Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sweater Equity: How 3 New Faces Rekindled My Love for the Capitals' Sweater Design

Credit: Ikeastan 2011

Along with the rest of the world last night, I had my first chance to see our new Capitals in their red home sweaters. Three players who I could picture, but in different sweaters. Two I remembered as Bruins in the classic black and gold, and one I remembered as the Devil he was much of his career. Even though Denis Wideman and Marco Sturm played for different teams this season, they were still ex-Bruins to me. Jason Arnott looked the most familiar in red as I was used to his red, white and black.

But last night, when if felt like the first game of the season, they all wore the red, white and blue of the Washington Capitals. I looked closer at the insignias that adorn the uniforms as I mentally fixed each new player in the roster. Everyone looked great. At key moments in the game, the new Caps were resplendent in their new sweaters. They exuded power. Whether it was Sturm's exciting break away and near goal. Or Arnott's near goal in front of the Isles' net minder. Or Wideman's physical play against Tavares. The red home jerseys made it all more spectacular.

The name and the eagle
The Caps sweaters certainly stand out because of the red, but they also have wonderful insignias that enhance them. The main logo that dominates the front is a hybrid of the original, hand-drawn sans serif logo and a contemporary display font that exudes dynamism and pure action. Three stars above the word "Washington" refer in a clever way to the DC flag, both a pleasing motif and a wink at the home town. The secondary mark, which is under-used in my opinion, is the spread bald eagle (as in the seal of the United States) with the negative space shaped like the Capitol dome where it's tail and legs would be. It appears on the shoulders. The body is mostly blue with red wing accents that give the appearance of it being on fire — the bald eagle turned phoenix. Though this eagle is not the screaming eagle of the previous Capitals sweaters, it has a power and majesty that makes it a durable image for a hockey team. In a later blog post, I'll discuss my idea of a third jersey that would involve the eagle mark in a big way.

The colors
So red is certainly a powerful color for a sports team, let alone a hockey team. For the Capitals, though, red is only part — albeit a major part — of the story. Other teams use a lot of red — the Red Wings and Hurricanes among them — but often they use red from head to toe. The Capitals entire home uniform — from head to toe — consists of layers of color that contrast with each other, enhancing the overall effect. The blue helmet next to the red sweater next to the blue pants next the red socks. It's a scheme that forces you to pay attention to the players upper bodies. It's powerful. It's also able to tap into our cultural association with a classic palette of colors like the one in our flag and numerous European ones.

I'm a sucker for the red, white and blue. I tend to favor the designs of teams that use this color scheme, except for Columbus' main sweaters as their insignia is indecipherable without much knowledge. I'm also a sucker for a modern/classic mash up in insignias. I'm lucky to be a Caps fan because they have it all. I'll try to feature other teams on this blog, because there are some new designs — Tampa Bay I'm glaring at you — that are on the horizon and classic ones that deserve a review.

1 comment:

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