On Thursday night, the Florida Panthers officially unveiled their new look at a watch party at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. For the most part, everyone already knew what was coming (we showed you the rumored look back in April), but for the first time, fans finally got to see the entire kit as it was meant to be revealed, intricate details and all. And now that everyone’s had a full night to declare their hatred for every aspect of it — the standard human reaction to literally anything new — we felt like it was maybe the right time to take a closer look at the logo and sweater, from the perspective of someone who actually designs things for a living.
The Few, The Proud, The Florida Panthers
The shield look is stupid. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. It was styled after the 101st Airborne Division, of which Panthers owner Vincent Viola was once a member, but that’s like the Heat designing its logo to look like a bowling ball because Pat Riley was once on a team in a Thursday night league at Don Carter Lanes. Logos should represent their city, not their owner, and this city and its fans have zero connection to an infantry division of the United States Army. The idea behind this redesign is so masturbatory that the logo might as well just be Vincent Viola’s penis.
Making this concept even more laughable is Viola’s actual, real life thoughts on the look (via Uni-Watch):
John Viola said the more dignified look also reflects the new design’s military underpinnings. “It’s important to remember that, in the military ethos, fighting is your last resort, because — just like with Spider-Man — with great power comes great responsibility,” he said. “All of that is represented in the logo.”
“Military ethos” aside, though, the logo itself isn’t too bad. One of my chief concerns when finding out that the team’s look was changing was that cat logos are notoriously difficult to pull off. Look around professional and collegiate sports and you’ll notice that there’s an extremely fine line between cartoonish and cool. And while I don’t find the Florida Panthers new logo to be particularly stunning, it’s definitely on the right side of that delicate cat balance.
Let’s go into a little more detail, though.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) June 2, 2016
The colors are muted, a style that teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks switched to around 2006. In recent years, though, both of those teams have attempted to jump back into the world of HD and vibrant colors. The Panthers, on the other hand, are just now entering their goth phase, though it might not be an issue, since they appear to have no intention of slapping the logo against a drab, dark blue sweater.
One of the things that bugs me about the logo is the start-and-stop nature of the lines that make up the animal’s face. The points aren’t particularly sharp, nor do the curves glide and swoop. Maybe that gives it the feel of an old military patch, but I’d liken it more to someone using Photoshop’s “Make work path from selection” feature. It doesn’t completely ruin it for me, but it does sort of feel like just a really good rough draft.
Another thing that bothers me is the block lettering. Again, this was done to give the logo a decidedly military feel, but coupled with the space between the letters, it just kind of makes it look thrown-together.
Here’s what the new Panthers logo would look like with some subtle adjustments to the curves and lettering:The old logo was a work of art and will always be attached to some incredible moments in Panthers history, but all those lines, all those jagged edges…in 2016, it was beginning to feel more and more like a 90s logo. The meat of this new look is certainly a welcome upgrade; some of the details just drag it down.
Are the Details in the Fabric?
About those details (and yes, I just used a Jason Mraz lyric as a section header)… Perhaps I was a little harsh on the logo itself, but some of the details in other areas of this rebranding have been both clever and expertly handled.The patch on the sleeve, for instance. Gone is the hokey sun ‘n sticks shoulder patch. In its place, a little lower on the arm, rests the state flag of Florida with a prowling panther and military patch across the top. It still suffers from the same issues I mentioned in the primary logo, but as a concept, this is a beautiful way to represent the state.Another unique addition to the new Panthers sweater is the placement of the “captain” and “alternate” marks on the sleeve, just above this patch. If you’re going to commit to the military theme, this is a pretty great way to do so. According to Uni-Watch, the team originally wanted to use this instead of the typical “C” and “A” on the front of the sweater, but the league office has rules against creativity and fun, so the Panthers will have to conform and display both.
Something else Uni-Watch pointed out, that I probably wouldn’t have even noticed otherwise, is how the red collar lacing on the road unis perfectly mimics the state flag. It’s a super subtle move, but it’s the sort of thing that makes you appreciate good design.
And just in case you were worried that the old logo had died a horrific death, it did not. Stripped down and relegated to the helmet? Sure. But murdered? No. It actually seems like kind of a cool way to keep a little bit of the old sweater around.
The Montreal Czech Republic Panthers
Whether the Panthers were trying to pay tribute to the Montreal Canadiens or Jaromir Jagr’s home country, the stripe across the center of the sweater is an interesting element and I have no idea if I like it or not. On one hand, it comes off as a contrived attempt to add history to a team that’s less than 25 years old. On the other hand, there’s rarely been a sweater where that stripe didn’t look cool. The Senators, Red Wings, Blackhawks and Penguins have all added a stripe across their sweater at some point and it’s always been a welcome addition.
That said, I’m not sure I love it as much on the home reds. I think I would’ve preferred the Panthers use it only on the road kit, allowing the white sweater to really stand out as something special. Here’s an idea of what I would’ve liked to see from the home kit:
Aside from not loving the military concept and having minor issues with some of the technical aspects of the design, I think the Panthers did pretty well with this. It’ll be interesting to see how the sweater looks in game action and what kind of alternates and patches the team unveils over the next few years, but for a team undergoing its first major rebrand, you can probably mark this one down as a win.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it an A-, like Uni-Watch, but it’s definitely somewhere in the C+/B- range.
(h/t Uni-Watch for collecting most of the images in one place)