California’s reverse retro hockey jerseys get rave reviews – Orange County Register

California’s reverse retro hockey jerseys get rave reviews – Orange County Register

Updated: 5 months, 11 hours, 57 minutes, 34 seconds ago

There are no realistic championship dreams for California’s three professional hockey franchises this season, however, the trio appears to have a curious winning potential that could ring their cash registers.

The National Hockey League just released the designs for its 32 teams’ “reverse retro” uniforms, jerseys designed to reflect a team’s stylish legacies with colorful twists. The Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks placed in the top six in my trusty spreadsheet’s compilation of rankings by eight sports-news websites.

I’m a big hockey fan and an original Ducks season ticket holder. And I know these uniforms aren’t just about looks. They’re serious business.

Consider the price: They start at $190 each – part of the team-licensed apparel business that takes in $15 billion a year across all North American sports.

Teams tweaking their uniforms in relative unison is nothing new. The NHL did this “reverse retro” two years ago. Pro basketball has had its “city edition” jerseys for six years. Baseball’s added “city connect” uniforms in the past year.

But the fashion stakes are especially high for pro hockey as its recovers from the pandemic’s financial blows.

Unlike other major professional sports, hockey relies heavily on ticket sales, corporate partnerships and game-day goods like apparel for business success. That’s because the NHL gets modest television revenues compared with football, basketball and baseball because of hockey’s loyal-but-small audience.

The scorecard

California retro jerseys made their hockey history work in fabric, according to my mashup of eight “reverse retro” rankings.

The Kings finished No. 2 by honoring a great playoff run from 40 years ago. Designers used that era’s color scheme while reinventing the team’s distinctive crown logo.

Los Angeles Kings version of the 2022-23 "reverse retro" jerseys. (Source: NHL)

“The purple-and-gold color scheme never misses, does it? The crown logo is severely underrated, too,” TheScore wrote in its review.

The Ducks placed fourth by reusing its angry duck logo that dates to the team’s 1993 creation by Walt Disney Co. – with a change of hues to 2022’s orange and black.

“Old cartoonish logo, current colors. Perfect. That’s the assignment. Why is this so hard for everybody?” The Athletic wrote.

San Jose went further back in time — taking the jerseys of the Bay Area’s first NHL team and replacing the word “Seals” of the California Golden Seals switch “Sharks.” The Seals folded in 1976.

“They may be a hokey nostalgia play, but it feels good to see these jerseys on a modern NHL team,” USA Today wrote.

San Jose Sharks version of the 2022-23 "reverse retro" jerseys. (Source: NHL)

The consensus No. 1 retro reverse was the Florida Panthers, which took an old logo — a very Miami-like mix of a sun, palm tree and hockey stick – and made it the dominant graphic on the chest.

The buzzer

This isn’t a simple sale.

Fans can already buy their team’s primary “sweaters” — that’s what hockey purists call a uniform top – designed for home and away games. Many teams already have a third uniform that’s used on various occasions.

There are “authentic versions of these sweaters — what players wear and priced like the “reverse retros” – and replica versions for far less money. So even die-hard loyalists have to be convinced they need more team gear.

That motivates some franchises to get edgy with these “reverse retro” designs when working with Adidas, the NHL’s jersey manufacturer. That risk-taking leads to wide variances in the rankings for some jerseys.

My spreadsheet created what I’ll call a buzz ranking – using geeky “standard deviation” – to score the variances within the eight website’s rankings. And by this math, the most controversial jersey was from the Vegas Golden Knights, which ranked No. 16 overall. And controversy sells stuff.

Wait! How does a franchise playing only its sixth season get nostalgic? By guessing what their 1995 jersey might have been.

And it worked. At least it did for ESPN, which ranked Vegas No. 6. “You get the full Vegas ostentatiousness: hidden glow-in-the-dark stars”.

Yet it didn’t work for Yahoo Sports which scored it dead last. “A shortcut to creating any hockey sweater is diagonal lettering. It is not reverse, nor retro.”

FYI: On this buzz scale, the Sharks were seventh-best, the Kings No. 18 and the Ducks, No. 22.

“Unquestionably, my favorite part of the program is the debates. The notion that one pundit might rank a sweater at the bottom while another looks at the same content and says it’s ‘top 5!’ Fascinating and cool!” says a social media post by Dan Near, the hockey marketing guru for Adidas.

Bottom line

Hockey’s reverse retro sales officially open Nov. 15, though pre-sales have already begun.

The best advertising will center around fans watching two to eight games when their teams wear their retro sweaters.

Will reverse retro be a cash register success? Fans like new stuff. The holidays are coming. Need I say more?

Not every team will have an equal haul. And will sales success align with each team’s sweater reviews?

Just so you know, here are my full consensus rankings using reviews by Athletic, Daily Faceoff, ESPN, The Score, The Hockey Writers, The Win, USA Today and Yahoo Sports.

1. Florida Panthers, 2. Los Angeles Kings, 3. Pittsburgh Penguins, 4. Anaheim Ducks, 5. Buffalo Sabres, 6. San Jose Sharks, 7. Washington Capitals, 8. Colorado Avalanche, 9. Vancouver Canucks, 10. New York Rangers.

11. Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild, 13. Montreal Canadiens, 14. Edmonton Oilers, 15. New York Islanders, 16. New Jersey Devils and Vegas Golden Knights, 18. Arizona Coyotes, 19. Winnipeg Jets, 20. St. Louis Blues.

21. Nashville Predators, 22. Dallas Stars, 23. Ottawa Senators, 24. Philadelphia Flyers, 25. Tampa Bay Lightning, 26. Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs, 28. Carolina Hurricanes, 29. Calgary Flames, 30. Detroit Red Wings, 31. Columbus Blue Jackets, 32. Chicago Blackhawks.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at [email protected]