As Mark detailed in his post yesterday, the 2014 Olympic jerseys for the United States (as well as Russia) have been unveiled. The reaction on twitter has not been kind, but now that we have had some time to digest the Team USA jerseys, I think now would be a good time to break down some of the design elements and take a look at what I think works and what does not. For some closer images of the jerseys, check out Nike’s release on their website.
What I like:
Minimalist Design: Some have called the new jerseys plain and boring, but I actually like that Nike went with a more subtle design for Team USA. The USA jerseys are a direct contrast to the ornate and much busier Team Russia jerseys. I feel the US jerseys evoke the simple, non-glitzy makeup of the Team USA roster. While Team USA does have it’s share of NHL talent, it is Canada and Russia that contain the majority of the marquee NHL players. In addition, the simple design just evokes pure class.
Crest: While the elongated shape of the shield is a bit different, I like that Nike went with an actual crest for the United States this year, rather than the college style “arched USA” of the previous Olympic jerseys. While I liked the plain design of the 2010 Olympic jerseys, the arched text was too simple, and the alternate with the diagonal USA was too similar to the New York Rangers for my liking. Instead the shield crest is a simple symbol for the United States that has been used on hockey jerseys and soccer uniforms in the past. Again, the simple crest serves as a direct contrast to the more ornate Russian crest.
Stars: The shiny stars on the shoulder have gotten the most flak on twitter, but they were the first thing I noticed and I actually like them. They add a little bit of flare to what is a simple uniform. Without them I think the jerseys would go from being classy and simple to just plain boring. The stars seem to be an element that become more and less pronounced depending on the lighting. They remind me of the feathers Nike has been putting on the shoulders of the Oregon NCAA football uniforms for the past few years. My initial thought on the stars were that they gave me a Captain America vibe, which could only be taken as a positive.
Hangar Effect: The newest trend in uniform design is hangar effect; or design elements you can only see when someone is not wearing the jersey. The USA jerseys have two hangar effects; the first being the years 1960 and 1980 separated by Gold Medals. These of course indicate the years that the US has won Olympic Gold in hockey. Not so visible in most images is another hangar effect, “LAND OF THE FREE HOME OF THE BRAVE” written inside the collar. This will be seen by every Team USA player as he puts on the uniform, just in case they needed a reminder of what they are playing for. Hangar effect is kind of cheesy, but since it does not affect the look of the jersey on the ice, I feel it only adds to the design.
What I don’t like:
Fake Laces: Laces on hockey jerseys do not serve any actual function and are included for pure aesthetics. 20 years ago not a single team in the NHL had a lace up collar and it wasn’t until the Rangers re-introduced the element in 1997 that it became a trend. Nike has decided that since laces are purely aesthetic, why waste the time / materials to include actual laces and metal eyelets when you can just draw the things on. While that may make sense from a manufacturing standpoint, it just ends up looking cheap on the actual jersey. It looks like something you would see on an NHL replica jersey (don’t get any ideas Reebok!). Actual navy blue laces would have added to the classic look of the jersey and instead, the fake laces cheapen it.
Plain Sleeves / Hem: The jerseys feature striping much closer to the shoulders rather than the usual midway point that is seen on most hockey jerseys. The drawback is that the sleeves end up being very plain and almost look sweatshirt like. I like that Nike has broken from tradition with the stripe placement, but some striping on the cuffs, similar to the Blue Jackets jerseys, would have vastly improved the sleeves. Further adding to the sweatshirt effect is the lack of hem stripes. Again, if Nike had looked to the Blue Jackets jerseys and added thin hem stripes near the bottom of the jersey, I believe the jersey would be vastly improved.
While many have been critical of the Nike Team USA jerseys, I think they will eventually grow on people once they are seen in action on the ice. They are not perfect, but I do not believe they are as bad as the outcry on social media would have you believe. What do you think of the new Team USA jerseys? Let us know in the comments section below and cast a vote in Mark’s poll in his article!