Nashville unveils 2020 Winter Classic sweater with retro vibes

As expected, the Predators took inspiration from their city’s first pro hockey team, the Nashville Dixie Flyers. But the result leaves me wanting more.

This morning, the Nashville Predators officially unveiled their 2020 NHL Winter Classic sweater. And as predicted, the new look pays homage to a team that first skated in the 1960s—the Nashville Dixie Flyers.

The Preds will compete in their first-ever outdoor game on January 1 at Cotton Bowl Stadium when they face the Dallas Stars. (The Stars, by the way, are expected to reveal their Winter Classic jersey this Wednesday, November 6.)

Let’s take a closer look at the details of the new Nashville uniform. Just like the Dixie Flyers, we get a big fat stripe across the chest with a script mark placed inside.

Nashville Predators 2020 Winter Classic sweater

There’s a traditional lace-up collar design, though it’s smaller than the standard Adizero collar laces—two grommets on each side instead of three.

Nashville Predators 2020 Winter Classic sweater collar

The new shoulder patch looks excellent. Maybe it can be a jersey crest some day.

Nashville Predators 2020 Winter Classic shoulder patch

And for those wonder how the back numbers will contrast, a quick shot in a video released by Adidas today shows the chest stripe cuts off under the arm—just like it does for the Florida Panthers.

Nashville Predators 2020 Winter Classic jersey (back)

But I have to be honest. I’m normally the “rah-rah” guy when it comes to any new NHL sweater. I typically like them all. (Some of you have even complained I don’t critique them enough. Well, settle in.) But this one... just gives me an overall “meh” feeling.

I’m not entirely sure why. It sounds great on paper. The idea of a Dixie Flyers/Predators mix certainly worked well in my head. There’s no doubt I had high hopes for it.

The Dixie Flyers jersey stands out in minor league hockey history with that bright yellow base and purple chest stripe—and, of course, being an early hockey team in the south. The Predators made that same yellow their primary color in 2011, so they’re certainly not shy about using it.

Nashville Dixie Flyers team photo / 1960s

It seems strange then, to me, that they went with a white base.

In all my Googling in recent months, I’ve yet to come across a white version of that Dixie Flyers jersey. Maybe there wasn’t one? I’m guessing they wouldn’t need it since that yellow would’ve contrasted well with just about anything else on the ice.

It is standard in the NHL for the road team to wear white, but based on some of the concept art we’ve seen in recent months, yellow and green seem to contrast well enough to tell the teams apart.

Then there’s the crest. The script worked for the Dixie Flyers, who only had 11 letters in their name. Nashville Predators has 18. As any designer can tell you, when you add more stuff to the same amount of space, you have to make it all smaller. And it looks smaller.

I think what makes hockey sweaters so memorable and eye-catching is that big colorful logo on the chest. When you have a small, muted script, you lose something. And for me, it’s not enough to say it’s a throwback. It isn’t really. It’s inspired by something obscure from history, but

Honestly, I thought Dakota Pitts’ concept design from a couple weeks ago was spot-on perfect. Yellow base, navy stripe. The script still has too many letters, but at least it stands out better. And the yellow really stands out.

Nashville Predators concept art / Dakota Pitts

So that’s my initial reaction to this design. I’m underwhelmed. But I’m still eager to see how it looks on the ice. Maybe I’ll change my tune. (Nashville pun.)

The good news, in my mind, is that this opens the door for a better throwback jersey down the road. As we saw with the Heritage Classic last week, the Jets and Flames each released reverse versions of their existing throwback jerseys. Maybe down the road, the Predators will find a reason to launch a yellow version of this jersey—perhaps when they host a Winter Classic of their own!

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Stars have planned—I think that jersey will be a real treat. Keep an eye out for it on Wednesday.