New Jersey’s New Jersey A Heritage Hit
Since the NHL began dabbling in 1995 with a third jersey to augment home and away sweaters, only three teams have never exercised their option for an expanded wardrobe: Montreal, Detroit and New Jersey.
That number will be narrowed by at least one in 2018-19, as the Devils announced in August they’ll don a “heritage” jersey that will return a great look to a tired closet.
Conservative or Classic?
OK, some of us might have been hoping for a wild departure — an all-black jersey, perhaps, or a new logo. But the Devils are bringing back a nostalgic winner that would look great under any New Jersey fan’s Christmas tree. Literally. The color scheme is red, white and green.
It’s a beaut. Basically a white jersey with a red shoulder yoke trimmed in green, but it’s remarkable how much small bits of green enliven a jersey that, in its red, white and black version is so unremarkable. Also trimmed in green are the logo, red numbers and red letters, and a green stripe has been added above the red waist stripe and below the red elbow stripe. Better still, it looks like they’ll wear red gloves with green cuffs.
There’s some sentiment attached to the look. The Devils debuted in that color scheme when they arrived in New Jersey after leaving their brief incarnation as the Colorado Rockies following the 1981-82 season. They made their first trip to the playoffs, in 1988, in those togs — and three more in the next four seasons before adopting a new look.
Well, Sort Of
The Devils essentially switched the green accents in their original color scheme to black (there were some minor tweaks to the shoulder yoke, as well) and kept that for 15 years. Then they made the bold move of flip-flopping their road and home jerseys — red becoming the home gear, white the road — and have spent 11 seasons in that (yes, when adidas took over from Reebok for the 2017-18 season, the stripes at the sleeves and hem were altered — yawn).
The heritage jersey will be a welcome alternative. But not, technically, an alternate.
The Devils in the Details
According to sportslogos.net, the difference between a “heritage” and an “alternate” jersey is essentially a matter of commitment. With the “heritage” designation, the Devils can wear their third jersey a maximum of six times — they’ve announced their intention to wear it four times — and can scrap it after one season, while an “alternate” is required to be worn 12 times a year for three seasons.
Perhaps it’s not out of the question that Montreal and Detroit would get in on the third jersey party. But a dozen teams have announced third jerseys already, and pucksmarks.net includes neither among the other seven squads it reports will soon announce alternates[.
Whatever happens, there’s little doubt New Jersey will have one of the winners among the new crop of third looks.
Yes, there’s some competition at the top among the designs released for this season. Ottawa’s look is spectacular — a large “O” on wide black, silver and white stripes across the chest of an otherwise red jersey that nods to the city’s earliest hockey history with a simultaneously contemporary design. And Carolina did a really breathtaking black jersey with a new logo.
On the other end of the spectrum, some might argue Philadelphia is offering a practice jersey, the Coyotes are bringing back a look best consigned to the dustbin of history, and Winnipeg and the Rangers just plain whiffed. New Jersey’s new jerseys looked good back when they truly were new jerseys — and they’ve aged especially well.