Tight don't feel right

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

KELOWNA -- The new look lasted 20 minutes.

For one period of running-time scrimmage yesterday, the Team Canada players wore their new Nike Swift sweaters and socks.

After that, Team Canada 2006 executive director Wayne Gretzky sent a message down to the bench: That's enough. Go back to the regular sweaters.

The Nike sweaters were prototypes of the ones Team Canada will wear in the February Olympics. They are sleek, synthetic and tight. Far too tight.

"I didn't even wear it," said Rick Nash who put on a phenomenal display yesterday and snapped home a couple of beautiful goals. "I couldn't get it on. It was way too tight. I didn't bother."

The biggest guy on the team, 6-foot-6 Chris Pronger, followed Nash's example.

"It was a little tight for me," he said. "I just wore my practice jersey. I didn't wear the tight one. I was one of the smart ones. They need to make some tailoring adjustments."

What about the form-fitting socks?

"The socks were a little tight, too," Pronger said. "My feet are still a little numb, they were so tight."

"I think they got the sizes a little bit wrong," said another one of the big guys, 6-foot-4 Joe Thornton. "Normally, I'm about a size 58 sweater. I think I'll probably be a 66 in something like this.

"The socks were tight as well, a bit tough to get used to. The socks we usually use are kind of baggy and real big, and nice and tall. These ones were short. It felt like leotards pulled over your shin pads. It didn't feel too good."

The goaltenders didn't have any complaints, but their sweaters were larger, even though the new league rules require them to be snug.

"It always baffles me why they do these things," Marty Turco said. "I've never made a save with my jersey before, but as long as we don't look too silly, it doesn't really matter to us."

The first impression is that it's a retro look. With the tight sweaters and tighter socks, the players looked like something out of the National Hockey League's opening season. You almost expected a rover to show up on the ice.

"They looked like video-game guys," Turco said.

"Jarome Iginla has probably worn something that tight before," Shane Doan said with a chuckle.

Iginla smiled when asked for confirmation, paused a couple of seconds and then nodded: "Maybe."

"They're not my cup of tea," Todd Bertuzzi offered. "It's something you'd wear to a bar maybe, but I don't know, out on the rink, it's pretty tight. I don't know if they've seen what we look like under our shirts, but not a lot of us are that cut."

"They're different," Doan added. "And I don't know if different is in a good way or a bad way. If you fall down, you actually pick up speed. They're fairly slippery.

"But it cuts down on player costs to the team because you don't need a garter belt and you don't need sock tape because those things aren't moving once you get them on."

Kirk Maltby had a similar observation.

"It's definitely a different look," he said. "I think it will take some time to get used to. The problem is when you go down, you slide. Those socks are like ski pants."

When asked for his opinion, coach Pat Quinn just laughed and said: "I don't answer political questions." Then he added, "It's different. I don't have to wear them."

Later in the afternoon, Steve Jones, communications manager of Bauer Nike Hockey, arrived on the scene to do some damage control and insist that this was just a first attempt.

"The key is that we don't want to make it so over the top that they're not comfortable wearing it," he said. "The feedback is obviously what we need to make some adjustments and we're going to do that."

He heard no objections.


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