With the blessing of former gear guru Mark Grainda, The Sin Bin’s Dylan Schofield now takes the mantle as the supervisor of sweater stylings in his debut Gear Guru article. In his first jersey breakdown, Schofield discusses a fan-submitted design for an ECHL team that embraces elements from both its NHL and AHL affiliates’ logos.
The Kalamazoo Wings announced the winning design of the team’s third annual fan-designed jersey on Friday. Kalamazoo’s winning design features a vintage Canucks-inspired crest with some American flag aspects to compliment the team’s Red, White, and Blue color scheme. The jersey was designed by Michigan native Kurt Gorecki, who has experience with another winning design being used in December 2017. Gorecki included the following statement alongside his submission:
“Adapted for the KWings Affiliation with the Canucks as their American Affiliate team. The Logo Features KWings Features of Red, White, and Blue. Also using stars from the “Utica Comets” logo. This jersey design is the American centric version of the Canucks’ speed skate logo that they are bringing back this year. Purposely created to represent the bond between each teams’ mantra, history, and also the American link between the speed skate, the Canucks, and the Comets, and the KWings.”
The jersey is set to be worn by the K-Wings on December 28, 2019, and will be auctioned off to benefit the Salvation Army of Kalamazoo after the game.
We received a team-record 36 designs from around North America and nearly 7,000 votes were submitted (also a record). With over 40% of the ballots, this design from @kurtcodes is your winner of the 3rd Annual Fan-Designed Jersey Contest!
— Kalamazoo Wings (@KalamazooWings) August 23, 2019
Throwback nights are always a hit or miss when it comes to the implementation and perception by the fan base. In the past few seasons, throwback jerseys have spread like wildfire in the NHL, but are pretty common in the AHL and ECHL. When the Carolina Hurricanes brought back the old Hartford Whalers moniker for a few games last season, there was backlash from Hartford fans still holding out hope for a Whalers return to the city. Arizona Coyotes wore a Kachina throwback that was nearly identical to the team’s original style, as did the Anaheim Ducks rocking their “Mighty” jerseys for some games last season. There shouldn’t be any objections for Kalamazoo using the likeness of their affiliate.
For Vancouver, it’s worth noting that bringing back not just one, but two of their throwback jerseys for their 50th season. They’ll wear a heritage jersey — a modern take on the team’s blue “stick and rink” jersey worn during their first season — alongside the black “speed skate” jersey. Both of these play homage to the team’s biggest years when they joined the NHL via expansion in 1970-71 and during their Stanley Cup Finals run during the 1993-94 season.
As for Kalamazoo, I like that they’re incorporating fans into the decision process for specialty jerseys. As a game-worn jersey collector myself, specialty jerseys need to have a design that stands out and is something fans are interested in bidding on. This in turn leads a larger community interest, and at the end of the day, raises more money for charities when the auction is all said and done.
One of the changes done to the logo is the addition of stars from the Utica Comets’ logo (next to the skate). This also doubles as the American flag. One of the other changes is swapping the Canucks name for just “Wings”. As Kalamazoo and Vancouver both have nine letters, a city name swap might’ve been the more appropriate one. But, using Wings does add to the uniqueness, and does not make it another one-to-one knockoff.
While I have no major concerns with this design, I would be curious to see how this would look reverting to the original logo style and swapping the red to the Canucks’ green. Maybe a future design can entice the folks up in Vancouver to add a little variety to their alternate jerseys in the coming years.
All-in-all, I hope a few of these are set aside for an online auction. This jersey has set a high bar with so many teams set to announce their promotional schedules and specialty jersey nights in the coming weeks. This one should garner attention by collectors of all ranks, and we’ll be counting down the days as the K-Wings wear them later this year.
Stay tuned for more Gear Guru articles from Dylan as primary and alternate jerseys debut this offseason. Also, follow him on Facebook (@WooHockey) and Twitter (@WooHockeyNews) for all your Worcester Railers offseason updates.
Don’t forget to check The Sin Bin’s ECHL Transactions page for the rest of your summer signings and transactions!
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