This morning, the Carolina Hurricanes unveiled their new away uniform for the 2019-20 season. And it certainly stands out in a crowd.
As you can see, the Canes opted for the Rangers-style diagonal font treatment across the chest. I think the last time we saw a new uniform with this feature was the 2014 Lightning third—which also featured the club’s nickname, Bolts.
Here’s a look at the Hurricanes’ full uniform lineup as of today.
“We feel that we now have the most diverse uniform set in the NHL with three uniforms that utilize three different brand assets as crest logos,” said Mike Forman, Hurricanes VP of Marketing and Brand Strategy, “not to mention a fourth uniform when you factor in our Whalers set.”
There’s no question the Canes are doing all they can to be unique in almost every way possible. So why should it stop at the uniforms? Traditionalists tend to advocate for matching home and road jerseys—where the striping matches but the colors are reversed. I think that just limits creativity. I fully support this team wanting to break tired old unwritten rules.
Would I feel the same way about a team like the Rangers throwing out the rule book? Perhaps not. But I don’t deny having a double standard when it comes to younger teams. The Rangers’ history has been written. It’s strong. As they approach a century in existence, there’s enormous value in honoring their traditions. The Hurricanes’ history and traditions are being written today. Better to keep reinventing over a short span of time than get stuck with traditions you don’t like.
On that subject, that synopsis above is not a typo. The Canes have now launched five different Adidas jerseys in just over two years. The Adizero home and road set came in 2017, then they added the black alternate and green Whalers jerseys in 2018.
It was no secret that Hurricanes owner Tom Dundon was no fan of his team’s previous white sweater. He went public about that fact on multiple occasions. It led to speculation that the team might refrain from using a white jersey at all, perhaps going with grey instead. Obviously that did not happen but it is interesting to note the differences.
The boxy red shoulders are gone, leaving us with new shoulder patches. Big red letters dramatically take the place of a swirling storm on the chest, all while the striping remains familiar. So how did the Hurricanes end up here?
“We looked at many options in the creative process and ultimately decided that we wanted to make this jersey stand apart from our home and third jerseys,” Forman said. “This uniform is intended to be a modern take on our classic road jersey.”
He said the team wanted to bring back the red jersey numbers and some of their most recognizable brand features, including the storm flag striping pattern and shoulder patches featuring the new flag logo from last year’s third jersey.
“One new element that we really like how it turned out is the raised, 3D helmet decal which features an alternate red/black version of our primary logo,” Forman added.
To be honest, that’s one of my favorite features as well. Not only is it a great treatment for the primary logo, but that raised 3D effect is very cool. It’s done by a Florida-based company called Pro Helmet Decals, who have produced similar effects for the Sabres, Sharks, and Kings.
Forman acknowledged Carolina’s high rate of jersey turnover in recent years and praised his internal graphic design team for being the driving force behind fine-tuning the Hurricanes’ uniform progression. He credited Lauren Baxter, who heads up the Creative Services crew, which includes graphic designers Ashley Mason and Aaron Dewey.
“We’re really proud that our internal graphic design team has taken the lead on these to ideate and design them all in-house,” Forman added.
It’s great to see that group getting this opportunity. There’s a myth among jersey geeks that Adidas is in charge of all the design work when it comes to team uniforms. The truth is, the teams run the show. Adidas has an amazing design staff, and sometimes a team will seek their input, but ultimately their role is to execute the team’s vision.
And for the Hurricanes, there’s a clear attention to detail here.
The striping is a great blend of old and new, but in all the changes we’ve seen from Carolina over just the past few years, one thing hasn’t really changed: the socks. A red stripe, bordered by two thinner black stripes. That’s the way it’s been since 1997. The relative sizes have varied slightly over the years, but the basic design has pretty much been a constant.
So that’s what I like. There are two things I’m not so sure about. First, there are so many storm flags. I think they might’ve overdone it. I count at least eight inside the collar. More than a dozen around the waist. Two on each shoulder. Two in the “C” of the crest. I mean, we get it, right? But it’s fine.
The other thing I’m not so keen on: the crest. I don’t hate it. It doesn’t ruin the jersey for me. I just really don’t want to see a trend of text-based jerseys coming into the league after this. Precedent is really my main concern if I’m honest.
“We are proud of our new word marks that were introduced prior to last season,” Forman said. “Our ‘Canes’ nickname is how the vast majority of our fans affectionately refer to us and we want to bring a piece of our fans with us on the road by featuring it as the crest logo.”
Listen, I can understand their reasoning here. It is a great gesture to fans—and they have some great fans. But let this be a one and done situation.
By the way, Caniacs will get the chance to see this jersey in person early in the season. The Canes have said they will wear their new white sweater at home for a night on October 12 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Speaking of special jersey nights, the Hurricanes also announced yesterday that the Hartford Whalers green throwbacks will be resurrected once again on January 11, 2020 as they host the Los Angeles Kings. Definitely marking that one on the calendar.
So that’s my take. What’s yours? Did the Canes score on this jersey play or was it a nice big whiff?