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  • Are Both Weekes and Russo Right About the Future Of Wild Jerseys?

    Tony Abbott

    Whether you feel the Minnesota Wild's Reverse Retro jerseys are a cool change-of-pace from their standard colors or merely another round of cheap fan service for the old Minnesota North Stars crowd, one thing is for sure: They're not going away anytime soon.


    Earlier this week, former goalie-turned-insider Kevin Weekes (ESPN, NHL Network, TSN, and more) stoked the flames of the State of Hockey, weighing in on the future of Minnesota's jerseys.



    It's very important here that Weekes is couching his statement, as he's rapidly becoming one of the best at breaking news in the NHL. Not to mention, he's known for doing it in

    . So speculating from his TV is probably vastly different than if he had, say, reported it from center ice at Hockey Day in Minnesota at White Bear Lake this weekend.


    As we all know, insiders rarely throw out hunches without some background knowledge behind them, which always makes it interesting when we see conflicting thoughts from multiple reporters.


    To be clear, disputing a hunch is much, much different than debunking a report. But Michael Russo of The Athletic spent time yesterday reporting that while Minnesota would add the Kelly Green and Gold "to their rotation," the Wild would not be shifting full-time to a new color scheme.



    Russo was very confident that Weekes' hunch was incorrect, stating very bluntly: "They are not changing full-time. Period."


    Obviously, we may lack the insider credentials of heavy hitters like Weekes and Russo. But hey, let's throw our hat into the ring here. Both sides of this debate are saying ostensibly opposite things. Still, when you dive into their word choices (always a risk on Twitter), they aren't technically mutually exclusive.


    Here's the question we'll pose: What if both Russo and Weekes are correct here?


    No one is more plugged in than Russo, who is usually familiar with the Wild's most immediate plans. For example, he reported the concept for this year's Reverse Retro set about a year in advance. So if anyone would know that the Wild weren't going to transition full-time next year, or even in the next few years, to a color re-brand, it'd be him.


    So you can take that as gospel for the immediate future. Will you be able to buy a Kelly Green alternate jersey next year? Bet on it. But you'll also be able to get their standard home and away set.


    But to Weekes' credit, adding a third jersey feels like creeping towards a re-brand, even if Wild executives are somewhat resistant to it. As an organization, the Wild eschewed every opportunity to cash in on North Stars Nostalgia for their first 15-20 years. Instead, they looked to build their own identity on Forest Green, Iron Range Red, and Harvest Wheat.


    They had opportunities to make bank with North Stars third jerseys before, but they'd always opt for something like the 2010-Era script logo. They went with their standard color set for the Stadium Series jersey set (and later the Winter Classic).


    Therefore, introducing the North Stars Reverse Retros in 2020 was a huge departure from the past. Predictably, it was wildly successful, prompting them to do it again this year. The jerseys continued to be even more in demand than Taylor Swift tickets, and they're essentially sold out.


    Putting them into the rotation as an official third jersey is yet another step. One that's, frankly, not far from a soft (or even hard) branding reboot. If, say, the Kelly Green thirds wind up consistently out-selling their standard kits, why wouldn't they make the change eventually?


    Especially when the Reverse Retro sets draw nearly universal praise from the greater hockey world. The Wild's current colors can look very sharp (those away whites are top-notch). But that Kelly Green and Gold combination just pops in a way that Forest Green can't replicate and makes for some beautiful jersey match-ups around the league.


    Just look at a photo from last week's game against the Buffalo Sabres:


    [caption id=attachment_143670" align="alignnone" width="2560]USATSI_19881018_168390100_lowres-1-scale Photo Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports[/caption]


    Now compare it to the Wild's December 2021 game against Buffalo, this time, in their regular home sweaters:


    [caption id=attachment_143671" align="alignnone" width="1677]USATSI_17370270_168390100_lowres.jpg Photo Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports[/caption]


    The brightness of Minnesota's Reverse Retros just creates a contrast with other jerseys that the more muted Forest Green can't provide. Even more of a contrast is this: It gives their uniforms a very distinct look from the rest of the NHL. Green isn't used as a primary color often, but ironically, the Wild's home jerseys aren't that much different than the Dallas Stars. The Kelly Green stands out, even among teams that sport green.


    The proof is in the buzz, too. People might like other Reverse Retro sets, but people like Weekes aren't calling them "undisputedly one of the best in hockey" or calling for them to go full-time. The Reverse Retros give the Wild a brand identity that has cachet outside Minnesota. Their normal jerseys, even the best ones, don't have that.


    Like it or not, that matters. So, too, do sales. If how quickly the Reverse Retro jerseys sold out this year is any indication, there will be tons of demand for similar third jerseys. And there will be demand for an away version of those similar to the 2020 Reverse Retros.


    The Wild opened the door to Kelly Green and Gold, and those North Stars colors barged in, made themselves at home, and are poised to turn the living room into the guest bedroom. Maybe it's not the plan right now, and it might take a few years before Minnesota gives into the inevitable, but the Reverse Retros seem on the path to remaking the whole house in its image.

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