When the NHL released the jersey for this year's All Star Game set to be played February 23rd in Toronto, I waited to see what the rest of the world said before passing my own judgement. Initially, I was not a fan, but the more I have looked at them, I have come to appreciate them. Say what you will, but I like that they buck the rinse and repeats of the past. That the oddity of the design lends itself stage for future (with some creativity) uses makes me love it even more.
1984's 36th NHL All Star game jersey is known for maybe it's most famous wearer. Wayne Grezsky of the Edmonton Oilers was playing in his third All Star game when he scored four goals in the stylishly classic diagonal. The Conference name was featured on either an orange field with black down the shoulders, or a white field with orange down the shoulders. Each team, the Campbell Conference coached by Al Arbour of the New York Islanders featuring Canadians except two Swedes and the Wales Conference coached by the Sabers' Scotty Bowman and featured just one American among Canadians, wore black bottoms with their primary color on the side. Both tops and bottoms featured stars in the secondary color of their team. Orange was popular at the time, so the use could have been intentional, or just a nod to the NHL logo.
Flash forward to the 2004 game and you will see the same stars and diagonals against colors from the Minnesota Wild's (who hosted the game) color palette. Stars skirt the bottom of jersey and the bottoms show of the game patch. Not exactly the same, but the elements are similar enough to draw lines between.
Last year's jersey from South Florida bears a striking resemblance to the 1994 game, the noticeable difference being the Miami Vice themed color scheme to match the beach vibe set by the game. 1994's game was played at Madison Square Garden and the color scheme was, well, very 1994. Dark teal and purple were featured. I am not going to say I loved teal and purple at the time, but I will admit to wearing a sweat suit that closely resembled that jersey well past the appropriate age for boys to be wearing sweat paints.
A quick survey of the list compiling the best and worst NHL All Star Game jerseys will show treads being the predominate favorites. Call backs are king as it seems, and anything that looks old is going to be this years hottest item. Usually I am all for this. I love Whaler's Night each year and look forward to whatever comes out for the Reverse Retro night with anticipation. My eye is drawn every time I go to a game for last years Reverse Retro Hat.
But with All-Star games, I am oddly drawn to the new and different. Perennially listed as one of the worst NHL All Star Game jerseys in the 2015 attempt. It features straight lines and neon green. I love it. Everything about this bucks the system of stars and the classic appeal. Which is why I have come to enjoy the 2024 offering.
The colors are a bit odd. I've seen them likened to warning tags on the back of a semi truck carrying hazardous materials. Carl's Jr, or what we in the south call Hardee's, could file a copyright suit for infringement on the stars. The sleeves are ok, and maybe my favorite part. But together these odds and ends fit together in an odd Mary Shelleyian sort of way. Just like Dr. Frankenstein's monster has been complied of pieces parts, making him highly adaptable for future literary and cinematic uses, this jersey has potential for call backs.
Blue, white, red, and yellow are classic jersey colors, even in the comically overstated hues used this year. The stars, if they clear the lawsuit, have appeal. Lower case player names, at the bottom of the back, are completely original. Plenty of people will heap the hate. I say using your imagination, there are plenty of possibilities.
In the world of hockey jerseys, repetition is the key to making tastes, and selling jerseys. As a former teacher, I understand, and embrace the appeal. Calling back to the past, especially one as wealthy as the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes, is awesome. But when it comes to one of a kind events such as the NHL All Star game, throw caution to the wind and do something differently.