With the unveiling today of the long awaited (but prematurely leaked) new third jersey, the Ottawa Senators organization finally hit it out of the park.
Everyone with an internet connection already knew what the sweater looked like, but it's an entirely different thing to see the players actually wearing the full uniform with new pants and socks. (Above and below are photos from a gallery at OttawaSenators.com.)
Literally, there is nothing they could improve on it. After mistakenly getting rid of their original black and white uniforms, they trudged through over a decade with different looks, some mediocre, some downright brutal.
But now the organization has finally tapped into exactly what Ottawa fans have yearned for, and that's a sense of tradition to go along with a traditional look that can rival their bigger brothers to the East and West - original sixers Montreal and Toronto.
For way too long, Sens fans have had to wear cartoonish jerseys while Leaf and Hab fans proudly wore some of the most classic and elegant sweaters in all of pro sports. The current Senators have only been around since 1992 but for most of that time, they made no major attempt to connect to the dynasty teams that won 11 Stanley Cups well before most of us were born.
They aggressively promoted that connection on opening night in October 1992 because that was seemingly all they had to point to. But in the intervening years, they never returned to that theme of tradition that some other teams thrived on in their marketing campaigns.
Not to get all psychoanalytical, but Ottawa fans have had a bit of an inferiority complex for too long because they didn't have the tradition the Leafs and Habs have in spades, and they definitely didn't have a sweater they could buy that would give them a true sense of pride in their team.
That's all changed now. Yes, these are only going to be worn 11 times this season, but it doesn't take a shrink to guess that the tide has already shifted and fans will demand, and ultimately get, a corresponding road version of the current red, black and white home "barberpole" jersey. I would be shocked if there aren't already about 50 amateur designs floating around the web right now, especially since the Senators went off the board and recruited an actual fan to help them design the ones they unveiled today.
It took awhile for the organization to "get it", and they've made some missteps along the way. Remember when they quietly got rid of the traditional theme song they always played when the team took to the ice to start a game? Fans flipped out, petitions were started, and they brought it back very quickly and are still using it now. Perhaps that was a bit of a nudge in the right direction. A theme song doesn't seem very important in the big picture, but there were so few traditions that fans could point to and say "this is unique to us and our team", that the theme song debacle became a real flash point for some. It was a small hint that fans were practically begging for more of the same.
The organization got the hint and ran with it. Now they have a separate website completely devoted to Sens history, a much more traditional and classy looking sweater that brings back the barber pole look that practically defines this city's sports identity, and I'm guessing a few more dollars in their pockets because of it. According to the Ottawa Citizen, more than 3000 people had already ordered one before seeing it in person. Not bad coin if you can get it.
Of note on the new third uni: The pants don't have the red and white stripe down the side but they have the "O" logo on the front of one leg and it looks pretty sharp. They also didn't mess around with the socks and went with thick red and white stripes.
Like I said, couldn't do it any better.