With new Adidas jerseys, Flames have a chance to get their uniforms right again

New year, new look.

That was partially the case to start this season. The Calgary Flames ditched their old third jerseys – the ones with the wordmark awkwardly punctuated by their own logo (who uses a “C” as a period?) – in favour of returning to the jerseys that everybody loves: the retros.

Look at that uniform! Look. It’s beautiful. It’s by far the best jersey the Flames have to offer.

Now imagine it – and a matching away set – being what the Flames wear full time. For the entire season. It’s certainly possible. As the NHL looks to switch over to Adidas jerseys, Adidas looks to nix alternate uniforms for the entire NHL. And that means teams had better get this right, or else we’ll be seeing 82 games of ugly.

The Flames have the chance to get this right. They made a step in the right direction by bringing back the retros this season. Just one more step, guys.

Now, this doesn’t mean no alternates ever again. After all, as is pointed out in the linked piece, Adidas will be making 62 new sets of jerseys: two for each of the NHL’s 31 teams. That’s going to take a lot of effort. There may be alternates again in the not-too-distant future, but for now, there’s only so much rebranding anyone can do at this point in time.

This shouldn’t be too difficult a switch for the Flames, though. They already have a beloved uniform set, and they’ve had them since, oh, the beginning of their existence or so. The Reebok jerseys have been fine – not incredible or anything, but not hideous – but they’re a bit too busy.

What’s the deal with the piping, anyway? Completely unnecessary. Why do they need black? If you consider white and black as colours – which they aren’t, technically – then that’s four different colours the Flames have in their uniforms. 

It’s wholly unnecessary; three is just fine. Look back up at the above retro: it pops in part because of how simple it is. It takes two bright, bold colours – colours associated with fire, even! – throws in a bit of white to calm things down just enough, and bam. That’s all you need. It’s a clean look, unmarred by unnecessary elements that just serve to complicate things without any real benefit to them.

NHL Uniforms provides a great look back on all that the Flames have ever worn.

Black started creeping into the Flames’ uniforms in 1995, when they debuted their pedestal uniforms. (Note to Adidas and the Flames: the retros make it very easy to incorporate the whole three stripes thing. Do not use a pedestal.) It was used as a light accent – nowhere near as prominent as the Flames’ traditional colours, hockey pants aside – and started to complicate things. 

The jerseys still popped on the basis that they’re a bright red, but they stopped to stand quite as well on their own merits. There’s way too much going on there, and for no reason.

The Flames really started to embrace black in 1998, with the creation of their first ever alternates: a black set featuring a horse we like to call Ol’ Blasty. These jerseys actually have a little more pop to them, and I’ll hazard a guess as to why: three colours, with very mild amounts of white as a border. They aren’t complicated. They’re very clearly blocked with fringes of yellow to add just a little bit more – just a little – and that’s it. Note how it’s once again the logo’s main colour being used as an accent on the rest of the set, too.

It’s not the traditional Flames logo, and it’s not necessarily desirable to have black uniforms when your team is literally named after fire, but they have their own distinct look and it’s nice to see every now and then. You know – like a good alternate jersey should be.

Then, from 2000-03, they became the Flames’ home jerseys, and… nah.

In 2003 the Flames switched back to regular red home jerseys, but for the first time with very pronounced black elements. The black is, at least, clearly defined: pants. The base of the jersey and its sleeves. Thick striping on the socks. And, for the first time, the logo. The jerseys are a bit busier, but the blocking is solid and there aren’t any unnecessary elements wandering about in the form of, say, piping. It still finds a way to work.

Which brings us back to today’s efforts, and the ones we will soon be bidding farewell to: just an inane, unnecessary amount of detail when the Flames have a very simple three-tone option to tweak to Adidas’ specifications, and then just go with that.

So please, Flames, I implore of you: you only get home and away jerseys next season? The retro jerseys are objectively better than everything else you’ve ever done. The Flames don’t need black. Please give us 82 games without it.

  • Baalzamon

    So please, Flames, I implore of you: you only get home and away jerseys next season? The retro jerseys are objectively better than everything else you’ve ever done. The Flames don’t need black. Please give us 82 games without it.

    Yup. I mean I never minded the black personally (I really liked the 2003/04 jerseys) but at the end of the day… the retro is better. Always was.

    And I never liked the current jerseys. Hated them instantly in fact.

  • Soupy19

    I’m sure some members of the Flames organization reads this website for feedback. So I might as well throw my 2 cents in. I actually do like the black C. I’m not a fan of the retro jerseys. The piping on the current jersey should be toned down a bit or eliminated altogether. But I just really like the black and red colour scheme. But that’s just me.

  • Newbietwo

    I like the new Calgary jersey just remove the word Calgary and put the C on it and you are good to go.. then for the away you take the retro jersey and make it white but keep the red pants

  • X Man

    Seriously? No, just no… The retro jerseys are great and all, as retro jerseys… They conjure up fond memories of watching flames games with my Dad after episodes of Knight Rider… And they are just as cool today as David Hasselhoff and ’83 Pontiac Trans Am’s are…

    Whenever they wear them I think Backlund is Collin Patterson and F. Hamilton is Joe Nieuwendyk… When Giordano joins the rush I think that Dana Murzyn has suddenly learned how to skate…

    Tweak the current jerseys, or come up with something new..

  • PrairieStew

    As a Flame fan from the beginning I can honestly say I’ve never liked any of them. Not sure what people see in the retro – other than picturing Lanny in it. It’s so red and yellow that it is almost clown like. The black improves it slightly IMO.

    I remember when it was announced the Atlanta Flames were moving to Calgary . At the time the WHL team was the Wranglers. I thought the NHL team would buy that name from the WHL partners, or use Cowboys like the WHA team or even Stampeders – there was a senior team of that name. But no, they kept the team name from Atlanta because there was fear of sounding too hick to Americans/Toronto with anything ranch related. Meanwhile we watched later as the league let a team be named after a kids movie, and others be named for weather events. So instead of something distinct and cool about Calgary (cripes — even Chinooks would be better) 35 years later – still named after a fire in Atlanta.

    I will always be a Calgary Flames fan. I will also, till my dying day hate the name and (probably) the jersey.

    Get off my lawn !

    • Baalzamon

      There’s nothing cool about the name Cowboys. This city panders to stereotypes more than enough already, no need to do it at EVERY opportunity.

      When it comes to franchise trademarks, “Relevence” is overrated IMO.

      • PrairieStew

        Cowboys seems to work well for Dallas. Most valuable franchise in North America – due in large part to their nationwide popularity.

        Sorry for you that you Calgary history is so embarrassing to you that you are willing to accept historical reference from another city to avoid facing the shame of being “cowboy”. Or would you prefer cowperson ?

      • PrairieStew

        No, I would not.

        Someone once told me that in Castor Alberta the school team name is the 8’s. As in the Castor 8’s.

        I’ve never confirmed this however.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      Flames never made one iota of sense for Calgary. Even the connection between flames and oil extraction was loose because there has never been much oil in southern AB.

      I too thought they could have done worse by acquiring the name and logo from the Wranglers. The Cowboys would never have worked as that team was a flaming flop. However, the Stampeders would have been sweet.

      At the time I was pushing the Grizzlies with the Mountaineers as my second choice.

  • Armchair genius

    Remember that old saying, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

    That big ol’C will always be an eye sore, Lmao!

    PS, never forget that Arminanus is a douxxe!

  • Big Jacks Meat

    Go Back to Atlanta.

    or Cowgary Cowboys. Perfect. Or Calgary Johnnies !
    yeah , that’s better.

    Mind you I did like the Cowboys..and the Hat.
    Guess that’s Cowgirls now though ? Right ?

    See you in a few Saturdays. x 2

  • oddclod

    Great article. I’m a schooled branding expert and graphic designer professional marketing consultant (snipecreative.com). You’re on point with all the excessive and ugly piping on the “modern” jersey.

    It’s such an old school Calgary thing, over designing. Steve Jobs once said the art of design is not what you add but what you take away. The busier you are, the more you take away from the brand.

    Knowing management literally thinks we’re a Cowtown and has the worst advisors, they may never get a new jersey correct. So they may as well go vintage before looking ghastly out of touch AGAIN.

    But if they were to read this (why would he?) I would advise looking into monochrome design as a starting point as opposed to the wayward composition methods used in the past.

    When you have a fat stripe, you don’t need to outline it with another colour or contrast. Red and orange are of the same colour spectrum for monochrome, and contrast enough to not wash out. Drop the white outlines. For the logo, simple orange on red. white logo with an orange shadow profile on if you absolutely must emboss it for tradition.

    Tampa got it right, the leafs got it right (aside from the big white stripe across the waste line). San Jose is very close, notice no stripe across the belly on the teal jerseys? Makes the brand / logo have a cleaner canvass.

    2017 canada juniors really did a great job with their DARK jerseys. See how the uniform is red and black NO PIN STRIPING?

    It looks TRUE modern and helps emboss the logo / brand better. If Calgary insisted on black and red, use the orange as the shadow profile with a white flaming C only.

    Ahh Calgary. So close yet so far.

    • Lucky 13

      What he said!
      For me, simpler is better, takes the eye where it needs to be.
      Stripes on sides but never across, makes everyone fatter looking..

      I don’t know about anyone else but some of the Heritage games uniforms looked horrendous with that barber pole crap going on. It appeared as if players were wearing pyjamas and I went as crossed eyed as Bubbles on trailer park trying to watch the game.

      3 colours max, simple and great big C… not the band … the letter

    • This is where I wish i had photoshop skill cuz I’d love to do a mach up of basically what Oddclod said.
      Adidas does have a really good chance to adjust a few things and make the Flames uniforms great

      I’d love to see a somewhat return of the pedestal jersey for our away but imagine it like this

      Solid White – 3 even width (adidas like) BLACK stripes coming up from the bottom right corner of the jersey (if you’re wearing it) The Flaming C in the middle in All RED outlined with Black. Eliminate the 3 tones get rid of the separate shoulder colour. Keep it all white with either the Black or Red Coloured 3 Adidas strippes across and down the shoulders

      For The Home – i’d keep the retro colours (Solid red) with yellow accents but just play wtih how you do the adidas striping on the cuffs and instead of loops at the bottom just 3 simple Smallish Yellow Adidas Stripes even width coming up the bottom on the midline at the front and the back of the Jersey the middle of the jersey.

  • Eggs Bennett

    At least we don’t have the Philly away jerseys that have white letters surrounded by a random black box in the back. LOL what idiot thought of that?

  • JumpJet

    I like the retro colours, but I am not in favour of recycling the retro jerseys. Something as simple as different stripes to give us something new. I think the Islanders jersey with Flames colours and a white C would look great.

  • Locker Room Talk

    After thinking about it for a while I’m of the opinion that we need a full on redesign. I enjoy the retros, but I think I might hate them after a full season. They should definitely stay an alternate (when teams get 3rd jerseys again) but permanently? I dunno about that.

    If the biggest issue with the current jersey is the piping then maybe inspiration can be taken from last year’s alternates. If you take away the black shoulders (or leave the shoulders and take away the waist stripe) and messy logo you have a pretty clean sweater. Could also be boring as heck, I don’t know. I was a history major, not a design major.

  • The GREAT WW

    This discussion reminds me of my playing days when we thought it was time to change the look of our jerseys; some old timers responded by saying: “why don’t you win a few championships before Being concerned with that…….”


  • JKG

    I’ve been saying this for years now and it never goes over well but I really think a touch of BLUE needs to be added to the color scheme.
    Think Bam Bam Bigelow’s wrestling unitard.

    Also, “ghost flames” would be cool too, there are so many cool things to do with the concept of flames and fire. Our Design game is pretty lame when you think about it.

  • Backburner

    I don’t mind a hint of black around the logo or the numbers, just to make them pop a bit.

    I just hope the 3 stripes aren’t awkward, and that they don’t overload the jersey’s with advertising.

  • TheGirlOutWest

    It’s fairly simple.
    “C” of red.
    Mostly red, no black, and minimal accent colours.
    Look at our sea of red when the camera pans, so awesome!

    Too bad we all need those Adidas stripes, isn’t that advertising enough?

  • Fizzwidget

    I think the black as a base with the ol’blasty jersey makes them look big and bold which can be intimidating. The black in my eyes represents the coals at the base of every flame. I would also like to see the jersey I bought for them to only use for 1 season (the one that says Calgary)