ST. LOUIS – The NHL brought its traveling cavalcade of fun to St. Louis this week for the 2017 Winter Classic, featuring the Blues vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. And with the Winter Classic comes a mountain of Winter Classic hats, shirts, jackets and adults pajamas!
The NHL is coming off the 2016 Winter Classic in Foxborough, which generated the highest two-day sale period in the event’s history. The expectation is that given the interest here in St. Louis, and the retail space they have, that number could be challenged by the 2017 event.
Here are the Best and Worst of the 2017 NHL Winter Classic swag, mostly featuring the best, because most of it is darn cool.
What separates Winter Classic swag from pedestrian NHL swag is the experience attached to it. And what can separate your Winter Classic swag from everyone else’s is a reminder that it was a personal experience.
One of the leaps forward this year at the game is customization. There’s a shop near Section 105 of the ballpark that has two machines: One that can stitch text onto hats and shirts, and one that can laser etch a message onto commemorative sticks and pucks.
So you can have, like, your family’s names put on a special piece of memorabilia. Or “BLACKHAWKS SUCK,” if you slip the person working the machine $20. Just kidding. Maybe.
WORST: Winter Classic Build-A-Bear
Just the sight of this thing should make any parent shudder, as they slowly move their hands to their wallets to make sure it hasn’t already been stolen by these fuzzy little money vacuums.
Build-A-Bear is a product from St. Louis, so they have a large trailer at Busch Stadium. The NHL is already a partner, but for the Winter Classic they developed special outfits that your children will summarily reject because they want to dress their bear like Kylo Ren.
One of these things will cost you $45, which must be why this thing is sneering at your like Seth MacFarlane after a dirty joke.
BEST: SWEET-ASS BLUES JERSEYS
The NHL is blessed with having two aesthetically awesome teams in this Winter Classic, but these throwback Blues sweaters are really some of the best they’ve had in an outdoor game.
It’s inspired by the team’s 1967 jersey, but it’s not a replica. The numbers and letters are felt, which is really an interesting touch. And while we’re not totally sold on the collar design they debuted last season at the Foxborough game, it seems to fit here.
Just a nice reminder that these outdoor game jerseys can honor the past and not look totally fug in the process.
WORST: THIS DUMB POSTER
Let’s be clear: It’s a rather cool concept. But let’s also be clear: When the Chicago Blackhawks have been in this many outdoor games, there’s no reason they couldn’t just have included images of those ticket subs in the design, rather than having a Chicago fan hanging a piece of art with a Red Wings home game prominently displayed on it.
Which, we’re guessing, they won’t for $55.
The best-selling item at the Winter Classic store are the official pom hats for both teams. The Blackhawks one is arguably the best-looking piece of Chicago swag in the shop, and the Blues one is the perfect companion to those previously lauded jerseys.
The only drawback is that the secondary logo design for the Blackhawks hat is so much more distinct than that of the Blues, which is just a rerun of their primary logo. But that’s a quibble; For $32, one of the best items at the Winter Classic.
WORST: THIS SHIRT
“Hey, Charlie, you get that last shirt done? Boss said the deadline was two hours ago!”
[Charlie grabs a shirt template. Finds a terrible font. Makes it red. Adds an ugly drop shadow.]
“Hey, Charlie, wasn’t this supposed to have some kind of baseball theme to it?”
[Charlie free-hand draws what he believes a baseball diamond looks like, although it ends up resembling a manta ray without the stinger.]
“Done! Let’s set the price at $35 and watch’em FLY OFF THE RACKS!”
[TITLE CARD: Two months later. A rack of unsold Charlie-designed T-shirts collects dust.]
BEST: THESE VESTS
A new item at the Winter Classic, and one that should make an annual appearance.
These all-weather vests look sharp and wear well, and that “Hockey Club” design — while it lacks team logos — is unique and striking, almost like a callback to the Blues’ great third jerseys they no longer wear.
Digging this big time, but it’ll set you back $139. Still, they don’t have Winter Classic logos on your cheap UNIQLO vest, so ante up.
WORST: WAL-MART CALLED AND THEY WANT THEIR SHIRT BACK
Look, we’re not here to judge, although that’s completely the basis of this post. Maybe this shirt is your jam. Or maybe you’re already feeling itchy looking at it.
So, ladies, if you want to wear something that looks like a production error and then have a friend shoot a water gun filled with bleach on it, we’re pretty sure you could recreate this look for a hell of a lot cheaper than what this monstrosity retails for.
BEST: SLEEPY TIME FOR KIDS AND ADULTS
Props to the NHL for greatly increasing the amount of Winter Classic and team wear for little ones, including different kinds of sleepwear for kids, shown on the left. Pretty sure if I was a six-year-old Blues fan, I’m never taking these off.
And if you’re a 26-year-old Blues fan, you’re probably never taking off the pajamas on the right: An adult onsie. The NHL has sold these for a bit, but here it is in all its glory.
Just give me these PJs, a bowl of cereal and “The Price Is Right” and watch me waste a sick day away. (Keep in mind the adult PJs cost $129, so maybe you’re better off trying to squeeze into a child’s large.)
WORST: LACK OF CONTEXT
No, Blues fans can tell you quite definitively that there is an offseason every year.
A very, very long offseason.
BEST: THIS SHIRT
As the saying goes, ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid.’ And does the job: Using the Arch in a straightforward way, good uses of the logos and a cute little tagline.
It’s the diner food of shirts. It gets the job done.
And on the other end of the spectrum…
WORST: FOR $99 I WILL BEDAZZLE YOUR OWN DUMB HAT
The Winter Classic store has these hats in a locked glass cabinet, like fine jewelry.
These are $99 hats with bedazzled crystals on them.
Repeating our top story: These are $99 hats with bedazzled crystals on them.
Again, to each their own, but general rule of thumb: Your hat shouldn’t cost only a few dollars less than the cheapest ticket to the Winter Classic. Or, like, more than dinner for four.
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