Ten Things We Want to See Next Season #6: A new (old) jersey

It’s time to bring it back.

Ten Things We Want to See is a series of articles we’re running on Raw Charge that look at ten things that we, the staff, would like to see happen during the 2018-19 season. It represents our hopes, our fears, and our wildest dreams for this coming season. We hope to be able to look back next summer and check off that each one happened.

At some point this off-season, most likely at the Bolts Fan Fest in September, the organization will announce the new third jersey that will be worn during selected games this season. That would follow a pattern established by prior jersey reveals and be a nice gesture to the fans coming out to the big party.

So what’s the one thing that I want to see happen this season (and I’m pretty sure I’m alone on this, the rest of the Raw Charge staff reserves the right to disavow the rest of this post)? Well, it’s simple:

That’s right. The return of the classic and unfairly maligned Tampa Bay Lightning Storm Jersey. It debuted in 1996 and lasted three glorious years before quietly slipping into retirement. Some of the best players in the organization (at least to that point) wore it. Darcy Tuckey, Rob Zamuner, Dino Ciccarelli, Brian Bradley, Wendel Clark and a very, very young Vincent Lecavalier all pulled that sweater over their head and stepped on to the ice.

While these third jerseys often show up on various “worst oflists and a guest writer on this very website once ranked them dead last in the team’s uniform history, I happen to think it would be a perfect way for the organization to honor its past. It’s just a shame that the moratorium on third jerseys last year didn’t let the Lightning break them out during their 25th Anniversary season. [OK, I can’t fault this logic. - Acha]

I know there is a clamor to honor or replicate the original black, white and blue jerseys that symbolized the club for the first fifteen years of its existence. As awesome as it has been to see Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos skate around in those duds during a couple of pregame skates, there is a better use for those: the Winter Classic. The Lightning will eventually participate in an outdoor game whether it’s the Classic or (more likely) a Stadium Series game. Save the originals for that moment.

Besides, if you’re longing for nostalgia, the Storm jersey is the perfect snapshot of the early Lighting organization jersey. It debuted in 1996 and lasted three glorious years before quietly slipping into retirement. The rain, the waves, the lightning bolts down the arms and the crazy fonts. It all combines into one glorious perfect mess. If you had to describe the Lightning from 1996 to 1999 wouldn’t “glorious mess” be the simplest way to do it?

While the classic jerseys recall images of the Stanley Cup being raised, the Storm jersey brings back memories of the wackiness of the original ownership group. Mysterious Japanese businessmen, multiple lawsuits, mascots on Jerry Springer, Stephane Richer as a member of the Lightning, car repossessions, and so much more went on during the days that sweater was worn on the ice. Why not bring back a jersey that symbolizes all of that chaos?

I’ll admit that there is probably a bit too much going on. It’s as if the designer visited the Tampa area once and then threw everything they remembered about the trip onto the jersey:

  • Went to the beach: add waves
  • It rained, a lot: rectangular rain drops
  • There was lightning: bolts down the sleeve
  • There were old people: grey yoke over the shoulders/

Despite the cacophony of Florida references it still works AND screams mid-1990s design. It’s not boring, which, let’s be honest, the last two third jerseys have been.

The two most recent Lightning alternates have been...eh, fine.  The royal blue “Bolts” was a nice change from their normal jerseys (even if the founder of the club doesn’t like nickname) while the most recent version was a lackluster copy of the Los Angeles Kings third sweater. I like that they brought the black back, but why not do more with it than some piping on the sleeves and “Bolts” down the middle? It’s a safe, somewhat routine design, perhaps a reflection of the current safe and cautious management. While cautious and a little bland is excellent for running a stable franchise, it is still a bit boring for a jersey.

I’ll be the first to admit that I might not be the best judge for this. I am old and steeped in longing for my younger days. The Storm jersey was the first “real” Lightning jersey I owned and it still hangs in my closet. (Right next to this sweet, sweet sweater so my taste might be questionable). However, the trend league-wide in 2018 is a nod to the old. A majority of the teams that have released their design have honored their past in some way from Vancouver’s flying skate (although they won’t wear it until the 2019-20 season):

To Anaheim’s update of one of their iconic jerseys:

To Arizona’s resurrection of the Kachina jersey (which they will wear against the Lightning on October 27th)

To New Jersey’s “Christmas” jersey:

Throwbacks are apparently all of the rage this year. So why not keep it going? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to buy one of these in a store and not have to rummage through a thrift store or get gouged on eBay? The one hanging in my closet is close to 20 years old — it can almost drink.

I’m not arguing that this should be the permanent third jersey for the Lightning. Just give it one last good run so it can get the send off it properly deserves not dumped in a clearance bin and forgotten about during an ownership change. Then, next season, as Tampa takes its Stanley Cup celebration tour, retire it forever and announce the replacement. It would be amazing.

One more photo to remind you of its legacy - Puppa!

Ok...just one more: