Making history: Vegas, Seattle get Classic looksWritten by I Dig Sports
Usually the jerseys for the NHL's annual outdoor game -- which will be held at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Jan. 1, 2024 -- are influenced by nostalgia, mining the history of the teams involved for their designs. But Vegas and Seattle are the two most recent NHL expansion franchises, with the Golden Knights entering the league in 2017-18 and the Kraken in 2021-22.
NHL history they do not have.
The solution: The NHL and Adidas imagined what these teams might have worn had they existed in the 1910s or 1920s and worked with them on refining these looks.
"It's a challenge to design products around these events that really come across as being authentic because it's not just for the players but we're really talking about the fans," said Nic Corbett, director of sports marketing and hockey at Adidas. "They have to recognize Las Vegas or the Kraken when fans see these jerseys, and we believe that they will. We're excited to hear what the conversation from the fans will be around these jerseys, because we know that the players are excited about them."
The Kraken had an advantage: There was a team playing in Seattle -- the Metropolitans -- from 1915 to 1924. The Kraken's Winter Classic sweaters are inspired by the jerseys the Metropolitans wore in 1917 when they became the first U.S.-based team to win the Stanley Cup.
The barber pole striping on the jersey was updated to Kraken Midnight Blue, Ice Blue and Red Alert, with an off-white meant to evoke the kind of textiles used a century ago.
The Kraken logo has been augmented to resemble that of the Metropolitans. The tentacle that's found within the negative space of their "S" crest has been removed and replaced with the word "KRAKEN," much like how the Metropolitans had the word "SEATTLE" in theirs. Placing the letters just right was "very difficult," according to Corbett.
"The 'S' on the front can only get so big. You're operating within preexisting guardrails, and it has to translate well on TV and in 2-D as well in terms of the spacing, and that's a real special skill set for those designers and developers to get just the right angle of the word," he said.
The Vegas jersey isn't based on any preexisting one. The gray "V" on the crest was inspired by the "V" in the negative space of the team's primary logo. It retains that mark's proportions and angles but adds filigree petal accent shapes and a looping decorative chain stitch. That's meant to evoke the early days of Las Vegas showmanship but also the kind of fleur-de-lis one might find on a military patch.
"There's some braiding on the jersey. As you know, Mr. Foley and his connection to West Point is something we always try to incorporate into the storytelling," said Corbett of Bill Foley, the Golden Knights' owner and a West Point graduate.
Both jerseys' logos are created with felt, like an old varsity jacket.
While the Golden Knights' regular jerseys have shimmery gold on them, the colors on their Winter Classic jersey were intentionally muted.
"We're referring to the gold that you see as Gold Dust. It is less shimmery. We wanted to have an Old West attitude, so that gold-dusted colorway is something that was really special," Corbett said. "And then the white in the jersey is really a vintage white. Kind of a nod to the Old West, too."
There's also a cursive "Vegas" on the back of the jersey and on the players' pants. The Golden Knights will wear gloves that recall the brown leather look of hockey's past, which is something other teams like the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers have also incorporated into their recent outdoor looks.
As is tradition with NHL jerseys, there are Easter eggs built into the back neck collar. Seattle's will have "1917" written on them, in honor of the Metropolitans' Stanley Cup win. Vegas has seven stars in the back neck to mark Jan. 1, 2024, as the first day of the seventh year of the Golden Knights franchise.
To create buzz around the Winter Classic jerseys, the NHL and Adidas tried something new this season by having "influencers" wear the jerseys in unexpected places.
On Friday night, the Utah Jazz wore the Kraken jerseys while walking into the arena. On Saturday night, All Elite Wrestling personality and Golden Knights fan Renee Paquette debuted the Vegas jersey while broadcast partner RJ City wore the Seattle sweater. Fans immediately understood what they were looking at, and the debates began about the jerseys.
The NHL Winter Classic jerseys are available for purchase on the NHL and Adidas e-commerce sites.
This is the final season in which Adidas will be the NHL's outfitter of on-ice uniforms and authentic jerseys. Fanatics takes over that role in the 2024-25 season.
"They've been an amazing partner for us these last eight years, and all the Winter Classic and outdoor game jerseys that they've designed have really been unbelievable," said Jim Haskins, NHL senior vice president of consumer products licensing. "We feel like we're going out with some of our very, very best stuff."