This morning, Icethetics readers directed me to an eBay listing that seemed to show a new jersey designs for the Pittsburgh Penguins. One reader then received photos of a Philadelphia Flyers jersey after contacting the seller. Both jerseys fit the description of the “reverse retro” alternate sweaters rumored to be coming to the NHL next season.
Seen in the photos are Fanatics-branded Breakaway jerseys. They are the lower-priced replicas, but the designs are accurate to the Adizero game sweaters made by Adidas. To my eye, these are legitimate NHL-licensed products. There are no obvious signs of being counterfeit. Plus, Fanatics jerseys are manufactured in Indonesia, which is the listed location for the ebay seller.
So what are we seeing exactly? These are not new home or road sweaters. And as far as I know, they aren’t new third jerseys either. Since early this year, Icethetics sources and others have been reporting on a new series of sweaters coming to the NHL.
This “fourth jersey” program has been described to Icethetics as “throwbacks with a twist”—as Icethetics reported in JerseyWatch 2020. I’ve been told they will be part of a line called the Reverse Retro series. And these new designs fit that bill.
Penguins bring back the ’90s
Let’s start with the Penguins. The listing now shows as “sold” but I and others were able to grab photos before it closed.
Between 1992 and 1997, Pittsburgh wore a black road jersey with the city’s name displayed diagonally across the front. It was a tribute to the team’s inaugural season sweater from 1967—back when they wore blue and white.
When you compare them side by side, I think the “reverse retro” label speaks for itself
Flyers resurrect the 1980s
Then there’s the Flyers. In this case, the photo has not yet been made part of a public eBay listing—meaning you’re probably seeing it for the first time here on Icethetics.
An Icethetics reader named Dylan L. reached out to the seller asking if they had any other new jerseys. He was provided these photos, which he graciously passed on to me to share with you.
Philadelphia added some black striping to their mostly-unchanged sweaters in the 1980s. The reverse retro design, like their Pittsburgh rival, simply swaps the black and white of the original orange jersey.
Again, the side-by-side photos really help illustrate the differences.
What about those Nordiques gloves?
But wait, there’s a little more! Are the Colorado Avalanche planning to wear Quebec Nordiques uniforms at some point?
Last Thursday, Nathan MacKinnon posted an attention-grabbing photo to his Instagram story. It showed blue gloves with the caption, “new colors crazy.”
I initially thought this could just be a new glove color. The Avs do use this shade of blue in their color palette but they’ve always worn black gloves.
Of course a Nordiques tribute as part of this Reverse Retro series or their 25th anniversary in Denver is even more likely, in my opinion. So that’s definitely something to keep an eye on as we inch closer to the next season—whenever that may be.
What are these Reverse Retros?
My understanding of these Reverse Retro jerseys is that each team will have one and they will be worn only once or twice per season—and likely between certain rivals. In other words, these Flyers and Penguins jerseys were designed to contrast so they could be worn opposing each other in the same game.
My take on this is that it’s a way for the NHL to capitalize on the popularity of the specialty jerseys used for outdoor games without having to stage outdoor games for every team. And it’s not a bad plan when you consider most of the same teams are selected for those games every year.
It also does introduced a whole new category of specialty designs. The Winter and Heritage Classics usually call for really old throwbacks while the Stadium Series aims for futuristic designs. It leaves us kids of the ’80s and ’90s getting yanked around. Now it’s our time!
I’ve seen a few other designs from this Reverse Retro series and they’re really interesting. And I will say not every team has a jersey from its own history. Some haven’t been around long enough to have a history. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t find inspiration for one of these jerseys.
When we will actually see them on the ice remains an open question. I mean the 2020-21 season itself is an open question. The NHL has officially delayed the start of the season to at least January—though now February seems more plausible given recent reports.
But even if they do a shortened 2021 season, I’d still expect to see these new jerseys on the ice. It just comes down to whether Adidas is able to manufacture them in time. I know there have been some pandemic-related supply chain issues. That said, it does seem like the fan-focused Breakaway products are coming off the line in good shape.
For now, I’ll leave it to you. What do you think of this Reverse Retro series and these newly leaked designs?