With hockey being such an important part of the Canadian identity, Tom Renney had to make an important disclaimer when he was introducing Team Canada's new international jerseys: it's OK to want to be the best. In a nation known for its humility off the ice, it was probably a good idea for Hockey Canada's president and CEO to reinforce the notion that on the ice, there are no friendly rivals. With the world juniors returning to Toronto and Montreal this winter, Canada will be pressed to win gold on home ice, just as the team did in Toronto two years ago. And they'll do so in the jersey above and the one below:
The sweaters, which will also be worn by the women's, sledge and men's (but not at the World Cup) teams, feature many patriotic flourishes. The black shoulders are filled with maple leafs, while a crest celebrating Canada's 150th birthday is featured on the arm. The main logo has a special accent color, too. “Having that gold around the logo in the middle makes it really fun," said Marie-Philip Poulin, the two-time Olympic gold medallist. "It makes you strive for your dream and it’s really exciting because of that.” Putting on that national sweater has become so entrenched in the dreams of players that the answer has become stock:
anytime you get a chance to put on that jersey, it's an honor. But it's a cliche because it's true. And for this generation of world junior kids, the successes of the past still resonate today. “It’s been every Christmas for me, growing up," said Philadelphia Flyers prospect Travis Konecny. "My most obvious memory was when Jordan Eberle scored to tie the game in the final seconds (against Russia). That sticks out to me.” New York Islanders pick Matt Barzal was also an Eberle fan, though the first moment that came to his mind was the shootout showdown between Jonathan Toews and Team USA's Peter Mueller in 2007. For Barzal, getting the chance to be a part of the unveiling was in itself a fun opportunity. “It’s cool to be one of the first people to throw on the jersey and show it off a bit," he said. "That’s an honor.” And while it may just be fabric (albeit super high-tech fabric implemented by Nike), the jersey represents so much more, as it does for all hockey nations. The new uniform will be debated about every time it is worn, but I bet they'll still sell a bunch of them. Because it's Canada, and it's hockey. "You can't help but make that emotional connection with the jersey," Renney said.