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:
Batters up. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/51aWZ8kMku
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 2, 2023
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) January 2, 2023
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:
— Daniel (@Dan_Eisterhold) January 2, 2023
- 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:
The NHL #WinterClassic is at Fenway today. Penguins backup Goalie Casey DeSmith has a goalie mask today featuring Roberto Clemente & Ralph Kiner. #LetsGoPens #NHLBruins #LetsGoBucs #LGM #Retire21 #KinersCorner
— Noah (@nrkastroll) January 2, 2023
- 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:
Exclusive look at Linus Ullmark’s special Winter Classic @BauerHockey stick. To match the vintage aesthetic of the game, Bauer customized his composite sticks to have a wooden appearance (achieved through digital printing technology). Zoom in to appreciate all the detail. pic.twitter.com/6l65p5Ybj3
— Goalie Gear Nerd (@GoalieGearNerd) January 2, 2023
- 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):
A celebration a century in the making.
The #NHLBruins have unveiled the commemorative logo and announced key initiatives for the team’s 2023-24 centennial season.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 2, 2023
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.