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Evolution of the Canucks jersey

A10 NEWS THE GLOBE AND MAIL SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2011 THE GLOBE AND MAIL • SATURDAY, MAY 28, 2011 NEWS . A11 Folio: Vancouver Canucks FOLIO EDITOR: CRAIG OFFMAN Sweating the small stuff: The evolution of a championship jersey If you're not one of the Original Six, creating a team look is a painstaking process involving factors ranging from geography to iconography to psychology. And you don't always get it right. Dave McGinn traces the evolution of the Canucks sweater. Illustrations by 1970 Borovich's Picasso Matthew Bambach North Vancouver artist Joe Borovich drew on the colours of the Pacific Northwest when he designed the Canucks first jersey. The classic blue and green made sense to fans. Others found the hockey stick in the middle of the logo difficult to interpret. Was it a hockey stick tipped sideways inside a rink? Or if looked at in relief, a C? "One guy called it "Picasso's envy," Borovich says. Todd Falkowsky, founder of the Canadian Design Resource, notes that the simple, clean elements of the jersey the modernism that was sweep- ing Canada at the time, including the design of the country's flag a few years earlier. ome jerseys deserve to be Shoisted up to the rafters, oth- ers deserve a game misconduct. Pity the playmaker or enforcer wearing the caricatures that dominated design in the early 1990s. The San Jose Sharks? The Anaheim Ducks? The Coyotes? They all looked more like a Sat- urday morning cartoon gang that no self-respecting pro athlete should be wearing. But if a team is really desperate to intimidate, even a Penguin can be given the look of feral menace. More successfully, some jerseys reference their past to reinforce their power - the Flames, Islan- ders and Sabres among them. Some clubs may not have much of a past but, like the Minnesota Wild in 2003, a team can field a sweater that exudes a cool, maj- estic aura, as though their athlet- ic ancestors played on ponds. The classic jerseys, on the other hand, cannot be trifled with. Habs and Leafs players skate with the burden of history on their shoulder pads, and blowing apart that Original Six look would be tantamount to Original Sin. "If you're an Original Six team or a team with a lot of history, they tend to want to stay consis- tent with that," says Keith Leach, Reebok's director of merchandis- ing for NHL apparel. So for the superstitious who be- lieve that the voodoo of a brand- new logo will lift the Leafs out of the basement, it's never going to happen. "Any change to our jersey is very infrequent, and if it's going to happen, it's going to be subtle at best," says Tom Anselmi, chief operating officer at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. "The jersey is the most important visu- al representation of the brand and what your team is all about." Indeed it is, which is why cre- ating a new look is such a pains- taking process. Typically, a team that wants to mix things up must make the request to the National Hockey League 15 months before the start of a season. From there, no detail is ignored by designers. They look at the team. Factor in the region. Consider its iconogra- phy and symbolism. From that alchemy, conjure an image. But credit those designs for going out on a limb. And if kudos for that is granted, no team is more deserving than the ever- changing Vancouver Canucks, who have never been afraid to get ugly. They may have a sweet shirt now, but it has taken many excruciating iterations to get there. 1978 Halloween Horror e emblematic of Few jersey changes in profession- al sports have been as radical as that from the Canucks first jersey to the dreaded V, generally regarded as one of the ugliest jer- seys in hockey history. Intro- duced after an ownership change, the firm hired to create the jersey decided the old colours were "bland, too tranquil and did not inspire emotion." The plunging V, stabbing downwards, and the hideous colours were designed to intimi- date the opposing team. Once re- ferred to as a "Halloween suit," the jersey lived up to its fear- someness when the team went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982. 1985 The Blade SAINIUCKS of Glory The new emblem put front and centre on the Canucks jersey has been variously known as the "Star Wars" logo, the "waffle iron" and the "plate of spaghetti." The "flying skate" jersey, as its most commonly known, main- tained the previous colour scheme for continuity's sake. But it was decried as nearly in- scrutable. "It broke all the rules logo design," says Todd Fal- kowsky of the Canadian Design Resource. "Logo design is all about 'Can it be scaled? Can it be made the size of a postage stamp or the size of a billboard?' Scale this one down and see what you get." 1997 The Orca Abandoning the generic image of a skate, Vancouver artist Brent Lynch's “orca" logo helped root the team to its locale. "The only thing I was obsessed about was trying to give it a West Coast look," Lynch says. The orca, breaking through ice to form a stylized C, added an extra layer of local flavour thanks to its Hai- da-style design. "It was almost imperative, I thought, that you had to reference native art," Lynch says. Although it was accused of being a cynical reference to the team's then-parent company, Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, Lynch says the company almost rejected it for that very reason. The jersey's navy blue, maroon and hint of silver didn't speak much to the local palette. "The colours seem to come out of no- where," Falkowsky says. VANCOUVER 2007 Pride of the pack Following the retro trend, the latest Canucks jersey retains Lynch's "orca" logo and pairs it with the original's colour scheme. The "combo to be known, "celebrates the past and it's con sent in Canucks history," according to the team. It also reflects what Falkowsky calls a more "confident" city. Indeed, no longer content with a generic look, the new incarnation is bold enough to feature the word "Vancouver" across its front. With the blue, green and white along with the orca, he adds, the jersey cap- tures the city so well that its name isn't even necessary. DU

Evolution of the Canucks jersey

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The many designs of the Vancouver Canucks uniform.

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