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A Uni Watch Look at the 2023 NHL Winter Classic

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The uni-related fun for this year’s NHL Winter Classic started well before gametime yesterday, as the Bruins arrived at Fenway Park wearing Red Sox throwback uniforms, complete with stirrups! Here’s some video of them arriving on their team bus:

The players even had children’s gloves, to mimic the smaller gloves of yesteryear:

Update: Several readers have pointed out that they were using these gloves, not children’s gloves. Good spot, people!

You can see a few dozen additional photos here.

So what year were these uniforms supposed to be from? In a a pregame interview, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said they were based on the Red Sox’s 1935 uniforms, but that doesn’t quite make sense, because the Sox wore “Red Sox” on their home jerseys that year, with “Boston” appearing on the road greys. The cream fabric, “Boston” wordmark, and long sleeves look more like what the Sox wore in 1911 (although yesterday’s caps didn’t match that year). But I don’t mean to nitpick here — it was a really fun idea and a generally solid execution. Kudos to all involved!

And did the Penguins play along? Eh, sort of:

I don’t even know where to start with this. They had the players dress up in the Buccos’ current military tribute jerseys with non-matching socks. Goalie Casey DeSmith even wore G.I. Joke catcher’s gear:

I’m not sure what the Penguins thought they were doing there, but it definitely didn’t fit the Winter Classic’s old-timey vibe. I give an A to the Bruins and an F to the Pens.

As for the game itself, it looked pretty damn good. It wasn’t perfect (the Penguins’ yellow helmets seemed a bit too prominent, while their yellow numbers seemed not quite prominent enough), but overall it was very nice:

Here are a few additional notes:

  • One thing that really jumped out at me during the game was that both teams’ shoulder yokes seemed a bit narrow, especially Pittsburgh’s:
  • We’ve already known for a while that the “P” on the Penguins’ jersey was inspired by the 1925 Pittsburgh Pirates (an early NHL team, not the baseball team). But I don’t think we knew until yesterday that the Pens’ helmets and pants would feature a “Penguins” script based on the old “Pirates” script — a nice touch:
  • The good news is that although the Penguins and Bruins are both wearing jersey ads and helmet ads this season, all of that advertising was thankfully absent yesterday. The bad news is that the animated board ads were in full operation and were as annoying as ever.
  • It looks like Bruins left wing Brad Marchand may have used old gloves and painted them brown, instead of going with the new retro-brown gloves that his teammates were wearing:

  • Penguins backup Goalie Casey DeSmith, who got into the game after starting goalie Tristan Jarry left with an injury, had a Pirates-themed mask featuring depictions of two all-time Pittsburgh greats:

  • Similarly, Bruins backup goalie Jeremy Swayman had a Bosox-themed mask, featuring illustrations of David Ortiz, Ted Williams and Curt Schilling (additional info here):
  • Meanwhile, the Bruins’ starting goalie, Linus Ullmark, had his stick manufacturer, Bauer, give his composite goalie stick a faux wood-grain treatment:

  • As has been the case in previous Winter Classics, coaches wore varsity/baseball-style jackets:
  • Penguins radio broadcaster Josh Getzoff wore a retro/throwback outfit in honor of former Pirates/Pens broadcaster Bob Prince:
  • As is so often the case with throwback/retro games, the officials were the weak visual link. If you really want to help make the game a special occasion, give the zebras some retro threads instead of just having them wear their normal attire!
  • After the game, the Bruins announced a new promotional initiative, including a commemorative logo, to celebrate the team’s centennial next season (additional info here):

And there you have it. I have to say, though, the one thing that really bugged me about this Winter Classic is that it took place on Jan. 2 instead of the usual New Year’s Day. I get that the Classic would’ve been overshadowed by the full slate of NFL games because Jan. 1 fell on a Sunday this year, but so what? You’ve got your ritual, your tradition — stick to it! Deferring to the NFL is like declaring yourself to be a second-class citizen, and having the game on Jan. 2 just didn’t feel quite as special.

Start ’Em Young

Mike Nachreiner is the latest Uni Watch reader to make a set of uni-themed blocks for his newborn child. Look at that smile on his daughter’s face — what a cutie! Good work on all fronts, Mike.

• • • • •
Sorry, no Ticker again today, because the Uni Watch crew had yesterday off. The Ticker will return tomorrow.

Meanwhile, please join me in wishing the happiest of birthdays to Uni Watch’s own weekend wizard, the sultan of Saturdays and Sundays, and the best bench coach ever, Mr. Phil Hecken, who’s celebrating another trip around the sun today. Enjoy your special day, buddy — you’re the best!

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Comments (45)

    Proofreading:

    “Meanwhile, the Bruins’ starting goalie, Linus Ullmark, had his stick manufacturer, Bauer, give his composite goalie stick a faux wood-green treatment:”

    I believe that should be e wood-grain.

    Happy New Year! Love the in-depth coverage of the Winter Classic, Paul! That event has become appointment viewing for uni-watchers.

    Great job on the blocks, Mike! They look amazing!

    And happy birthday, Phil! Thanks for all you contribute to our comm-uni-ty!

    Happy birthday Phil!!!

    Great looking blocks Mike! Seeing others do the logo blocks will always bring a smile to my face!

    I thought the Penguins sweaters didn’t contrast enough with the Bruins unis. I spent most of the game thinking how great the Penguins would have looked if they wore a blue uniform instead.

    What a good-looking post. Wow, do those Red Sox unis look sharp! The stirrups and the old black cleats are a fantastic combo.

    I don’t think they were wearing kid gloves though. Looking through the pictures from the Facebook link, it looks like they’re wearing “Shoeless Joe” brand gloves.

    Here’s the link: link

    Happy Birthday Phil!!!

    I hope the Bruins wear a brown uniform as an alternate during the centennial season. A nod to their first uniform.

    Next year’s Winter Classic was announced for Seattle. Would imagine we will see a Metropolitans-inspired uniform for the Kraken.

    Kinda hope that Boston does kinda what Montreal did, with having multiple different throwbacks throughout the season

    Side note from yesterday: How cool did Utah’s Rose Bowl helmets look with the rose going through the logo. That was a very cool touch…

    Happy Birthday, Phil!
    Those faux Red Sox unis were spectacular! You might have to go back to the early 1900s to see the real Sox looking that good.
    I wasn’t crazy about the Bruins unis but those jackets were sure nice. I’m almost due for a new one. Hmmm…
    Great job on the blocks, Mike!

    In response to your point at the end: the NHL has always played the game on 1/2 when NYD fell on a Sunday.

    2017 between Chicago and St. Louis and 2012 between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers were both played on 1/2.

    It may make it less special, sure, but it doesn’t necessarily detract from the tradition.

    Happy Birthday, Phil.

    I have no idea what fauxbacks Vegas is planning, but we should get some sweet, sweet, Seattle Metropolitans action (at least, let’s hope we do) next year.

    The Golden Knights already paid tribute to the IHL Las Vegas Thunder with their 2021 RR design,…I suspect that is off the table.
    While they may come up with something faux-riginal, I would not mind if they mimicked the (Cleveland Baron-y?) uniforms of an old independent team that called Las Vegas home, assuming this is what those looked like:
    link

    With regard to the officials’ uniforms, from what I can tell, they’ve worn their standard unis in every Winter Classic as well as every Heritage Classic except the original one in 2003, where they wore c.1940s throwback sweaters. They’d previously used the throwback sweaters during the 1991-92 season in games involving Original Six teams wearing their throwbacks. As far as I can tell, the vintage sweaters were last used in the 2004 All-Star Game in St. Paul.

    It is a bit disappointing that they haven’t gone throwback in these outdoor games. It really feels like a missed opportunity.

    I feel that the baseball uniforms worn by the Bruins were generic “Boston” and not Red Sox throwbacks. They don’t match anything worn at home, but kudos to the Bs for wearing the stirrups well.

    That cartoony “B” logo worn yesterday is goofy looking enough for one day. Now we have to put up with it for the 100th anniversary as well. The Bruins WC unis would have benefitted from a bit more white trim. The white numbers looked jarring on the all black and yellow scheme.

    Happy Birthday, Phil!

    Love those logo blocks…but I am racking my brain trying to figure out what team uses that E that under the Iron Pigs and is sandwiched between the Twins and Flying Squirrels.

    Not that E. The burgundy(?)/gold one to the right of the Twins logo. Been searching for that for 20 minutes so far with no luck. I want to say “Eagles” (E plus the “talon”-esque marks to the left) but no luck.

    Awesome, thank you! Searched another 10 minutes or so (even googling a combination of “eagles” “burgundy” “gold” “maroon” “logo” “E” etc. Nada.

    The Penguins’ “P” looked good, but how cool would it have been to have it in script like the helmet lettering? Would have looked better IMO.

    Happy Birthday, Phil!

    Happy belated Anniversary of your UW New Year’s resolution, Paul!

    Since about the only hockey I watch is the Winter Classic, I forgot that NHL teams usually wear ads. So glad they weren’t worn yesterday. Loved loved loved that Penguins helmet.

    Thanks for the thorough coverage of the Winter Classic. It’s too bad these two teams have similar colorways. It would have been great to see the Bruins in a brown and yellow getup. The players wearing the Boston baseball uniforms… chef’s kiss perfect! Those looked better than anything the Red Sox have worn in a long time. The helmet the backup goalie had Curt Schilling on it? Not exactly one of the all-time Red Sox greats but maybe he’s friends with Curt?

    Hi, Penn State and Utah both wote Rose Bowl patches yesterday, but they didn’t have sponsor branding. Which was awesome, but unusual. Anybody know why?

    So much wrong with the Penguins’ attempt at paying tribute to the baseball Pirates. When I saw the post on their Facebook page, I just rolled my eyes and kept my mouth shut! The post said something about paying tribute to the 1925 Pirates (I assume they were talking about the 1925 baseball Pirates in that context), but in 1925 the baseball Pirates didn’t wear black and gold, much less the GI Joke uniforms. Sigh.

    Paul, I agree with everything in your assessment of the WC….especially what a hairball the Pens coughed up with those baseball unis. No hats, even! Really wretched. What’s worse is that the 1925 Pirates Baseball team, which they could’ve copied, won the World Series that year! In fact, that happened only about one month before the Pirates Hockey Team beat the Bruins in their first game. Talk about a missed full circle opportunity.

    With all the valid points in the comments above about the attire and the details of this Winter Classic I still think as a one off game it beats any All Star Game or Pro Bowl in logos, uniforms and special equipment. Sure, the NHL and the teams make mistakes in dressing up this game but it always looks special in a good way. Looking forward to the Knights and the Kraken, two newish teams trying to go retro. Should be fun to watch.

    The only thing I can think of why the Pens went with those particular Pirates camo jerseys, is that the baseball Pirates do “Military Mondays.” Which if that is the thinking behind that, means that was totally overthought and asinine.

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