Something Borrowed, Not Something New

I took no delight in savaging the Capitals’ Winter Classic threads as I did over the weekend, but I endeavor to bring honesty and frankness to my fifth estate efforts. And being old, I do have sympathies for Old School notions. Mostly, though, I just wanted our hockey team to look magnificent at its Winter Classic debut.

Yesterday I had this thought — thoroughly impractical but fun — associated with this story, and I thought I’d share it as a bit of a final word on the matter.

At Saturday’s convention there were Old School Caps’ sweaters enough to outfit, properly sized, the entire Capitals’ team on New Years Day. Home or away. Imagine if the Caps had made every earnest effort to reproduce reissues of the great old threads but come up short, but still wanted to exhibit that classic look out on Heinz Field. Imagine next the team sounding a call to action among the fanbase, and particularly to those owners of Caps’ authentics from say ’89 to ’95.

Caps: We want to borrow your authentic heritage sweater for a week — the last week of the year — during which time we’ll replace the nameplate and potentially the numbering on it. One of our players will wear it during the actual Winter Classic. You will know the novel pride of seeing one of today’s Capitals’ players skate in this historic game wearing your sweater. Upon completion of the game we will return your sweater to you returned to its original personalized condition, or keep it as it has been altered, and have its wearer sign it for you. There would be a Winter Classic patch added to the shoulders of your sweater. You will also be invited to retrieve the sweater after the Capitals’ very next home game in January, down in the Capitals’ locker room, and have your picture taken with the player and your sweater.

What additional bond might have been forged between organization and fanbase with such a scheme?

I referenced this scheme being impractical but fun. Lawyers and licensing agreements necessarily would thwart it. The sweaters for the Winter Classic are manufactured and licensed with profiteering foremost in mind, and if history holds the participating teams wear a new one each period to bolster the auctioneering associated with the game. The players keep one sweater; the league keeps another; and the manufacturer a third. So a single edition of the CCM originals worn by the Caps two decades ago is a non-starter of an idea. I don’t care; I still think it’s a helluva fun idea, and it surely would solve this fashion faux pas that’s been perpetrated on the (old) fanbase.

Not long after Saturday’s unveiling Mr. Leonsis received an email from a longtime OFB reader named Michael. He shared that email with us yesterday and agreed to allow us to share it with you.

Mr. Leonsis:

As the son of Capitals season ticket holder, as well as a Caps jersey historian (I have a LARGE collection of Capitals game worn jerseys dating back to Year 1), I want to express my dismay at the Winter Classic (WC) jersey. Clearly, the original logo was the perfect choice for the jersey. However, the logo patch looks cheap and “bush league” compared to what the real jerseys of the era looked like.  You have worked hard to make the Capitals brand one of the best in the league, never overlooking even the most minute of details.

However, this detail troubles me, as well as countless Caps fans.  The WC jersey just looks wrong.  When the Caps wore their original jerseys back in the day, the replicas for sale had the patch, and the more expensive authentics had each letter sewn on (like the ones worn on the ice).  I always envied those who had the authentics, because they (a) had the money to buy it, and (b) were dressed “correctly.”

On behalf of Caps fans everywhere, I am begging you to use your many powers to correct this grave mistake.  When the Caps take the ice in Pittsburgh, and I am in the stadium with my mother, I want to see the Caps wearing a true retro jersey.  One that takes me back to the days of the Capital Centre.  The jersey that my heroes Dale Hunter, Kelly Miller, and Don Beaupre wore.  The jersey that Rod Langway wore during his HOF career.  The jersey of the team that was the worst in NHL history.  It’s our history.  Please don’t bastardize it with a cheap knoff-off looking jersey when the Capitals take the ice on the NHL’s biggest stage.



This entry was posted in Morning cup-a-joe, National Hockey League, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sweaters, Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals, Winter Classic 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Something Borrowed, Not Something New

  1. Tre Kronor says:

    Can’t understand the hullabaloo over the jersey -you’re getting distracted. The Winter Classic will be fun but, really, why even write about the jersey? This is one game and one game only. It doesn’t matter who wins (look at the Flyers loss last year and look where they ended up). Only one thing matters – playing well in the playoffs. Please write about the team and let me know why I should believe the outcome this year will be any different than the last three.

  2. Stephen says:

    The email was a nice idea. You should start a petition on Facebook (or elsewhere) to further draw attention to this. I also like the idea of a third jersey (like the blue mock-up with the winged Capitol on the front).

  3. 2Box Dan says:

    Great letter, Michael.

  4. DL says:

    Bravo, Michael. I have three sweaters of my own, including a Rolf Edberg game-worn, and it took me many years to get them. I never bought the replica sweater because it just wasn’t right. I think you speak for many of us when you explain why we want to see the sweaters our childhood and young adulthood heroes wore (or at least a respectful adaptation of them). I love being an “old” Caps fan, and I’m thankful we have more than 30 seasons to look back on. I hope Ted’s millions can outfit our heroes in the old style one last time, or at least cause an infusion of old-schoolness at the last minute for the sake of us 3-decade Caps fans. How much more satisfying for all of us, and even the youngest Caps fans, if the past were truly valued. Let’s hope your letter has an effect.

  5. pucksandbooks says:

    Must be a sequel to Grumpy Old Men in the works — look at the cast in this forum! You Old Schoolers are welcomed here any time.

  6. xke4me says:

    Sheesh! This isn’t Project Runway. Just shows how badly we all need for the puck to drop on the regular season.

  7. Feds_91 says:

    Outstanding letter Michael and I wish this wasn’t true but the pee-ons like you and I that have nothing but respect for the days gone by are not the masses, the masses throw money at the game and cheap knock off jeserys they know not what a sweater is.

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