The Florida Panthers currently play without an alternate jersey to go along with their set of home reds and road whites. In the meantime, fans are left to speculate on if and when the Panthers will trot out a new design. The hope is that maybe a fantastic design is made from the desire of the fans, much like Ottawa's excellent black (and now white) alternate uniform. The fear is that maybe they will falter without any input from the fans much like the Happy Cat Jetblue jerseys did or, heaven forbid, the ridiculous Buffalo Sabres alternate uniform.
When I set out to create a Panthers third jersey I decided to let my close friends, family and the LBC team feed me their opinions on the subject. It became very clear to me then, that any team that thinks about creating a new look, let alone redesigning their entire appearance, has their work cut out for them. Some fans want things simple, others want a traditional design, some would rather go complicated and radical with theirs, while others want to infuse symbolism into the look. It is not at all easy as stripe placement, colors, and logos all come under close scrutiny. As a person with an eye for sports design I understand that the folks at Reebok and at each team's graphic design department all work hard to create something nice. Much like any cook or restaurant can fail with a new dish in an attempt to innovate and take risks, jersey design teams also can stumble and may not capture the hearts of the market even if they worked to the best of their ability and hoped fervently to do so. It takes 18 to 24 months for a new uniform design to go from the drawing board to the ice so it is in no way a process that is done frivolously.
Seeing as I could never hope to get a consensus on a solitary design as each writer liked different elements of my designs but nitpicked others, I decided to have some fun and asked each one of them what they wanted to see as a new Panthers 3rd jersey. This is what they concocted:
The LBC 6
While Francisco is presenting this as a third jersey, I want to say I'd love nothing more than to see the Panthers adopt something like this or a few of the other designs being presented in this string of articles as their new uniform. I was there when H. Wayne & Co. unveiled the original kit back in '93. I shrugged my shoulders, turned to my friend and said "Oh well, I guess it could be worse", so I have never been a big fan of what our team looks like. I did sort of, kind of, like the old school white jersey but just a little bit. I always thought the red one looked way too busy. First, some of my issues with the Panthers past and current uniform. 1) That awful, generic shade of dark blue they use (especially the pants). Blue and red match in most cases, but not when it comes to the Panthers uniform. The shade of blue the Cats sport is awful, just changing it to black would improve things to my eyes, but that is not enough. 2) The leaping cat logo reminds me of the werewolf Halloween decoration my dad used to slap on the front door back in mid-1970's. Come on people of a certain age, you know what I am talking about. They probably still make that thing today. 3) Back to colors: red and blue? really? aren't there enough red and blue teams in the NHL? Something new is definitely needed here.
Now on to what you are looking at here. I am a big fan of clean, simple uniform designs. These are the ones that stand the test of time the best. I didn't want to stray radically from the Panthers being red so I opted for maroon as the primary color, although I am open to other choices too. There are no other maroon teams in the NHL right now so why not be the only one? Also, Francisco was looking for Florida tie-ins, so I thought let's go with an all-out Seminoles look (even though I'm Canes fan when it comes to football). Even on their old school and current uniforms, I've always thought the Panthers would be better served by going with an actual gold secondary color (ala 'Noles or '49ers) instead of the yellow-gold they use now, so I picked that and white as the stripe colors. I went with the Panther head as it was one of my favorites that Francisco designed and worked with the color scheme I chose better than the Screaming Panther logo would have (the WHA fauxback Screaming Panther look was my all around favorite of his complete designs, but as kid who was into the WHA before the NHL I'm biased). I always thought the stick and palm tree shoulder logo was dumb (I am not a big fan of sticks on uniforms, I know it's a hockey team already, I don't need to see a stick) so I went with Francisco's new shoulder patch design which I thought was pretty tidy. In keeping with the Seminoles motif I suggested, he came up with a very clean, collegiate looking uniform which I think is timeless and very pleasing to the eye.
This jersey design is based more off of the fact that emulation of a certain goal, or activity, can be the way to success in the same way that innovation can. The Colorado Avalanche, an offensively explosive team that can be not only exciting to watch, but successful in the league. This jersey models their 3rd, to a degree. The name of the team across the front is a bit of a throwback, and it's a nice change from the constant logo on the original team jerseys.
As for the shoulder patch, I feel that changing away from the palm trees may be beneficial. Palm trees resemble rest and relaxation, two things that do not make up a successful hockey team.
As for the colors, I miss the navy jerseys, but felt that all navy with the pants and jersey would have been too much of one color, and thus tried to keep the red in the pants.
This jersey is a little different compared to the general idea of how a third jersey should look, but I think that the change should be taken seriously. The Panthers have not been a successful NHL franchise in this century, and a new look could bring in a new atmosphere of success.
Similar to Todd, my own initial exposure to pro hockey began with the WHA, where everything seemed a bit flashier, boundaries were pushed, and no one was afraid to try new things in order to sell the game, the reverberations of which were felt well into the 1980s. That said, I went with a more traditional, conservative approach: classic lower stripes, standard-issue fonts, nothing fancy on the collar and black replacing blue, because, well, are we all really married to the blue? Not like there is a wealth of memorable moments to be celebrated, so why not change things up a bit? I wanted an '80s vibe, and Francisco nailed this gorgeous rendering in a single take. Long live the Screaming Eagles (look 'em up).
I chose this particular design for simplicity's sake. I like a rather simple, uncomplicated jersey without a lot of bells and whistles. Red is the Panthers' color, it was, and should have always been. I like the new look San Jose is sporting, taken from the Los Angeles Kings, and the recently replaced Dallas Stars jerseys, as well as the Coyotes maroon and white jerseys, a clean pattern with simple striping. The yellow trim along the bottom is taken from many of those jersey patterns. The simple sleeve stripes and red body of the jersey are close to the OHL's Soo Greyhounds third jersey, which I think looks very sharp. The lace up collar is a nod to a classic feel for NHL jerseys, to balance the logo (which I will address shortly).
I like the Panther's palm tree shoulder patches and kept them to bring consistency from their other jerseys through the years into this one. A blue pant like the one the team uses now would work fine with this jersey and sock, but why not try out a look like Carolina, Calgary (3rd jersey), and Detroit pull off with the same color pant? I like the way Columbus and Carolina had a small stripe at the end of the leg and so added a yellow stripe.
I really like Francisco's logo design and wanted it as the main logo. The Cat face is non-cartoonish and very modern in its shading and design. At the same time, the ring with the words is very classic, albeit in a different language. The Spanish is a nod to South Florida's history as well as its burgeoning majority Latin population. This is one of the most (or most) Latin influenced parts of the country and that population should be engaged. I can assure you there are plenty of Hispanics playing youth hockey in South Florida. So, Spanish is something the league should be embracing more, like they do with French, and the Panthers should be the franchise on the forefront of this movement. This would establish the team as a first and sole entrant in Spanish language sales in the league, and bring a small level of engagement to the fastest growing demographic in the country and one that can only help them and the league. So I find this an eye pleasing simple jersey with a very interesting logo.
I really wanted to see a darker red with a brighter palette of complimentary colors, especially in the letters and numbers. The alternates for this color scheme could be really cool as well, and I really think this is very unique across the many clubs in the NHL. I also suggested some changes to the Panther head, specifically a more feral, fierce look with the eyes, having them be a solid red color. One of the best parts of the current Panthers logo is the fierce look to the cat, and this retains that look in my opinion.
Although I like new, groundbreaking things in music, technology, and beer, I am fairly old fashioned when it comes to hockey jersey designs that I like. I’m the guy who looks at the design in Slap Shot and thinks it doesn’t get any better. The 1980s is where good design went to die (except for the late period Whalers gear), and the 1990s were just silly. The only 1990s design I really like is the teal Sharks gear. I like that because the design is simple, the logo is great, and the color is a little bit different than what everyone else does. My favorite design in the league is the Rangers home blues with the simple block "New York" across the chest. I love the old Syracuse Crunch thirds that are a direct knockoff. I really love the 85th Anniversary version of the jersey, with the darker blue and red. Again, like the Sharks, it’s a little different than what everyone else does.
So, in short, what I like about the Panthers regular gear is the red, and the palm tree logo. But the main logo is far too busy. So, I went with a knockoff of the Rangers third, but blue because thirds should be a different color from the main jersey. The red is worked in not only in the accents on the shirt, but the pants and helmet keep it prominent. They also help keep if from looking too much like the Sabres home gear. It could have been worked into the stripes instead, but I like the simpler stripes on the shirt and the contrast of a different color on the pants. Francisco’s simpler Panthers logo goes on the helmet to avoid the busy 1990s regular logo while keeping the ferocious cat element of the original look.
Ten unique designs from six different people. Some were very willing to rebrand the Panthers entirely, others were content with letting go of some of the original logos and colors, while there is one who is still smitten with the leaping Cat. But it just goes to show that maybe the Panthers brand could indeed use a shake-up. With a new ownership group along with a promising young squad ushering in a new era the time is ripe for the Panthers to shed their 1993-era look for something that symbolizes a fresh and better future.