Wither the White-Out?

Posted by Drew Mindell in Columns,Hosting the Petard,Jets Columns,Winnipeg Jets on September 14, 2011 — 13 Comments

With the release of the Winnipeg Jets jerseys last week, the checklist of items that True North Sports and Entertainment have been working on since May 31, 2011 is slowly beginning to come to an end. Sure paint needs to still be applied in areas of the MTS Centre, and sure everyone is champing at the bit to actually receive their season tickets in hand, but the marathon of a summer faced (admirably) by everyone at True North is slowly giving way to the relative monotony of day to day activities.

When Andrew Ladd, Mark Stuart, Eric Fehr and Nik Antropov stepped off the Hercules plane at 17 Wing Air Force Base in Winnipeg, and unveiled the jerseys to be worn by the Winnipeg Jets 2.0, the last remaining aesthetic question had been answered, and the attention/obsession of Winnipeg Jets fans can now be squarely focused towards the on ice product being put forth this coming NHL season and the machinations surrounding Zach Bogosian’s contract status.

With the sharp navy colour scheme as the home jersey (sorry, I refuse to call it polar night blue), and the road jersey being the classic, traditional white jersey, the team will certainly look good on the ice, regardless of the talent level being put forth. While I don’t believe this will be an issue this season, the question that is sure to arise when the team is of a playoff caliber, is what will become of the legendary, often imitated, never duplicated, Winnipeg White-Out?

More on this after the jump.

Ever since 2003 when the NHL switched the colour scheme, and decided the home team would wear dark coloured jerseys, the playoff white-out has been left in limbo. In some cities fans still wear white to support the home team, even if that same team happens to be clad in dark jerseys. In other cities, they have adjusted to the times and have started wearing the darker colour jersey being sported by the home team. The “Red Mile” in Calgary is a great example of fans adapting. In Winnipeg though, where the white-out is sacred and violating it may be punishable by biblical-era stoning, will Winnipeg Jets fans be willing to accept the difference between the whites worn in the stands and that of their on ice heroes?

The answer to the question as to why the home team ever adopted dark jerseys in the first place comes down to a familiar answer, money. New home jerseys mean new jersey purchases mean new revenue. For some of the cash starved NHL franchises, that’s no small matter. Same reason why 3rd jerseys ever came on to the scene—teams saw another potential avenue for generating revenue. Unfortunately, where seeing the dark jerseys was once unique and “fun” for the home fans, like every other flash in the pan idea, it has fallen by the wayside, and now only results in the awkward white-out related dilemma teams are currently faced with.

There’s an easy solution to the white-out, dark jersey problem. Yet, because it will demand that the NHL is moderately fan friendly it probably will never see the light of day. Simply put, and I refuse to believe this is too burdensome of an inconvenience for a visiting franchise, the home team should be allowed to wear whatever colour jersey they want to wear—dark, light, or alternate. Given the amount of luggage already hauled by the visiting NHL team, how much of an inconvenience is one more set of jerseys? With this solution, the fans of a particular team who are fortunate enough to attend multiple games per season, will see their team play in any and all of their available jerseys. Maybe the Winnipeg Jets will have a tremendous record while wearing their dark jerseys at home, and the white out will naturally morph into a black out? The point is that for a league that is always trying to stand out and not be the ugly stepchild of professional team sports, they need to do everything in their power to become as fan friendly as possible. Given the void that will be in the sporting marketplace with the NBA heading toward nuclear Armageddon over their collective bargaining agreement, the NHL would be wise to position themselves as THE fan friendly sport, and reap the rewards that doing so would bring them.

If being more fan friendly means I have to stand at the MTS Centre clad entirely in Polar Night Blue because the Jets are more comfortable in their darker jerseys come playoff time, I’m confident I will stand and cheer just as loud as I did when I was clad entirely in white. If foregoing the white out is the cost of a trip deep into the NHL playoffs, which as every Jets fan will tell you is their white whale, that’s a price I would be willing to pay. For the Jets 2.0, I would prefer to have actual victories on ice, as opposed to the paper victories the Jets 1.0 were forced to “celebrate”.

  • http://twitter.com/Yaciuk Donovan Yaciuk

    I love this site.
    More on this after the jump.
    But those “More after the jump” lines need to go.  :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PEZTBRDYT4BILJBH7MQU2WX3AE Mark

    Why does it matter if we have a whiteout while the jets wear dark? the whiteout still looks awesome no matter what colour the players are wearing, its not a big deal

  • davidborzykowski

    The NFL allows their teams to wear whichever jersey they want. its not just the cowboys that do that. seemingly the NFL teams have a ton of gear also so hauling a different jersey doesn’t seem to be a big deal (granted they don’t have extended road trips). it would really be a shame if jets fans didn’t where white. white outs makes sense in winnipeg, what with all the snow and all. that is one of the things i’m most excited for when the jets eventually do make it to the playoffs. great article drew!

  • http://twitter.com/TBonnar Timothy Bonnar

    Yep. 

    I hope they make the practice jersey available to fans some time soon. The white practice jersey look great (IMO better than the official away jerseys) and they are more affordable (80 or 90 bucks) than the Authentic and Premier lines. 

    This is Winnipeg. People will buy these, or they will wear white T Shirts. And it will look epic!

  • http://twitter.com/ICdave ICdave

    The only thing I would say is it seems odd when the home team is wearing a dark jersey, while the fans are wearing the same colours as the visiting team. 

  • http://twitter.com/zkatz87 Zak Katz

    In my opinion, the NHL should just go back to wearing white at home.

    My reasoning:
    a) Another cash grab for ownership! Hooray!
    b) White on the white ice just look better.
    c) Fans in each city will see a different set of dark color uniforms every night, as opposed to the status quo where fans see the same dark jerseys every night and pretty similar white jerseys from the away teams (short of different color details/stripes that don’t make too much different).

    At the very least, home teams should have the option much like the NFL. The choice to wear white or dark could represent a very small addition to home ice advantage. In the NFL, many teams choose to wear white at home during afternoon games early in the season simply to avoid wearing dark colors in extreme heat (the Oakland Raiders employ this tactic frequently). While such an environmental advantage might not exist in the NHL, let’s say the Jets upcoming opponent has a poor record playing in dark jerseys; wouldn’t the Jets want the psychological edge of forcing that team to wear the dark jerseys?

    Who knows if it actually makes a difference or not, but if the fans believe it does I feel like that is a positive for the game day experience.

  • Anonymous

    Good points, but the Raiders don’t wear white at home.

  • http://twitter.com/zkatz87 Zak Katz

    They don’t do so exclusively, however they have done so several times since 2008 to beat the heat

  • http://twitter.com/jroyzee Jeff Roy

    The entire tradition of white jerseys at home and dark on the road started with Baseball.  Back before the turn of the century laundry facilities were not as readily available when travelling, so road teams would wear grey uniforms to conceal dirt accumulated on road trips.

    This likely became the norm for all sports.

    That being said, I like Zak’s idea of the home team choosing what uni to wear.  I thin in the past some teams alternate jerseys have been white, meaning that the road team would end up wearing dark. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think the whiteout will ever die in Winnipeg. The C of Red was created back when the home teams still wore white, in fact the whiteout was created in response to it.

    The reason the league made the change to dark jerseys at home was in response to teams wanting to wear their third jerseys at home. This caused conflicts with the road team who would have to travel with both sets of jerseys, something that is not as easy at it seems. They decided to make the change to give the home team that ability and felt fans wanted to see the colored jerseys.

    While I would like to go back to white at home that’s not likely going to happen anytime soon, nor is the choice for the home team to wear whatever color they want. If any change were to come up it would make sense to push for the home play off team to choose what colour they wished to wear as the visiting team would not be on any road trip and would still only need to bring one set.

    I doubt even that will happen so o suggest we get used to the idea of wearing white in the crowd and blue on the ice, it’s more about creating the atmosphere then it is matching with the players. They know who we are cheering for even if we wore pink!

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for the white out!  It’s an exciting thing to see and be apart of, doesn’t matter if our team wears white or dark jerseys.

  • http://twitter.com/LukeMiguez Luke Miguez

    Would make more sense to go with how soccer’s done things, where each team has a “primary” jersey that they can wear so long as the colours don’t clash with the home team’s “primary”.  Thus the Red Wings could wear their red primaries against the Leafs’ blues for example, or the Jets could have their whites as a primary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zachgoldberg89 Zach Goldberg

    I fully agree with Zak and Dave, Home teams should definitely get the choice, I think it would be great because teams like Calgary or Philadelphia who basically Red/Orange out their arenas could continue to do that, and teams that like the White out could do it at their discretion.

    However, for the time being when the home team is forced to wear dark it looks stupid if you are wearing the same colour as the visiting team.