The NHL has hosted 11 Winter Classics since 2008, featuring a combination of just 11 teams. Most of the teams that have participated in the league’s marquee event have been in the league for a very long time:
- Boston Bruins (Original 6) 3 times
- Chicago Blackhawks (Original 6) 4 times
- Detroit Red Wings (Original 6) 2 times
- Montreal Canadiens (Original 6) 1 time
- New York Rangers (Original 6) 2 times
- Toronto Maple Leafs (Original 6) 1 time
- Philadelphia Flyers (1967) 2 times
- Pittsburgh Penguins (1967) 2 times
- St. Louis Blues (1967) 1 time
- Buffalo Sabres (1970) 2 times
- Washington Capitals (1974) 2 times
Not only does the upcoming Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl buck the trend of hosting the league’s most widely-celebrated event in traditional markets, but it’s also the first time where relatively newere teams have been included. While the Stars technically joined the league as the Minnesota North Stars in 1967, they’ve been in Dallas only 26 years (since 1993). The Nashville Predators joined the league in 1998.
That’s two teams in the league in their current incarnations for 10 years or more less than all of the past Winter Classic participants.
All of the past participants designed Winter Classic jerseys that spoke to their history. Throwbacks to original logos or jersey striping. Sometimes it’s a way to update a classic logo with a retro look, such as these Red Wings jerseys when they played the Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field:
With a much shorter history in their city to draw from, what do the Dallas Stars use to guide their Winter Classic look — original Dallas designs? Classic Dallas hockey inspirations? Allusions to the Minnesota North Stars? Or is it possible that we’ll see for the first time a more modern take on the Winter Classic look?
If the Stars are going to use original Dallas Stars designs for the Winter Classic jersey, fans might riot if it’s not the star-design the team wore when they hoisted Lord Stanley’s cup. It’s the most storied look in franchise history, and is still a popular desired look when fans discuss potential third jerseys for the Stars today.
If they use Dallas hockey history as inspiration, it’s possible that they incorporate components of the design from the Dallas Texans, who played in the American Hockey Association in the 1941-1942 season before shifting to the USHL from 1942 to 1949.
Dallas Stars trademarked this "Texans" logo last month, planning a throwback jersey to '40s Dallas Texans USHL team? pic.twitter.com/w81XBZVnmG— Chris Creamer (@sportslogosnet) June 22, 2016
The team trademarked the “D Texans” logo back in 2016, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this could be a look Dallas considers. In my opinion, this has the possibility of looking a little too close to the Detroit jersey from past Winter Classic matchup as shown above, so if this is the inspiration for the Winter Classic look, it could end up not feeling like the Dallas Stars franchise.
If the team really wants to set the world on fire, they’ll come out wearing Minnesota North Star-inspired jerseys. It would celebrate the franchise’s origins in Minnesota — which will make Lake Superior much saltier thanks to Minnesota Wild fans — and provide the historic feel that teams have used in Winter Classics past.
The team could modernize it to their current colors and meld the past with their present with the N* logo. The issue with this type of design is that the Wild used the North Stars look in their outdoor game’s alumni game, so some could think that Dallas is just cheaply following in the Wild’s footsteps (and ignoring the whole fact that Minnesota never should have really used it to begin with since it’s not part of the Wild’s franchise history, but that’s a whole other story).
What would really be unique would be if the Stars come out with a different, modern take on their current logo and colors. Celebrate the future of the franchise and highlight the fact that this team, as one of the first “newer” in the league and the first in a non-traditional market to host the marquee event, is a part of the NHL’s future. Using the circular Dallas Stars logo that is currently on the team’s jersey as the shoulder patch would be a blend of classic (the circular logo design) with the modernness of the team’s current color scheme. They could also use the Texas shape with the flag design in the team’s colors that is on the pants as a logo, providing a design with the current team’s design and colors with something more than the team’s current logo.
The Winter Classic jersey design is expected to be revealed in the coming months, and we’ll know then which way the team decided to go. Just please let it not be some hokey Cowboy-themed atrocity in red, white, and blue. That’d be too cliche for words to accurately describe.