Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s been almost a decade since Reebok first unveiled their new Edge jerseys at the 2007 NHL All Star Game. As we enter their last season of use, let’s take a look at the changes the system has undergone over the past 9 years.
PREMIER VS. RETAIL AUTHENTIC VS. TEAM/GAME-ISSUED
Most jerseys you’ll find in retail stores are Premier replica jerseys. These are meant to emulate the look of the on-ice jerseys, but use different materials and manufacturing techniques. The most obvious feature of Premier jerseys are their screen-printed twill shoulder patches. They also lack a fight strap and are manufactured using a thin material very prone to snags.
However, this post will focus on retail authentic jerseys such as the Edge 1.0 (7187), Edge 2.0 (7287), and Indo-Edge (7231). All three of these models are meant to be the identical to the versions NHL players wear on the ice. The most glaring difference between retail authentic and Premier jerseys are the material, embroidered shoulder patches, and stitched elements. Additionally, retail authentic jerseys have reinforced elbows and a fight strap. These jerseys may be available in team and retail stores, but are generally harder to find due to their higher value and relatively low demand.
Team and game-issued jerseys are almost identical to the retail authentic line, although they have a reinforced fight strap and lack a neck tag. These are usually not available for sale except through specialty retailers such as Meigray.
Held for the first time since 2004, the NHL’s 55th All Star Game in 2007 was meant to usher in a new era in the NHL. As such, upcoming megastars Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were among the first to don Reebok’s new streamlined, advanced jersey system which promised to increase player versatility by being lighter and less water absorbent.
The league completely converted to the new EDGE system the following season. While focus was supposed to be on the new material and cut, the most jarring change for the fans was the revamped look of multiple teams. Gone were the iconic mountain peaks and bottom-half-star– both replaced by generic, plain designs. Similar fates awaited the Senators, Penguins, and Lightning, as their designs fell victim to the new Reebok template.
BACK TO BASICS
The first major change came early, as players realized that the play-dry material wicked sweat and moisture into their gloves. In response, Reebok reverted to the older air-knit material used in the generation prior. Other changes include the return of reinforced elbows and widening of the sleeve and chest areas. Although most teams switched to the updated style (with the Edmonton Oilers being the last to do so), retail authentic jerseys continued to be manufactured using the older material. At this point, the only way to obtain a 7287 (AKA Edge 2.0) authentic jersey was buying a game-worn or team-issued jersey.
LOGO CHANGE & IND0-EDGE
Reebok stepped away from its “vector” logo in 2011, replacing it with a simple wordmark on its jerseys starting in 2011-12. This change coincided with a similar change in Premier jerseys (which were ironed on, unsurprisingly), as well as the launch of a new line: the 7231.
Otherwise known as the Indo-Edge (referent to their place of manufacture, Indonesia), 7231 jerseys were similar to the jerseys worn by the players, but manufactured with cheaper materials and techniques. Although these jerseys were made of air-knit, the material was noticeably lighter than their on-ice counterpart or even the older CCM 6100. In addition, the twill holding the fight-strap in place was thinner and white on Indo-Edges (it is the same color as the back mesh on the on-ice product). These factors, combined with the less-refined stitching and lime-green neckband made the 7231 series unpopular among jersey collectors.
After backlash due to the high prices of the inferior Indo-Edge, Reebok introduced the Edge 2.0 (7287) series consisting of materials identical to the ones work by the players (albeit with a few differences in manufacturing). Interestingly, the size tag still reads “7187,” the model number for the older Edge 1.0. Currently, both Edge 2.0 and Indo-Edge jerseys are being manufactured, with their availability dependent on the team and store.
The introduction of EDGE saw the NHL shield move from the bottom hem to the collar insert. However, this change caused some players to complain about its edges digging into their necks, which even led to some players snipping off the top portion (Thanks to /u/CBJGameWorn for the picture). In response, Reebok began phasing in a new, softer NHL shield made of felt in 2012.
The introduction of the EDGE jersey system in 2007 was just like any other product launch, and there was resistance to be expected. Our preference for familiarity caused us to be wary of the massive changes that Reebok brought, and the loss of iconic designs to an ugly template didn’t help matters. However, the system matured over time, as changes were made which ultimately resulted in a better experience for both the casual fan and hardcore jersey collector. And as we move on from Reebok and onto Adidas for the 2017-18 season, we will follow along as their system eases through the inevitable growing pains.