After a decade of Reebok, the NHL will finally be getting a three-striped facelift in the 2017-18 season as teams transition to the new Adizero jersey system. We first caught a glimpse of Adidas’ first foray into professional hockey during the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. These jerseys (as well as their NHL counterparts) are 19% lighter, 27% strong, and much more breathable than their predecessors.
Nine months, three Twitter teasers, and a couple leaks later, the NHL finally unveiled the Adizero jerseys of all 31 teams during the NHL draft on July 1, 2017. While some uniforms were overhauled, most just went through minor tweaks. The Vancouver Canucks fall firmly into that latter column; let’s take a closer look:
Updated Collar and NHL Shield
Upon first glance, it doesn’t look like much has changed. And that’s true- many of the tweaks done to the jersey design was for purpose of compatibility.
The first change I noticed was the collar. It is now completely flush with the shoulders, similar to Nike Swift jerseys. I’m not entirely sure what the benefits are with this change, but I would guess that this new style increases comfort and improves heat dissipation around the neck area compared to the Reebok collars. The Canucks also elected to go with a thick, halfway-around white stripe, a design that looks clean and balanced compared to the thin, tapered stripe used previously.
Speaking of the collar area, the NHL shield has also changed. When the league’s logo moved to the collar a decade ago, one issue players had was that the hard, sharp edges dug into their necks when playing (some even went as far as snipping the sharp tops off). This led to Reebok modifying the materials to the softer felt seen in some jerseys from 2013 onward. While this same style was used on the Adidas-made WCoH jerseys, it looks like the company has switched it up again.
The new shield is rubbery (I was actually surprised- it was a lot softer and more flexible than it looked), with a shiny, metallic design. It’s no longer on an insert (because there is none on Adizero jerseys), sitting on the collar itself instead. And because the shield is now completely sealed on to the collar, there shouldn’t be any issue with its edges separating and poking around.
New Crest and Patch Material
There is also very subtle change to the crest. While the controversial orca and accompanying “VANCOUVER” wordmark is still prominently featured, its material has changed slightly. Take a look at the teaser below:
This was the first of three teasers posted to the Canucks’ Twitter page, and showcases a little bit of the crest. If you look at the navy section of the logo on the far right side, you’ll see that it is made of the same material as the jersey’s jersey. This change is supposed to make it up to 46% lighter and more breathable. A better picture of this can be see in the third teaser.
On some teams, it looked like the material was the actual material underneath the crest (like in this Arizona Coyotes teaser), but I think it is more likely to be a different layer of the same material. The rest of the crest looks to be identical to its Reebok predecessors.
Moving onto the shoulder patch, which has also received a slight material update. While the stick-in-rink used to be embroidered, it is now sublimated. Take a look:
The shoulder patch shown in this picture is comprised of only one layer, which should reduce the weight and bulk of the jersey. Although it reminds me of the cheap-feeling patches on Reebok Premiers (made of sublimated plastic), the ones on the new Adizero system are fabric and therefore softer. Interestingly, it looks like Wild and Golden Knights both have embroidered shoulder patches, so either the teams had a choice or there was a material/colour constraint.
Lastly in terms of patches, it looks like the NHL Centennial patch is still located on the right sleeve. Nothing has changed with it as far as I can tell.
Dots, dots, dots, dots, dots, dots
When the 8 WCoH jerseys were unveiled last year, some of the things people noticed first were the dotted shoulders and perforated numbers. Although they were supposed to increase the jersey’s breathability and make it look sleeker, I wasn’t a big fan as it made the jerseys look overly-decorated. For the NHL launch, Adidas originally intended for all teams to also use perforated numbers. However, only Adidas had access to the kits, meaning that teams would have to go through them for cresting. The teams protested, forcing the company to allow a choice between standard or perforated kits.
Fortunately, the Canucks decided to go with the standard customization kit, opting only for the dotted shoulders. Seeing that every other team has these, I don’t think there was much of a choice.
Finally, let’s talk about what you and I will have access to when this new system launches. From what I hear, there will be three tiers of NHL jerseys available for purchase:
The equivalent to Reebok Premier, these will be the cheapest and most widespread of the bunch. In October 2016, the NHL and Fanatics signed an extension that will give the latter full reign over all replica jerseys and other apparel for the league.
While not much is known about if (or how much) the company will alter the actual design of the jersey, these will be slim-cut, branded with Fanatics (instead of Adidas), and made of cheaper materials.
My guess at the price is $150 blank, although I doubt they will hold value so I would grab it secondhand.
The equivalent to Reebok Indo-Edge, these will likely be widespread, but not as cheap as the Fanatics jersey. In 2011, Reebok quietly introduced the 7231 line, an Indonesian-made, numerical sized, Reebok Edge cut jersey with a fight strap that the company tried (and failed) to pass off as On-Ice Authentic. Similarly, Adidas will be selling jerseys that have numerical sizing and fight straps.
I am not sure where they will be manufactured (I’m guessing Indonesia, likely in the same factory that made the Indo-Edges) or what the cut will be, but it doesn’t look like Adidas is pretending it to be anything other than an upgraded fan jersey. However, these will be Adidas-branded, made of nicer materials than the Fanatics version, and should have sewn-down crests/shoulder patches, making it a great choice for fans looking for quality at a reasonable price. The only thing that irks me is the Adidas jock button.
My guess at the price is $200 blank, although the Canucks are having a presale where name and number kits are free with purchase.
Last but not least, we have the equivalent to Reebok Edge 1.0 and 2.0. As the highest-end Adidas jerseys, these will be absolutely stunning but will cost an arm and a leg. Likely made of the exact same materials as what the players wear, these will have a fight strap, numeric sizing, and whatever bells and whistles you are hoping for.
The only thing that concerns me, however, is that retail Reebok Edges were slightly different than on-ice jerseys, which had a reinforced fight strap and lacked a neck tag. I hope that the Adidas authentics will be 100% true to their on-ice counterparts but I am not holding my breath.
My guess at the price is $350 blank.
Personally, I don’t think I will be purchasing any of these jerseys anytime soon. Eventually (as in years down the line), I might spring for an authentic, but only if I can get a team-issued one similar to my Edge 2.0.
2017 has been a very special year for the NHL. So far this year, the league celebrated its Centennial, held its first Centennial Classic, welcomed an expansion franchise, saw one of its proof-of-concept markets reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and finally, ushers in a new era of hockey with a new uniform system. Despite the year being more than halfway over, I still look forward to what’s in store.
And as for the jerseys themselves, it remains to be seen whether they stand the test of time, or fall to the same fate as the forgotten Reebok Edge 1.0.