By Harlan Nemerofsky
Players of the three Olympic ice hockey teams now know what jersey they will be suiting up in when they represent Canada next February.
Hockey Canada, in collaboration with Nike Canada and the Canadian Paralympic Committee, made its announcement at Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre on the third-level ice hockey surface.
“When you talk about our players, players give up so much, whether you’re playing for our country on the men’s team, the women’s team or our sledge team,” said Hockey Canada President & CEO Bob Nicholson. “I can tell you that every time they put on the Olympic jersey it is very special.”
Nike Canada’s creative director Ken Black said Nike created the jersey with both function (“range of motion, thermal regulation”) and aesthetics (“putting on a uniform that makes you feel great”) in mind, and that the jerseys primary inspiration was Team Canada’s jersey throughout the 1920s.
“When you look at the stripe on that jersey, I think you can see a direct connection,” said Black. “Our design team wanted to modernize it a bit so that’s why you see that asymmetrical stripe as opposed to run it across, but that the first inspiration.”
In addition to the home red-and-white and road white-and-red, Canada will be the only Olympic team with a third jersey, without a maple leaf but instead with a gold stripe.
Black said that Canada’s most recent jersey worn in the 2010 Vancouver Games was overly busy and complicated, which he says seemed to take away from the importance of the athlete, hence why they went back to the simpler look.
He also said that the jerseys are 15 per cent lighter than the 2010 Vancouver jerseys and each jersey is made with 17 recycled water bottles.
Afterwards, Nicholson said he was proud to have the event hosted at Ryerson’s home rink, the MAC, because of its historical connection with hockey in Canada.
“It’s great to be back in what I know as Maple Gardens and it’s great that Ryerson is here. Their university programs are really improving, which is great for the university as well as hockey in this country,” said Nicholson.
Joe Nieuwendyk, a former 2002 Olympic gold medalist with the men’s ice hockey team and long-time member with the Calgary Flames, was very pleased with the jerseys.
“I’ve been fortunate to wear a lot of jerseys and they’re all special but there’s something really special about wearing the Canada jersey- the history and pride and knowing that everybody across the Prairies are all behind you. I love that [the jerseys] are not too busy- just red, white and a maple leaf.”
He also clamoured at having the event being held at the MAC.
“It’s kind of been home to hockey for so many years and its almost fitting that they have it here since the old Maple Leafs Gardens is such a historic arena for Canadians across the country.”