By Stephen Whyno, The Canadian Push | The Canadian Push –
TORONTO – It took until he stepped onto the ice at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton at the 1986 world junior championship designed for Joe Nieuwendyk to appreciate what meant to wear a Group Canada jersey.
“I didn’t really understand the magnitude of what it meant until that moment: skating out there in front of 19-20, 000 people, flags flying almost everywhere, ” Nieuwendyk said. “It was a special feeling. ”
On Tuesday morning, he got to complete that feeling on to in regards to a dozen teenage players decided to model Hockey Canada’s 2014 Olympic jerseys at the established unveiling at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Hockey Canada told them they’d be doing some promotional things, but the players didn’t learn exactly why they were at the arena until right before the event.
“Their mouths dropped, a little awestruck, ” Nieuwendyk said. “They didn’t realize what they were here for. When they saw the jersey for the first time, it hit them like it hits any kind of NHL guy that’s going to wear that jersey. ”
For many hockey enthusiasts it wasn’t the first glimpse of the red, white plus alternate black jerseys how the men’s, women’s and sledge hockey teams will wear at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi. Pictures of the uniforms have leaked out over the last month.
But that did not damper the enthusiasm for your teenagers who stepped on to the ice amid membership music and laser lamps and skated around to demonstrate off the uniforms.
“First to ever put on the Team Canada Olympic Jersey and unveil it to everyone. Speechless, ” Paul Coffey’s son, Blake, wrote on Twitter after that. “Honoured to get the opportunity to reveal the 2014 Team Canada Olympic Jersey Launch. ”
Hockey Canada’s reveal was another chance for fans to give their opinions about the jerseys. Some stated it looked like Petro-Canada’s logo design, while others wanted to go back to the jerseys used when Canada won gold in Vancouver in 2010.
“People talking about how they feel about the jersey that’s close to their particular heart and represents their particular country is a great thing, ” Nike creative director Tobey maguire Black said.
The red and white jerseys feature a Maple Leaf logo with a stripe across the chest, while the black jersey has “CANADA” written across it in white letters on a gold stripe. Every three include 12 precious metal maple leaves inside the collar to commemorate the eight men’s, three women’s then one sledge hockey gold honor the country has won in the Olympics.
Black said the jerseys were inspired by the 1920 team that won gold in the Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, with touches from your 1972 national team uniform.
“The greatest resource that we have in our country are our players plus our people, ” Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson said. “This really respects where everything started back in 1920. ”
Back then there was fewer avenues for fans to express their feelings about jerseys. This time around criticism began in early September when a photo of Jonathan Toews wearing Canada’s red jersey surfaced on the internet.
“That’s the advantage of the game of hockey: Everyone’s passionate, ” Nicholson stated. “The key is the players will be proud to put it on, and know when the players are on the ice, whether it’s our women’s team, our men’s team or our sledge team, Canadian fans will support the jersey and the team. ”
Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette, a forward to the women’s team and a three-time Olympian, offered a very optimistic review.
“I think they’re lighter and so they seem very comfortable, ” she said. “I believe every time change happens, there is some people that resist it. I know we’ve heard several negative comments on it up to now, but for me the jersey becomes the memories all of us make with that jersey. ”
International Olympic Committee regulations prohibit sports federations from putting their particular logo on uniforms.
Canada is the just team that will have a 3rd jersey in Sochi. Nicholson said he wasn’t sure how many times it would be used at the Olympics but talked about it was added because enthusiasts and players like dark.
Of course , Nicholson said, Canada’s “real colours” are red and white. That’s why those jerseys got praise from Nieuwendyk for their simplicity.
“The most important thing is the Maple Leaf, ” he stated. “You follow a little bit of Canadian hockey history, this comes after some of the history and catches that. It’s just this type of clean look: red, white and a Maple Leaf. ”
The process of progressing to the final products was definately not simple. Phil Pritchard from your Hockey Hall of Fame took some historic Group Canada jerseys to Nike, where designers got to find and feel what previous players wore.
The jerseys are 15 per cent lighter than everything previously worn by Group Canada. The uniform fabric contains material from reused water bottles.
“Even this design is a lot lighter than what we put on in Nagano or Salt Lake, ” Nieuwendyk stated. “It’s getting lighter. They look faster. But the athletes are getting bigger and quicker too. ”
Tuesday’s event at the Mattamy Athletic Complex, located on the previous site of Maple Leaf Gardens, didn’t have a lot to do with the construction from the Olympic teams. But Nicholson said that “seeing the jersey is a key stepping point for all three teams. ”
“We are launching a symbol that truly serves to unify our own great nation, ” Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut said. “In Canada the concept of (a) jersey is an integral part of our GENETICS. ”
The next step is for the teams to be called.
“There’s lots of work going on behind the scenes, ” Nicholson said. “(General manager) Steve Yzerman and his whole crew are out at this point every night watching NHL video games to select the men’s side. ”
The particular provisional men’s roster of 22 skaters and 3 goalies must be submitted towards the International Ice Hockey Federation no later than Dec. 31. The women’s team has until later in January to submit the roster to the Canadian Olympic Committee.
The particular Games will be held Feb. 7-23, and the Paralympic Video games are set for Mar 7-16.
With files from Donna Spencer in Calgary. Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter @SWhyno.