Devils to Celebrate Black History With Warmup Jerseys Tonight

Tonight, on the final evening of Black History Month, the Devils will be hosting the Vancouver Canucks.

In addition to being the first meeting of 2022 between Jack and Quinn Hughes, the Devils will also be honoring those pioneers of Color who have paved the way in the National Hockey League in general and the New Jersey Devils specifically.

Catherine Bogart, in her “Three Things” column on the Devils’ official app, mentioned that the team will be wearing special warmup jerseys to mark the occasion.

The jerseys were designed by defenseman PK Subban (who is a spokes-athlete for Adidas) and will be auctioned following the game to raise money for both the Devils Youth Foundation and the PK Subban Foundation.

They will feature numerous nods to the Devils’ past and to NHL trailblazer Willie O’Ree.

Bogart described the jersey, saying that it will feature the Devils logo on the front filled with photos and text. Around the outline of the logo will be the words “A Movement Not a Moment.”

Within the logo will be featured nine men. Among them: Claude Vilgrain, who was the first Black player to play for the Devils, Mark Fraser, the team’s first Black draft pick, Mike Grier, the first Black coach in Devils history, Kevin Weekes, the first Black Devils goalie and Bryce Salvador, the first Black Devils captain (as well as the team’s first Black broadcaster, now with MSG Networks).

Bogart mentioned that Sean Brown, Johnny Oduya, Wayne Simmonds and Devante Smith-Pelly will also be honored on the jersey for their involvement with the franchise.

Outside of players and coaches directly connected to the Devils, Willie O’Ree – the NHL’s first Black player – will also be honored.

There will be a patch on the shoulder commemorating O’Ree, Bogart said. Also, each player will wear number 22 (O’Ree’s number with the Boston Bruins when he broke the NHL’s color barrier) on their backs. Within the “numbers will be a story highlighting O’Ree’s impact on the sport of hockey, and other key Black figures in hockey who O’Ree opened the door for.”

Subban told Bogart: “This is a very special moment with the Devils doing this jersey for Black History Month and I’m so happy that the organization and League has given us an opportunity to put this together. When players are celebrated now, that has come on the shoulders of those before us, like Willie O’Ree. These moments are reflective of progress and change. The game will get to a place where it isn’t just about the Black players, the Black individuals who work in the sport, to have to speak out. The real sign of change is when the Black players and individuals don’t have to say anything and we will get there.”

You will be able to see the jerseys in less than an hour as the pregame will be starting on MSG+ at 7 PM for the 7:30 PM puck drop.

We will have coverage for you following the game right here following the outcome.

Devils Officially Unveil Third Jersey

The Devils made it official today: they will have a third jersey.

In the wake of the jersey being leaked via Twitter a few days ago, the team finally revealed their new threads through a press release and a series of videos and photos on their website and app.

The jersey will be the first official, legit third jersey in the history of the franchise. It is, as revealed previously, a black jersey with white striping and a white “Jersey” script wordmark with a red drop shadow.

The press release put out by the team acknowledged that fans have wanted a black jersey for the team for decades. The Devils also said that the jersey worked to weave “together Jersey pride, Devils history and the state’s professional hockey heritage.” It mentions that it was created “[i]n collaboration with the New Jersey Devils, NHL and adidas, this sweater is reflective of 90 years of New Jersey hockey history, created by the Devils nearly 40-year legacy and has been guided by the Hall of Fame goaltender, Martin Brodeur.”

The team is positioning this jersey as part of the beginning of a new era for the team, coinciding with the young talent the team has been accumulating and icing in the last few years. It aligns “with the momentum of team primed to pivot to a future window of success.”

Marty was quoted in the press release as saying that the Devils “organization has been playing with the same jersey for almost 40 years, and to be a part of bringing a third jersey for our fans to enjoy is going to leave a great mark.” Brodeur continued that the “new sweater is inspired by a history of hockey in the Garden State that fans may not be familiar with, layered with design element of Devils championship success. This is a jersey our alumni are envious of that they wished they could have played in back in their day. People throughout the state and country know us as “Jersey,” this is our place, our home and this jersey signifies that.”

Now on to the part that I always get a kick out of – for two reasons, the historical elements that go into the jersey, uniform or logo design and the, sometimes laughable ways that teams and designers will jump through hoops to explain them.

The jersey changes up the crest, taking off the traditional horned and tailed “NJ” and replacing it with the “Jersey” script. This is to symbolize (very overtly, I guess) that they are the only professional sports team that plays in the state and identifies as a specifically “New Jersey” team.

The striping pattern is said to represent the “history of hockey in the Garden State, stretching from “North Jersey” to “South Jersey” – drawing inspiration from professional teams across the entire state that also called New Jersey home.” Those teams are: the Newark Bulldogs of the Canadian-American Hockey League – 1928-29, who played in Newark, but never had an arena built there according to the press release, hence the one season there. The River Vale Skeeters of the Eastern Hockey League – 1939 to 1942. They played in River Vale, New Jersey at the River Vale Ice Arena. The final team that inspired the design elements for the jersey were the Jersey Larks, also of the EHL who played at the Haddonfield Ice House in Cherry Hill in 1960-61. This was the team that later became the original Jersey Devils.

Marty Brodeur had a big part in the jersey’s design, apparently being a world class graphic designer in addition to the greatest goaltender who ever took the ice. He worked on behalf of the team’s former players, although in reality I am sure that adidas designers did a vast majority of the heavy lifting along with input from the team and NHL.s

He added the lacing at the neck, something he felt “is reflective of a Goalie Net.” Marty told Chris Westcott in a feature article on the Devils’ website of the neck lacing that “Yeah, that was probably something a little selfish. I figured we needed to put a little goalie thing in the jersey and at first I wanted to get really the hockey net itself to be the string of the jersey and I guess we can’t do that. So we can mimic with just the laces that look like hockey netting. So this was kind of a pretty nice touch, I thought.”

Marty also was instrumental in getting “Jersey” put on the front instead of “New Jersey,” the full/proper name of the state as the press release points out. He tells the story of coming to the state for the first time after being drafted by the team in 1990. He said that “friends, strangers, fans, people in visiting cities frequently referenced his new home as “Jersey.”” This was apparently all it took to come up with the crest for the new jersey.

The Devils’ Senior Vice President of Marketing (and co-designer of the jersey), Jillian Frechette, said that “[t]he crest was really important to Marty to be reflective of Jersey and our deep roots of hockey in New Jersey. So, the crest, the font, the angle, the shape, the drop shadow, he thought all about that.”

Marty also hosts an annual golf tournament each September for charity. At this year’s event, held back on September 28, the jersey was teased in advance.

The tournament used black-and-white “tees, flags/pins, gifting, chairs and décor, and more” which “hinted the team’s new jersey color scheme and” striping.

The striping itself is a very interesting element as well.

Within the jersey, there are a total of 21 stripes. These, according to Marty himself, are to represent the state’s 21 counties.

Brodeur said “{t]he stripes are a pretty cool story. If you count all the stripes on the jersey, there are 21 stripes, and that goes with the 21 counties in New Jersey. There are tons of little things that we wanted to do with jersey and it’s really about the people, the fans of New Jersey that are supporting us. And so we have the 21 stripes for the counties and on the left shoulder, we have five stripes, three in the front, two in the back that recognize the five guys whose numbers are retired” for the Devils.

In fact, Brodeur said that “Scott Niedermayer came through and Patrick [sic] Elias with a couple of other guys and they saw it. And they were really thrilled about it. It’s an exciting time if it’s something new. And I think our fans will love it.”

In addition, he said that the stripes are “really recognizable when you look at the elbows and the striping that (the old teams) had and the ones that we are going to be wearing on the new jersey” while still paying tribute to the Devils’ history.

Frechette said in the Westcott article, “[w]hat’s special about Marty is he’s a really a really thoughtful, strategic, and intentional guy. There are a lot of alumni out there who might lend their name to something, but they might not actually have their fingerprints on it. But what I’ll say about Marty is he was a fantastic co-creator. And he sweat the details of every last detail that you’ll find on this jersey, every last nuance, right down to the stitching. And I think it’s just really special.”

Frechette also said that this ties in to the ‘Made in Jersey’ campaign that the team first introduced in January 2021. She said that “[w]e’re committed to that campaign for the longer term. So this is just one step or one stop in the journey. And it’s just really reflective of our roots in hockey and New Jersey, of our fan base that is very passionate about our team and our brand. And certainly, some of the other pieces are our esteemed alumni. Marty is really the best example, you know, ‘born in Montreal but made in Jersey.’ And now he’s got his fingerprints on this beautiful garment.”

Among the current players, writer Marc Ciampa was told by PK Subban after this morning’s practice “I think people know I’m a person with an open mind. I think it’s great. Adidas is one of my partners. When I went to Portland last summer, they showed me a couple of the third jersey options for some of the teams. I’m really excited. New Jersey has so much history and so much culture. I think they did a really good job with the jersey.”

Subban also told Ciampa his thoughts about the “Jersey” crest. “Thinking about wearing that jersey to a game is super cool. I never call it New Jersey, I call it ‘Jersey’ so wearing ‘Jersey’ on the front is super cool.” Ciampa said that Subban noted that the jersey will appeal to both the hardcore hockey fan and those who just like fashionable clothing.

“You have the right partner. Adidas has the crossover ability to make something that appeases to the hockey fan base and gets other people involved too. We want people from the area to want to wear it.”

Another Devils defenseman spoke to Ciampa about the jersey as well.

Dougie Hamilton told him “[r]ight when I saw it, I liked it a lot and once we saw them with the full kit with the gloves and pants and socks, I thought it looked really good. We’re all excited to wear them and I think it’ll look pretty cool.”

Ciampa went back to Subban, who finished by saying that he wants the jersey to get into the mainstream.

He commented “I know I’d wear it. For me, I’d love to see it in a rap video, that’d be really cool.”

The first date that the jersey will be worn was announced as December 8, 2021 versus the Philadelphia Flyers. Although we know that the Devils will wear them another 12 times this season (or 13 times total – in a nice nod to team captain Nico Hischier’s jersey number 13). The other dates will be released by the team on Black Friday, November 26.

Merchandise, including the jerseys, t-shirts, hats and collectibles, are available right now on Fanatics, and at the Devils Den team stores at the Prudential Center.

In one other piece of Devils news going into tomorrow’s home game against the Minnesota Wild, forward Alexander Holtz was reassigned to AHL Utica while forward Chase De Leo was recalled from Utica according to a blog post on the Devils’ official blog by writer Marc Ciampa.

Holtz played in six games for the Devils while he was called up earlier this month. He recorded two points – both assists. Ciampa mentions that with the Comets prior, he had five goals in four games.

De Leo has played in five other NHL contests previously with the Winnipeg Jets (two games) and the Anaheim Ducks (three games). He does not yet have an NHL point. The 25-year-old De Leo will wear number 47 with New Jersey. De Leo actually leads the AHL-leading Comets in scoring currently according to Ciampa. He has notched a pair of goals and 12 assists for 14 points as Utica has started 2021-22 with a 13-0-0 record, a new American Hockey League record.