The New Jersey Devils take pride in being the only professional team in the Garden State which goes by the name of the state where they play. This season the organization is marketing a theme of “One Jersey,” celebrating their home and the surrounding communities.
In the post-Lou Lamoriello era, the club has opened up its promotions and interactions with its fanbase. With this initiative, there could also be another identity change down the road. The team logo.
Since the Colorado Rockies migrated to New Jersey in 1982, the club has essentially kept the same “NJ” logo and color concept. The team name and logo are unique to New Jersey, stemming from the legend of the Jersey Devil, which supposedly inhabited the Pine Barrens of South Jersey. Contest voting from more than 10,000 fans culminated on June 30, 1982, with the team being renamed the Devils.
The Devils “NJ” logo with its horns and tail has been in force ever since, with a moderation in the color scheme. From 1982 to 1992 the team wore Christmas colors, with red, green, and white sweaters. Starting in the 1992-93 season, the team changed to red, black and white and aside from an occasional throwback night, they’ve worn those ever since. Even when the league switched to the Rbk Edge jerseys by Reebok in 2007-08, the Devils were one of only a few clubs which chose to remain the same.
The Case for Change
How long ago was the 1992-93 season? The Devils played in the Meadowlands, at the Brendan Byrne Arena. They played in the Patrick Division of the Wales Conference. Herb Brooks was head coach. Scott Niedermayer was a rookie. Martin Brodeur was playing with the AHL Utica Devils.
Whether changing the color scheme, logo or adding a third jersey, an alteration wouldn’t be the worst idea for a team with a design which has gone virtually unchanged in more than 30 years of operation.
Though somewhat cliche, some say the club should roll out an alternate black jersey. Another idea floated is having the outline of the state serve as the jersey crest. In addition, a New Jersey version of the defunct AHL Lowell Devils, featuring a devil holding a pitchfork, could be another option. Maybe add some flames and fire to the uniform. Perhaps the organization changes the colors to align with another local major-league team.
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Plus, after a handful of seasons without a playoff appearance, a fresh new design may be warranted with a new era of New Jersey hockey.
The Case Against Change
In my opinion, the current Devils logo and color scheme is classic, sharp, and withstands the test of time. A third jersey could be a nice change but why mess with the primary design? It could be that I’ve been following the Devils since 1993 but I associate the NJ logo with the Devils the same way I associate the NY with the NFL Giants or the interlocking NY with the MLB Yankees. Plus, the logo and color modification came just as the Devils started their run of success from 1993 to 2012, along with three Stanley Cup titles.
Plus, in the past 20 years, the other two hockey locals, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders, have changed their sweaters with varying degrees of success. The Rangers went with a dark blue, Statue of Liberty crest look with some aplomb. Conversely, the Islanders swapped to a Gorton’s Fisherman look, with blue, orange, and teal, which didn’t go over well. Both have tried other color alterations and throwbacks along the way but nothing that drastic since the late 1990’s.
In addition, there’s some risk in going in the opposite direction of the origins of a team which was voted on by its very fans in the state where they play.
Given the NHL’s seven-year uniform deal with Adidas replacing Reebok in 2017-18, you get the feeling that change is coming in one form or another.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.