Thursday, September 20, 2007

Jerseys: If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It

The NHL has made a lot of changes as they have tried to build a new image for themselves since the lockout. There is a new CBA, new rules, shootouts, a new US TV deal. Many of these changes were by necessity, but some were not. One change that is unnecessary is the new jerseys debuted this season.

The new Reebok form-fitting jerseys are marketed as being more aerodynamic and better able to wick away perspiration than the old jerseys. This it is claimed that the NHL players wearing them are faster (this claim is at best dubious). Many of the new jersey designs have had poor reception due to ugly designs. The cynically (and most probable) reason for the new jerseys is that they will provide additional revenue for the NHL as fans go out and buy them.

However, the problem when one makes an unnecessary change is that they may break something that was working well in the past. This appears to be the case with the new jerseys. It is still pre-season, but there are already reports of jerseys breaking away during fights and potentially leading to injury.

In Monday's pre-season game between New Jersey and Philadelphia (which the Flyers won 3-2), there were a few incidents. New Jersey tough guy Cam Janssen had his jersey tear easily and get lifted over his head in a fight with Jesse Boulerice of Philadelphia. Though it is likely unrelated to the jersey, Janssen is now out with a dislocated shoulder. Arron Asham or New Jersey had a jersey split down the back in another fight.

Asham is probably significantly overstating the situation when he says that this may be intentionally done to limit fighting. More than likely it is a mistake in testing these new jerseys.

The NHL finds itself with equipment it issued that is likely unsafe for some subset of players in its normal expected use. What do they do? Do they recall the equipment (and thus lose a potential revenue stream) or do they turn a blind eye and open themselves up to lawsuits should a player suffer a serious injury due to his jersey? Most likely, the marketing arm wins and the players lose. NHL hockey is an inherently rough game and players get hurt frequently, but it should not be due to faulty NHL issued equipment.

Here is James Mirtle on the subject.

Could the tear away aspect of the jersey be a 'safety feature' in regards to fighting?

Thinking about it some, I began to wonder if the uniforms are meant to tear in that situation to avoid disabling ones ability to defend himself by tangling him up in his jersey.

Just a thought, and I'm not insisting its even a good idea, but that it could be an intended result in such a situation meant to avoid injury.
When a jersey tears away, the possibility of tangling a player up in his jersey is increased since there is a partially torn jersey now available to tangle players up with.
do you know the revenue generated from the sale of jerseys?
The new jerseys are horrid....since Bettman took over, the NHL has become the NWL (National Whore League); just throw a few bucks at Bettman and you can force players to wear ugly white Nike skates or instantly make 30 teams wear ugly jerseys that owe little to a 90 year old legacy of tradition.
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