I’d be at pains to identify another NHL club who with respect to reissuing a quality facsimile of the sweater it wore for its first few decades of existence has as grave a difficulty at the endeavor as do the Washington Capitals. With every attempt, be it with Mike Gartner’s number retirement night or yesterday at its second annual Capitals Convention, they manage to offend any refined sense of fashion legacy. The team promised yesterday a “grand unveiling” of what everybody knew would be a heritage sweater for the 2011 Winter Classic, threads harkening back to the team’s now somewhat charming days of ’70s-through-mid-’90s struggle. But any grand unveiling has to deliver grandeur, and that was not the pose struck on the main Convention stage at 12:30 yesterday by Yvon Labre, Rod Lanway, and Alexander Ovechkin.
To channel Puck Daddy for a moment, uni-patch as primary logo in this instance equals fail. It could perhaps be pulled off by a few other franchises, but not ours. Like their fellow Capital Centre tenant the Bullets, the uniform worn by the Caps over the course of their first three decades has today accrued considerably heightened appreciation as a distinctive throwback look. For whatever reason, however, on the grandest stage that this team will skate on to date come January 1 they will look clownish. Particularly in high definition. Beer league-ish in their knockoffs. Actually, I’ve captained a few beer league teams who wouldn’t dare wear what was modeled on that convention stage yesterday.
What could have been a moment occasioning a frenzy of orderings at Mitchell and Ness will instead send a few dozen Caps’ fans to a nearby Modells. Again.
Car aficionados can rebuild — and operate on the open road — an Edsel. Apparently in Washington we can’t locate a seamstress to help fashion a quality heritage look.
The unveiling yesterday was profoundly underwhelming. Dispiriting, actually. The host Penguins most assuredly will not take Heinz Field ice in a paper thin, patched knockoff look. And adding to yesterday’s disappointment was the contrast between what was on stage and what in great number was on display among a legion of old school supporters. At every turn yesterday one saw flashes of the great fashion past. Dozens and dozens of lavishly starred-and-stitched great old sweater hugging, too tightly of course, given the chronology of most of its wearers, wide-smiling conventioneers anticipating the return of the great old threads. All of them who’ll watch in taverns or at New Years Day game watches will look better than our pros that day.
Beyond its amateurish general look there is the practical concern that the primary logo for New Years Day is simply too small. Compare its size with the original crest. It’s a startling juxtaposition.
And Reebok is partially a culprit here. In what remains for me a rationale that has never been adequately explained, the manufacturer with its sweater 2.0 look machetes the base piping, skimping on the Caps’ blue for a queer tapering at the sides.
This is a sweater that just doesn’t have a whole lot going on in it while many, many eyeballs will be fixated upon it. A tremendous opportunity squandered. At least the pants have some fun going on.
My OFB colleagues at the Convention Center yesterday, equal to me in slack-jaw at the unsightly paper mache sweater, were of one opinion: had the team instead unveiled a bold third sweater, perhaps in blue, like this one, we’d have had a genuine moment of grandeur.