When the NHL lockout cancelled 2012 Winter Classic, we lost more than hockey's marquee game. We also lost the big reveal of Detroit and Toronto's special, limited-edition jerseys, which is always a fun part of the annual festivities. With as much history as those two squads had to draw from, there was no doubt it was going to be neat.
But if a few recent eBay postings are any indication, there's no need to wonder what sweaters the Red Wings and the Leafs would have been wearing -- you're looking at them.
The Maple Leafs jersey popped up online on February 14th, originally at Icethetics after it was posted on eBay by TheHockeyJersey.co, and a close look at the Leafs sweater suggested to the jersey aesthetes at Icethetics that they aren't simply counterfeits:
I'll level with you guys. I feel no need to help prove that this isn't a counterfeit. I'm just here to share information. You can believe whatever you like. That being said, based on my years of research and knowledge, I'm comfortable saying this jersey came out of a Reebok factory.
Icethetics notes that, while the Winter Classic uniforms weren't released due to the game's cancellation, it was cancelled late enough in the year that the jerseys would likely have been produced.
They aren't simply old sweaters, either. While the Leafs' jerseys bear a strong resemblance to sweaters Toronto wore as alternates in 1996-97, the Reebok Edge cut indicates that it's a new design.
That said, they are inspired by old sweaters, as Winter Classic jerseys usually have been. The Leafs' logo was originally used from 1927-1938, and wouldn't you know it, the Red Wings jersey above is also a throwback to the mid-1920s. As SportsLogos points out, it appears to be aping the look of the 1928-29 Detroit Cougars, who would become the Falcons, and then the Red Wings in 1932.
But the most notable thing here is that, if these really were the jerseys, 2012's Winter Classic was going to feature a red vs. blue mockup, like you might see on a rod hockey table. It wasn't uncommon back in the day, although it made things difficult in the era of black and white photography:
But something tells me a red vs. blue matchup would pop a little more on HDTV. How cool would it be to see the NHL bring it back?
If the rumours are true that the next Winter Classic will still feature the Leafs and Red Wings, and if these jerseys are the real deal, it's possible we still see them. I hope so. The red and blue concept is great.