Early speculators who expected The Vancouver Canucks jerseys for the team’s 50th anniversary season in the National Hockey League to send shockwaves through its fanbase may be disappointed. Or, greatly relieved.
As it turns out, the designs are as much about building on past jerseys as they are about modernizing the image of the franchise as it looks toward its future. The collection includes four styles, each one different — to a varying degree — from the styles Vancouver Canucks fans have come to know and love since the franchise debuted in 1970. But each one is also decidedly familiar.
“They’re not new jerseys. They’re just refreshed versions,” Max Young, the art director for the Canucks, says. “We’ve tried to keep it as true to our current identity and to our past as possible for the 50th. We didn’t think it was appropriate to introduce a new mark for this. And we didn’t think it was appropriate to mix different eras. So, we didn’t think it was appropriate to take the Skate and make it blue and green or take the Flying V and make it blue and green.”
The now-familiar orca crest, which first debuted for the 1997 season, remains the prominent feature of the home-and-away jersey design. But, fans will notice one major element is missing.
“We stuck with the orca logo, which has now been the longest-running part of our identity. We’ve had this logo for 22 seasons of our 50. We love it. It’s so representative of B.C. and so iconic to us, so, we didn’t want to move away from that,” Young says. “What we did want to do is obviously put more focus on that and remove the ‘Vancouver’.”
That’s right, the bold-face type displaying the team’s hometown is history. Young says the move is in an attempt to foster feelings of inclusivity within its fanbase.
“It puts more focus on the orca, and it also speaks to our passionate fanbase across B.C., and not just within the city of Vancouver,” Young says. “I think this orca still speaks to people of Vancouver and the identity of Vancouver. It’s not like we’re alienating people within the city, or anything like that. But, we have, obviously a large fanbase across the province, and we also want to speak to them.”
While Young, along with the rest of the organization’s in-house design team, is pleased with the outcome, they’re well aware that the designs may spark heated debate, and even a bit of controversy, among Canucks fans. It won’t be the first time the team’s fans have been upset by a jersey, though. And, he’s confident that, given a little time, well, they’ll get over it too.
“People are very, very passionate about the different logos and jerseys that we’ve had throughout the years. There’s always pressure from fans if you’re reading social media, if you’re reading Reddit and things like that to go back to certain identities and to cherry pick and kind of take this colour-way with this identity. There’s a lot of passion there,” Young says. “I know when it launched in 2007 … even as a fan, there was some resistance to that ‘Vancouver’ being there — but it really grew on people.”
The shoulder patches on the “modern, cleaner’ design, features the original stick-and-rink logo, which has also been cleaned up a bit, removing the outer banding and making the inner ‘C’ stand out even more by reversing the colours from the primarily blue design with the white “stick” to primarily white.
“This is, we think, more indicative of the ice surface that it’s meant to represent,” Young says of the changeup. The white away jersey also features the white patches for a tidier, monochromatic appearance.
The stick-and-rink logo will also play prominently on the “heritage” third jersey design, which goes “much heavier” on the green and blue striping. Though, it doesn’t venture into all-green territory as some thought it might.
“We have not gone green,” Young says. “But we did incorporate a lot more green than we have in the past.
“We used to have a rule, for many years, that green and blue never touched. There was always white separating them. We’ve kind of gone away from that now.”
“We had a number of discussions and iterations of jerseys in varying colours and looks. It’s always a challenge on making the final decision, but in the end, we landed on blue being the dominant colour as we felt it was the colour that is closest to our team identity,” Trent Carroll, the chief operating officer of the Canucks, adds.
Instead, the touches of white are kept to key highlights: the logo, the player numbers, the collar and the 50th anniversary patch (which will adorn all the jerseys worn throughout the season). The back numbers on each jersey also feature a nod to Vancouver’s notoriously wet climate.
“The perforation is supposed to signify the rain,” Young says of the micro-dot cutouts visible on the back number. Longtime Canucks fans will easily spot the similarities to the original 1970-71 jersey design.
“This is actually the same striping of the 1970 jersey,” Young says. “And the same general logo as our original jersey … it’s just the updated version. So, it’s kind of like a modernized take on that 1970 version.”
The same-same-but-different approach is said to be in keeping with the franchise’s approach to the milestone season.
”The heritage jersey really helps to bridge our past and our future. There are the core elements, like the colours and stick in rink, that are important to preserve,” Carroll says. “But as we evolve as a team and organization we understand the importance of modernizing incrementally.”
The Canucks players will wear the heritage design for 10 games next season, and Young says it will also be put into play beyond the 50th season, as well.
Canucks fan-favourite “Black Skate” jersey, the main crest of which first debuted on the sleeve of the most controversial jersey reveal, perhaps, in NHL history, for the 1978-79 seasons before moving to the chest of the uniforms in 1985, is back by fan vote and will be worn by the players for three games in the 2019-20 season. The heritage design will be available beginning June 21 while the home/away designs and the retro “Black Skate” jersey won’t hit stores until the start of the season.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019