Sartorial Sabres Build A Better Sweater

Guest Post from Pro Stock Hockey

Forget about six years without a trip to the playoffs — suddenly, things are looking good for Buffalo Sabres fans.

Yes, a good chunk of that optimism might stem from hiring a general manager who helped build three champions in 10 years at Pittsburgh. Or the fact that the new GM plundered the staff of the other Stanley Cup finalist for his new coach — who just happens to be maybe the greatest blue-liner in Sabres history.

Yet a rebuild spearheaded by Jason Botterill and Phil Housley might take years before it pays off with as big a win as the Sabres posted June 20, when the NHL debuted new jerseys for its 31 teams with new supplier adidas.

All Day I Dream About Sabres

Adidas, previously best known as the force behind the second-best Trefoil (its three-leaf logo, after the Girl Scout cookie) and second-best Run DMC song (“My adidas,” after “It’s Tricky”), resisted the urge to put three stripes on everything when it rolled out hockey’s new sweaters. Instead, the clothier and the NHL mostly played it safe with minor tweaks to the league’s classic looks. Nobody got saddled with anything as dreadful as the mid-70s White Sox’s droopy disco lapels or the swashbuckling creamsicle of the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs. OK, so the Wild’s revamp looks a bit like a nightshirt from the forgot-to-get-your-kid-a-souvenir kiosk at Duluth International, but otherwise missteps were few.

Among the teams that got bolder revisions, none did so to greater effect than the Sabres — whose new look recalls the sweater they debuted within 1970. The new jersey is all sophistication and understatement and antidote to every sartorial misstep they’ve made in the last 20 years — and there have been many.

Wardrobe Malfunctions

The uniforms from that inaugural 1970 season stuck around, more or less unchanged, for 26 years. After that, the Sabres turned over or added to their closet at least five times before adidas got involved. Regrets? They’ve had a few.

1996: The Sabres dropped their blue and gold color scheme for the then-trendy black, red, silver and white. The original logo, a buffalo and crossed sabres in a circle, was scrapped in favor of, essentially, a possessed goat.

2000: The new century brought with it the introduction of the alternate jersey to Buffalo. Primarily red, with black shorts and red socks, the overall effect was Blackhawks Lite. The specifics didn’t improve the look. The Sabres moved Devil Goat to the sleeves, adding a logo of crossed swords over a black circle. One writer described it, not especially hyperbolically, as butter knives over a bowling ball. The best description you could give about that logo is it looked incomplete, except perhaps to say it wasn’t what came next.

2006: The infamous “Buffaslug.” A year ahead of Reebok taking over from CCM as the NHL’s jersey supplier, the Sabres got yet another logo. Probably meant to suggest a buffalo in motion, it instead resembled a slug with horns. Worse, it was a derivative slug, as the University of California Santa Cruz officially adopted the nickname, the Banana Slugs, 20 years earlier. At least the blue and gold returned (with bits of white and gray).

2008: A third jersey, bringing back the traditional buffalo and crossed sabres logo, proved so popular that by 2010, the Buffaslug was just a slimy trail heading off into the sunset. Though it didn’t quite get everything right. You’ve heard of elbow patches, right? This iteration had pit patches, gray swatches in the underarm area that hinted at a dearth of deodorant in the Sabres dressing room. Generally, the striping was too busy — gold, blue and gray, some horizontal, some vertical.

2010: A new third jersey, featuring a script “Buffalo” across the chest, lasted two forgettable seasons. It was, more or less, the Ville Leino of sweaters.

The new sweaters are better. Laces at the collar, which is blue in front as opposed to the old gold ringer. You might quibble that, by remaining navy blue, they don’t reach far enough into the team’s design past. Still, the Sabres have to save something for their 2020 50th anniversary season, and going back to royal blue would be just the way to celebrate.

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Specialist at Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. Lee picked up his first hockey stick at age 3 and hasn’t put it down yet. 

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