It’s been quite the debut for the Vegas Golden Knights.
After finally revealing the roster of the National Hockey League’s newest expansion team following much wheeling and dealing, much of the hockey world was comforted by their seemingly curious roster composition. After all, there had already been many such facepalm-worthy moments in the Vegas franchise’s short history; their expansion draft strategy was just par for the course.
First, there was the embarrassing video fail at the team’s live unveiling. Then there was the National Football League announcing the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to, where else, Las Vegas. And finally, after months of secrecy, the Golden Knights’ new threads, along with the 30 other jerseys newly designed by first-year supplier Adidas, were leaked just hours before the big reveal.
So, to summarise: organisational ineptitude, being overshadowed by more popular teams (and sports), and just plain bad luck? In other words, the Golden Knights looked to already be a bog-standard NHL team. “Welcome to the show, Vegas fans,” we all said. “This is your life now.”
Of course, a never-ending chain of unconscionable events in the year that followed changed things ever so slightly.
Vegas’ Golden Marketing Strategy
In all seriousness, it really was nice to finally see the realisation of this long-rumoured team in Las Vegas. I’m sure the local population is ecstatic their city is finally known for something more than excessive gambling and shotgun weddings. The NHL certainly stepped up with some pretty generous expansion rules, but no one could have foreseen such a competitive product right out of the gate.
One thing’s for sure: It’s nice to see, at long last, an NHL team that is properly marketed.
But the best marketing a team has is their uniform; more specifically, their jersey. These are what will be donned by the players, seen in the stands and worn with pride around the world.
So how did they do?
Let’s start with the home jersey, as, let’s be honest, few of us on the correct side of the continent ever stay up to see these threads in action.
I mean, it’s not like it’s awful or anything. The logos are fine. The colours are good (individually, at least). It has reasonable balance to it. And yet, it just might be the dullest thing I’ve ever seen.
This is supposed to be Vegas! Where are the lights, the tassels, the extravagant excess? I thought this was Sin City!
The tail striping is passable, with a thin golden stripe (I believe this particular shade is known as “Vegas Gold”) directly atop a thick wad of black. The sleeves are a different story, with a large chunk of black topping a mid-sized golden stripe (inlaid with a really neat textured pattern), with a thin band of red around the bottom of the colour block (why red wasn’t included in the tail striping is anyone’s guess). This messy, disjointed striping situation reminds me of the Arizona Coyotes. A black crew-neck collar, lined with red and a “Vegas” wordmark, finishes off the jersey’s decoration.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 21, 2017
But perhaps the worst thing about these jerseys is the slate grey background. Even the official name for the colour (“Steel Grey”) can’t spice things up. This dreary shade completely washes out what should otherwise be a really fun, punchy colour scheme. The logo, simple and appealing in an eerie, ghostly sort of way is, nevertheless, fairly bland in tone, so I would’ve liked to see red used as the primary colour for these kits. It would contrast nicely with the darker, duller logo and striping, and could be paired with a dark-coloured helmet and gloves for optimal contrast. Check out the red on the sleeves and shoulder patches, and tell me it wouldn’t look great as the background colour in this palette.
Alas, no such luck. We’re stuck with a home jersey that looks like a print job that ran out of colour halfway through.
As for the rest of the kit, the sock striping seems to be simply a reversal of the sleeves, with a grey helmet, black pant and black gloves (trimmed with gold, like the jersey numbers) rounding out the design.
All in all, there’s a lot going on in this uniform. The primary colour was a poor choice. The striping is weird. And the white font sticks out like a sore thumb, considering there are no other white accents. Truly, a symphony of befuddling dreariness.
The Golden Knights gambled – and lost.
The road kit retains many of the same problems as the home, most notably the messy, inconsistent striping. However, the use of white as the primary colour is a marked improvement over the grey. It greatly brightens up the jersey, making the logos and striping blocks really pop.
Were I forced to spend my hard-earned money on one of these two designs, I’d definitely pick the road kit. Even though it’s more or less the same in layout, grey being relegated to secondary colour status makes the entire product look cleaner, sleeker and altogether more professional. Vegas can at least take solace in the fact they look sharp in other teams’ barns.
This crisp, contrasting look is only enhanced with the Golden Knights’ use of black pants, and would be doubly so if the helmets were black, too. Not to mention the gloves. Seriously, ditch the white. It’s tacky and unbalances the entire uniform.
Golden Knights Jerseys Technically Beautiful
The easiest way for me to sum up the Vegas Golden Knights’ first attempt at an NHL uniform is to compare it to the fair city of Ottawa. Back in 2001, Ottawa attempted a rebrand, going with the slogan “technically beautiful.”
I mean, yes, Ottawa is the seat of government in Canada. It has nice museums. It’s very clean. It’s effortlessly bilingual. And yet, no one really wants to go to Ottawa. Somehow, someway, it just doesn’t come to mind as an enticing destination.
In the same way, the Golden Knights’ jerseys are “technically beautiful.” They’ve got two cool logos. They have a good colour palette. The striping, while unnecessarily busy and complex, is not egregiously offensive. And there are some nice textural elements on the sleeves and logo.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 21, 2017
Everything is in place for a truly spectacular creation, coveted by hockey fans the world over. And, as mentioned, the road editions are decent enough. But the crown jewel – the home jersey – just doesn’t really…work. Like, at all.
Vegas fans better hope this disappointing design is a result of their team having focussed solely on the Expansion Draft. With the way they played during their inaugural season, it sure looks like it.
**Originally published June 2017.