With each passing season, I'm becoming more concerned over the unwritten rule that says minor league specialty jerseys have to make players look like clowns. I mean it couldn't be more literal than with the most recent entry into the club.
The Albany River Rats recently revealed the results of a poll allowing fans to choose which jersey design the team would wear for Ronald McDonald House Night. Perhaps it would be difficult to create a theme jersey around Ronald McDonald without looking clownish, but this is unbelievable.
I'm willing to look beyond this poorly made graphic (HOuse) but professional hockey players — grown men — will be wearing this outside the confines a McDonald's restaurant and without the security of identity-disguising make-up.
The winning design features a yellow body with white shoulders and red trim. Albany’s primary logo is emblazoned on the front of the sweater and Ronald McDonald House Charity patches are displayed on each shoulder. The jersey will be worn with red pants and with Ronald McDonald’s signature candy-cane sox.
All proceeds will benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region.
At this point you may be thinking, "Well, the fans made their own bed. They had an online vote and this is what they chose." But you don't have all the information. Why don't we take a look at their options?
As you can see, the fans clearly went with the lesser of two evils. "Classy" was not an option for the good people of Albany. On the second choice, I count 31 stripes! Seriously!
The first design was obviously created with Reebok Edge in mind while the other was not. Let's talk about that second one. Not only are stripes like that apt to induce seizures, but it inexplicably carries the storm flag stripe of their NHL parent team (the Hurricanes) across the mid-section. Relevance?
Given the choice of bad or indescribably bad, I would've voted the same was the River Rats' fans. But that doesn't make it right. We need to figure out a way to get minor league clubs to let Icethetics artists take a stab at these one-off sweaters if for no other reason than to avoid this kind of trainwreck on an annual basis.
We know specialty jerseys like this are a necessary evil in the minors. They don't have the kind of huge, established fan bases that NHL teams enjoy. For one thing, they tend to be in areas with smaller populations. To keep the team financially viable against those odds, they have to become a big part of the community. That means charity nights are important.
But they don't have to look like this! This is where you guys come in. I'm challenging Icethetics readers to design a River Rats jersey with a Ronald McDonald House theme that doesn't look ridiculous. It'll be difficult, but it can be done. I'll post worthy concepts here.