Back to the Past
Flames Bring Back the Red

D'Arcy McGrath
October 1st, 2003

Calgary Flames future will meet Calgary Flames past when the club unveils a new jersey tomorrow at the Saddledome.

32 Years of Flame Past

The Calgary Flames are set to announce a shift back to a red jersey on Friday, a move that will bring the club closer to its roots. The change marks the fifth uniform the team has worn since its inception date in Atlanta, during the 1972-73 season.

Jersey One - inaugural season in Atlanta with the Flames taking to the ice wearing their well known red, gold and white uniform with the burning "A" on the jersey. The team was named after the city's Civil War past that featured Union armies burning the city to the ground. The burning A has been preserved by the now Calgary Flames by using the "A" as their assistant captain logo.

Jersey Two - The original look lasted over two decades, three buildings and two host cities before finally being altered in 1995. The team ushered in a new look shortly after the league returned from a lockout with a new podium style and the addition of black to the other three colours.

Jersey Three - The Flames caught 3rd jersey fever when they added a black jersey with a front facing, fire snorting horse for the 1998-99 season. The logo itself has always met with controversy with some fans being big fans of the look, while others detesting it completely.

Jersey Four - The Flames removed the 1995 look completely for the 2000-01 season when they phased out both their red jersey, and modified the look for their home white jersey. The new white silks used the design of the black horse head jersey, but kept a more traditional red flaming "C" on the front. The club still uses this look, but it now acts as their road jersey for the 2003-04 season.

Jersey Five - The new look red jersey to be launched tomorrow. The red jersey will become the team's home uniform while the black jersey will be retained to be used as a third jersey on home ice.

Any new look to a teams silks is a clear step into a new era, but in this case one has to get the feeling that the club is taking a step in a backward direction in order to right a past wrong, and make peace with tradition.

32 Years of Swapping!

It's been 32 years since the Flames organization first presented a jersey scheme for play in the National Hockey League. A total of five jerseys have been used in 32 years for an average of a new look every six and a half seasons.

Some teams have been much more indecisive when it comes to their on ice look over this time span.

Rank Team Uniforms
1 Pittsburgh 11
3 Vancouver 7
3 St. Louis 7
3 Los Angeles 7
7 Carolina 5
7 N.Y. Rangers 5
7 Toronto 5
7 Calgary 5

The Clothes Horse:

Some teams just can't seem to make up their minds when it comes to on ice presentation. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had no fewer than 11 different jerseys from the 1972-73 to 2003-04 season. In fact from that starting point of our study to the 1982-83 season the Pens walked out no fewer than seven different sets of silks. They made slight changes in three successive years, 1974, 1975 and 1976, back in the old power blue days.

The Flames west coast rivals, the Vancouver Canucks have been almost as bad when it comes to indecision, adjorning their players in seven different jerseys through this time period. One really can't blame them however, it's hard to fathom a team choosing to stay with those horrendous pajamas they wore in the early 80's.

Rank Team Years Jerseys Year/Jersey
1 Anaheim 11 4 2.75
2 Pittsburgh 32 11 2.91
3 Ottawa 12 4 3.00
4 San Jose 13 4 3.25
5 California / Cleveland / Minnesota / Dallas 32 9 3.56
6 Los Angeles 32 7 4.57
7 St. Louis 32 7 4.57
8 Vancouver 32 7 4.57
9 Hartford / Carolina 25 5 5.00
10 Long Island 32 6 5.33

Change Maniacs:

To be fair, we need to bring a change / year ratio into things, a way to better punish teams that have made fewer total changes, but have done so in many fewer years. The Penguins still hold down their position, this time in second place, but have been passed by those marketing geniuses at Disney. The Ducks have managed four different looks in just 11 years of operation, averaging 2.75 years between change.

One can't really blame the original Minnesota franchise for sitting in the change group's top five. They burden under the weight of a franchise shift followed by a merger, followed by another franchise shift giving them credit for nine jerseys in 32 years of existence.

Rank Team Years Jerseys Year/Jersey
1 Montreal 32 1 32.00
2 Chicago 32 2 16.00
3 Detroit 32 2 16.00
4 Boston 32 3 10.67
5 Washington 30 3 10.00
6 Que/Colorado 25 3 8.33
7 Edmonton 25 3 8.33
8 Buffalo 32 4 8.00
9 Philadelphia 32 4 8.00
10 KC/Colorado/NJ 30 4 7.50

Risk Adverse:

Some teams like what they have, so they ... well ... stay with it. It should come as no surprise that four of the six original NHL clubs sit prominently at the top of the list, with Montreal leading the way without a single change in this timer period.

The Hawks and Wings have made only one change apiece, while the Bruins have made three in the 32 years of this study. A team like Edmonton, that had its history start in 1980, have also held true to tradition.

Flames in black? What were they thinking?

Imagine that 1989 Stanley Cup run with a Sea of Black? It would never have worked.

Kip Reghenas, Merchandising Director of the Calgary Flames, told that the decision process was a very careful exercise to ensure they made the right selection.

"We did some testing with two different jerseys", Reghenas expanded, "the traditionalists split 50/50 between the two alternatives, while the under 15 crowd chose the one we selected 85% of the time".

"Ken King wanted the other one", he chuckled.

While Kip wouldn't expand on details, he did hint that the major difference between the two options appeared in the colour of the Flaming C. Rumours persist that the jersey to be unveiled will have a black C, while the second place option was emblazoned with a more traditional white C.

The jersey's arrival couldn't come at a better time for the Flames as the club is set to embark on a new season with a rebuilt roster and a brand new executive.

Optimism runs high during training camp in all 30 cities, but the feel in Calgary is about as positive as it's been in the past several seasons with Darryl Sutter running the show from above and behind the bench.

"We chose the home opener (to unveil the jersey for the first time), it's the biggest game of the year", said Reghenas of why the club has continued to wear black through the preseason schedule.

Upon that date the Flames will have concluded their seven day exclusivity of sales under league policy, resulting in the new look to go into the communal trough for all 30 NHL franchises.

Many hockey fans are quick to accuse hockey clubs of soaking the fans by launching new togs, and are unaware of the fact that very little of the direct sales actually make it to the team in question.

Once the press conference at the Saddledome concludes, the team will then have the jerseys ready for sale in select stores later that day.

Fans that have pre-ordered the red jersey sight unseen can pick their new silks up at the same time.

Special Thanks to for the jersey images

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