Failing at the Unveiling

Young and old alike looked clownish in the legacy knockoff yesterday

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.

Ironically, the great authentic look of the past was on display at Capitals Convention II

This entry was posted in Puck Daddy, Sweaters, Washington Capitals, Winter Classic 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Failing at the Unveiling

  1. michelle says:

    LOVE the pants…. thought the sweater looked “shiny” on the streamed video (and not in a good way)….

    i know a lot of people had huge expectations for this unveiling and you can never please everyone…. but maybe the Caps are waiting to go all out for when they are the host team?

  2. Eric says:

    It just further proves that the WC is a marketing ploy to sell merchandise rather than an earnest attempt at paying tribute to the game’s roots.

    I really disliked Pittsburgh as the venue. Now, I really wish the Caps were not a participant.

  3. Colm says:

    Unrelated note, anybody know who I could contact with the Caps to try and get tickets for the game in Atlanta on Friday around some Caps fans?

  4. Sorry but once again I feel this is a non-story. I don’t see any garrish difference between the two photos and I like the WC Uniforms just fine. BTW will I ever read an article about actual NHL Hockey on the blog again anytime soon or instead of game recaps and commentary can I once again look forward to numerous postings of two full beer glasses with a Caps logo behind them? Just sayin’

  5. Gumpper says:

    Agree 100%. I am astonished at how cheaply made these were. Thin material, washed-out colors and that crest. Ugh! It was also odd that there were none for sale at the event after the unveiling — I had assumed that there would be a rush to buy them among the faithful. My hope is that for some reason there has been a problem with the design or manufacturing, and what we saw on stage really were just cheap knock-offs thrown together for the event.

    Remember, though, blue (or red) was not going to happen — the Caps are on the road for this game, and have to wear white.

  6. @ Michelle, totally agree regarding the pants, they’re awesomely retro! But the sweater itself… what a let-down. Why not a lace-up collar? And why not actual stitching for the crest instead of a patch?

    When I saw that yesterday’s sweaters did have fight straps, I knew these were the ice-ready jerseys. Ah well, just saves me having to buy one I suppose!

  7. DL says:

    Oh, they’re awful. The patch is the worst disappointment—just like the inexpensive “replica” Caps jerseys of the past and recent re-issue. And the new-age curve up the side is a fail with any wide striping at the hem (see similar funny-looking Wings jerseys). Oh, I wish they had just brought back the best-ever Ultrafil sweater with all the sewing, in the correct shape. I’m terribly disappointed.

  8. Hittman says:

    I think the Caps should sport the all-in-one long pants, the old school Cooperalls.

    That would be killer. Also, adults should not wear hockey jerseys, as that is akin to bringing a baseball glove to the stadium. It’s for kids, people!

  9. @ HITTMAN, I agree regarding the Cooperalls, that would be great!

    Completely disagree with the faulty analogy regarding jerseys, though. It’s not akin to bringing a kid bringing baseball glove to the stadium — it’s much more like wearing a baseball jersey to the stadium.

  10. LG says:

    Do you think that if they stitched each letter of “Capitals” individually on the jersey that they would look good? Judging by how poor a job the NHL does with putting on nameplate lettering (for the jerseys you purchase) I feel like they would probably screw up the front if all the letters were individually stitched instead of a patch. And of course the jerseys are going to be in the new cut style, I don’t think Reebok is going to make a different model of jersey just for this game.

    Overall, I think the jerseys were just as I expected. They look similar to the old jerseys, but Reebok knows what they have to do to save money (have the patch on the front and have the new shape jersey instead of a true throwback) so I can’t say that I’m disappointed.

  11. migz says:

    I could not agree more with your position on the WC jersey for the Caps. I saw the uni-crest and how small it looked and knew the jersey did not look right compared to their jerseys that were on display at the history area at the convention. I was looking forward to purchasing the Caps inagural WC jersey but am now seriously reconsidering.

    I would even venture to say the WC t-shirt jerseys for sale at the convention had a larger logo than the one ovi was sporting on his chest.

    Also why not red jerseys? Couldn’t the league make an exception this one time to have no team in white on the ice? But hey let’s not get too down. Let’s go to Pitt to rock the Red! errr…white…

  12. pucksandbooks says:


    It’s funny you mention those original logo-ed t-shirts at the convention. They seemed to flying off the racks. They looked Old School in a way that the actual jerseys simply can’t.

  13. errantelf says:

    While disappointed by the crest, edpecially it’s small size, I was not at all surprised to see it. I found myself feeling grateful that they at least cut the patch closer to the letters than is seen on the replica throwbacks of recent years. The Reebok dress-shirt cut was expected as well. I guess I hoped they’d make the blue stripe a little wider to compensate for the high-cut sides. I hate Reebok for that abomination of a hockey jersey.

    My biggest shock upon seeing the jersey was the stars. Are they really screen-printed on? How insulting to the legacy of that first jersey. Absolutely appalling.

  14. penguin pete says:

    i don’t think they’re so bad and the pants are AWESOME, however, if calgary went with a classic cut of their throwback jersey (straight hem line, though reebokinized for this year) why couldn’t the caps?

    wish i could find a hi-res pic, as i’m curious to see what the deal/complaints with the crest is.

    i fear what the pens come up with and am really disappointed it will probably be light blue…again.

    white helmets….or red?

  15. Hittman says:

    Well then let me put it another way: this is why Capitals fans earn my ire. They go out and spend $100+ on a brand new jersey to “rock the red” yet most don’t understand icing. We all are privy to a 1000 word article about fashion on a hockey blog that is supposed to be for the hockey malnourished, not the bi-curious. That is why I compare wearing a jersey to bringing a glove to a baseball game. Gloves are for protection of soft little hands. Jerseys are for the protection of the insecure hockey fan. “Dude I’m a huuuuge fan. Look at my Backstrom jersey!” says the guy wearing the Backstrom jersey to appear as if he is not totally bandwagon by wearing an Ovechkin jersey. Look at the crowd in Hockeytown and you don’t see fashion week color coordination. Just knowledgeable, passionate fans.

  16. penguin pete says:

    @hittman: any chance you’re from montreal?

    it’s the end of the preseason for goodness sake, and there have been plenty of hockey talk posts throughout. i think this is more of a comment on the convention than anything else.

    p.s. i’m a pens fan so caps fan certainly draws my ire as well…but, come on…

  17. Heather says:


    You sound awfully angry. Sure, there are Caps fans who are clueless about the rules. It’s so frustrating to me to see it but alas, there’s nothing I can do about it (nor can you complaining on a blog’s comments). Honestly, if I hear it in the stands, I will correct people or say something. Rude? Maybe but don’t yell/grumble in my ear about a call if you can’t get the players’ names right or the call correct. I wear a jersey to a game but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m talking about or am clueless about hockey. Someone’s riding a high horse.

    Oh and because people follow a “rock the red” mantra, we can’t be knowledgeable? Look, hockey hasn’t relevant in DC for a period of time and it’s starting to be relevant again. Why not stop being bitter and help others gain info to be these great fans you include yourself with?

    Jerseys – I like ’em. Could they have been more old school? Yeah, sure. But if DC is getting the WC, I think that’s when things will get serious. Either way, I’m meh on it all.

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  19. Gary says:

    Pete, check out my pictures on Flickr as I was as close as you could get during the unveil. There are a few of Labre close up later in the set. … also, Red helmets.
    Start here ->

    I wear a Backstrom sweater to the games. My first one that I wore to most of the games before the Backstrom acquisition? #16 Bengt Gustafsson (classic white sweater that looks how the Winter Classic sweaters should)

    Are all the fans at the Saddledome insecure? Because there are an awful lot of flaming C sweaters that comprise the “Sea of Red”

  20. legibility says:

    I think LG nailed it. I own a game-worn Caps CCM/Maska jersey with the fight strap from the mid 80s and I’m not upset about this at all. Overwrought nostalgia (and an unreadable lede, btw) won’t convince me that the Caps, or really the NHL and Reebok, have goofed here. The jersey I own is a disaster of poorly stitched individual patches, miscolored thread, and what was surely a frustrating maintenance task for the equipment manager back then. Right down to the 1cm x 1cm blue squares crossing the stick “t” and the meticulous machine embroidery on WASHINGTON, reproducing this jersey on a mass scale would have been cost prohibitive and fruitless. NHL teams were already using full-patch crests before the Caps joined the league. This crest looks a lot better than the replica jerseys with the too-small logo available in the 90s. I’ll give it a B and move on.

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  23. chris v says:

    reminds me of the 75 capitals they were awful i tried to forget those days

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