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A Close Look at the Penguins’ Helmets

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from Scott Lederer, who’s taking a deep dive on the Penguins’ helmets. ”” PL]

By Scott Lederer

I’ve been watching a lot of hockey lately — just about every game. When you watch this much hockey and you like uniforms as much as I do, you start to notice things. And I’ve noticed some things about the Penguins’ helmet decals.

The Penguins have an excellent equipment staff. They do lots of things right and have great attention to detail. They even have a bunch of excellent behind-the-scenes stuff posted regularly on Twitter by their equipment manager, Dana Heinze. So it doesn’t surprise me that there are a couple details about their helmet that caught my attention.

First, I’ve noticed that when the Penguins wear their black and yellow alternate jerseys (as they have then entire playoffs), they change the color of the helmet numbers and logos to a matching yellow and white [click to enlarge]:

Kudos to them for not being lazy and using the Vegas gold decals.

I’m not entirely sure that they’re changing the number font along with the colors, though. The best example I can find of this are guys on the Pens that wear the numeral 4. Look at the different ways that numeral is rendered on Tom Kuhnhackl’s two black jerseys [click to enlarge]:

But when you look at the number decal on the top of Kuhnhackl’s helmet when he’s wearing the alternate jersey, it looks like the colors change but the font does not:

It seems a little weird that they’d go to the trouble to switch out the helmet number decals without getting the font right.

And speaking of the helmet graphics, here’s another detail I’ve been thinking about: The Penguins are one of few teams that use mirror-imaged versions of their logo on opposite sides of their helmet. If you look at other teams with asymmetrical logos, like the Lightning, Stars, Flyers, the logos on the left and right sides of their helmet are oriented in the same direction. But the Penguins have both of their helmet logos “skating forward,” so to speak [click to enlarge]:

I like that! But it raises a question: Are the penguin logos on the helmet facing the wrong direction? If you take a look at the team’s primary logo on their jersey, it’s actually a little strange because the penguin is skating toward the left left. Since we read from left to right, it almost appears that the penguin is skating backwards. But when you look at their helmets, the penguin appears to be skating forward with the stick facing toward the front of the helmet. This feels backwards to me. I think that both logos on the helmet should be facing the other way. What do you think? Do you think I’m crazy?

• • • • •

Click photos to enlarge

What’s wrong with these pictures? Odd scene yesterday afternoon as the visiting Cardinals lined up for the national anthem at Miller Park, making it very obvious that reliever Trevor Rosenthal was still wearing his G.I. Joke jersey from Memorial Day.

According to this item, the details are as follows:

[Former Cardinals outfielder] Jim Edmonds, now a member of the Cardinals’ television crew … texted Rosenthal about his mistake — but Rosenthal was completely unaware that he had been wearing the Memorial Day outfit. None of his teammates told him he was in the wrong, either.

That leaves two possibilities. One, that nobody else noticed Rosenthal was wearing the wrong uniform — after all, they have a lot to do on gameday and might not pay attention to such things. They have specific routines to stick with, after all.

The second and far more amusing scenario would be that they had in fact noticed his outfit gaffe and chose not to say anything at all ”¦ which, of course, would lead to all kinds of jokes, chuckles, and amusing video clips.

Rosenthal presumably changed into a proper jersey after Edmonds texted him, but he didn’t get into yesterday’s game, so we’ll never know for sure.

(My thanks to Donald Stricklin for the rear-view photo.)

• • • • •

LAST CALL ”” Baseball T-shirt 2nd chance reminder: We had some requests for the Uni Watch T-Shirt Club’s baseball-themed design (shown at right; click to enlarge) after I wore the tee in last week’s Friday Flashback video. So we’ve made it available again, but without the T-Shirt Club’s jock tag graphic.

The good news is that the lack of the jock tag means the shirt is now a bit less expensive, plus we’ve been able to add a hoodie option; the bad news is that this version of the shirt will not count toward the T-Shirt Club’s “Collect ’em all” status. And the worst news is that today is the last day to get it. It’s available here up through 11pm Eastern tonight.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: You know the famous photo of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium two months before his death? A copyright dispute over the rights to that photo has been resolved. … Here’s what Auburn will be wearing for the College World Series (thanks, Phil). … One designer’s opinion: MLB should have Asian Heritage Month jerseys. … Awesome Birmingham Barons throwbacks for the Rickwood Classic (from B.J. Millican). … Brewers mascot Bernie Brewer wears his Twitter handle on his jersey (from @SoCalMindset). … Here’s a good look at White Sox INF Brett Lawrie’s fang-styled mouthguard (from @RNs_Funhouse). … Why didn’t things work out between Jose Bautista and the Pirates? In part because the team had a rule about socks (from Jerry Wolper). … A giant ashtray at Camden Yards had an O’s logo drawn in the sand yesterday — with a properly oriented apostrophe! “That makes me think it’s the work of a fan [rather than the team],” says Tyler Kepner. … Julio Urías of the Dodgers is MLB’s latest single-digitized pitcher. … Here’s a new one, at least to me: The New Hampshire Fisher Cats have a jersey design honoring their bat dog (thanks, Phil). … Also from Phil: New superhero-themed jersey, complete with the image of a cape on the back, for the Omaha Storm Chasers.

NFL News: Here’s a great shot of the 1964 Raiders, who had black front/back numbers but silver TV numbers (from Adam Vaggalis). … The 2017 Pro Bowl, in addition to moving to from Honolulu to Orlando, will feature a return to the AFC vs. NFC format. “But that’s Miami in the background, not Orlando,” notes Joel Mathwig.

College Football News: Here’s a look at 115 years’ worth of Arkansas football uniforms (from Matt Snyder). … White road cleats possibly on tap for Notre Dame.

Hockey News: The Panthers will unveil their new uniforms tonight, sometime after 7pm Eastern. I’ll have an in-depth look over on ESPN shortly after the unveiling. … As had long been expected, the uniforms for the World Cup of Hockey will have corporate advertising patches. Does that mean ads are also coming to NHL uniforms? Maybe, but not yet. … A photojournalist’s camera lens fell onto the ice during last night’s Pens/Sharks game (from Tris Wykes). … In that same game, Joe Thornton punched Sidney Crosby’s helmet off of his head.

Basketball News: A Rockets blog jokingly suggested that Donald Trump should take over the team as owner/GM/coach and predicted he would say, “Houston is going to have the best jerseys, the classiest jerseys. I’ll tell you.” … Some naive soul thinks the revenue from uniform ads will solve the problem of NBA teams getting publicly funded sweetheart deals for their arenas. Yeah, right — dream on. … New sweatbacks for Butler (from Derek Cole).

Grab Bag: Here’s more about Neymar’s partnership with Jordan. … What does it cost to make a running shoe? Answers here (from Nolan Reagan). … Interesting asymmetrical rugby uniforms for Virginia Tech (from recent Brooklyn pizza maven Andrew Cosentino). … The Peace Corps has a new logo. Here’s how their look has evolved over the years (from James Marion and @mikeification, respectively). … Did you know there’s an Aussie rules football league here in the States? There is! Here are the new uniforms for the league’s Denver franchise. … This is pretty great: beer cap maps! (From John Vahey.) … The PGA is removing its annual tournament from one of Donald Trump’s golf courses in Miami and moving it to Mexico. … Do sports teams really need captains? Shmaybe. … JetBlue wouldn’t allow a female passenger onto a plane because her shorts were too short. (Rumors that the passenger’s name was John Stockton are almost completely untrue.)

• • • • •

I’ll be spending a good chunk of today at a medical lab, where I have to get some tests. Nothing serious — just an annoying black hole in my schedule. Play nice while I’m away, and I’ll see you tomorrow (or tonight, if you check in at ESPN for my Panthers uni assessment).

Comments (66)

    Since skating backwards is a necessary skill in hockey, having a backwards-skating mascot is not exactly “wrong”.

    Yeah, but a backwards skating stride is akin to making C cuts in the ice with both steels on the ice. There’s not that kind of push off like in a forward stride. So I’m not disputing that skating backwards is a part of the game. I’m just saying that penguin is skating forwards, and it doesn’t matter what way your native language reads.

    “The 2017 Pro Bowl, …… moving to Orlando.”

    You forgot to say “Camping World Stadium” in Orlando.

    speaking of Orlando stadium name changes.. with Charter buying Brighthouse Cable, they are changing their name to Spectrum.. so UCF’s stadium name will most likely reflect that name change in a season or two

    Whether an insignia that lacks text looks wrong reflected has everything to do with how old and accustomed we are to its appearance. Nothing governs which direction the Red Wings’, Penguins’, or Blackhawks’ crest should face but their familiarity to our eyes. Less hoary logos like the Sharks or Lightning could stand the mirroring.

    I’ve been troubled by the St. Louis Blues’ “flying note” since musical notes are rotated 180 degrees, not mirrored, even though the wing would be upside-down. Couldn’t one argue a backwards note is just a “b” for Blues?

    Beer cap maps…..

    Cool! Sorta like the old Gatorade board, but for drunks, er… adults!


    I’m not a hockey, but the logos on the helmets–being so tiny–are pretty superfluous in my mind. Perhaps just some type of graphic color divide/blocking could be better???

    I’m with you on this. Helmet logos, and even pant logos, to me, are just clutter. Numbers ont he helmet, fine, but they really don’t need to have the same decoration that the jersey numerals have. A simple single color numeral would be optimum for visibility.

    Almost as important as the camopander screwup…

    When did the Cards embark on link campaign? (h/t Jay Jaffe)

    But I’ve always thought it was pretty abstract, thanks to Wayne Stephenson’s goalie mask.

    The Atlanta Falcons’ logo is reversed on one side of their helmet. My view is that if it indeed a stylized ‘F’, then it should not be reversed.

    On day one, they probably had right-facing decals only, and found themselves answering an inordinate number of “why is the bird flying backwards?” questions.

    Mind you, “F” is an odd duck. In print, it appears to face right; in longhand (cursive), it looks to face left. What reads as a horizontal top stroke in longhand is really a flourish that stretches to the left.

    Well, I’m disappointed. I thought the “beer cap maps” was going to be along the lines of the caps arranged in a manner that would actually form a map… but no, it’s just a bunch of cap-holders that happen to be shaped like states or countries.

    How timely. I just picked up a beer cap map last week – it looks great. It’s always cool when two interests of mine (craft beer and geography) happen to collide.

    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that it is being sold by a website called “”

    that Raider photo…. i’ve always thought their black numbers looked a little fat during that time period, and after getting to see that close up, i think i know why…. it appears that they are layered numbers… fat black, and then regular size silver sewed on top. that’s how it looks on the sleeve…. i think someone, al davis probably, said, “hey, the silver is kinda hard to read”, and rather than order all new numbers, they just left the silver layer off. just a theory of course, but the fatter numbers make a lot more sense to me thinking about it that way. we do numbers on baseball and softball jerseys where i work, and you can order layered numbers…. the base layer color always looks fatter just like these Raiders numbers do. thanks for the photo… great close up shot to investigate :)

    I think so too. At least in the photo shown. Maybe it was pre-season game and the jerseys weren’t complete yet or something.

    I really want to say that the league forced them to go to black numbers, not Al. Note that they tried wearing silver numbers again when they joined the NFL in 1970, only to have that last just one year as well.

    But, you’re definitely right about the thick numbers.

    Proofreading: “The Panthers will unveil their new uniforms tonight, sometimes after 7pm Eastern.”

    I hope the “annoying black hole” has worthwhile results, Paul.

    So poor Jose Bautista had to “deal with adversity” over wearing socks per team rule. Your modern day pro athlete in a nutshell.

    Hockey fans on reddit seem pretty upset about the world cup jersey ads. I’m glad they recognize that making negative noise is the best way to keep them off NHL sweaters: link

    Sorry to veer from today’s topics, but returning to yesterday’s discussion of the silly “EPL” abbreviation:

    – There are not, as far as I know, several other countries with leagues called the “Premier League.” There used to be something called the “Scottish Premier League,” which you’ll notice has the word “Scottish” at the beginning. It wasn’t just called the “Premier League,” as England’s league is.

    – Even if there are other leagues with the same name, it would be weird to include a random adjective that’s not part of the league name in the abbreviation. That would be like, if some other country started a “National Football League,” to start calling the NFL the “ANFL.”

    – I have never lived in the UK, nor have I spent much time there, but I have seen no evidence of the B in “BPL” standing for anything other than “Barclay’s” (so not for “British”). The only groups I’ve ever seen use it are the league itself and its official partners (such as broadcasters).

    – It seems pretty clear that the name of the PL was so often recited with the descriptor “English” that Americans just thought it was part of the name of the league and started including it in the abbreviation. It didn’t hurt that Americans are used to three-letter league abbreviations. This doesn’t bother me too much with fans, but there’s no excuse for news organizations to use this abbreviation and put it in their stylebooks.

    There’s also the Indian Premier League (cricket). I’ve never seen the abbreviation BPL, but EPL is fairly common for me, it’s used in Mexico to establish where the league is from. In that regar you will always hear them say Liga Premier Inglesa, La Liga Española, Serie A Italiana and Bundesliga Alemana.
    I believe it is to let the casual fan what country is the league from. If he happens to just hear that there is a serie a match, he may not have the knowledge that Serie A is from Italy and not Spain (it’s written the same in both languages).

    Again, “Indian” is part of the league’s name. No problem with the term “English Premier League,” only the initial of the descriptor at the beginning being included in the abbreviation and therefore misidentifying the name of the organization.

    Of course, many folks, including broadcasters and pundits, still refer to it as the Premiership.

    Kind of funny that they’re coming out with bottle cap maps when so many craft brewers are going to cans instead of bottles.

    I’m a Flyers fan, so I admit, I tend to intensely dislike anything Penguins-related. I will say, though, that the Pen’s black and yellow alternates look so much better than the regular Vegas gold. The one thing I really don’t like about the alternates, however, is that they have that annoying fat number font on the sleeves, but the narrow number font on the back. To, me, I’d prefer they be the same, but I’m probably just nitpicking. It’s much the same way a lot of people love or hate the nameplates on the Flyers’ unis. (Admittedly, I love ’em, but I am biased, in this case.) It’s all personal preference!

    Most teams use shorter, wider numerals for the sleeves of their jerseys. The Penguins are far from the only team to do so. It helps with readability.

    They are also an exact replica of what was worn on the actual jerseys a quarter century ago, so it’s definitely not a new phenomenon. Many NFL teams do this as well.

    The beer cap map thing is not exactly new: link

    I got one of these as a birthday present for my son, and he was delighted.

    the designer who wrote that article about his proposed Asian heritage jerseys is the same one who misled everyone into thinking those same concepts were actual jerseys. He also misled people into thinking his concepts for the All Star Game caps last year were real, too.

    Yes, he’s an accomplished hoaxer.

    That doesn’t mean he’s a bad designer, or that his ideas about Asian jerseys are wrong. Also not saying he’s right. Simply saying his hoaxing past is not particularly relevant here (at least not to me — and I say that as someone who was duped by the ASG hoax).

    Re the idea of Asian Heritage jerseys for MLB, the ironic thing is that major Asian leagues (at least the NPB in Japan and KBO in Korea) use the Latin/English alphabet on their jerseys.

    For example, the Chunichi Dragons have historically spelled out “Dragons” on the front of their uniforms.

    They even have an 80th Anniversary logo, which is all in English: link

    FWIW, the author acknowledges that in the article.

    I think some of his mock-ups looked kinda cool. If there was an Asian Heritage t-shirt for the Nats, I’d consider getting one. Probably would never get around to actually buying it, but I’d think about it for a few minutes.

    In other words, when it comes to baseball, other cultures defer to American culture. It’s why we’re disappointed when Spanish-speaking fans use the English names of teams.

    Just to clarify the reference to Auburn’s College World Series uniforms–those are WCWS–Women’s [softball] College World Series– uniforms. CWS slate is not yet decided, and Auburn isn’t in the post-season for baseball.

    The white chin strap and ear loops on the helmets the Penguins wear with their alts is a nice ‘retro’ attention to detail that harks back to when they were first worn. It suggests it’s a third helmet for each player, though, rather than swapping in our out decals. It’s a lot easier to have a separate helmet than to swap out two logo decals, two sets of numeric decals, two ear loops and a chin strap for each player, and shouldn’t be too big a stretch on an NHL budget.

    I would pretty much guarantee it is a separate helmet. You would not switch ear loops and chin straps on hockey helmets.

    Paul: you may be crazy, but not about the hockey helmet logo thingy. I’ve always thought about that issue, particularly with, for example, the Blues’ helmet decal on the right side. In their case, the “note” is facing the correct direction, as is the motion portion of the logo, but it’s always looked strange to me as it makes the logo move/skate backwards. I their case, if they used a mirror image, the note would no longer look like a note, so I get why they don’t do it, but it still strikes me strange every time I see it.

    In the case of the Penguins it makes more sense to use a mirror image as it’s a penguin skating in whatever direction they want. On the other hand, hockey players often skate backwards, so for a mascot logo perhaps it makes sense.

    Yes, I am way overthinking this issue.

    Good Day …

    Please be so kind as to explain why you referred to the Cardinals Memorial Day tops as ‘ GI JOKE ‘ …

    We look forward to a response at your earliest convenience …

    Thank You very much …



    R E M E M B R A N C E


    Hmmmm, Clay doesn’t seem to be willing to say who “we” are.

    But whatever:

    Clay, I’ve long been opposed to the use of camouflage in sports uniforms, for reasons I’ve spelled out many, many times over the years.

    At some point — maybe in 2010 or 2011..? — I began referring to such uniforms as “G.I. Joe,” because the teams and leagues were essentially having their athletes play dress-up soldier.

    At some further point — I believe early last year — some of the camouflage designs became so absurd that I decided to change “G.I. Joe” to “G.I. Joke.” Think of it as a shorthand term to express mockery, outrage, and despair regarding the bad design and bad civics that these uniforms typically convey.

    If you are in the military, my gripe is with the teams and leagues, not with you. I respect what you do. But I also know that not all soldiers are heroes, and not all heroes are soldiers.

    Probably because the act of creating new merchandise to sell under the disguise of supporting a group or cause or observing a holiday instead of supporting or observing said entity in an appropriate manner is, well, a joke.

    I’ll catch ya later, though. I gotta get back to picking out my 4th of July gear so I can properly Support the Troopsâ„¢ this summer.

    First rule of being a Marine, always talk about being a Marine. The most self-righteous of all the branches

    As a former equipment manager…I am pretty sure the Penguins do not change the logos/stickers from vegas gold to Pittsburgh gold, Bet they have 2 black helmets. They switching and replacing of logos/stickers of a pain in the ass.

    While I actually kind of found the “Asian Heritage Month” jerseys kind of cool, I wonder if:

    – Players of Koren or Chinese heritage, (for example) would be off-put by wearing a jersey with Japanese characters, and vice versa?

    – MLB and other sports have opened a can of worms with “Hispanic Heritage” jerseys along with all the other groups, causes, and months being recognized and soon will feel the pressure to continue adding special uniforms (the old “if I make an exception for you, I have to make one for everybody” thing…)

    Hey Paul – interesting that one of the ticker items is the famous Ruth photo. Why are some of the players standing on the base path wearing road Yankee uniforms? And one appears to have a Cleveland home uniform? I’m sure they are players from Ruth’s past, but why road uniforms?


    This article does make reference to “…there was a crowd of Indians and 1923 Yankees…”, and there is definitely years on the faces of the men by the photographers.

    My only thought it with the extra players in uniform, they had to dig into their road grays to be able to get them all into uniforms. Extra tops just weren’t around back in ’48.

    There was an exhibition game that day between members of the 1923 Yankees and NYY vets from other years. I would assume the non-23 players wore the road uniforms.

    Vancouver Canucks wear mirrored versions of the skating Johnny Canuck logo on the opposite sides of their helmets when they wear their 3rd uniforms with the stick-in-rink crest.

    “Did you know there’s an Aussie rules football league here in the States?”

    Faithful UW readers did. ;)


    Regarding the {Penguins alternates. Is it really an alternate uni if they are wearing it every game??

    Personally I’ve long decried the use of alternate jerseys as a just a marketing exercise to dupe fans out of their hard earned cash!

    Maybe it’s partly because my ‘local’ team the Senators have always had one of the worst logos and uniforms in the league.
    Ironically the only good look they have is in their alternate ‘heritage’ uni. Should be their primary & only one.

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