Friday, January 19, 2007

New duds a dud with Cox and many others

Count Damien Cox of the Toronto Star as unimpressed with the new look unis destined for an NHL dressing room in the fall. Cox takes issue with the uniform change in his blog item for the Star on Thursday, and it's rather hard to argue with him. He suggests that the uniform debate is another example of the league concentrating on things that don't matter while the important issues get left behind things like declining attendance, a too long schedule and poor teams in the largest of markets.

Instead, it's all about a change of the uniforms, and while the Commissioner tries to sell the change as one of comfort for the players, few fans are seemingly buying it. Instead the NHL seems determined to make a change that no one had been calling for and which won't have a huge impact on bringing the game back in the US. In fact it very well may cause more damage as the league alienates its Canadian fans even more. While most will hold their opinions until they actually see the things, tampering with the tradition of the hockey sweater is something that you do at your peril.

For one thing, the hockey uniform is actually one of the more treasured of collectibles of the four pro sports uniforms. Countless kids and adults have through the years purchased the loose fitting uniform as a fashion accessory, the idea of them wanting to move to(let alone spend for) a form fitting wind resistant top doesn't seem probable.

And for the most part hockey uniforms have a style all let alone a history all to their own, while we could do without the new look Sabres unis and those horrid things of the eighties that the Canucks would wear, for many hockey fans and traditionalists the hockey uniform was a sacred cloth, one need look no further than Roch Carrier's short story The Hockey Sweater to understand it's importance in the fabric of Canadian life.
It's that tradition that Gary Bettman risks tampering with, already on thin ice over other moves that have changed the game, the Reebok uniform decision may come back to haunt him quite a bit.

On Prime Time Sports on Thursday, Bob McCown's panel discussed the uniform controversy and for the most part turned thumbs down on the idea, giving hockey fans hope by remembering the days of the Cooperalls, those unibody contraptions that did away with hockey pants and leggings. That didn't last long, hockey purists are hoping that the Reebok uniform plan follows a similar fate.

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