Saturday, January 31, 2015 the ECHL's Quad City Mallards played a game wearing jerseys inspired by the early years of the NHL's Original Six.
At this point, you've probably read a lot about this because I have been writing a lot about it. If you're sick of hearing about this jersey then this piece isn't for you. Move along, move along. Likewise, if you're going to read this and ask what kind of fool flies 500 miles just to see some jersey in a minor league game? You can move along as well. This isn't for you.
For the rest of us the story begins in September of 2014. HJC was contacted by the Quad City Mallards to help them with a fan designed jersey competition. We were contacted because of the success of that summer's Grand Rapids Griffins Jersey Design Competition. The Mallards' version of the competition ran on HJC for the entire month of October. Over 90 entries came in! One of those entries was from myself.
A direct transfer of the jersey I designed, to a black jersey didn't look very good in my opinion.
Jeff kept me in the loop through AK's design and production process. You can get a glimpse as to how things come together from the pictures below.
At the beginning of January the Mallards got back in contact with me and told me that they would like to thank me for helping out with their jerseys and as thanks they would be giving me a copy of the Original Six and the Fan Designed jerseys! I let them know of my intentions to go to the game and arrangements were made for them to present me my own jersey after the game, just before the auction.
- Get up at 4am Eastern time
- 4:30am taxi to Toronto airport
- 8am flight to Chicago
- Noon central flight to Moline
- Check-in to hotel
- shower (to get rid of general airplane staleness)
- receive email informing me that Sunday's flight home has been cancelled
I turn around to leave, and half a dozen black jerseys catch my eye!
Did they get the different stripe thicknesses correct?
Did they leave the TV numbers over lapping the top arm stripe to replicate the inexact nature of early TV numbers?
Did they use the exact crest I sent them?
The answer to all was YES!
There were some small changes that I accepted. The pewter white that the Mallards use is a custom colour and would be too expensive for the Mallards if Athletic Knit had to try to create it. So it was replaced with vintage white. The collar laces are also true white because Athletic Knit doesn't stock vintage white laces. The NOB (name on back) was not in the serif font I had used. Instead a basic block font was used. AK did the number stitching while the Mallards did their own namebars. They're a minor league team and they need to keep their costs in line.
A result of the Mallards doing their own namebars was them running out of vintage white letters. The namebar on #7 Bennett Schneider's jersey was in true white letters, as was the namebar on my jersey.
I took a picture of the white board in the room where the coach had written to the players to not take the laces out of the jerseys. This probably had to do with an ECHL rule or because the jerseys were being auctioned off after. Either way, as the designer of the jersey I appreciated that.
By contrast, I felt that the Brampton Beast very much looked like they were a minor league team wearing a cheaper jersey, but trying to look professional. Brampton needs some work on their jerseys. If you're reading this Beast, we're right here.
The Mallards went on to defeat the Brampton Beast 3-1. When you win the game and look good doing it, that's a great day at the office!
The next measuring stick moment for the jersey was the auction after this game.
Before the auction began, team president Bob McNamara invited me on to the stage to thank me (and HJC) for hosting the jersey design competition and for designing that night's jersey. Furthermore I was given a jersey with my own name on it! Considering the jerseys started at $300 each during the auction, this was quite a gesture.
For the Mallards' Facebook photo album of the game click here.