We’ve seen a recurring theme now for the last few years in the sports landscape — what’s old is now new.
Franchises in the major four sports have made it a priority to bring back the looks of their past for their fans. Whether for the sake of an anniversary, or just plain nostalgia, or the most obvious — t0 make money — they don’t seem to be going away.
In the NHL, we saw this shift this past regular season with the “Reverse Retro” trend. All 31 clubs were given the opportunity to give a fresh perspective on one of the old uniforms in their history. The Islanders took part…sort of. They did go retro by going with the navy blue they wore from 1998-2010 but kept the same template of the threads they wear now.
It was disappointing for a lot of folks who were hoping to see the fisherman revived. And yes, A LOT of people wished for it. It was disappointing for those, like me, who wanted an orange sweater, which the team wore for a short period of time the previous decade. It was even more disappointing for folks who wanted the organization to show some creativity as opposed to the generic standards they’re used to. Who could blame them? The Islanders have gone with the color blue whenever they’ve introduced a third or special-event uniform the last decade (I’m not counting the two black jerseys because they were epic failures, sorry).
Now, it seems the “Reverse Retro” idea was a one-off. The league did not say whether the campaign would continue past 2020-21. That doesn’t mean that the Isles introducing another jersey won’t be in the cards in the future. The franchise’s 50th anniversary is fast approaching and besides the standard patch, you would think they would celebrate every look from their past ala what the Canadiens, Maple Leafs and Ducks did in the past.
In saying that, now would be the perfect time to get the ball rolling towards that commemorative campaign and try something different. Which means….bringing the orange jerseys back.
The orange threads — people associate them with being a Dallas Stars’ knockoff — haven’t been worn by the Isles since 2007. They were introduced in 2002 as a third jersey.
It was a unique look then and would be now.
The fanbase definitely embraced it and continue to keep it relevant. You go to any Islanders’ home game going back to when that jersey was retired, and you’ll spot at least one if not more of those jerseys roaming around.
Essentially they are a time capsule back to the days of Peca, Osgood, Aucoin, Yashin, DiPietro, among many others. And as stated at the top, people — and especially sports fans — love to reminisce. Islanders fans do in droves.
“Every generation of Islanders fan remembers the jerseys of their youth, and if you started watching the team in the early 2000s, you’ll remember Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake and Miro Satan in the all orange,” said longtime fan Nick Hirshon. “It’s one of the symbols of the return to competitiveness in that era. I’d love to see the team bring back the fisherman jersey again as a third first, but I’d also like to see the orange come back.”
Hirshon, who is also a die-hard Mets fan, compares a possible orange revival as a unique opportunity to the way the Mets organization has embraced bringing the black jerseys for this season. The Mets today just announced they will be wearing them for select home games starting at the end of this month.
Debating about re-introducing the Mets’ black threads back started before the new year. It gained so much steam that it grabbed the attention of the team’s top stars and even new owner Steve Cohen. That alone shows how much people loved that look and how important it was to the history of the franchise.
Makes you think, if those jerseys can be that much of conversation starter, there’s no reason the Isles’ bringing back or instituting an orange sweater wouldn’t do the same.
The color orange has been a part of the franchise’s iconic look since its inception but has never been embraced like it was during those five seasons. Having been released almost 20 years ago now, the jerseys can now be considered old-school. Fans are attracted to that last term and like seeing it again.
The Islanders should seriously consider bringing back the orange. It would make something that’s old feel new again.
It’s the direction sports and franchises keeps moving towards now. And it’s one the Isles need to get on board with.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_