RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes introduced new home and road uniforms on Tuesday, marking the first time in the 15-year history of the franchise being in North Carolina that it has made “wholesale change,” as it were, to both sets of uniforms.
Tweaks have been made over the years, but nothing like this.
“A few years ago, (vice president of marketing Doug Warf) had approached me, and some of our team that worked on this had talked about it, and suggested that maybe after the 15 years being here, change the uniform,” Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said. “At that point in time, they were talking about making it more traditional and cleaning it up. And as you can see, that’s what they did.”
The new-look Hurricanes will have a look that is “clean and unencumbered,” according to the release. The primary color of red will dominate the home sweater, and the font of the jersey numbers and names will be a simpler sans serif.
The pants will be solid red, and the gloves will be red with small white accents.
Does it ultimately mean anything? Not really. But the Hurricanes staff looked it as a chance to do something fresh after 15 years.
“The way I’m looking at is a chance for us to rebrand after 15 seasons on the ice,” senior director of marketing and brand development Ben Aycock said. “We’ve listened closely to our fans and to the internal committee, what they would like to see. So hopefully, we delivered that and the fans will enjoy the jerseys as much as we have.”
Captain Eric Staal and his teammates are ultimately the ones that have to wear them, so their opinions mattered. And it was generally positive when he modeled them for his teammates before the new uniforms went public, runway walk and all.
“I think it looks a lot cleaner. It looks sharp. It’s comfortable to wear. I had to model it in front of the whole team before anyone else had seen it, so I had to get fully dressed and do a runway walk in front of the fellas, so that was enjoyable,” Staal said. “I think they look great. It’s something a little bit different, but yet still keeps a lot of the similarities that are great about the other jersey. I’m looking forward to wearing it in the fall.”
And this was one of those decisions that wasn’t really about the money, according to the Canes execs. It’s about marketing and rebranding. There are a lot of transplants from up north living in Raleigh, and a lot of them might be attracted to a more traditional look.
Really, the new ones don’t look all that different from the old ones. Considering how much the Hurricanes have struggled since winning the Cup in 2006, failing to reach the playoffs every year except 2009, Rutherford wanted to stress that there was nothing wrong with the old uniforms, per se.
“I don’t think that we really want to trash the old ones in the sense that we don’t think they were any good. I think they were,” Rutherford said. “For the time that we came here and having the storm flags on the bottom related to the Hurricanes, they served a good purpose . . . they’ll always be remembered as the jersey we were in to win the Stanley Cup.”
The new jerseys should go on sale in early September, should everything go according to plan. Warf said that they don’t generate substantial revenue from jersey sales as it is, and so this wasn’t about that. This was just about cleaning up the look while maintaining the most important parts of the jersey that the Triangle has come to identify with and embrace in the last 15 years.
“A big part about it is keeping the brand the same. It’s one of the primary logos to not change. We wanted to keep that,” Warf said. “Kids see that, they say ‘hockey.’ That’s awesome for a brand that’s only been around for 15 years. So we don’t want to alter that.
“That’s why that’s staying the same and we hope to keep it the same for awhile. We want to change the look of the jerseys without changing the primary logos and the brand that’s been built up over 15 years.”