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.
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.