New-look uniforms

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

KELOWNA, B.C. -- Hockey is about to get a new look -- tight and light.

The form-fitting, streamlined 2006 Team Canada uniforms, made of four textiles and much lighter than their predecessors, were unveiled yesterday.

The equipment, made by Nike and dubbed the Swift, has been adopted by the International Ice Hockey Federation as official gear.

It will get its first public use at the world junior championship in British Columbia in December.

WEAR IT IN TURIN

The Olympic team will wear it in Turin in February, and next year all the National Hockey League teams will wear a version, although perhaps from another manufacturer.

Either way, this is the look of the future -- a tight, strategically vented sweater and matching form-fitting articulated socks.

Hockey traditionally has had loose sweaters, and over the years they became even looser as some players tried to counter the grabbing of defenders.

But these new sweaters are tight and strapped to the top of the hockey pants, an innovation that would have caused Team Canada executive director Wayne Gretzky some consternation in his day. With these sweaters, you can't lift a corner and tuck it into your pants.

In theory, players should be able to skate faster with these uniforms because they're lighter and provide a 15% reduction in aerodynamic drag.

The weight of the sock will be reduced by 58% and over the course of a game the average forward will lift 333 pounds less than he does with today's uniforms.

The Team Canada design also has been changed somewhat, with the horizontal piping being switched to vertical. On the front of the socks is a tiny Team Canada crest, a variation that was Gretzky's idea.

The basic colors still will be red, white and black, but at the Olympics the Canadians will try to use the black one as much as possible.

The antique gold (or more realistically, ugly mustard yellow) sweater that was unveiled at the 2004 World Cup is a thing of the past.


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