Hockey Canada unveils Olympic hockey jerseys
TORONTO - More than a month after the first leak, Hockey Canada has officially unveiled its hockey jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Amid club music and laser lights, youth players skated onto the ice at the Mattamy Athletic Centre sporting the red, white and alternate black uniforms that the men's, women's and sledge hockey teams will wear at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The youngsters did laps around the ice and shot some pucks on net as flashbulbs went off around them. The event was another marker on the road to Sochi.
"Seeing the jersey is a key stepping point for all three teams," Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson said.
Hockey Canada invited teenage players from the Toronto area to model the jerseys. They were told they'd be doing some promotional things but didn't learn until in the locker-room just before the event that they'd be part of the unveiling.
Hockey Hall of Famer and former Canadian Olympian Joe Nieuwendyk delivered the news.
"Their mouths dropped, a little awestruck," Nieuwendyk said. "They didn't realize what they were here for. When they saw the jersey for the first time, it hit them like it hits any NHL guy that's going to don that jersey."
For most fans, this wasn't the first look at the jerseys. A photo of Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews wearing the red uniform at the NHL's player media tour surfaced in early September, and then all three could be seen in a photo later in the month.
That means anyone critical of the look got a head start. Some said it looked like Petro-Canada's logo, while others wanted to go back to the jerseys used when Canada won gold in Vancouver in 2010.
"People talking about how they feel about a jersey that's close to their heart and represents their country is a great thing," Nike creative director Ken Black said.
The red and white jerseys feature a Maple Leaf logo with a stripe across the chest. The black jersey has "CANADA" written across it.
Canada will be the only team in Sochi with a third jersey.
"I'm not sure how much we'll wear it, but it'll be on the ice sometime during the Olympic games in Sochi," Nicholson said. "The fans like black, there's no question, and so do the players. But our real colours are red and white."
Those red and white jerseys are the ones that will be worn predominantly during the Olympics.
"The most important thing is the Maple Leaf," Nieuwendyk said. "You follow a little bit of Canadian hockey history, this follows some of the history and captures that. It's just such a clean look: red, white and a Maple Leaf."
The provisional men's and women's rosters will be named by Dec. 31. The Games will be held Feb. 7-23 and the Paralympic Games are set for March 7-16.
The Mattamy Athletic Centre is located on the former site of Maple Leaf Gardens.