You remember the NHL's Reverse Retro jersey program that they unveiled with Adidas a few years back right/ The idea was a simple one - take some favorite old school looks from NHL teams and flip the colors to make an exciting special occasion jersey that fans will gawk over. For the most part it was a great idea. Some teams turned in some REALLY good looks. Others with less history made some....odd choices, but either way it was a cool promotion that spiked jersey sales for those that crave nostalgia. There have been rumors that another wave of Reverse Retro designs were coming, but with the news that Adidas was not renewing its NHL jersey partnership, people had no idea whether they would still do this or not.
Fast forward to last night - some things started flying around the internet regarding some "leaked" NHL merch that appeared for a short time on NHL apparel partner Fanatics site. Specifically, a line of TShirts that showcased retro logos and designs for a bunch of NHL teams. There's a bunch of interesting looks, and too many to say that this was simply an accident. For better or worse, a bunch of these leaks will end up being legit. Of course the most interesting here in Pittsburgh was the glimpse of an old friend - enter ROBOPENGUIN or THE PIGEON LOGO. Whatever you call it, it appears alongside all of the other leaks here.
Of course this fueled speculation of what the actual jersey will look like. Would it be a duplicate or a reverse of one of the 90's jerseys a bunch of us grew up on, or would it be a new spin on a classic look. This mock up in particular has made its rounds over the last few days. It's actually a rejected concept from the Penguins rebrand in 1993. It's simply a black version of the white jersey with the gold shoulders that looked oh-so-good on the likes of Straka, Lang, Morozof and others in the 90s and early 2000's.
Any time this logo shows up, it sparks HUGE debate between fans. Some people would kill to get this thing back on the ice. Others will tell you that this logo signifies everything BAD that happened to the Pens from 1993 to now. The rebrand after 2 straight cups in the 90's was strange, but it coincided with an ownership shift and a "new era." People never got over the fact that the Pens never won a Stanley Cup in this logo, and large pitfalls like the Jagr trade, bad attendance and bankruptcy all followed. There's also a longstanding story that Mario is not the biggest fan of this logo and this era in particular.
But for the people in MY generation, this was the logo that was around when many of us were introduced to the Penguins as kiddos. We either weren't alive or we were really young those first 2 cups. Our intro to the team was the late 90's squads. I'm talking anyone from Kovalev, Kasparaitis, Hedberg, Moran, and of course the BIG guns like 66. Did we lock down the cup then? No...but I fell in love with the Pittsburgh Penguins and hockey with that logo skating around on the ice and I am thankful for it every day.
So what will the jersey look like? Who knows. If they keep it classic, I'll be lining up on day 1 to get an authentic version (or 6 of them.) Hopefully its not some mashup of several looks and color schemes that make it look like a minor league experiment. Don't forget the Penguins have other special events coming their way that will require other jerseys. The NHL Winter Classic in Boston will be here before we know it and another look will be on deck for that game. I keep hearing BLUE is making a comeback for that game - but boy I hope not. Let's revisit that in 25 years or so.
Back to the reverse retro. Getting that Pigeon logo on the chests of Crosby, Malkin and Letang is something that us 80's and 90's babies have been clamoring for forever. We all want it and it would be like printing money. It's a no brainer!
And don't let anyone tell you that NOTHING good happened in these jerseys. I can think of plenty of memories even as a youngster. Enjoy ;)