Burgundy Review EXCLUSIVE: Stadium Series 2020 Debut

Tonight, our Colorado Avalanche host the Los Angeles Kings for the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy in the marque match-up of the 2019-2020 season!

For those that may remember the last time the Avalanche played outside, it was at the friendly confines of Coors Field, and the opponents on the docket were the Detroit Red Wings. During the first night of the two-night extravaganza, the Red Wings and Avalanche alumni would square off, stirring up ghosts of yesteryear. Familiar names from the past donned the familiar mountain-peak jerseys, much to the delight of the fans who flocked to the ballpark to be a part the swan song for the most famous rivalry ever to grace the city of Denver and the hockey world at large.

The second night would see the modern-era rosters of both clubs wear a more modernized look, one that had a simple but sharp look about it.

Clean as fresh-fallen snow. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

This was a stark departure from what Avalanche fans had begrudgingly accepted out of the Reebok Edge design. There were no frills, no excess, and even better, not a trace of piping. There was just enough change to make this design stand apart from its fellow burgundy and blue contemporaries while maintaining an aura of a “traditional” hockey jersey. The Avalanche released this sweater well in advance of the Stadium Series game, and fans eagerly snatched up the new threads upon its release.

That Was Then…This Is Now.

On January 20, less than one month before tonight’s game, the Avalanche released its successor. Fans had gotten an early glimpse at the new design in a jersey leak a couple months earlier, and the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. My reaction was likewise negative, but I’ve been proven wrong in the past: I had similar a reaction to the 2016 Stadium Series jersey and the Avalanche third jersey when they were first announced, but upon seeing the jerseys close-up, my opinion changed, and I ultimately embraced both designs. I was hoping that my opinion would change once I got a chance to see them firsthand.

(Spoiler: it didn’t change…much.)

The Colorado Avalanche 2020 Stadium Series jersey. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

When I covered the Adidas ADIZERO jersey release for Burgundy Review in September 2017, there was a lot to dissect for the design that took the Avalanche back to its roots. With this design, some of those elements remain present, but ultimately, this jersey reached for the skies and ended up becoming a reach in and of itself. Here’s what we’ll be seeing tonight.

Collar and Reflective NHL Shield

The Stadium Series collar is predominantly blue, save for the pentagon-shaped section of white at the base of the neck. The now-familiar holographic NHL shield is present, with the same finishing touches as the current home, away, and alternate jerseys.

The now-familiar polish of the NHL logo at the base of the collar. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The NHL has a pattern of utilizing the interior collar to add a little homage to a certain characteristic of that team’s home city. For example, this year’s All-Star Game jersey (hosted by the St. Louis Blues) featured an arch towering over a single star. The Avalanche jersey features the Colorado state flag, which is a great fit thanks to its clean, simple design.

Clean. Classic. Colorado. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

While the 2016 variant boldly presented the Colorado “C” front and center, the 2020 update opts to keep the “C” con”C”ealed (you “C” what I did there?). The shade of blue in the Colorado state flag isn’t a precise fit for the other shade of blue that is so prevalent in the jersey, the fact that it is concealed behind the neck doesn’t provide a jarring color clash.

You may notice that the “ADIZERO” word-mark has been replaced by the “AREOREADY” word-mark in the Stadium Series jersey underneath the collar. There wasn’t much context in jersey tag to describe what “AEROREADY” actually means, but I’m led to conclude that the jersey’s moisture absorbing and repelling capabilities will somehow help you feel, um, ready.

Ready for whatever! Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Shoulder Patch

I championed the shoulder patches on the ADIZERO jerseys back in 2017, and the patch design for the Stadium Series jersey is likewise a hit. Taking direct inspiration from the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, the top of the patch features the NHL Shield and a fighter jet complete with a burgundy-tinted con trail streaking past the silver-tipped Cadet Chapel, to soar into the sky. The blue background in this section of the patch is one of three distinct shades of blue featured in the patch.

A bold “STADIUM SERIES” word-mark is the centerpiece of the patch and displays the other two shades of blue: the word “Stadium” closely matches the hue of the Avalanche color scheme, while the word “Series” takes on a darker shade. A burgundy divider separates the Stadium Series word-mark from the much smaller “Air Force Academy” lettering near the bottom of the patch. A single star on the same blue background as the “Air Force Academy lettering is at the bottom of the patch. The silver patch border is more linear compared to its more rounded predecessor, and the rivets displayed in the border are a clever finishing touch.

Quite possibly the jersey’s best feature: the Stadium Series patch. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

I feel compelled to give the jersey a passing grade based on the design of the patch alone. In fact, I’d go on to say that, had the entire jersey been based around this type of design, the jersey would have been a runaway hit. Instead, Adidas went in an entirely different direct for the logo (more on that later). The patch is heat-pressed, and upon viewing several different jerseys at Pepsi Center, I noticed that a few of the patches were not given equal treatment.

A patch this good should not be a victim of mass production. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The above picture is of two different authentic jerseys, and both of them suffer from the same problem. The patch hasn’t been fully pressed to the jersey, and has separated from the fabric. While there are certain to be some defects in mass-produced goods, the fact that it happened on several others is not a good look, especially given the late release of the jersey for sale to the general public. Defects like this should have been eliminated from a production standpoint months ago, especially given this jersey’s price point (more on this in a moment).

Nameplates and Numbers

As impressed as I was with the shoulder patch of the jersey, I was similarly pleased with how well the Avalanche nameplates and numbers provide a nice contrast to the medley of colors featured in this jersey. The scheme feels similar to the striping on the sleeves of the 2016 Stadium Series jersey, but the gray stripe separating the burgundy and blue has been supplanted with a white stripe. This, in turn, creates a horizon line, with the blue representing the sky and the burgundy representing land, to a strikingly beautiful effect. Fun fact: the word, “Colorado” is translated from the Spanish word meaning, “red land” or, “red soil”. This color scheme couldn’t be more Colorado-based!

The Adidas logo is featured at the base of the collar, and the shoulder yoke is comprised of the same dotted design featured on the home and away jerseys. The player name is written in the same script used on the Avalanche burgundy home jersey. The letters are individually sewn onto the nameplate, and the nameplate is likewise sewn into the back of the jersey. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of nameplates on what’s supposed to be an authentic jersey. I believe that the player names should be stitched onto the actual jersey fabric, but nameplates appear everywhere–even on the professional-grade jerseys worn in game–so this personal gripe of mine won’t be appeased for some time. Win some, lose some.

The number designs are also similar to the current home and away Avalanche jerseys, but with two alterations. The first, and easiest to spot, is the navy blue border around the numbers. The second is the rounded ovals in the numbers 6 and 9 are actually narrower than on the home and away jerseys. It’s a subtle detail and one that won’t really be spotted unless you’re really, really looking. It doesn’t take anything away from the design; it was just a small detail I noticed (because I was really, really looking). The strength of this design is how much the border helps the numbers stand out, especially when contrasted against the burgundy base of the jersey. A close look will also reveal the stitched fight strap–a staple of the Adidas ADIZERO jersey line since its release–at the base of the numbers.

Nathan MacKinnon’s Stadium Series number and nameplate. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

As much as I loved the design of the nameplates and numbers on the back of the jersey, I was very surprised with how the numbers on the sleeves turned out. The sleeves have had comically large numbers on them since the inception of the Stadium Series concept. The thought process in this intentionally hilarious design of the sleeves was to assist Mr. and Mrs. Hockey Fan in spotting which player was which on the outdoor ice surface. The 2016 Stadium Series sleeve numbers were no exception. This trend seems to have broken away from those gargantuan sleeve numbers, ushering in a more compact design.

While I didn’t have my 2016 Stadium Series to use as frame of reference, I chose the next best thing: an Avalanche burgundy home sweater. The sizing on the Stadium Series jersey is indeed much smaller than the sleeve numbers on its predecessor, but perhaps it may be a bit too small.

The photo below shows Nathan MacKinnon’s Stadium Series jersey sleeve on the left, and his burgundy home jersey sleeve on the right. I placed both sleeves next to each other, and there isn’t too much of a size difference between them. In fact, one could make the case that the burgundy outline on the home jersey actually makes it easier to see the sleeve numbers, and this could have been an area where the Stadium Series jersey could have been tweaked a little to achieve the same result. Perhaps this may explain (in part) why the main jersey numbers have the outline and the sleeves numbers do not.

Size matters not…? Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Last but not least, we have a simple, but slightly stylized, captain’s “C” and assistant captain’s “A”. This is probably one few positives that can be said about the front of the jersey. I actually like the stylized look of these letters, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them get integrated into the navy blue alternate jerseys.

A simple approach to the assistant captain’s “A”. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad
A crystal clean captain “C”. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The Logo

All right, I can’t put it off any further. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the logo. Actually, I’ll let Matty Merrill, director of design for Adidas Hockey, talk about the logo. As he told ColoradoAvalanche.com here, ” The Air Force is known for pushing the limits, so we took the traditional markers of Stadium Series, futuristic looks and stadium-size numbers, and pushed them to the absolute bleeding edge.”

He sure nailed the bleeding part.

I’ll give a proverbial stick-tap to Adidas for trying to do something that is an incredible departure from conventional jersey norms. Taking a team crest and blowing it up to colossal proportions is a gutsy call. I understand what this logo is supposed to be in concept: a large, white “A” to indicate the Avalanche (complete with burgundy-tinted negative space to simulate a capital “A”), burgundy mountains at the base, and the blue skies of Colorado.

I’ll go one step further. The construction of the jersey is admirable. It is evident that a lot of detail went into the layout of the jersey, and that deserves recognition. Plenty of small details, such as the stitching of the mountains, the negative space to create the capital “A”, and the color borders where blue meets white, and white meets burgundy, are painstakingly crafted.

There’s just one problem: its sum is weaker than its parts. It’s a concept that sounds grand in a focus group, but falls short in execution. Hockey fans need feel a connection to the team, and a conceptualization of this nature doesn’t lend to that connection. Sure, there are parts of the Avalanche hidden in this jersey, just as there are parts to the Air Force Academy hidden in there as well. Why conceal these things that should have been so easy to build around and for the fans to connect with? It doesn’t make any sense to create such an abstract jersey when it could have been done so easily using other methods that fans can identify with.

Maybe that’s why there are multiple shades of burgundy in the logo.

Multiple shades of burgundy. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Pricing Options

I think the photos will sum this one up nicely. I included the replica jersey price for comparison, but there are a lot of differences between the replica and authentic jerseys that would be better served in a separate article. Bottom line: you will pay a premium for higher quality, but just beware that higher quality isn’t 100% guaranteed with the purchase of an authentic jersey.

Final Musings

I want to like this jersey. I really, really want to like this jersey. I want to be able to embrace something that is fresh, innovative, and different. Unfortunately, this jersey is just too far of a reach for me. The concept is novel, but it does not feel like it’s an Avalanche jersey at all. At its core, it probably wants to feel as though it has the spirit of an Avalanche jersey, but as I mentioned earlier, the sum of this jersey is weaker than its parts. I can admire the pats, but I cannot embrace the parts as a unified concept.

As I mentioned in my analysis of the Stadium Series patch, had this been the motif that Adidas had built this jersey around from the very beginning, this jersey could have become an instant fan favorite. When the jersey leak happened, the backlash was swift and palpable. Adidas had no time to hit the eject button and start fresh given how much time had already elapsed in the season. Meanwhile, the Avalanche were left with little choice other than to delay the launch of their jersey for as long as possible and to use their PR to put a positive spin on this abomination creation.

Perhaps you disagree with my assessment, and you feel that this jersey is a striking new look. If so, then I heartily encourage you to add this jersey to your collection…after it goes on sale. There’s no reason to pay upwards of $250.00 for a Cale Makar jersey that may potentially be seen on the ice for one night only. Be patient and wait for the sale!

Tonight’s game will be broadcast live at 6:00 P.M. MST/8:00 P.M. EST on NBC in the United States, and in Canada on Sportsnet1 and TVAS2.

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