“Bettman has only a marginal interest in the weaker teams. He only wants the NHL to make a bigger profit as a whole.” -- Dominik Hasek

April 14, 2007

NHL Aesthetics Part 1: The Buffaslug

Sometimes it is awkward for us to admit: we're fashonistas. Or, at least, a little obsessive about the aesthetic qualities of NHL uniforms and equipment. We care about what the players are wearing on the ice. We're not quite as obsessive as some about sports apparel and player appearances, but we're still pretty interested.

This is the first in a multi-part series where we will examine the sartorial specifics of teams around the NHL---where they've been, where they are and where they're going. With Reebok's major overhaul of the league's uniforms starting next season, what better way to usher out an old era and bring in a new than with a multi-part analysis? Gosh that sounds fun!

There's only one place to start, really, and that's with the Buffaslug™!!

No other logo redesign has inspired as much wrath and hatred in the past few years than that of the Buffalo Sabres. Called the "Buffaslug" by many, the new logo replaces the more traditional (and appropriate) crest that featured a buffalo and two crossed sabres. It's definitely a mental stretch, but we guess it made sense. At any rate, the Buffaslug didn't go over very well with some fans.

The more traditional design is now used as an "alternate" jersey by the Sabres for occasional home games.

But despite the initial negative reaction to the new jerseys and logo design, a funny thing happened: sales went through the roof. In fact, for two straight seasons, Buffalo Sabres jersey sales have skyrocketed, consistently leading all other teams and players (other than Sidney Crosby, of course). It doesn't hurt that the team has been one of the best in the "New NHL" since the end of the lockout in 2004-2005, and it also doesn't hurt that the team boasts some seriously hot players like Daniel Briere, Chris Drury, Ryan Miller and Maxim Afinogenov. A third factor working in Buffalo's favor is that jersey and logo redesigns frequently trigger increased sales as dedicated fans update their team wardrobes.

To be honest, we hate the Buffaslug and the new jerseys in general. We don't like the "streamlined" look, we don't like the colors and we don't like the logo. Other than the ugly Slug, the Sabres' jerseys are pretty boring overall. The trend away from bolder, more traditional team colors and logos is a bad one, if you ask us. While constantly changing uniforms may boost apparel sales in the short run, it damages the long-term "brand identity" of each team---and this identity is bigger than just merchandising. It translates into life-long fans. People who spend money on the teams their entire lives, not just for a couple of seasons while they're hot.

If the Sabres really wanted to look good on the ice, they would have considered a more traditional update like the one proposed by graphic designer John Slabyk, whose "New Blue And Gold Project" was truly impressive. Tradition and aesthetic appeal---a great combination.

1 comment:

Charlie @ Sabres Not Slugs said...

Nicely done! It's definitely still an issue, inflated jersey sales and all. Their cash grab is over. Come on by SabresNotSlugs anytime.

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