June 13, 2012
(Editor's Note: Longtime uniform industry expert at first Mitchell & Ness and now as president of Pro League Authentics, Ray Jannelli shares his personal, inside story on the creation of the nostalgia NHL and WHA jerseys, which eventually led to Ray developing the "Vintage Hockey" series honoring the Original Six NHL clubs.
In the his previous installments, Ray wrote about the successful re-creation of 1970s NHL and World Hockey Association jerseys, and today details what went on behind the scenes in originating the jerseys to spotlight the NHL's "Original Six"…)
By Ray Jannelli
Following the success of the original Casey's hockey jersey (NHL) shipment and the World Hockey Association jerseys, I was ready to begin to spec out and produce the NHL Original Six. Nobody (or company) at that time was reproducing an accurate authentic original six team jersey.
Being at Mitchell & Ness at the time I had all of the necessary resources to make it happen. Research materials, manufacturers, jersey pattern templates and the syntax blueprint to put it all together. Of course, we had the "test track," the Mitchell & Ness retail store itself, again instant market validation, a place to test the customer's response to the product.
The year was 1990, Mitchell& Ness had secured the MLB License two years prior, and our sights were on the NHL. A license to manufacture and sell vintage ice hockey jerseys. 1990-91 was going to be a celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the NHL. The timing was perfect.
In 1989, I had collaborated with Richard Johnson of the Sports Museum of New England in Boston on the 1966 Bobby Orr rookie jersey. Curators Richard Johnson and Brian Codagnone were key figures in helping me develop the vintage NHL jersey collection, especially the 1940's Boston Bruins "Kraut Line" player jerseys.
All of the "Original Six" NHL sweater reproductions were from 1939 to 1949. I added one more to the collection, the New York Americans. The Amerks was a beautiful jersey, ahead of it's time, and also the first pro sports team to have the player's name on the back of a jersey, in five inch letters to boot!
Seven team jerseys, Bruins, Red Wings, Rangers, Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, and the aforementioned Amerks. Because of the 75th Anniversary and the new found interest in "throwback" jerseys, there was a sense of urgency to spec out (correctly),manufacture, get licensed and then market the NHL jerseys.
I will give credit to Richard Johnson of the Sports Museum of New England for coming up with the name for the collection: "Lord Stanley's Closet."
I had Powers Manufacturing in Waterloo, Iowa construct the blank jerseys from my drawings, specs and measurements. I chose a cotton/durene material (closest I could get to a period authentic). The actual "on ice " period jersey would have been a knit wool sweater, but time was of the essence and minimums for a knit wool would not have been feasible for a time-sensitive "sample" test jersey.
The cresting was quite interesting, particularly with the 1944 Detroit Red Wings. Front crest, not much difference, but the sleeve patching was unique and intriguing. A "V" for victory patch was on the left upper sleeve and underneath that was Beethoven's 5th Symphony in Morse Code! On the right sleeve was a round 10% War Bonds patch.
Six samples for each of the seven teams were made. Our Mitchell & Ness clientele truly appreciated the quality and detail that went into the final product. Each jersey was numbered with an appropriate player of that time period, for example Woody Dumart for the Bruins and Ted Lindsay with the Wings.
The entire prototype inventory sold within the month. Something interesting happened though, three representatives from CCM Hockey stopped by the Mitchell & Ness retail store one day and purchased one of each style jersey. Less than one year later five of the seven styles were part of the CCM Heritage Collection line of vintage jerseys. Interesting.
Phillies phans a loyal bunch: The team may have dropped its third straight Tuesday in Minnesota to fall to an astounding 9 1/2 games back in the N.L. East nearing mid-June, now five games under .500, and the nearly three-year long home sellout streak may be coming to an end sooner than later, but Phillies fans, especially women, are nothing but loyal in supporting the team as it attempts to rally to get back to post-season contention for a sixth straight year.
Pictured above several of the summer women's Phillies apparel proving popular among customers.
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