Dressed to thrill

The Flames will unveil a new uniform, which will be more slimming and lighter thanks to...

The Flames will unveil a new uniform, which will be more slimming and lighter thanks to technological advancements. (Sun File/Al Charest)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

"We were five Maurice Richards against five other Maurice Richards, throwing themselves at the puck. We were 10 players all wearing the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens, all with the same burning enthusiasm."

-- The Hockey Sweater

In Calgary, when the Flames came to town in the early 1980s, it was five Lanny McDonalds.

And they were all donning the long-time worn, simple white or red-based Flames sweaters with the Flaming 'C' outlined in yellow and corresponding stripes near the base on the sleeves.

Starting in the 1994-95 season, it was five Theoren Fleurys, wearing the newly designed jersey that brought black into the mix to outline the Flaming 'C' and striping, which created a podium effect.

Then it became five Valeri Bures, draped in the third jersey -- a black-based uni with a fire-breathing horse -- unveiled prior to the 1998-99 campaign and put into full rotation as the road sweater a few years later.

Most recently, it's been five Jarome Iginlas, wearing the amazingly successful clean-looking uniform trotted out in a white version in 2000-01 and then the wildly popular red model in time for the club's resurgence in 2003-04.

Soon it may be five Dion Phaneufs, wearing the soon-to-be unveiled uniform, which will be more slimming, lighter and moisture wicking, thanks to technological advancements.

What the new Flames togs will look like, though, remains a mystery.

But Flames president and CEO Ken King is enjoying the anticipation among the faithful out there and the guesses he's seen and heard.

"You bet," King said after being asked if he loves seeing the various mock-ups drawn up and submitted around the internet. "There are lots of mock designs out there, and I think that's part of the fun and anticipation."

According to King, none he's seen are exact to what will be unveiled when the Flames host their annual golf tournament Sept. 4 and 5.

Rest assured, there are plenty of guesses out there. A few minutes looking around the world wide web and you'll find potential uniforms featuring flames all over the place, black-based models, ones that look similar to the existing unis but with stripes down the length of the arms or black stripes along the bottom half of the sides and black cuffs on the red model and red features on the white version.

Another rumour flying around is part of the Alberta coat of arms will be used for a shoulder patch.

King, understandably, is coy and won't divulge any details.

"It's a change. Not a radical departure, but it's a change," he said. "I'm pretty comfortable with it.

"When we changed to (the most recent) jersey, it was very, very well received, and I'm kinda hoping for the same reception on this one."

Duplicating that success will be difficult. Aided by the thrilling playoff run of 2004, the red uniform was among the top selling new jerseys ever.

It may seem hard to imagine all those who shelled out for that uniform in the last four years will do it again, but King isn't concerned the market has been flooded.

"In soccer, they modify them two or three times during the season in order to sell jerseys, and that's not really our process," he said. "What we're doing is hoping to provide people with the kind of merchandise that appeals to them. That one did, and we're hoping this one does, as well. People like to have more than one, too."

Besides, the change isn't so much by choice, since every NHL teams is doing the same.

"Even if it weren't a mandated change, I think freshening it up from time to time is logical," King said. "I think if you change it two or three times during the year only for the express purpose of trying to sell merchandise, that's a bit much."

With the autumn season on the horizon, hockey season is fast approaching.

That will help elevate the excitement.

Even King can't wait.

"It's always neat to come forward. There is some trepidation, you hope people will like it, and I'm pretty confident they will. We do some testing and things like that, so I'm pretty excited."

---

FLAMES JERSEY TIMELINE

1972

THE FLAMES FRANCHISE MAKES ITS DEBUT IN ATLANTA -- ALONG WITH RED AND YELLOW SILKS.

1980

CALGARY IMPORTS THE FLAMES FOR THE 1980-81 NHL SEASON. THE CLUB KEEPS THE ATLANTA COLOURS AND UNIFORM DESIGN FOR 14 MORE SEASONS, INCLUDING 1989, WHEN THE FLAMES CAPTURED THE STANLEY CUP.

1994

THE 'PODIUM' DESIGN MAKES ITS DEBUT THIS YEAR. THE FLAMES ADD BLACK TO THE COLOUR SCHEME, AND SWITCH THEIR GLOVES, PANTS AND ROAD HELMETS FROM RED TO BLACK.

1998

A LITTLE HORSEPOWER GOES A LONG WAY WHEN THE FLAMES INTRODUCE A NEW LOGO AND BLACK THIRD JERSEY.

2000

NEW WHITE HOME DUDS SHOW UP THIS YEAR, AND THE BLACK JERSEY BECOMES THE FULL-TIME ROAD UNIFORM.

2003

A NEW-LOOK RED JERSEY BECOMES THE HOME UNIFORM FOR THE FLAMES -- JUST IN TIME FOR A STANLEY CUP RUN IN 2004


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