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Hockey, Sports

Canucks retro jersey choice is an easy one: Free the Skate

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Wyatt Arndt Aug 07, 2018 2:38 pm 2,643

Jersey designs are a hotly contested topic at the best of times.

One person’s treasure is another person’s garbage. Hell, one person’s garbage sometimes becomes that same person’s treasure after many years have passed and that Homer Simpson hot chilli pepper hallucination tribute jersey suddenly becomes “retro” and “vintage”. Hi Phoenix!

And if ever there was a franchise that could cash in on some retroactive love for garish designs, it would be the Vancouver Canucks.

After a simplistic Stick in Rink approach to start the franchise, the late 70s/early 80s saw the yellow, orange, and black colour spectrum invade BC. The Canucks, you see, went to Beyl & Boyd, a design and marketing firm, to come up with a new look. The blue and green? Deemed too tranquil. “The old colours couldn’t have been worse…too cold and passive for a hockey team,” they said.

With that, gone were the gentle lads in the soft white, blue, and green jerseys, and in their place were a rag tag group of players that scratched and clawed their way to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance with a giant ass orange V on their chest.

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Sure, the dynastic Islanders stomped a mud-hole into them, but you can’t deny that nobody looked quite as bright as the Canucks did in that defeat.

Back then, when the Canucks wanted to turn the amps all the way to eleven, all they had to do was bust out their yellow gear, which was 75% nuclear explosion yellow, and 25% assortment of black and orange, leaving them looking like someone asked their mom to make them Star Trek uniforms for Halloween but she’d never actually quite seen the show so she just sort of winged it. Even the “C” on Stan Smyl looks like someone used MS Paint for the first time and accidentally used the text button and had no idea how to delete it or change the colour.

Add the yellow helmets to this ensemble and baby, you’ve got yourself a colour stew going!

But the Canucks somewhere along the line decided to stop the war of attrition on eyeballs everywhere, toned it down a bit, and made a jersey you could wear to work and prom in the form of the Flying Skate jersey.

And that Skate jersey happened to coincide with one of the most beloved teams in Vancouver history, the 1994 Canucks. Make a checklist and run through it and you hit a lot of high points.

Stanley Cup run, check. First bonafide out-of-this-world superstar in Pavel Bure, check. Good ol’ Canadian Captain and beloved adopted son Trevor Linden, check. A guy who could kick anyone’s ass in Gino Odjick, check. A goalie who put on the best performance the franchise had ever seen in Kirk McLean, check.

The list could go on and on with the various personalities from that era that made an impact on the ice for this team, and has therefore put the Skate jersey in a very fond place for many a Canucks fan’s heart.

That’s why when the Canucks declared the fans would help choose which retro jersey the team should rock for the 2019-20 season, the franchise’s 50th season, the answer is clearly the Skate jersey.

There is no other choice.

It’s so obvious it’s almost laughable. I feel weird even having to write about this. But, let’s humour the naysayers and trolls and break down why this is the only choice you should be voting for.

Besides, it’s summer hockey coverage, what else are you gonna do?

Finally, something different

Before we begin, though, can we give a shout out to the Canucks for finally giving an option for an alternate jersey that looks different from its primary jersey? I don’t know who came up with the brilliant idea of making a blue and green third jersey to go with the blue and green primary jersey they already had, but hopefully that person feels shame every day for that decision and never gets invited to team lunches.

It’s like saying: “Hey we should put a burrito inside a burrito? That would be neat.”

Why would you ever want a third jersey that from the back, looks exactly the same as your regular jersey? Why was this stupid decision made? Was it to save on fabric? Is that why the Canucks had the dumbest third jersey transition in the league?

Like, I’d rather have the Wild Wing Ducks abomination third jersey attempt versus some guy copying and pasting the stick and rink logo over the Orca. How did that PowerPoint presentation even go??

“Ok guys….so here is the normal jersey…..oh shoot I didn’t save it. Dang, ok bear with me, I can make a new one real quick…. ok one second here, just have to hit Ctrl V….ok just have to resize it a bit…..shoot, have to get rid of that Vancouver watermark….ok just have to use my cloning tool…ok, and there is my proposal for the new third jersey!”

Geezus. We can do better.

Flying V

Ok, look, I don’t want to rail on this jersey too badly, it didn’t do anything wrong.

Sure, it might have been a bit excessive in its colour choice, but it was a good attempt to shake up a franchise clearly in need of something, anything, to distract from all the losing. And give them credit, it was hard to see anything past the Flying V.

But this jersey isn’t something you bring back into duty. This is a jersey you dated for a bit in high school before you realized who you were as a person. No hard feelings, but you both just wanted something different in life. Look at a photograph every once in a while and smile at days gone by. Don’t call it up in the middle of the night 40 years later begging it to meet you at Denny’s for a dinner to “try and reconnect over some Grand Slams”.

Yes, the team went on a glorious run to the Stanley Cup Final wearing them in 1982, the first real success tasted by the franchise. Yes, they made the playoffs repeatedly in these jerseys, but there were no iconic moments or other deep runs.

This jersey was clearly a transitional jersey to better times. It served its purpose and it can be brought back for a one-night-only scenario somewhere down the line when you’ve run Bobblehead night into the ground and need something fresh.

“The Canucks proudly announce Al Hutchings Senior Director Facility Operations and Engineering Bobblehead night!”

The only way you vote for this jersey is if your finger slipped or because you want to be edgy or you’re Daniel Wagner and for some reason just really like this jersey.

Listen to former Canucks PR Director Norm Jewison, back in 1984:

“It became overwhelmingly obvious to us that the fans were not pleased with the uniforms, so we’re doing something about it.”

They did something about it. They did the right thing. They changed it to….

The Skate

kirk mclean canucks

Image: Vancouver Canucks

This is the clear choice. Again, it’s laughable there are even any other options on this poll.

1. The 90s are hot right now

Other NHL teams are hitting up 90s logos right now, so thematically it makes sense. The Ducks brought back their quack logo, the Coyotes brought their paint by numbers jersey. Other teams will probably follow suit. It’s a great time to go down a 90s memory lane trip with other teams in the league.

2. Memories of 1994

The 1994 run was the closest the Canucks have ever come to winning the Cup. The 2011 was a better team, but 1994 was one post away from winning it all. There are great memories associated with this jersey for a good reason. They had playoff appearances from 91-96, won the division twice. It’s a fond era to look back on, perfect for a third jersey.

3. They look bad ass

They just look bad ass. Admit it, the first time Brock Boeser puts one on and snipes home a goal in it, you’re running out to the store to buy that jersey ASAP. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes deserves to look this good. Don’t take this away from the children. Why are you being mean to the children?

The Skate jersey was so beloved that when the team went to the Orca jersey in 1997 it started this weird period of like 10-15 years of the Canucks completely ignoring the Skate logo. It was bizarre, they’d trot out Stick in Rink merch, they’d do the V merch, and someone even went out and dug up the grave of the Millionaires logo…but the Skate logo? It was like it never existed. It was as if the team didn’t want anyone pining for the best jersey, and instead had to accept their disgusting Orca logo fate.

We owe it to the Skate jersey to let it shine, to pay it back for those years when it was shoved into the closet. Because we cannot go back to…

The Orca

mark messier canucks

Image: NHL / Twitter

OK, let’s get this out of the way. There were some great times with this jersey. The West Coast Express arguably played the most exciting hockey in Canucks history. Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison, Sami Salo, Ed Jovanovski, Mattias Ohlund, Trevor Letowski, Roberto Luongo the list goes on of great Canucks who wore it.

The Sedins grew up in these jerseys. It’s basically baby’s first blanket. So I know there is some strong emotional ties to it. You would think it would be a great choice to go with.

But you know what ruins it? Three things.

1. Messier

Any time I think of this jersey, this is what comes to mind. Failed expectations. Missing playoffs. No Gretzky. Linden stripped of the C. Bure demanding out. Messier and Mike Keenan watching Vancouver Grizzlies games. Six-million dollar contracts. Messier suing the Canucks. Darby Hendrickson. Steve Washburn. Brian Noonan, Drake Berehowksy. Enrico Ciccone. That’s where Mark Messier led this team. That’s the first thing this jersey brought us. Messier and people APPLAUDING the signing. I have no idea what media members were there at the time, but they actually broke out into applause at his press conference. That is a thing that actually happened.

2. Just look at it

It’s not ugly enough to be retroactively cool, and not nice enough to want to see ever again. Like, it couldn’t even be ugly enough to be cool, it’s just kind of low brow and underwhelming.

Look at the colour scheme! Silver? Maroon? Navy blue? I think there was actual glitter in the silver. It looked like an off-brand Canucks jersey you’d find at Walmart, the colours all slightly off. Why is the silver a different material? Why was that a decision that was made? The Canucks really wanted to hit that jersey market deficiency in satin?

And sure, the logo has some West Coast inspired flair in the Pacific Northwest native style art influence present, but the parent company of the Canucks at the time was Orca Bay. That logo has an Orca. Ergo, that’s a damn corporate logo. It’s like McDonald’s trying to convince you their golden arches are just serendipitously placed French fries, it’s not the letter M at all.

Let’s circle back to Beyl & Boyd, the marketing firm that came up with the black, orange and yellow colours. Sure, they might have been a bit extreme in their palette, but they made a good point about the original Stick in Rink logo.

Marketing experts told us that our logo was a good corporate symbol too uninspiring for a sports team…colour psychologists recommended the new colour combination which arouses excitement and aggression.”

Listen to Beyl & Boyd!

3. THEY ALREADY USE A GOD DAMN ORCA ON THEIR PRIMARY JERSEY

Let’s not make this mistake again. Please, do not invite another third jersey into the room that already shares either the same colour scheme or same damn logo as your primary jersey. It makes no sense. All it does is make it look like you opened up photoshop and changed the hues and saturation on your jersey.

Wait, sorry, the current Canucks logo has the gaudy Vancouver watermark.

THAT’S STILL NOT ENOUGH OF A DIFFERENCE TO BRING THIS ONE BACK.

Seriously, if you’re still debating this just scroll up to point 1 and re-read the Messier section. I didn’t even need point 2 and 3, I just threw it on here for some extra flair.

Do the right thing

Free the Skate. That’s all there is to this. There is no other choice here. The Canucks are just a team, standing in front of their fans, asking us to love them.

And the only way to do that, is to do the right thing, and free the Skate.

Let Boeser toss back his ridiculous flow in this jersey.

Let Pettersson dangle some fool and get uploaded to YouTube in HD in this jersey.

Let Thatcher Demko rob some sucker blind and have people debate which looked better, the save or this jersey.

Let Jay Beagle have something that fans can applaud, because that four-year deal is going to need some sugar to swallow.

Let Bo Horvat shine up that yellow C on this jersey.

Let Ben Hutton angrily yell at Travis Green about being benched during practice in this jersey.

Let Troy From Richmond wear a jersey he proudly last saw live when he was…*checks notes*….two.

Let Brendan Gaunce score a goal on purpose in these jerseys.

Let Loui Eriksson make some new memes in this jersey.

Let Quinn Hughes tell his brother Jack about the sick new jersey he gets to wear when the Canucks draft him in 2019.

Let the Canucks create more iconic moments like this.

Do you know which jersey would play on crutches for you? Because I do.

Simply stated:

Free.

The.

Skate.

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Ed73c95199a7c52e70a7ff5fe66a1e13?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Wyatt Arndt
Daily Hive Vancouver sports writer

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