The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today the final design of their new uniforms for the 2011-12 season, which includes changes requested by fans.
Most notably, the revamp includes the additions of lightning bolts on the pants, a fixture of Lightning uniforms since the club's inception, and black trim, one of the team's original colors. The newly unveiled logos will remain unchanged.
The team released this image on its website:
For what it's worth, it seems the regular blank jerseys that will go on sale to fans will not actually feature black at all, as it will only be used to trim the numbers and the bolts on the pants. But that seems to make sense from the standpoint of merchandising as the jerseys are likely already in production. To make changes to the sweater itself would mean scrapping everything that's already been manufactured.
Here's the statement from team management regarding the changes:
“After our multiple announcements in the past weeks we listened, as we always will, to feedback from our stakeholders,” said Leiweke. “While we have received overwhelmingly positive response regarding the direction Jeff Vinik is taking this franchise, we did hear from some fans regarding the traditions of black and a bolt on our pants. Thus, after consultation with the NHL and our design team, we are adding black as a third accent color and an elegant white bolt to our pant.
“While we are committed to pushing our franchise to new heights, we will forever honor the 2004 Stanley Cup and the other traditions and great efforts of those before us. The addition of the lightning bolt and the incorporation of black trim is an opportunity to send a message to Phil Esposito and the other pioneers that Lightning history will always be a part of who we are.”
The team also confirmed the BOLTS third jersey will stick around for years to come. Though they will likely swap out the shoulder patch with the new logo.
Now as a Lightning fan, here's my take: I love that they're keeping the bolts on the pants! That was the biggest thing in my mind missing from the new look. They're still leaving out the victory stripes, but most people outside of jersey geeks like us would have never noticed anyway. I'll miss it but it's not the end of the world.
Regarding the black, it seems they've tried to do as little as possible to placate fan complaints. Personally, I never thought we needed black, but if we have to have it, let it be in the small doses seen above. Overall, I'm ecstatic about the new look, especially now that the bolts on the pants are back.
So to those who didn't like the initial design, what do you think of the changes? Did the team address your concerns to your satisfaction? To those who did like it, do the alterations change your mind at all?
It sounds like this won't be the last of the uniform tweaks. During last night's SunSports telecast of Lightning-Coyotes, CEO Tod Leiweke talked about the changes just announced. He said that it was too late in the process to make any significant changes to the sweaters at this point. (Likely because of manufacturing concerns.)
He also said that the bolts were put back on the pants at the request of Lightning founder Phil Esposito. He also said they've been listening to fans and taking their concerns to heart. And most importantly, he said that the victory stripes will be part of the uniform again at some point, possibly as early as next season.
I'm working on getting a video clip so you can hear it straight from Leiweke. My only hope is they don't add more black. Personally, I thought the uniforms looked better without it.