On Thursday, the Colorado Avalanche revealed their sweater for the 2020 NHL Stadium Series. Their opponent, the Los Angeles Kings, followed with their own a day later.
The official unveilings confirmed the designs that leaked online back in November via retail sources.
As is standard these days, the Adidas-designed jerseys feature no shortage of meaningful details and subtle visual storylines. Whether that will be enough to win over fans with more traditionalist design sensibilities remains to be seen.
What is clear is that Adidas has no problem stepping outside the box to create a truly unique set of hockey uniforms. These are big, bold, and expressive—and may well be what the future holds for hockey sweaters.
Let’s start with the Avs.
Adidas has touted the fact that this is the largest crest ever fitted to an Adizero jersey—helpful when fans have to sit farther away from the action in a football stadium setting.
A big white “A” fills most of the chest as a white stripe wraps around the belly slicing the sweater in half. The top is blue and the bottom is burgundy. The negative space inside the “A” uses simple geometry—four triangles—to represent the mountains of Colorado.
“The triangular shape is modeled after Air Force's Cadet Chapel,” according to the Avalanche press release. “The sleek, angular lines of the campus’ buildings and its jets has been blended with the Avalanche’s DNA to create a hybrid with the Air Force.”
It’s quite a feat to get so much symbolism into such simple lines.
The Avalanche will use the same elongated numbers as they did in their last Stadium Series appearance at Coors Field in 2016. And the hanger effect inside the collar showcases elements of the Colorado state flag.
I’m almost surprised that element hasn’t yet been introduced into their primary uniforms or third jersey at this point.
As striking as the Avs’ uniform is, there’s so much more to be said about what the Kings have done here. Just look at this.
The “LA” crest is just as enormous as their opponent’s. And the rest of the uniform was clearly created with military aviation in mind. In fact, for design inspiration, the Kings themselves turned to the P-51 Mustang fighter plane, which was “manufactured in the heart of El Segundo, quite possibly on the same ground where the Kings practice facility sits today.”
From the strong, oblique lines of the jersey to the incredible chrome helmets, there’s nothing about this uniform that doesn’t stand out.
But seriously, chrome buckets. Those are just out of this world. If I hadn’t seen the photos for myself, I’m not sure I wouldn’t believed it. Hope there’s not too much sun as the game gets underway.
The Kings are particularly excited about this game. From their press release:
For several years, Kings management and the NHL have been in discussion to ensure that a team with such strong ties to the military, plus an ownership group based heavily out of Colorado Springs, CO, would be able to suit up for the second-ever game hosted by a U.S. Service Academy.
“Our fanbase is incredibly connected to the aviation industry,” AEG Sports COO Kelly Cheeseman said. “The state of California and the city of Los Angeles have a rich heritage related to the industry. From Howard Hughes to some of the first test pilot planes created here in LA. We wanted to tap into that.”
They even held an over-the-top photo shoot with Anze Kopitar and the airplane that inspired the design.
As for the other details of the uniform, the Kings have gone with a stenciled version of their elongated numbers. And inside the collar is a checkerboard pattern with a new “KINGS” wordmark that merges past and present design elements.
All in all, the look of this particular Stadium Series game is going to be an unforgettable one. These two teams really embraced the theme and allowed Adidas to go all out on the sweaters. It’s not something we see too often these days in the playing-it-safe NHL.
If you can’t enjoy these jerseys, you don’t have enough happiness in your life. For a one-off event, these are brilliant. And the more the NHL and Adidas can make jerseys like this work, the easier it’ll be to push hockey uniforms into the future.
I’m not saying every team needs to go wild with all of their jerseys. Tradition and tastefully minimalist design certainly have their place. But when it comes to alternate and special event uniforms, I love seeing what happens when creative people get to flex their creative muscle on a big stage.