After a decade of Reebok, the NHL finally will finally receive a three-striped facelift in the 2017-18 season as teams transition to the 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.
One of the more noticeable alterations is the collar, which is now completely flush with the shoulders similar to Nike Swift jerseys. This new style increases comfort and improves heat dissipation around the neck area compared to Reebok Edge collars. The Canucks also elected to go with a thick, halfway-around white stripe.
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 introducing a softer felt version seen on some jerseys from 2013 onward. While this same material was used on the Adidas-made WCoH jerseys, it looks like the company has switched it up again.
The new shield is rubbery with a shiny, metallic design, but is a lot softer and more flexible than it looks. It’s no longer on an insert (there are 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 small portion of the crest. Take a 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 torso. This change is supposed result in a 46% lighter and more breathable jersey. 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 believe 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 predecessor.
Let’s move 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 sublimated-plastic patches on Reebok Premiers, the ones on the new Adizero system are jacquared fabric and therefore softer.
Lastly, 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.
When the 8 WCoH jerseys were unveiled last year, some of the things people noticed first were the dotted shoulders and perforated numbers. Unlike some other teams, the Canucks decided to go with the standard customization kit, opting only for the dotted shoulders. And seeing that every other team has these, I don’t think there was much of a choice.
Fun fact: 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. Some protested due to the cost and restrictions of using a single supplier league-wide, forcing the company to offer a choice of standard or perforated kits.
There will be three tiers of NHL jerseys available for purchase:
The equivalent to Reebok Premier, these are 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.
These replicas are slim-cut, branded with Fanatics (instead of Adidas), and made of different materials. Furthermore, some designs may differ due to elements being sublimated versus embroidered or jacquered.
: Luckily, the Vancouver Canucks Fanatics jerseys are pretty much spot-on to the on-ice version. Of course, the materials differ and logos/crests are sublimated (albeit of pretty high quality), but there are some teams which saw some pretty obvious changes.
The equivalent to Reebok Indo-Edge, these jerseys are 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 is selling jerseys that have numerical sizing and fight straps.
However, unlike the Indo-Edge, It doesn’t look like Adidas is pretending it to be anything other than an upgraded fan jersey. They are Adidas-branded, made of higher-quality materials than the Fanatics version, and have sewn-down crests/shoulder patches, making it a great choice for fans looking for quality at a reasonable price.
One thing to note, however, is that during the first year of production, the smaller sizes (46, 44, and 42) were manufactured using smaller elements such as shoulder patches and crests. This was changed the following year, with elements becoming consistent across sizes.
Last but not least, we have the equivalent to Reebok Edge 1.0 and 2.0. As the highest-end Adidas jerseys, these are absolutely stunning but cost an arm and a leg. 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.
Only problem is availability. With Indo-Adidas jerseys already positioned as the premium option for fans, where do these slot in?
Although I am not a big fan of the Canucks’ current look, I do appreciate the desire and effort to build a long-lasting brand. I feel that the aesthetic refinements (such as the more balanced, bolder collar) are a positive, while the jacquared shoulder patches provide practical benefits. I do, however, dislike the dots. They make an already-complicated jersey look even busier, and to no real benefit.
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. I hope that the Adidas authentic jerseys will be 100% true to their on-ice counterparts but I am not holding my breath.
2017 has been a very special year for the NHL. So far this year, the league celebrated 100-year anniversary, held its first Centennial Classic, welcomed an expansion franchise, saw one of its proof-of-concept markets reach the Stanley Cup Finals, and finally, ushered in a new era of hockey with a new uniform system. Despite the year being more than halfway over, however, there is still a lot of good hockey left.
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. ∎