Sports

Team Canada Sochi Olympic hockey jerseys unveiled

By Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun

Topics

Toronto - 

There are laws against desecrating the flag, but that didn’t stop many hockey fans tearing a strip off the new maple leaf sweater that three teams will wear this winter in Sochi.

Online sniping that began a month ago when the three Nike-designed versions were leaked became quite evident after the official unveiling Tuesday morning at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

The red and white element is prominent, so is the leaf, including gold shoulder foliage patches on the black third jersey. There are 12 miniature leafs inside all three versions to represent 12 Olympic golds won by men, women and sledge hockey teams.

The sweaters are lighter by 15% and can retain more sweat, thanks in part to a new fabric in sportswear made from recycled plastic bottles — 17 bottles per jersey and five for socks.

But many objections had to do with how plain they looked, not to mention the strong resemblance of the ‘road’ white with red trim to the Petro-Canada logo.

The replica jerseys went on sale Tuesday for $140, but the authentic version will set you back $450 when they hit the shelves on Dec. 4 in time for Christmas and the games, which run Feb. 7-23. All sweater profits will be split between Hockey Canada and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

To be fair, there are only so many new design twists you can apply in nearly 100 years of Olympic hockey when working with only two colours and one leaf. And the team would have gladly used the iconic Hockey Canada logo with a dynamic player leaping from the national crest but the Olympic committee judged that too commercial.

“We embrace the conversation … people are speaking about how they feel about a jersey that’s close to their heart,” said Ken Black, creative director for Nike.

He was not apologizing for working through many drafts with Hockey Canada the past two years, which included getting the Hockey Hall of Fame to fetch a 1920 Canadian sweater that the Winnipeg Falcons wore at Antwerp, Belgium. That first gold-medal winning team featured a leaf on a solid stripe that was incorporated this time.

“We streamlined the whole design so it was bolder and more impactful than some jerseys of the past,” Black said. “Digging deep into the history of Canadian hockey there is a long list of executions of design of that leaf. From the past, from the future and from now, you can always find a way to reinterpret or re-state the central icon.

“At the end, our goal is to put the best jersey on the best athletes and have them go down in history with their performance in Sochi.”

Bob Nicholson, president of Hockey Canada, likened the sweater debate to what happens whenever Canada names its final roster.

“That’s the great thing about hockey, everyone is passionate. The key is the players will be proud to put it on. Canadian fans will support the jersey and the team.

“Hopefully, we get a lot of gold medals in these jerseys.”

Poll

Do you like Team Canada's hockey jerseys for the Sochi Olympics?


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions