Once again, the Grand Rapids Griffins are holding their annual jersey design contest and, even though I know I disagree with their design preferences, I’m throwing my hat into the ring.
Two years ago I entered a design featuring a griffin silhouette on a shield as the primary logo, with the jersey in “vintage” white, blue, and red. The shoulder logo was a roundel with an interlocking GR logo the team had previously used. Last year I tweaked the logo to make the griffin’s wing a little cleaner, switched up the shoulder logos, changed the number font, and updated the colors to go along with the Griffins’ color change, but the striping pattern stayed the same.
This year I thought for certain that I was going to enter another red jersey, so I started with my previous design. I swapped out the “vintage” colors and simplified the striping pattern. Rather than black numbers with a white outline, I went with white numbers outlined in black as they would be more legible. I kept the player’s jersey number in the collar webbing because, as I’ve said before, I loved that feature of their old alternate jersey. I also brought back the shoulder logo from my original entry as a 20th Season patch no longer made sense. Finally, I broke down and put the Winged Wheel logo of the Detroit Red Wings on one shoulder, as the Griffins do that on their standard jerseys to denote their parent club, no matter how much I dislike the practice.
I felt like that design was too simple, though, so I continued evolving the design. For the second generation, I switched the order of the sleeve colors and removed the shoulder yoke. I wanted the Griffins’ jersey to have an homage to the alternate colored sleeves of the Red Wings’ white jersey. I also brought back the black numbers outlined in white as I figured for a one-shot jersey, legibility is less of a concern (in fact, the Griffins wore dark red numbers on a dark blue jersey for one game two seasons ago).
Unfotunately, I thought that looked far too close to the design of the Texas Stars. While the Griffins selected a design two seasons ago that was basically a color swapped Iowa Wild jersey, I wasn’t comfortable submitting something like that.
As such, I decided to fully embrace the alternate-colored sleeves. I made the jersey body red with a black stripe bounded by white and the sleeves black with a red stripe and white outline. I also changed up the shoulder logo, replacing the interlocking GR with the griffin silhouette I used on the crest as I didn’t want to re-use one of the team’s existing marks, even modified.
At this point, I thought that I had my final design. I started showing it to a handful of people and near-universally the feedback was that they wanted to see a black version. Of course, I had started out trying to make a red jersey, so at first I ignored this. Eventually I hit the point where I had to listen to what my informal focus group was saying and did a switch of the colors. While a quick Twitter poll showed 53% of fans would have preferred a red jersey, 100% of people who saw both the red and black jerseys picked the black one. As such, the black one was my final design.
There are some coincidental homages in this design. The Grand Rapids Owls, an International Hockey League team in the late 1970s, wore jerseys with red sleeves that had black stripes outlined in white. Additionally, the Red Wings sold “fashion” jerseys (alternate jerseys that were never actually worn in-game) that had a black body with a red stripe at the waist, red sleeves with a black stripe, and numbers that match this design. The stripes did not include a white outline.
The Griffins explicitly stated that they wanted a dark jersey from this year’s contest. I imagine that’s because of the AHL’s new rule that will see light jerseys worn at home until Christmas and dark jerseys after that. Previously there had been some flexibility with regards to alternates but I’d guess that’s out the window with these new rules.
At any rate, just for fun, I created a white version of my submission.
As I mentioned, the primary logo is carried over directly from last season’s submission, aside from the color switch. This is a logo full of homages. The shape of the shield is that of the DetroitHockey.Net logo as a reference to my previous work. The feathers on the griffin’s wing are those of the Winged Wheel. The griffin’s tail is that of the original Grand Rapids logo.
The shoulder logo went through a number of revisions as I sorted out what color it would be placed on, how much detail should be included, and what element would be inside the roundel.
While I think that having a silhouetted griffin on both the crest and the shoulder is a bit repetitive, I see the different uses to be somewhat like how the Tampa Bay Lightning have a lightning bolt on both the crest and the shoulder.
As I’ve said every year, I don’t expect to win this contest. This year is interesting because ten finalists will be determined by fan vote and then the Griffins staff will decide. Additionally, this year submissions do not have to follow a standardized template. If I had to guess, the vote will skew towards submissions that look like they come out of a video game, as they come across as the most impressive. Whether or not those are actually the best designs will have to be seen.