Since the Ice Age began in Nashville in 1998, fans have seen the changing of styles from the classic, bulky air-knit beauties of the early years to the more modern, sleeker (and gold-er) designs of the current generation. Some of these designs and features, however, were only seen briefly or not at all before they passed back into obscurity. Here, we'll take a look at some of the more uncommon 'threads'
The White Reebok Edge Alternate
For two years, from 2009 to 2011, the Navy Alternate dazzled Preds fans with a design that is perhaps even more popular today than it was when it was first worn on the ice (and that's saying something!) In 2011, however, the Predators organization dazzled fans again by unveiling a white counterpart to the Navy Alternate, worn by players at an interactive fan and player casino-night style event called "Gnashvegas" - an event and tradition still going today. There was widespread speculation at the time that the Predators may transition to this jersey as their away threads and the Navy Alternate as their home jersey permanently - speculation promptly ended as the Navy Alternate went extinct when the team transitioned to their primary gold colors before the 2011-2012 season. All in all, reports are that somewhere between 50-100 of these white jerseys were created, with some being worn by players during the event, and some blank ones which were given to arena and team employees. You will occasionally see one of these around in collector groups, but they are extremely rare and even more valuable.
Jersey photos courtesy Lindsay Watts
The 'Albino Mustard Cat' Prototype
In 2001, the Nashville Predators organization revealed their striking design for the franchise's very first alternate jersey. It featured a box-style collar, alternate crest logo, new shoulder patches, glacier twill navy blue numbers, and perhaps the most infamous shade of 'brown-yellow mustard' ever worn in the league. While the Predators kept the design through 2007, what most people never realized is that a different version, featuring white fang-like letters and numbers almost made the final cut. They were even worn for the Nashville Predators official team photo for the 2001-2002 season, though seemingly no one outside of the organization had ever seen them in person.
In 2018, one of the prototypes emerged from, of all things, a thrift shop in California, featuring the exact same style of lettering and customization that featured on the team photo. Thorough research seems to indicate a very reasonable likelihood this is one of the only - if not the only - legitimate surviving prototypes. The customization is actually quite brilliant. I do wonder what made the Preds' designers to pull the plug on this so late in the game? For more information on this jersey, check out the album HERE and read the captions.
The Velcro Inaugural (Preseason)
Oh, the joys of being an expansion franchise...before these days where expansion franchises like Las Vegas and Seattle receive high quality players as part of the expansion draft, teams freshly entering the league used to ice squads featuring many players teetering on the minor league bubble. As a result, many, many prospects were evaluated to see if the team could discover a diamond in the rough - or two. Lots of players in training camp and preseason meant LOTS of turnover, and a ton of changes in player names on the backs of jerseys. How did the organization handle all of this recustomization? Why, with velcro, of course.
In the weeks leading up to the team's very first NHL game, players wore these jerseys with removable velcro nameplates, and many of them like the one you see here were sold into collections after being used for the preseason. If a player didn't make the cut, the team could just slap the 'next man up' on the back and call it a day. Cool idea, and a very unique feature for these rare jerseys.
Jersey photos courtesy Ryan Tracy
The 'Gold Era' Edge 1.0
When Reebok revolutionized the modern hockey jersey in 2007 with the introduction of the Reebok Edge, players did not respond with glowing reviews. The first release of the new jersey (1.0), featuring materials designed to wick away sweat, worked so well, they wicked the moisture right into every other bit of the player's equipment - often drenching their gloves instead. By the end of the season, most players had either fully transitioned or were transitioning to the redesigned Edge (2.0) that featured a more traditional air-knit body material that was thoroughly vented throughout.
A few players, however, preferred the 1.0 design and stuck with them for several years. By the time the 2011-2012 season came along, less than a handful of players (i.e. Martin Erat, Mike Green) still used the old design, and when the Predators overhauled their entire look to accentuate their new primary gold, their new jerseys were designed with 2.0 materials already the industry norm. Except - Erat still preferred the 1.0. Martin Erat's jerseys had to be custom made with different materials and were the only Edge 1.0 jerseys made for the Preds, making them extremely rare. Below is a comparison between the typical Edge 2.0 worn by Mike Fisher and Erat's 1.0. You can also see the jersey in greater detail HERE
(Click on any photo for greater detail)
The custom-made Erat Edge 1.0
Note the much more breathable knit of the 2.0
The most pronounced difference is on the collar and shoulders
First shot of sleeves - good contrast between dark parts of the sleeves
Second shot of sleeves - good contrast between lighter parts of the sleeves
Hems and stripes are even wildly different
In 2011, when the Predators debuted their brand new updated logo and color scheme, one other change that took place across the league was the transition from the rectangular Reebok Vector patch at the jersey's rear neck area to the Reebok wordmark used ubiquitously until Adidas took over NHL jersey production in 2017. Oddly enough, however, even though Nashville had NEVER worn the style of jersey that began use in the 2011-2012 season, a couple of jerseys (and a rumored third) were inexplicably produced with the older-style Reebok vector patch and worn as regular sets during at least two different seasons.
The first example of this was worn by Mattias Ekholm in White Set 1 of the 2011-12 season (pictured). The other example, currently in my collection, was worn by Colin Wilson 2 seasons later as his White Set 1 for 2013-14. It is rumored Milwaukee Admiral and Preds prospect Taylor Beck also had one of these jerseys issued, but I can find no photo evidence.
My personal belief is that these jerseys were left over from a batch of prototypes that were repurposed for game use, as designs from the 2011 offseason leaked to the public by Icethetics showed a nearly-finalized prototype that had not yet made the transition from Vector to wordmark. If so, that makes these unique for more than one reason.
Example with the rare Vector Patch
What was normally worn 2011-2017
Got any others you think should be on this list? Send an e-mail to PredsThreads@gmail.com!