Devils franchise? Especially one that did not achieve or have as much going on as the one after it? Can the larger retro movement move on to the mid-1990s already?

From a pure aesthetic standpoint, I was never a fan of this look. I fail to see how red, white, and green are a better mix than red, white, and black. Yes, the former is more colorful. This makes for a busier jersey with the eye drawn to the green outlines and stripes more than anything else. (And a busier uniform since the green pants are coming as a part of this.) But the color black made for a sleeker, more classic design that made the red be the standout color. Given that the team is the Devils, and the Devils are associated with red, and Our Hated Rivals wear blue, and the Second Rate Rivals wear a crummy orange, then red is a great contrast to them while making them standout in their own way. While Detroit, Montreal, and Washington (among others) have longer histories of wearing red, the Devils have made it their own with their usage of black in their design. The green, to me, is something that tries to overpower the red, when that should be the focal point and main color of the uniform.

I get that it’s a heritage jersey and a common way to do that is to just keep everything the same in a throwback. But the same goal can be met while doing something a little different or putting a new spin on it or honoring a better era in addition to this one. Since I’m not a fan of the look and the history of this era does not move me and that this isn’t the first usage of these old-style jerseys, I with the Devils and/or adidas would throw this one back.

Now, here’s one more point. Thanks to someone calling themselves Mr. Mess, @amessofaman21, on Twitter, I have been directed to this post at Sports Logos by Chris Creamer about this new uniform. Specifically, that it is called a heritage uniform is not a small deal:

New Jersey’s new jersey is officially classified as a “heritage uniform” rather than a third or alternate uniform; the main difference between the two classifications deals with how often they can be worn and commitments to future seasons. A “heritage uniform” can only be worn a maximum of six times per season and can be scrapped after one year while a third or “alternate” uniform must be worn a dozen times and for at least three seasons.

At least that’s what I’ve been told.

I did not know that this was an actual distinction. I initially took this news to be that it is the Devils’ third jerseys. It may not be. It is possible that there could be another jersey announcement to come. Which also raises the question: Why have a heritage jersey in use for four home games (and plus maybe two road games?) on top of revealing a third jersey? Would that not undercut the third jersey? Hopefully, this means there will be an attempt of doing something interesting with a third jersey - if there is one for 2018-19.

Anyway, that’s how I see it for these heritage jerseys. What do you make of them? Do you love them, do you hate them, do you like them, do you dislike them, or are you in the middle? When will the Devils move on from throwbacks to their lesser days of the 1980s? Will there be a third jersey for the Devils and will it be something different and new? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this jersey reveal in the comments. Thank you for reading.