Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s been a decade since Reebok first unveiled their new Edge jerseys at the 2007 NHL All Star Game.
But as the NHL transitions to the new Adidas jerseys, let’s take a look at the changes Reebok’s revolutionary system underwent over the past 10 years.
Authentic Vs. Premier Jerseys
First off, let’s establish the scope of this post.
This post will be focusing on authentic jerseys, which were available in two variants: Center Ice retail jerseys and the team-issued jerseys worn on the ice. While the former was advertised as identical to the jerseys NHL players wore, there were a few differences such as a retail neck tag and single-layered fight strap (see above).
However, the most common team jersey found in retail stores are Premier jerseys. Although they were meant to emulate the look of the on-ice jerseys, different (read: cheaper) materials and manufacturing techniques were used. It’s not all bad though; their cut is slimmer and more comfortable than authentic jerseys.
The easiest way to tell Premiers apart from authentic jerseys are their screen-printed twill shoulder patches, heat-pressed crests, and lack of a fight strap. This post will not focus on this line because of the vast differences compared to player jerseys.
Held for the first time since 2004, the NHL’s 55th All Star Game in 2007 was meant to usher in a new era in the NHL. As such, upcoming megastars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were among the first to don Reebok’s new streamlined, advanced jersey system which promised to increase player versatility by being lighter and less water absorbent.
The league then completely converted to the new Edge system the following season. While focus was supposed to be on the new material and cut, the most jarring change for the fans was the revamped look of multiple teams. Gone were the iconic mountain peaks and bottom-half-star– both replaced by generic, plain designs. Similar fates awaited the Senators, Penguins, and Lightning, as their designs fell victim to the new Reebok template.
Back to Basics
The first major change came early, as players realized that the play-dry material wicked sweat and moisture into their gloves. In response, Reebok reverted to the older air-knit material used in the generation prior. Other changes include the return of reinforced elbows and widening of the sleeve and chest areas. Although most teams switched to the updated style (with the Edmonton Oilers being the last to do so), retail authentic jerseys continued to be manufactured using the older material. At this point, the only way to obtain a 7287 (AKA Edge 2.0) authentic jersey was buying a game-worn or team-issued jersey.
Logo Change & Indo-Edge
Reebok stepped away from its “vector” logo in 2011, replacing it with the wordmark logo starting in 2011-12. This change coincided with a similar change in Premier jerseys (which were ironed on, unsurprisingly), as well as the launch of a new line: the 7231.
Otherwise known as the Indo-Edge (referent to their place of manufacture, Indonesia), 7231 jerseys were similar to the 7287 jerseys worn by the players, but manufactured using cheaper materials and techniques. Although these jerseys were made of air-knit, the material was noticeably thinner than their on-ice counterpart and even the older CCM 6100. Additionally, the twill holding the fight-strap in place was thinner and white on Indo-Edges (it is the same color as the back mesh on the on-ice product). These factors, combined with the less-precise stitching and lime-green neckband made the 7231 series unpopular among jersey collectors.
After backlash due to the high prices of the inferior Indo-Edge, Reebok introduced a retail version of the 7287 (Edge 2.0) series consisting of materials identical to the ones worn by the players (albeit with a few differences in manufacturing as mentioned previously). Interestingly, the size tag still read “7187,” the model number for the older Edge 1.0. Both Edge 2.0 and Indo-Edge jerseys were sold concurrently, with availability dependent on the team and store.
Another change that came with the Reebok Edge system was the NHL shield’s move from bottom hem to collar insert. While increasing visibility of the league’s brand, players complained about its pointed top edges digging into their necks, leading to some even snipping off the top portion (Thanks to /u/CBJGameWorn for the picture). In response, Reebok phased in a new, softer NHL shield made of felt in 2013, although only on new styles; older styles, even if manufactured after 2013, retained the old shield.
The introduction of the Edge system in 2007 came with drastic changes, and there was resistance to be expected. Preference for familiarity caused wariness of the massive changes that Reebok’s new jerseys brought, and the loss of iconic designs to an ugly template didn’t help matters.
However, as the system matured and necessary changes were made, both the casual fan and hardcore jersey collectors began to come around.
Now, as we move on from Reebok and onto Adidas for the 2017-18 season, we will follow along as their system eases through the inevitable growing pains.