As part of the NHL draft day hoopla, the Senators are unveiling new uniforms today. This is their 12th jersey modification in their history and the Sens would be wise to make it the final one. Ever.
We all get it. Most of the moves over the years have been money grabs. A lot of teams do it. But this one is different. The franchise is in a tough spot. The Sens were last in NHL attendance, so revenues were down, well before COVID came along. So olive branches must be extended.
For several seasons now, fans have been yelling on social media for a return to the 2D logo and the old school uniforms from their expansion roots of the early 1990's. Now the Sens are listening, doing what they think the fans want.
"It is time for the Senators to return to our roots," said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. "The fans of this great franchise have high expectations. We have heard from our fans, our partners and our players, and we have listened. It is time to return to our heritage, but in a bold, new manner. The Senators have a rich history in our community, and we are ready for the next chapter to begin."
So the Sens will again throw on that white jersey they wore until they finally made it to a Stanley Cup Final in 2007 (when Brady Tkachuk was 7). They abandoned it right after the season they won their only Conference title (someone explain that logic, please).
They had started tinkering with their original black jersey much earlier, finally killing it off in 1999. The main murder suspect, of course, was the new depraved Sens' centurion (see image below) whose cold, dead eyes stared straight into your soul.
The new, retro jerseys are a strong look, for sure, but the Sens lost so, so many games while wearing them. Try a 24-131 record over their first two seasons.
So why would anyone want those uniforms back?
Well, think of the original six teams and their current uniforms. None is dramatically different than they were 70 years ago. Montreal, Detroit and New York wouldn't tolerate a major uniform change. And why do you think that is? Those unis are iconic and helped those teams build up heritage, continuity and, by extension, loyalty.
Fans are nostalgic by nature. Many of us want to cheer for our team, maybe having it look exactly as it did when we were kids, while watching games with our dad. In 2020, thousands of current Sens fans remember doing just that when they were children. Even though the wins were rare back then, we were just thrilled that the NHL had returned to Ottawa. If the team wins a few games in those uniforms, then all the better. For example, Montreal's players have all changed so it's the uniform that endures as the strongest visual connection to those great teams and moments of the past.
So the Sens are tapping into that emotion. It's not everything but it's something. Obviously, winning and entertainment will always trump everything. But if the Sens dig in and stay true to this look for the next 30 years or more, they'll be a stronger franchise for it.