Monday, July 31, 2006

Rooting for the laundry

It's been an interesting summer here in Buffalo when it comes to uniforms. That's right, uniforms.

The Sabres, coming off a good playoff run that ended with a narrow loss to the eventual champion Carolina Hurricanes, are gearing up for next season with contract talks, trades, etc. Yet all the fans seem to care about is the logo.

A picture of part of the new design of the Sabres' logo and uniforms was printed in the newspaper, and it's fair to say the reaction was less than enthusiastic. The letters to the editor page of the local sports section has been filled with comments. An on-line petition drew more than 10,000 signatures. And remember -- only part of the new look was released.

The Sabres recently responded by announcing that the team's new third jersey will be -- presto! -- the same as the team's 1970-1996 road uniforms. The diehard fans appeared to be thrilled, at least in public. That's in spite the fact that those uniforms were basically a copy of the Maple Leafs' road jerseys, as then-GM Punch Imlach liked the look way back when. Since road teams now wear white in NHL games (which probably is a mistake because it makes every game in a particular building look the same, but that's another argument), the Sabres couldn't use their old, better-looking (IMHO) white home uniforms as a third jersey.

I can only guess as to what is going on here. The uniforms for the past 10 years looked fine to me; I was thrilled to see the old road uniforms go in 1996. Are the Sabres fans trying to bury a legacy of the bankrupt Rigas era? Do the old-time fans miss the good old days? Are the Sabres trying to hit the young and the old segments of their fan base at the same time, thus taking in money both ways? Are they trying to make an old tie I have in the attic that has the Sabre logo on it fashionable again?

I'm not sure. But before I start writing letters to the editor about the ugly new logo, I think I'd like to see the whole thing first.

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