Update 2: The sweater revealed Sept. 27 at Fan Fest is out with cleaner, thicker lines and essentially an update of the navy blue “BOLTS” sweaters.
It reminds me a little too much of the Los Angeles Kings home black sweaters, but the entire kit, if that’s what you want to call it, looks sharp with how the updated blue bolt pops against the black pants.
When you look at the sweater up close, each letter in BOLTS has some blue underneath to add some contrast to the white letters on black sweater. The blue also appears to be deeper than the blue sported on the home sweaters, which I don’t know if the team really wanted to introduce another shade of blue. They’re already inserting a silver/gray tone to add to the mix with these new sweaters.
Scroll down through the rest of the original post below to see a history of the team’s third jerseys including a rejected black jersey from the early days and a 2006 rejected black jersey that has some similarities to the new one.
For shits and giggles, the team pranked/trolled its own players with a fake third jersey that as one player aptly put it, looked like a Christmas sweater with palm trees. Sun Sports play-by-play announcer said during Fan Fest that you know that would sell well anyway just as a novelty. He’s right—it’s a lot better than a lot of minor league Christmas sweaters, too.
The reveal itself could have been a little less dramatic with the lighting, as you can tell by my photo above. All throughout the team kept the house lights dark with a spotlight on Stamkos, making it hard to see in person what it looked like, so you were left with the pre-recorded intro.
The team store is pre-selling the authentic versions with name and number for $350 while replicas are going for $140 and will be delivered in time for the first game with the new sweaters.
You can check out a full photo gallery of the team’s new thirds on the Lightning website. The team also announced the Bolts will sport the sweaters at the following games:
- Nov. 13 vs. San Jose Sharks
- Nov. 15 vs. New York Islanders
- Nov. 22 vs. Minnesota Wild
- Nov. 29 vs. Ottawa Senators
- Dec. 6 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
- Dec. 27 vs. Carolina Hurricanes
- Jan. 17, 2015 vs. Colorado Avalanche
- Jan. 31, 2015 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
- Feb. 7, 2015 vs. Los Angeles Kings
- March 7, 2015 vs. Dallas Stars
- March 14, 2015 vs. Winnipeg Jets
- April 11, 2015 vs. Boston Bruins
Update 1: Lightning have teased the third sweater through social media and the team’s official website on Sept. 10; the sweater will be unveiled Sept. 27 at Fan Fest.
Earlier: The Lightning are set to unveil a new third jersey this season replacing the popular “BOLTS” dark blue sweaters used since Nov. 23, 2008, against the New Jersey Devils.
What can we expect this time around? Fans seem to be craving black, and those Black Ice sweaters the NHL stores have sold for various teams including the Lightning are popular in the stands. The Bolts confirmed as much. I have a Stamkos one myself and it’s my go-to sweater.
The Internet, being its leaky self, will probably surface the ones at some point. While we haven’t seen that happen yet, those sweaters that never made it past the sample stage have found their ways online through the years.
In both instances the Lightning pondered black but went with dark blue.
A Columbus Blue Jackets fan posted in January on his blog Dark Blue Jacket that during the ’90s he acquired a piece of Lightning history when he was a Bolts fan:
And part of that sordid affair saw me take custodial ownership of a rare piece of hockey history, rather contraband – an early development of Tampa’s initial third jersey. The story goes that the owner and director of scouting each designed a third jersey and had a set made for the team. The winner’s would go on to be mass produced, the loser’s design would be destined to a blog piece over 15 years later.
And here’s the evidence:
The zig-zag design looks less of a Lightning bolt and more of a graphic you’d put on the wall of a Laser Arcade.
I do question the authenticity that this was considered, only for what’s on the collar. I don’t recognize that brand or logo. Usually samples would be completed by the same manufacturer who is going to be making the jersey. At that time, Starter, CCM and Nike were the big players. The logo looks more like a brand that would be making adult league team jerseys.
At the bottom of the post, the author also took a selfie modeling the jersey. I do wish he would turn around to see what the nameplate says.
That aside, I think we all can see clearly why this design didn’t win.
As for the sweater number, maybe it was a generic choice. Nobody wore No. 10 during the 1994-1995 season, when jersey would have been developed, and even into 1996 when Paul Brousseau took the number for the 1996-97 season.
What won out was the stormy seas sweater, something I eyed as a kid when I first saw it in person at a Play It Again Sports in Frederick, Md. Sadly, it was too pricey for my family.
Some folks pan it, but for the ’90s where there was a different kind of loud from the ’80s, this was different and overall a good execution. I like the choppy Tampa Bay and the rain dashes make a nice touch, something that was retooled as a graphic in the armpits with the Bolts jerseys.
The sleeves give some pause and shows the limitation of graphics production on hockey jerseys at the time. I think those were sublimated. The Phoenix Coyotes’ Southwestern design they used was thanks to using a different fabric sewn to the cotton sweater–a bit of a Spandex-type material. The Carolina Hurricanes used the same technique to incorporate the hurricane flag design.
In April, jersey design blog Icethetics picked up on an eBay listing for a prototype Lightning jersey for the 2007 season. This was for the redesign for the Rick Tocchet, Barry Melrose and first part of Guy Boucher’s tenure.
Click on the image on Icethetics’ blog and a close-up is shown of the tags and the prototype tag showing this was produced in December 2006–ten years after the Lightning debuted its last third jersey. The blog declared this prototype legit, by the way.
So, technically this wasn’t for a third jersey redesign, but you see how it could easily be thrown in as one. The crest easily inspired what we have today for the home and away. Thankfully the organization made the tweaks needed to take this from a superhero jersey to a hockey jersey.
Some aspiring designers are trying to pitch their own version of what they think a black third jersey will look like for the Lightning.
User JML Graphics on the Sports Logos message boards submitted his design using the current shoulder patch for the Lightning:
I like how the sweater is a throwback to the original Lightning sweaters giving sharper lines and simplifying the vintage design by using just one thick white belt and two thin blue lines.
The ’70s nameplate works on here, something that the Flyers and Sabres attempted to do with their third jerseys of late, and has become permanent for the Flyers. The white on black (plus dark blue letters) aids the contrast here to be readable.
The shoulder patch doesn’t transfer quite as seamlessly as some would. It still looks like a shoulder patch on the front. Just open up the design a little bit or maybe do a take off the Minnesota Wild third jersey. The Wild also use a circle patch for its home sweaters now, which were also once a third. The differences that there’s a lot less text involved in the Wild sweater. The less reading, the better.
The Lightning definitely took a step forward with its BOLTS sweater, and the next incarnation should be time for a statement without being loud.