Burgundy Review EXCLUSIVE: Adidas Reverse Retro Jersey Review

Today, our Colorado Avalanche host the Vegas Golden Knights for the first ever NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe event!

This will mark the second consecutive year the Avalanche play in an outdoor event, having hosted the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy, and third outdoor game in franchise history.  While this game is being played at Lake Tahoe, the Avalanche are considered the “home” team, marking this game the first home game to be played outside of the State of Colorado since 1995, when the Avalanche called the Province of Quebec home as the Quebec Nordiques.

Fitting, given that this season marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Nordiques’ move to Denver, and equally fitting that this game will mark the debut of the Avalanche Reverse Retro jersey, which brings the iconic igloo-shaped Nordiques logo out of hibernation and gives it a modernized look.  There is enough in this new design to delight fans across the entire spectrum of the franchise, whether you were there for the franchise’s WHA inception in 1972, its departure in 1995, Mission 16W in 2001, or its present resurgence to Stanley Cup contender.

Now, for the first time ever, this beloved logo will make history by being worn in its first ever outdoor contest at Lake Tahoe.

Let’s have a closer look.

The Colorado Avalanche Reverse Retro jersey. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Le Nordique Magnifique!

It’s difficult to improve upon an emblem that, over time, has become as revered as the original Quebec Nordiques logo has.  The logo itself has an endearing charm in its simplicity: a red lower-case “n” resembling an igloo with a red hockey stick leaning against it, balancing a blue puck on its edge.

Adidas dressed the igloo and hockey stick in the familiar burgundy consistent with the current Avalanche color scheme, and the hockey puck also in the shade of blue found on the Avalanche’s home jersey. 

The Quebec Nordiques logo, Reverse Retro style. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

A couple of interesting details here: instead of using white inside the logo as an accent color between the burgundy and blue of the igloo, Adidas used silver.  This was something that done as part of the Avalanche’s current third jersey design, which uses silver around the triangular mountan “C” crest.  Silver was chosen on that jersey design (originally by Reebok and carried over by Adidas when they took over the jersey contract for the NHL) as an homage to Colorado’s silver mining towns during the state’s prospecting era.  The silver on the updated logo gives the igloo more of a sleeker appearance and also builds in that connection to Colorado within the igloo design.

Additionally, the border around the burgundy hockey stick is also stitched in burgundy, but this border is raised up around the edges of the hockey stick.  This is the only area on the Nordiques crest containing a textured appearance.  This caught my eye because there were small details on the main Avalanche crest in the Adidas ADIZERO design where they employed similar texturing, such as the uppermost tip of the logo to simulate a rugged snow-capped mountain peak.

Simplicity and elegance. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The entire logo is crafted out of separate materials and stitched onto the jersey.  Due to the different colors on the logo, it was impossible to incorporate the Nordiques logo into the jersey fabric itself, which is how Adidas designs the Avalanche logo on the home and away jerseys.  The  additional texturing can be felt through the inside of the jersey.  In fact, Adidas actually stitched an additional piece of fabric on the inside of the jersey to give it a smoother feel while being worn.  It was difficult to tell whether there was a second piece of fabric that separated the logo from the interior of the jersey, but after turning the jersey inside out, it’s definitely there.

The reverse side of the Reverse Retro jersey crest. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The entire logo is sewn onto the jersey, not heat-pressed.  It’s common for main jersey crests to be heat-pressed onto the jersey fabric, but as evidenced above, Adidas went the extra mile and stitched the new-look Nordiques logo onto the Reverse Retro jersey fabric, giving it a higher-quality look and feel.

Below the logo are the trademark fleur-de-lis, which were a staple of the original Quebec Nordiques jersey.  The actual design of the fleur-de-lis remains faithful to the original design, but has been given a lovely burgundy treatment here.  The color is an absolute winner, and while it may lean more toward a wine-colored hue than burgundy, this iteration of the fleur-de-lis will certainly stand out against the brightness of the white on the jersey.  A burgundy trim at the bottom of the jersey is a very nice finishing touch.

The fleur-de-lis trim dressed in burgundy. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

It’s difficult to tell in the photo, but the burgundy trim actually narrows in the middle of the jersey, just in front of the center fleur-de-lis, and expands along the waist.  It’s a very minor detail, but it is an interesting design choice.

Another minor design choice is the arrangement of the fleur-de-lis.  All of them appear to be in a straight line at first glance, but in reality, the left and right fleur-de-lis are positioned at a slight angle.  The left fleur-de-lis tilts to the left, and the right fleur-de-lis tilts to the right. To make sure it wasn’t a design defect, I compared this jersey against a second Reverse Retro jersey that was purchased from a separate retailer, and both jerseys contain this detail.  I don’t know why Adidas made the decision to arrange the fleur-de-lis in this manner, but it’s a neat little Easter egg that one might not notice right away.  This arrangement is consistent on the front and back of the jersey.

Lastly, the Reverse Retro label appears on the lower right hand side of the burgundy trim.  It consists of a different fabric and design of the burgundy trim, and wraps itself around the hem of the jersey.

The front and reverse side of the Reverse Retro label. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Collar and Reflective NHL Shield

By now, we’re used to seeing this design on the Adidas jersey collection, and the Reverse Retro design sticks with the pentagon-shaped pattern, this time in full burgundy splendor along with the rest of the jersey collar.  The holographic NHL shield, a fixture of the Adidas design, remains at the center of the pentagon, and is still shiny as ever.

A neither reverse nor retro NHL logo at the base of the collar. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

The tradition of adding an accent to the interior collar has continued with the release of the Adidas Reverse Retro collection.  All 31 teams have a similar accent as part of the design, where the Reverse Retro logo is flanked to the left by the abbreviated franchise name, and to the right by the calendar year that the franchise is drawing its inspiration for the Reverse Retro jersey design.

Here, the “COL” abbreviation flanks the Reverse Retro logo on the left, and the ’79 calendar year flanks the Reverse Retro logo on the right, indicating the year the Nordiques began play in the NHL after spending their first seven years as part of the World Hockey Association (WHA).

The Reverse Retro logo, flanked by “COL ’79”. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Below the black sizing stripe is the reappearance of the “AEROREADY” word-mark.  We last saw this wordmark on the 2020 Stadium Series jersey, with little context from Adidas as to what “AEROREADY” actually referred to.  I can only speculate that the material of this jersey will increase the readiness of the Avalanche to make a great showing at Lake Tahoe!

Aeroready for Lake Tahoe! Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Shoulder Patches

I spoke glowingly about the Adidas shoulder patch design on the 2017 Avalanche jersey refresh and the 2020 Stadium Series design.  Adidas is also incorporating the fleur-de-lis as part of the Reverse Retro shoulder patch design, and also in the same burgundy color as the fleur-de-lis trim at the bottom of the jersey.  As I mentioned above, the actual design of the fleur-de-lis remains faithful to the design worn on the Quebec Nordiques’ home and away jerseys, and the color is a sure winner.  These shoulder patches will certainly pop against the brightness of the jersey.

Two fleur-de-lis are stitched onto the familiar dotted shoulder yoke, one on each side.  I have to give Adidas credit here for foregoing heat-pressed shoulder patches.  Some of you may recall many of last year’s Stadium Series jerseys had shoulder patches that weren’t fully heat pressed to the jersey fabric, which is something I wrote about at length in my review of that jersey.  If the Reverse Retro jersey is indeed a limited run, as has been suggested, having higher quality details such as this give the customer greater peace of mind that they’re purchasing a jersey with high-quality material and high-quality craftsmanship.

It is important to note that the fleur-de-lis is not made of the same puffy, foam-like material found on the Avalanche home and away jerseys.  This actually enhances the look of the fleur-de-lis on the jersey: the bold burgundy color and sharply defined points on the fleur-de-lis benefit from being constructed of a flat material, whereas using that foam-like texture may actually give the fleur-de-lis a softer appearance.  The simplicity of the design, texture, an color, combined with the nostalgia represented by the fleur-de-lis, make this shoulder patch an elegant accent to the jersey.

The burgundy fleur-de-lis shoulder patch is simply beautiful. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Nameplates and Numbers

There have been several horror stories about the quality of the Reverse Retro jersey that have circulated the Internet, ranging from missing alternate captain “A”s on Nathan MacKinnon Reverse Retro jerseys to Nordiques crests not being properly affixed to jerseys, to name a few.  I was concerned I’d also wind up with jersey of subpar quality if I ordered through them.  As the inventory through Altitude Authentics sold out within days and I hadn’t finalized the choice of what jersey I wanted beforeheand, I went through a different retailer this time to see what the quality would be.  I placed my order for a Gabe Landeskog jersey and waited for its arrival.  Below is the result.

Gabriel Landeskog’s Reverse Retro number and nameplate. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

I had a feeling that the name would be on a nameplate, based on some of the photos of other Reverse Retro jerseys that had posted online.  Sure enough, mine arrived with a nameplate.  As I’ve said before, I prefer to have individual letters stitched on an authentic jersey instead of on a nameplate, but nameplates are everywhere these days.  The font and the lettering are slightly different from the original Nordiques design, but that is merely an observation, not a criticism.  Each letter is individually stitched onto the nameplate, and the nameplate is likewise stitched onto the back of the jersey.  However, the nameplate appears to be a lighter shade of burgundy compared to the burgundy hue in the numbers.  The Adidas logo, a permanent fixture at the base of the neck of the jersey, appears above the nameplate in burgundy.  The fight strap is also stitched inside the jersey just above the center fleur-de-lis at the base of the numbers.

The numbers are a close match to the original Nordiques design, with the color burgundy serving as a border around each number.  I did notice the numbers appear to be elongated compared to the original design.  Moreover, the numbers also appear to be positioned a little lower than normal, and the number nine appears to have a lighter shade of burgundy compared to the number two, which seems to be a closer match in color to the rest of the burgundy on the jersey itself.  The difference in the shade of burgundy between both numbers is difficult to spot, thankfully.  This is most likely a result of the customization of the jersey through this vendor.  Had I gone through Altitude Authentics, this may not have happened, but there’s no way to know that now.

I don’t mind the elongated numbers, I would have preferred the numbers to be positioned a little higher up.  I also would have preferred the burgundy to match on both the nine and the two.  I realize that these are small things to nitpick, considering the quality of the numbers themselves is actually very high: the materials for the numbers were sewn together and then stitched onto the jersey.  Also, having the burgundy border around the numbers gives the numbers more personality over using just one color.

The numbers on the sleeves are also sewn together from separate materials and stitched onto the sleeves.  A burgundy cuff completes the sleeve.  I also noticed that the size of the numbers on the sleeves were identical to the captain’s “C” on the front of the jersey.  Like the numbers on the sleeves, I also like that the captain’s “C” has that extra layer of burgundy with it, serving as another nod to the original look of the Nordiques captain’s “C”.

The captain’s “C” and sleeve letters. Photo by @thevoiceofvlad

Comparing the numbers on my sleeves to the photos I’ve seen online, my numbers appear to be positioned lower than others, where the numbers are higher up on the sleeve.  I don’t mind this at all, as I prefer numbers that are positioned lower on the sleeve.

Final Musings

This is about as solid of a jersey that an Avalanche fan can ask for.  Adidas did a remarkable job in breathing new life into the Quebec Nordiques logo, and to do so during an anniversary season feels like an appropriate time for the Avalanche to finally acknowledge their Canadian heritage.  The look of the jersey is sharp, and is unique among the other Reverse Retro jerseys due to the fact that it is one of the few that uses white as its primary base color.  To see this go head to head against the Vegas Golden Knights’ red Reverse Retro design is going to be some of the most aesthetically pleasing hockey one could possibly see this season.

Most of my nitpicks arose only from the fact that I had this jersey custom made.  I can live with the nitpicks because the overall design of the jersey outweighs any of my minor critiques.  If you were lucky to get your hands on one, consider yourselves lucky, because this jersey was well worth the price given the detail put into its design.  If not, I hope that Adidas commissions a second run of this design, because it could easily become as adored and venerated as the original Nordiques logo that inspired it.

Today’s game will be broadcast live at 1:00 P.M. MST/3:00 P.M. EST on NBC in the United States, and in Canada on Sportsnet, Sportsnet1, and TVAS.

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