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New Look Canucks

Friday, 26.10.2007 / 4:23 PM / Features
By John Gibson
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New Look Canucks
New Look Canucks by John Gibson On August 29th, one of the sunniest days in a lacklustre summer, approximately 8,500 passionate fans rejected the beach and headed inside, packing the lower bowl of General Motors Place to witness the launch of the highly anticipated 2007.08 Vancouver Canucks sweater.

“It never ceases to amaze me that on one of the sunniest and warmest days we’ve had this summer, we get this kind of turnout here in Vancouver,” said Canucks Senior Vice-President & General Manager Dave Nonis. “It’s a testament to the fans we have.”

Amid thunderous cheers, Canucks Captain Markus Naslund stepped through a cloud of blue and green smoke to unveil the team’s new look—which will usher in a new era, while concurrently honouring our past. What’s old is new again, as the maroon, silver, and navy colours of our penultimate sweater have been replaced by a blue, green and white scheme; an homage to the original Canucks sweater in their inaugural 1970 NHL season, and emblematic of British Columbia’s world-renowned natural landscape.

The Canucks new look is part of the League-wide initiative that will see all 30 teams don the Rbk EDGE Uniform System.™ Developed by the National Hockey League and Reebok, the new sweaters feature sleeker cut-lines in combination with technologically advanced materials and fabrics to create a greater range of mobility. The new style of NHL sweaters marks the first time in the history of any major North American professional sports league that a league-wide uniform innovation has been established.

The resulting sweater and socks are more breathable, more water-resistant, more comfortable, and will be lighter as the game draws on—which will come in handy should there be any more marathon game sevens in the future.

Along with an affinity for the new look, a number of the players at the sweater launch noted the advantages to the new fit. “You’re going to notice if guys haven’t worked out this summer. You can’t hide anything in this,” joked Canucks workhorse defenceman Mattias Ohlund. “It’s actually very nice. It’s comfortable, and it’s lighter—especially if it gets wet during games and practices.”

DESIGNING FOR VANCOUVER'S TEAM

Although each team in the league has changed-over to the new Rbk jersey, the Canucks have taken the opportunity to merge functionality and aesthetics, while paying tribute to the many aspects that make this city and team so special.

“Our goal when we set out was to celebrate our heritage, and design a sweater that reflects our extraordinary city and province,” said Chris Zimmerman, Canucks President and CEO, who was beaming after the uniforms were finally revealed. “We have such a rich history, [and] we wanted to unveil a sweater that reflects our past and our present.”

Zimmerman had good reason to be pleased, as the launch marks the culmination of months of research and design. “I think the best part about it for us, is the fact that you look throughout the arena today and what you saw was the past, and the passion the people have,” Zimmerman reflected at the launch. Anyone who has been to a Canucks home game can attest to the myriad of sweaters—from each decade of the team’s history—which dot the sold-out crowd of 18,630 at GM Place. And such a strong link to the history of this team was not lost on the organization when the time came to design a new sweater.

“The process of developing the new sweater was all about recognizing that probably more than most teams, we have quite a bank of different looks, feels and colours,” Zimmerman imparted. “We tried to both recognize things that our fan base felt and that we heard, and also how we wanted to represent ourselves.”

IN FASHION

The new sweaters see the return of the popular “vintage” colours, seen on our inaugural NHL sweater in 1970. And the horizontal stripes on the sleeves commemorate Canada’s deep hockey roots. “I really like these colours, and I think the sweaters look great,” said Markus Naslund during a launch day media scrum that rivalled in size to that of a post-playoff game. “I think this is a great step for us. We have a new, fresh look and outlook, and that will be a positive thing.”

At the centre of the jersey is the logo which has served the team for the past decade: the familiar Orca Whale. “The orca symbolizes the West Coast and certainly the native artwork is also a big part of it,” said perennial fan-favourite Trevor Linden, who incidentally will be wearing his fourth new Canucks sweater as he enters his 16th season with Vancouver. “I think they did a great job of bringing things together.”

The original stick and rink logo is now emblazoned on each shoulder, and has evolved to provide more definition to the Canuck “C,” without losing its vintage simplicity, and classic appeal.

The most notable addition to the sweater is the name of our hometown adorned across the front. Similar to the inclusion of the city’s name in the Vancouver Millionaires’ logo, the arch of the word also emulates the crest of the former WHL Canucks. “I think in creating a new identity, and somewhat of an evolution of the current identity, we just thought that element spoke to who we are, it spoke to our past, and it speaks to the pride that we have in this great city,” Chris Zimmerman explained regarding the inclusion of the city’s name.

“It’s a city we’re all proud of being a part of,” agreed Linden, a long-time Vancouverite. “It’s one of the top cities in the world. I think [including “Vancouver” is] the right thing for sure…ultimately the goal is to tie in where we’ve been and where we’re headed.”

WHAT WE'VE BECOME

With the adoration this city has for all things Canucks, as evident in the interest surrounding the new sweater, change is never easy. However, Port McNeill, BC-native Willie Mitchell puts things in perspective with just how this team hopes to utilize these sweaters. “Hopefully, the group here can leave its own mark with these sweaters. Hopefully, we can create our own legacy.”

As seen at the sweater launch, these new uniforms are everyone’s; a testament to how we are all Canucks. And the overwhelming consensus is that they will look best with a Stanley Cup hoisted above them—which is just the look this team is going for.


The Timeline

1911–1922
Worn by the 1915 Stanley Cup Champions Vancouver Millionaires in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, these sweaters were maroon and white and featured a large “V” with “Vancouver” spelled within the logo.

1945–1970
Worn during the pre-NHL days by the PCHL/WHL Canucks, this sweater featured the “Johnny Canuck” logo which has seen a resurgence today—notably on the mask of Canucks All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo.

1970–1978
The original Vancouver Canucks NHL sweater was conceived by local creative designer Joe Borovich. It initially featured the now referred to as “vintage colours” of green, white and blue, a large “V” on each sleeve, as well as the beloved “stick and rink” logo in the shape of a “C.” The design lasted eight seasons, and was worn when the club won its first divisional title in 1974–1975.

1978–1984
The aggressive yellow, black and orange “flying V” jersey, with the small “downward skate” secondary logo on the shoulder, was created by San Francisco design agency Beyl & Boyd. These sweaters polarized hockey fans throughout the NHL, yet became much more appealing when the team went to the 1982 Stanley Cup final.

1985–1990
Transplanting the secondary shoulder logo of the “flying V” sweaters, while retaining its colour scheme, the “downward skate” sweaters was first worn in 1985. The bright orange home sweater was created to evoke passion and aggression, while the predominantly black road sweater was devised to infuse fear in the opposition.

1990–1997
Retaining the skate logo, these sweaters altered their home and away colours to white and black respectively, under the direction of then-GM Pat Quinn. Worn during the magical 1994 Stanley Cup Finals run which saw the team reach game seven, these sweaters hold a special place in the hearts of most Vancouver fans.

1997–2007
Locally designed by Brent Lynch, the sweater for the last decade featured a maroon, navy, and silver scheme, with a stylized Orca whale breaking through the ice—a symbol of our west coast heritage. In the late 90’s a “third” jersey was created, with contrasting shoulder patches and a blue-to-maroon graduating colour in the body.

For more stories like this, check out the game day magazine.