The Tampa Bay Lightning are wasting no time in getting their new branding out there. It started with the arena, of course. From what I understand, as of Friday, you can barely find the old logo in the St. Pete Times Forum anymore, including center ice.
Despite that, the team cannot wear their new uniforms and logo until next season. They also can't sell jerseys until after this season ends. But that's not stopping the marketing machine. And they've already got FOX Sports building brand new broadcast graphics.
Today's Super Sunday game against the Blues was not televised by Sun Sports today, so I had to watch on FOX Sports Midwest. And they already had the new logo built into everything but the animated wipes.
It looks great, but why not use the version without the TAMPA BAY text? Isn't the point of the new logo to be an iconic symbol on its own? Guess that'll take a little time.
Now I don't know if this is a new development or if the new logo was in use on Friday night when the Lightning faced the Capitals. It was blacked out on GameCenter Live because NHL Network carried coverage. I won't be able to take a look until later tonight.
Meantime, here's a look at another graphic. You can also see here that the new logo is painted at center ice and even on dasher board advertising. So there's no turning back now.
And lastly, here it is on the FOX Sports scoreboard graphic. It features a darker blue than we saw on the uniforms when they were unveiled.
The Lightning wore their blue third jerseys for today's 4-3 OT win in Tampa. According to the team CEO Tod Leiweke, the BOLTS sweater will be retained next season. He didn't get into specifics as to whether they'll keep the black and gray, but I assume they'll at least put the new primary logo on the shoulders.
By the way, I realize NHL marketing rules prevent the team from changing uniforms midseason, but there's actually a precedent for NHL teams unveiling a new logo before summer. Graham Y. wrote in with this:
I was in Minnesota during the final days of the North Stars and remember an issue they had while changing their logo and uniform scheme.
With some obvious foresight to the move to Dallas, then owner Norm Green commissioned a new logo with just "Stars" across the front. They announced the new identity late in the season before the change just like the Lightning did.
Late that season the training staff on the bench began wearing windbreaker jackets with the new logo and the team was notified by the league that they would have to wait until the next season to begin using the new logo. I am not entirely positive but I think they were even fined for the early use.
Neither Graham nor I could track down any confirmation for the story, so I wondered if anyone else knows anything about it. The logo changed for the 1991-92 season, so presumably this all went down during 1990-91. I'm sure Icethetics readers would love any additional information.
By the way, I mentioned on Twitter last week that the Lightning have already started the brand transformation of their online presence.
Their website now features the new colors and logo as well as this background image (right) of Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis in the new sweaters.
Presumably, those photos were taken on Monday when the jerseys were unveiled. The players skated around in them a little bit.
The new marks can also be found on the club's Facebook and Twitter accounts.
So they're going all out here — or "all in," you could say — and certainly committing to the new brand. It's just surprising to see that commitment coming so soon.
This should be the last Lightning post for a little while — unless they get permission to change uniforms midseason too. At this point, I think we get it.
And the February update to NHL JerseyWatch 2011 should be coming in the next day or two.