— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 18, 2023
Paul here, making a rare weekend appearance, because something very strange is going on in the NHL … and in the NBA!
Here’s the deal: As seen in the tweet embedded above, several Utah Jazz players arrived for last night’s home game against the Phoenix Suns wearing hockey jerseys. And not just any hockey jerseys — they appear to be the much-anticipated Winter Classic jerseys that the Seattle Kraken will be wearing on New Year’s Day when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights. That design hasn’t yet been officially unveiled, but that’s what the Jazz players appear to be wearing. The Jazz’s social media people even wrote, “What’s Kraken?”
Here’s a better look at the Jazz players wearing the Kraken jerseys:
The jersey design is similar to a Winter Classic retail cap mock-up that leaked earlier this year, which in turn was clearly based on the old Seattle Metropolitans’ uniforms:
This development raises all sorts of questions, the most obvious of which is this: Why would the NHL use an NBA team to soft-launch a jersey for one of its highest-profile events? Moreover, why use Utah? As this Seattle Times piece notes, there are “no obvious ties” between the Jazz and the Kraken, and the Jazz aren’t even the closest NBA team to Seattle (that would be the Trail Blazers). Very strange!
Seattle radio producer Mike Lefko thinks it was a case of the Jazz players going rogue, not a planned move by the NHL:
Here’s the only thing I can think of: Kraken gave Winter Classic gear to the Jazz when they were here for the Rain City Classic, and they definitely weren’t supposed to wear them yet because no one reveals anything of importance on a Friday night.
— Mike Lefko (@MikeLefko) November 18, 2023
I imagine we’ll hear more soon about the full backstory.
As for the jersey design: I love it, although I’ll reserve further judgment until we can see the full uniform.
Meanwhile, what about the Golden Knights, who will be facing the Kraken in the Winter Classic? As far as I know, no NBA players (or any other people) have been spotted wearing the Vegas design, which will presumably be related to this retail cap mock-up that leaked a few months back: