In a time of our lives where uncertainty reigns supreme, the Calgary Flames have made headlines after bringing back one of their most divisive logos in team history out of retirement. (From ‘Flames welcome return of ‘Blasty’ on reverse retro jersey,’ Calgary Sun, 11/16/20) On Monday morning, Adidas and the NHL unveiled the new designs for 31 teams as part of their “Reverse Retro” collection, where teams will have a fourth jersey.
In a statement released by Adidas following the uniform previews, the company described some history on the “Ol Blasty” logo. “1998 – The Calgary Flames’ first third jersey, and first time a Flames jersey is not featuring the iconic “Flaming C” as the front crest. It Originally celebrated Calgary’s western culture. The original version of this Reverse Retro jersey became the team’s home jersey from 2000-2003.”
Many fans question why the logo and jersey scheme was brought back into the rotation, but the Flames feel it’s time to rewrite history.
The Wait Is Over!
Ever since the Flames’ black threads departed from their jersey rotation after the conclusion of the 2005-2006 season, something has felt missing for me in terms of a visual satisfaction on the ice. Something about a black jersey, to me, just comes off so clean.
I also feel that every team should have an alternate logo, and Calgary hasn’t really had one for the last few seasons. The last alternate logo the Flames had was between 2013-2016 when the team rebranded to a new look logo then, too. It’s hard to beat a logo like the flaming horse because it depicts our city’s heritage and current identity so well. Calgary will always be “Stampede city.”
What Are Flames Fans Saying?
The reaction on social media after the Flames dropped their new fourth jersey was extremely mixed. On one hand, you have a group of fans who love the new look, because it brings back that nostalgia of when the Flames were going through major changes, but the other side of haters has spoken loud and clear. Luckily for those who aren’t on the side of “Ol Blasty,” this jersey will only be worn on a handful of occasions throughout the season.
One of the contributing factors to the comeback of this retro emblem was the constant online awareness being spread by superfan, Noah Adler. I asked Adler if the wait was worth it. “Absolutely. My love for Blasty goes all the way back to when I first started loving this team at age seven when it was still on the shoulders. My first ever jersey was the ’04 style white jersey, which of course had Blasty on the shoulders, but full-on always had a special place in my heart, pride and joy,” said Adler
When I brought up the return of the horse head jerseys to my grandparents, both of them voiced their disapproval for it. To be completely honest, it’s hard to fault anyone for not liking it. For some, it just wasn’t a design that they felt represented the team, and for them to make such drastic changes at the time may have come across as a desperate attempt to attract attention, and it did. The original release of Blasty was worn by a Flames team that was merely trying to remain relevant while earning record low attendances at the Saddledome; a time fans try to forget.
Another Flames fan, Calvin Hector, brought up a very eye-opening point. “I think what took it downhill in the first place was when the Flames made it their dark road jersey. I don’t think that made many fans happy at the time and I can see how that has split the opinion of the Flames fanbase,” said Hector. Regardless of why the jersey didn’t stick around too long, or why it didn’t stick with some fans, the Flames current roster will try and put a new spin on an old classic.
Why Another Jersey
The biggest reason I admire the new Reverse Retro Flames jersey is that the Flames and their marketing team listened to the fans down to the finest of details. The organization had years to take in feedback, dissect ideas, and put out a masterpiece. A masterpiece is an understatement here.
Adidas and the NHL likely felt a pinch from the situation of the outside world and needed a new way to generate revenue. In the first three hours of its release, the Flames official team store said they sold over 170 pre-orders for Blasty jerseys, most of which were customized with “Tkachuk” and “19” stitched on the back.
Another leading factor for the fourth uniforms is because the NHL is still looking for ways to improve and grow the game, and these jerseys were a great way for fan bases to voice their opinions as well as expectations. I felt that some teams could have done a better job with their designs, but as far as the Flames’ efforts, this jersey is a home run.
With Change Comes Opportunity
Bringing back a divisive jersey in 2020 creates a healthy, small distraction from the outside world. Now more than ever, we see so much hostility online, but this jersey drop gives hockey fans who are missing the game, and who should be watching it had a global pandemic not struck, a chance to have a healthy and constructive conversation.
No one is asking you to like or dislike this historical crest, but the Flames organization feels that today’s roster, which saw some remarkable offseason moves, is the one to bring back the glory and excitement that the 90’s young guns struggled to do in this iconic sweater.