Monday, August 31, 2009

When First Impressions meet Third Jersey

It was, by all admissions, another sign of the coming hockey apocalypse.

A crowd of over 2,000 -- enough to close Underwood Street, much to the consternation of sanitation workers, who were unable to dump trash cans -- assembled in front of the new "Fan Central" building (formerly the Modern Living building) to watch as budding model (and NHL heavyweight) Derek Boogaard model the new third jersey of the Minnesota Wild on Sunday afternoon during Day 4 of the Minnesota State Fair.

The crowd began assembling as much as 45 minutes prior to the event, as the Minnesota Vikings (who the Wild share the building with, along with the NBA Timberwolves) were finishing up their own attention-getter on the temporary stage set up in front of the building. While there were a few hundred people at the Vikings event, by 12 noon there were well over 1,000 waiting for Boogaard to make his appearance.

The event was emceed not by the Wild's Kevin Falness, to whom things like this normally fall; but to 'Dumb and Dumber' themselves, Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay, the Wild's TV PBP/Analyst duo, who also rode in the daily State Fair parade (on the 'Target Hot Seats' rebuilt Zamboni, nevertheless).

The ceremony was full of long-winded speeches, a quick jersey history and then, after they dragged it out for nearly 15 minutes, out came Boogaard, head and shoulders above everyone else in the crowd, followed by the Wild's mascot, 'Nordy' (who some have already called 'Nerdy') who also wore a new jersey as well.

What was put up last week on the Internet at was indeed what was revealed; a green jersey with very little red, a stylized-block "Minnesota" at a 45-degree angle (to conform to the RBK jersey template) with the word "Wild" below in smaller lettering. The only red on the entire sweater is that 'Wild' below the much-larger 'Minnesota', two stars (one on either side of the 'M' in 'Minnesota',) and surrounding the NHL league shield at the neck. A tie-neck (like the Iron Range Red jerseys) completes the jersey. Lettering and numbering is exactly the same as the IRR jerseys (meaning the white road jerseys are now the only ones with the original crest and 'Wild' font numbers). There is a shooting star dotting the I in the 'Minnesota' crest. Matching dark green breezers and hosiery complete the new look (hopefully they will get new matching hockey gloves as well).

It's JMO, folks: I like the basic concept of a base-green jersey (no other team has a base green jersey, now that Dallas has abandoned the green) for it's uniqueness, but IMO the Wild would have been much better served by just adapting the Wild 'head' crest onto this jersey. The lettering/numbering for the player names/numbers is fine (the original green jersey numbers were somewhat hard to read) but the script 'Minnesota Wild' leaves something to be desired.

The Wild say they worked on this since the summer of 2008. If they did, I really wonder how hard they worked on it. Yes, it's a hockey jersey (not a sweater, sadly) to again conform to the Reebok design limitations, so it will be interesting to see how this look is accepted both by players and by fans (whose $$ drive all of this, after all).

There were plenty of new design shirts available in the Fan Central building for sale (with prices to match) and the fans were buying them at a fairly brisk pace. The new location of the Wild's State Fair sales area allows them to get out of the hot, crowded second-level Grandstand area, where they have been since the team's inception.


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