Breaking Down the New Duds: Part 5, The Uniforms
The Panthers have a look to call their own.
To see previous entries in this series: click here for Part 1 on the new Leaping Cat, click here for Part 2 on the new Cat and Flag shoulder logo, click here for Part 3 on the Panthers new script, and click here for Part 4 on the new Panthers' Shield.
Seeing the new logo set is all well and good, but it does not all come together until you see those elements on the new uniforms of the players. Hockey is quite a colorful game with lots of patterns and shapes due to the amount of space on a hockey uniform. Hockey uniforms, especially the sweaters, are a massive canvas and it allow for impactful elements that can capture the hearts and minds of both fans and fashionistas alike. The Florida Panthers kit has been wearing pretty generic and boring since the NHL changed to the Reebok EDGE uniforms in 2007. However, it seems the Panthers have finally come forth with a uniform that feels traditional, but has enough Floridian spin to it to make it all the more unique to the franchise.
The Cats jerseys are similar in pattern with certain colors and elements switching on each variation of the uniform.
The Florida Panthers have not changed the shade of red that they have been using so the home uniforms will remain that color while the road uniform will remain white. The Panthers have had a primarily red home uniform since the 2011-12 season.
The Florida Panthers' new shield logo will grace the center of the uniform. The use of a shield as a crest for a hockey jersey done in the NHL before.
One of the aspects of the new crest is the fact that the Florida Panthers have opted to have "Panthers" read on the home uniforms while "Florida" reads on the road. Different crests for road and home uniforms is not unprecedented in the NHL. Florida's neighbors on the Gulf of Mexico have a road uniform that says "Tampa Bay" while leaving the home uniform with just their logo.
What is different however is the fact that the Panthers have two different crests to distinguish home and away. This is uncommon in the NHL but much more common in baseball and basketball.
The new Cat uniforms' most defining feature is the center stripe pattern that runs across the chest. Only one other team currently sports this design and its the most hallowed franchise in the league, the Montreal Canadiens. The center stripe used to be a common thing in the early days of the NHL but has not seen much action outside of Montreal save for on the third jerseys of Vancouver, Chicago, and Ottawa.
The center stripe is only seen on the front of the uniform and does not continue towards the back. Many people are a bit confused by this aesthetic choice but I believe the Panthers may have done this to avoid a big issue. The stripes and numbers of both uniforms would have clashed with each other if the stripe wrapped around. This plagued one other team with their uniforms: the Washington Wizards of the NBA.
Originally the Wizards had their stripe pattern wrap around when they re-branded in 2011. However their unique striping pattern clashed with the player numbers on the back. This made it difficult to see their numbers for the broadcasters. To counter this the Wizards changed the stripe to be only in the front and left the back clear.
The stripe pattern of the Panthers is consistent as it is also seen on the sleeves and socks of their uniforms. The bottom of both uniforms has a thin navy stripe.
The collar of both uniforms will be navy on both and contain a gold triangle where the NHL shield will be placed. A new thing that has not appeared on a Panthers uniform since the powder blue alternates last worn in 2012 is the jersey ties on the collar. The Panthers' ties are unique in that the ties are in an "X" shape to mimic the Cross of St. Andrews found on the state flag of Florida.
The Numbers and Names
The Cats are using a gold outline on their numbers for the first time in team history. Previous Panther uniforms have tended to use red or navy outlines for the numbers. While the red uniforms will continue to have white numbers as have other colored uniforms in the team's past, the white uniforms will use navy numbers for the first time ever, rather than red numbers.
The names will not be arched and will be solid colors without an outline which has only ever been seen on a Panthers uni with the powder blue alternates.
Another unorthodox design choice on the uniforms is the placement of the sleeve numbers. The numbers will appear on the shoulders while the Cat and Flag logo will appear below where the numbers are normally placed. This has only been seen in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers orange WHA throwback uniforms.
The number placement on the shoulders is normally seen in football.
The Sleeve Patch
The Panthers' Cat and Flag logo remains on both unis. The Panthers will follow the lead of the Bruins and have different names on the sleeves depending on whether they are home or on the road. Also a tab denoting captain and alternate captains will be added above the team name.
Helmet, Pants, and Gloves
The pants and gloves will remain navy. The Panthers pants will not have any stripe pattern or logo as far as I know. The only Panthers uniforms to feature a stripe pattern and logo were the powder blue alternates.
The Panthers helmet will be navy with the home uniform and white on the road. The helmet will feature numbers on the front and back of the helmet as per NHL rules. The helmet numbers will match those on the uniforms. The logos on the top of the helmets will be the new Leaping Cat logo. The Leaping Cat logo has featured on the Panthers' helmets for twelve seasons in their history. The Cat and Flag logo will also be on the bottom side of the helmets taking the place of the old Stick and Tree logo.
The white uniforms for the Panthers have all had red shoulders until now. The original white uniform tends to be the one Cats fans have the most fond memories for, as it was the one most remember from the 1996 run. In 2007, the NHL changed their uniforms to the Reebok EDGE system, as Reebok bought the NHL uniform license the season prior. The Panthers' old uniforms previously were made by Starter, CCM, Koho, and Reebok.
The EDGE uniforms had a different look and material than the old uniforms and more than half of the NHL teams either saw an opportunity to cash in on a new look or could not transfer their old looks to the EDGE system at the time.
The original Panthers white uniform worked and was pleasing to the eyes mainly because of the placement of the colors especially the shoulders. The red stripes with gold outlines were a nod to the colors of Florida and the transitional colors work. The navy portions are there, but blended into player uniforms as the gloves and pants were navy. The EDGE unis removed most of the gold from the uniform and brought in a heavy emphasis on navy. The first EDGE white uni had navy piping which was a garish looking design choice. The Cats removed the piping, improving the white uniform, but it left the white jersey as a largely blank and an okay looking jersey.
The new white uniforms stripe choice harkens back to the original's white, red, and gold scheme and it is pleasing to the eye. The navy stripe at the bottom is a peculiar choice but maybe it's a nod to the original's bottom navy stripe to blend with the pants.
The Panthers' red uniforms have tended to follow the same color scheme with an emphasis on red and navy with hints of white and gold. This has changed with the new red uniform, as it places more emphasis on white and gold with hints of navy. The Panthers original red uniforms were retired in 2007 once the Reebok EDGE system took hold in the NHL. Cats' ownership at the time preferred blue over red and did not introduce a new red uniform, instead choosing a navy blue uniform. The Panthers would not return to a red uniform until 2011. The red uniform, however, was a color swap of their uniform set at that time and was largely blank in the center. Once more, an okay look, but far from one of the NHL's better looking uniforms, but not one of the worst.
The new red uniform falls in place with the NHL teams which have more traditional designs. Below is a comparison to other red uniforms in the NHL.
I am a big fan of the new look as it addresses an issue I had with the previous uniform set in that I believed the old set was too boring and bland. The previous uniform set was a remnant of the original template of the Reebok EDGE system of uniforms. The Panthers now have a uniform that continues a movement that has happened in the NHL among most of the Sunbelt teams in that they are adopting designs based more on traditional uniform designs of teams like the Original Six.
In the last part of this series, I will address the emotional part of a re-brand for the fans.