On the first day of the NHL Entry Draft, last Friday, the Washington Capitals unveiled their new RBK Edge jerseys for public consumption. While Capitals fans seem to like them, I'm perfectly comfortable admitting my absolute lack of excitement for the new designs. They couldn't be more boring.
Everything good about the old-school Washington sweaters of years gone by and even the redeeming qualities of the most recent incarnations have been abandoned for a new, sterile and socceresque aesthetic.
Please, follow me on a quick stroll down memory lane with the Washington Capitals.
When the Capitals became an NHL team in 1974, they did so with one of the brightest, most recognizable uniform designs of all time---white pants. Sure, that ill-advised and never-duplicated fashion faux pas didn't last long (one season), but it was memorable, something that can't be said about the new RBK Edge uniforms.
For many years, the Capitals relied on the red-white-blue color palette for their team identity. With a few small variations, the jerseys and team logo remained fairly static. Below (in the order that they appear) is the road jersey from 1985 and the home jersey of 1993:
Not bad, but the horizontal stripes across the stomach tended to dominate a player's body and overpower the eye. And really, all those bright colors and the stars on the pants were a bit busy. Just too much to take in all at once. The various individual pieces of the uniform were solid as far as hockey designs go (horizontal stripes on the jersey, striped socks, blue pants), but not great all together.
Nothing much changed for two decades until the lockout of 1994-95. The following season, like many other teams, the Capitals unveiled entirely new designs for their jerseys and team logo:
Both the white and the dark version featured the word "Capitals" written across the waist. The diagonal sleeve stripes and the odd crooked line across the lower half were a significant departure from hockey tradition, not to mention the long precedent set by the Capitals themselves.
The home and away jerseys remained the sole options for the team until the 1997-98 season, when Washington introduced a new black jersey as an alternate (featuring truly unique arching for the nameplates):
This black version became the primary dark jersey in 2000-01 (a white version was used in team practices). The already existing white jersey lost the word "Capitals" from the front but was still in use for home games. The long tradition of red, white and blue, stars and stripes, and all the other patriotic garb was obviously gone for good. What remained were cartoony logos featuring a diving eagle, the US Capitol dome and a couple of gold (bronze?) stars. Wearable, but nothing to write home about.
Now enter the RBK Edge.
The red-white-blue scheme has returned, along with a modern take on the traditional Capitals logo (complete with hockey stick "t"), but minus most of the stars and the bold horizontal waist stripes of old. With the exception of a small red area at the bottom, all the stripes on the new white jersey are vertical, and dominate the sleeves.
The dark jersey is very similar, but is almost entirely red, a color already prominently worn by eleven other NHL clubs.
There's really not much going on with these new jerseys, and overall they're pretty dull. They're not offensive to behold like white pants and huge alternating color stripes, but they're not very memorable, either.
The only interesting feature of the entire new design is the shoulder patch logo, in which an eagle with outstretched wings creates a silhouette of the US Capitol Dome. Paul at Uniwatch thinks the patch looks too much like the Pontiac Firebird logo, but I don't think it's all that bad---especially since it's the only remotely exciting thing to be found.
Overall, a dull, fairly uninspired update for the Caps. Not that they had a lot to work with, mind you, but they could have come up with something a little more hockey-like and a little more eye-catching.
Teebz runs through the basic elements, and ultimately gives the new design a thumbs-up.
Can't say I agree with him, but it's not the worst route the Capitals could have gone, that's for sure.
For more photos, info and documentation concerning the uniform history of the Washington Capitals, see CapsJerseys.com.