New era begins... but it'll cost you

ERIN NICKS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

We're still nearly a month away from the opening of the NHL pre-season and it's obvious that everyone's desperate for a bit of something they can grab onto and discuss.

Right now, a team like the Senators is hoping that something is a bit of fabric manufactured by Reebok.

All NHL teams are in the process of unveiling their new RBK EDGE jerseys to the masses. The lighter, sleeker sweaters made their debut during last season's all-star game in Dallas to mixed reviews from fans. Granted, it was difficult to make a firm assessment until everyone was able to see the uniforms presented in their preferred team's colours.

However, unlike the majority of franchises, the Senators will not simply be changing their uniforms to coincide with the sweater switch -- they will also be introducing alterations to the main logos. The revamp has been touted via a campaign culminating this Wednesday in an event entitled, "A New Era Begins."

Fans who grew impatient while waiting for the unveiling managed to unearth both logos online, and since then the new designs have made appearances in the mainstream media for all to critique.

Similar to the jerseys, the reaction to the new logos has been mixed, but all would likely agree that the design hardly received a major overhaul. A lift of the chin, some unfurling of cape ... perhaps "A Modified Era Begins" may have been more appropriate.

Of course, owning the latest gear comes at a cost, and it will be bigger than fans anticipated. "Premier" RBK jerseys (previously known as replicas) are already retailing on shop.nhl.com for $114.99 US (or approximately $122 Cdn). The passe replica version that many of us currently have hanging in our closets used to sell for $89.99 US ($95 Cdn, on the same site). And if you're looking to have that new sweater personalized, you can bump up the price to an eye-popping $169.99 US ($180 in our bucks). No word if the league site offers trade-ins on nameplates when the player of your choice becomes a victim of the dreaded salary- cap squeeze -- or whether you'll require a credit check before being allowed to purchase the professional version being worn on the ice.

EMOTIONAL NATURE

While it's the fans' responsibility to maintain a level head before dropping a ludicrous amount of cash on the latest NHL offerings, the league relies on the emotional nature of its supporters to yearn for -- and eventually purchase -- the newest items made available. The Senators have upped the ante even further by changing the most identifiable trait of all merchandise offered, and just enough so that everyone can identify the difference between "old" and "new" gear.

Think it won't make a difference? It will to all those who spent copious amounts on playoff clothing in May and June. And of course, there's the kid factor -- marketers count on children noticing the slightest alteration to their products. If the logo's face has moved from a 45 to 41-degree angle, parents will be pestered and pockets will be emptied.

Ottawa fans have already been warned to expect a 4.5% increase at the box office this season, and the amount of pay-per-view broadcasts is expected to rise as well (the Sens aired five PPV games last year). When you add an increase to the cost of merchandise to this list, you have to wonder a) how much longer NHL teams can bleed their fans before a revolt occurs and b) how such blatant gouging is expected to appeal to league newcomers?

"A New Era Begins"? Are the Sens referring to the new jerseys, or the unprecedented spending they'll be expecting from their fans? At this point, it's hard to tell.


Videos

Photos