Let the great rise of hockey-related revenue begin! The Toronto Maple Leafs have officially put their 2016/17 home and away jerseys on sale on their RealSports Apparel website, giving fans their first chance to wear the faux-back logo in the way that the players will on the ice. Here are a few things to note about the whole thing.
It’s a presale
If you’re ordering your jersey to get it right away, you might want to hold your breath. Orders made now will take some time to get to your door, as much as three weeks (August 24th) in a worst-case scenario. This isn’t a huge shock; Reebok usually doesn’t release new jerseys to the fans this early in the year anyway – the Leafs are just special snowflakes and have unprecedented hype behind the jerseys, hence a team-owned retailer getting the first batch organized for the masses.
Same Price, Different Threads
You’re probably looking at these prices and going “What the heck is this? Typical MLSE”, especially if your last jersey was one you bought shortly after the 1992/93 Playoffs. Well, don’t. Jerseys have gone up in price over the years as the materials have changed and a switch to higher quality lettering and numbering has occurred, and the dip of the Canadian Dollar brought the prices up further sometime last year, from $124 for blanks and $189 for customized to $139 for blanks and $204 for lettered (men’s sizes, women’s and youth are both cheaper).
These are the same prices the rest of the league charges (in fact, I’ve seen them sold for above MSRP in cities like Montreal and Vancouver), and you even get a pair of free (read: probably bad) Leafs earbuds with your purchase.
That’s a very short list of players to choose from, my friends. Of course, players like Matt Martin and Frederik Andersen don’t have numbers yet, so it’s no shock to see them not on the list, but you’re also missing roster regulars like Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk.
Many will take this as “oh gosh, Lupul is actually done and van Riemsdyk is about to be traded”, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the jersey backends are a collaboration between FanZones (a subsidiary of Silver Crystal Sports, who also run CoolHockey), and the NHL, who uses SCS for their own panel.
The NHL shop is presently trying to clear out a lot of older inventory, and with the Leafs, that includes just about anything left with an old logo on it. Of all the players still left on the logo, who did the league get printed on jerseys the most? Yep, Joffrey Lupul and James van Riemsdyk, who have a ton of items in the sale bin. It was probably easier for them to take their names and list them as ‘former’ or whatever for clearance purposes than it was to mark every item individually, but that leads to things like this. As for Brad Boyes still being there, who knows. Don’t buy a Brad Boyes jersey.
Hold off on Auston
The above email was sent to an /r/Leafs member who bought an Auston Matthews jersey with his typical #34 on it, stating that, well, nobody knows what numbers the rookies are going to wear. This presumably also applies to Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Nikita Zaitsev as well. The Leafs are clearly not about giving refunds to their customers in this case, and it’s hard to blame them, seeing as they aren’t advertising these numbers and people are going to buy a ton of these sweaters whether they’d like them to or not.
If they did do refunds, though, it wouldn’t be unprecedented. The team sucked up the cost back in 2009 when Brian Burke made Mikhail Grabovski switch from 84 to 54 for two preseason games, only to trade for Phil Kessel immediately afterward and let him switch back when Phil wanted 81. Pavel Kubina also personally refunded fans when he decided that his new #73 was cursed early into his tenure with the Leafs and switched to 31.
The jerseys are still kinda bad
I know this is still a hot take around these parts, but I’m still on the fence about adding one of these to my extremely excessive collection of hockey jerseys because, well, they’re not what they could’ve been.
The shoulders are still emptier than they have to be (especially on the road jersey), and the single stripe on the bottom screams “we’re trying to recruit Tampa Bay Lightning players”, which, well…
To add to that, now that we’ve seen the full jersey number font (it’s the one on top, with last years being on the bottom), I’m not overly huge on it either. As it was put on Twitter, it looks like the old one was wrinkled out, and as someone who both likes the simplistic look of block font but wants my jersey to look “filled out” in a thoughtful way, I’m going to miss the old letters.
It’s whatever, though. Adidas is a year away and the Leafs might get a mulligan. Hopefully, that mulligan involves just slapping the gorgeous new logo on some older jerseys, like so: