Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis took the podium at National’s Park on Tuesday afternoon, joined by other prominent names in the hockey world to reveal the jerseys the Capitals will wear for the 2015 Winter Classic.
“New Year’s Day used to be about college football. Now New Year’s Day is about the NHL,” said Leonsis.
A bold statement, as New Year’s Day is still mostly dominated by college football, but now cedes some of the spotlight to the NHL, since the Winter Classic series began in 2008. Leonsis says he knew he wanted one to be in DC since he watched the inaugural game with his family six years ago.
The wait for the Winter Classic sweaters, for fans, at least was perhaps more arduous than waiting for the venue to be announced. The Capitals’ opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, was old news, and it seemed clear from the initial announcement at Capitals Fan Fest on September 21, 2013 that Nationals Park was the venue that made the most sense for the event (this was confirmed September 6 in a report by the Washington Post and later confirmed by the NHL).
But what would they wear?
Taking into account that the franchise is celebrating their 40th anniversary this upcoming season, it was expected that some type of retro design would be used. While teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have been in existence since 1917, the Capitals comparatively don’t have the benefit of almost 10 decades to draw from.
Unlike the 2011-12 season, where the Capitals introduced a 1974-era third jersey similar to the one worn in the 2011 Winter Classic (essentially the same), the 2015 Winter Classic sweaters are not currently planned to be used as third jerseys, according to the Capitals’ senior writer Mike Vogel. It is always possible that these sweaters could eventually replace the current third jerseys at some point in the future, but that’s not in the plans right now.
Since the retro 1974-esque theme had already been done, the Capitals delved into the history of hockey in Washington D.C., namely the Washington Eagles, an Eastern Hockey League (EHL) team, who played where the Kennedy Center stands now, from 1939-1942. After the Eagles folded, a new team, the Washington Lions, was formed, and played in D.C. in different iterations from 1941-1957. The Lions were relocated to Cincinnati and became the Mohawks, but the Lions were resurrected and persisted until 1957, when their name was changed to the Washington Presidents, who hung around through 1960, when the Washington Chiefs entered the D.C. sports scene. The Chiefs were considered an independent team, and played from 1971-1976. The Capital Centre was built in 1973, and ushered in a new era of hockey in D.C – the Washington Capitals.
The NHL, the Capitals and Reebok designed the sweaters, according to a press release, and began the process about a year ago.
The design combines several The principal color of the jerseys is described as a “deep red”, technically a shade called oxblood, somewhere between bordeaux and burgundy (thanks, Pantone), a departure from the typical bright Capitals red, and gives the sweaters a vintage look. Stripes on each shoulder, the waist of the jersey, and the legs are meant to harken to the jersey of the Washington Eagles of the 1930s and ’40s.
The “Capitals” wordmark emblazoned on the front is in all capital letters (a clever touch, to be sure) and incorporates stars, a signature look present on Capitals jerseys throughout the years.. Underneath the stars, a large “W” in Prussian blue (also known as midnight blue) dominates the chest. But this is no ordinary “W”. The letter stands for Washington, obviously, but it contains a hidden message – the center of the letter is curved in such a way as to represent the shape of the Washington Monument. The “W” symbol is also present on the pants (which are also blue) the players will wear with the jersey.
Player numbers, as well as “C” and “A” designations are in white, outlined in the same Prussian blue as the “W” on the chest and the pants. The contrast created by the bright white set in blue accent helps the numbers pop, which is helpful for announcers calling the game and spectators watching from the stands.
The pants feature a star design on the outside of each leg, bookended by white stripes. The “W” on the left leg of the pants is in white with three white stars perched atop the letter.
Unlike many jerseys that feature faux laces at the neck, the jerseys have actual laces, accented by the Prussian blue around the collar.
Seen in broad daylight, the oxblood color of the jersey stands out more than against the red background that doesn’t offer much contrast or lend itself to accentuating the nuances of the design.