But Sidney Crosby, for one, says the time is right for the uniform overhaul. “It’s a new era, a new game,” the Pittsburgh Penguins star told a news conference Monday. “We have all this new equipment, skates, sticks and everything, but we were wearing the same jerseys for how long? I think it was just time to have something new.”
The Reebok uniforms are made of more modern material that makes the new uniforms lighter, cooler, slightly tighter, more stretchable, and more water-resistant.
The players will wear the new gear at Wednesday’s all-star game and all the league’s players will follow suit next season.
The new uniforms have been three years in development and got plenty of feedback from the players. Crosby, who is sponsored by Reebok, spent countless hours on the project last summer.
Crosby, whose legs are like tree trunks, was particularly interested in the new pants.
“With me, a lot of times I have problems with pants like on the inside of the leg because they’re a bit tighter,” the 19-year-old said. “With these ones, it was trial and error, we made it so that it doesn’t matter how big your legs are they wrap right around your leg and conforms right to it. That’s really nice.”
Crosby was joined at Monday’s news conference by fellow all-stars Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Lidstrom, Jason Blake and Marty Turco as well as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Players’ Association executive director Ted Saskin and Reebok executives.
“The biggest thing is that they’re lighter,” Blake said of the new gear.
But not all 700 NHL players will welcome the new look. Hockey players are creatures of habit and some don’t take to change lightly.
“I like the more traditional fit,” San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau said during the player availability later Monday at American Airlines Center.
“If you have to get used to it, you get used to it, but I like what we have now,” added Marleau, who tested the new jerseys earlier this summer.
San Jose teammate Joe Thornton, standing two feet away from Marleau, didn’t share the same opinion.
“Some guys said they stunk but I don’t mind them,” said the reigning Hart Trophy winner. “I played in Switzerland where the socks were a lot tighter and the jerseys were really nasty. These new ones don’t bother me at all.”
Marty Turco says it’s impossible to appease everyone but feels there’s no looking back now.
“You’ve got to start with the young guys, these guys are the most open-minded, they’re willing to change,” said the Dallas Star netminder.
“They’re into pop culture. The older guys aren’t the ones to ask. I think it’s going to look good. I think we’ll look back and say, ‘I can’t believe we still wore those old jerseys in 2007.”‘
Said Lidstrom: “They do feel a lot different. Actually right before the news conference we came in and squirted some water on them and we saw how they don’t get wet.”
“I like them,” said future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic, who also tested them with the Colorado Avalanche. “I thought they were lighter, they fit nicely. But I’m not picky.”