The Kings officially reveal their third alternate jersey tomorrow. I had an opportunity to speak with the man who was in charge of its design, Todd Howk. He explained the process, the key elements and why for him this was a labor of love.
Todd Howk talked about the process he and his design team went through:
”When he (Chris McGowan) called, I was doing back flips I was so excited. Immediately, the ideas kind of started going in my head. I have a staff here of very talented designers. I engaged a couple of them and said … nothing is off limits. I want to look at everything, even dumb ideas because you never know sometimes a dumb idea can inspire a really good one. One of the things that we knew that was important to Luc in particular is – he really wanted it to represent, the sort of the better if not the best era of the franchise. (This) was when – when he was in his heyday and Wayne was on the team and Jari Kurri and Marty McSorley and Rob Blake was getting his start. (This is also) when they went to the Stanley Cup Finals. They were wearing the black and silver. Luc thought that it was very important that we create a jersey that represents a great past but even a better future. So that's really what we set out to do. Todd Howk on the players’ input and their desire for the jerseys to be black:
The color palette was kind of defined right off the bat. We all felt that it made sense. In Los Angeles, we’re a fashion-driven town. People wear a lot of black. (Los Angeles) is referred to more by its initials than it is by its actual name. We'd probably be missing something if we didn't have that prominence on the jersey. I'm from the east coast which is where I sort of got my hockey chops, grew up playing on ponds. This (LA) is such a non-traditional hockey market but yet we've got such passionate fans. It's really important that we represent that so we wanted to incorporate the city and the way that it's typically referred to.
We also wanted the mark to have some reference to our past and the name of the team of the Kings. It's got that royal medieval type of banner and shield. That is the holding element and then the dividing element between the L and the A and the crown which is our current primary mark. We also felt that it was important; it's not just a line (on the arm bands). Its three lines and they're there to represent the armband of the jerseys back in the silver and black era. So that's sort of where we ended up. During the exploratory process we looked at all kinds of crazy things. We tried to actually construct a crown out of a city skyline using some of the prominent buildings that make up downtown Los Angeles. When you're doing initial creative that's what you want to do all kinds of crazy stuff.
We probably had from the initial internal presentation which the designers like between 30 and 40 different ideas. Some of them were just pencil sketches on a napkin type of stuff. It was very, very rough and a good direction to look at or not. We could be somewhat judicious with our time. We started to tone (down) but it was always really evident to us that we needed to have the L and A and that we do justice to the silver and black era. (This) was important to Luc. I look back and I've followed the Kings for many years and been a fan for many years. If there's one person that personifies the team, it's Luc. He really is the face of the franchise as far as I'm concerned.”
“They did (want the jerseys to be black). Luc was telling a story about how back in the day when they were wearing the silver and black he heard from opposing players - your uniforms look really cool. The current players felt the same way. That black is really a very powerful and very tough color. While I'm a huge fan of purple and I am also a huge fan of the era when Marcel and the Triple Crown line. I know he was sort of part of both eras and (purple) personally is one of my favorite colors. I love to design with it but the players felt that it was important to have a tough look to it. The (players) wanted the team to go out there and look tough.”
Todd Howk on the silver portions of the alternate jersey:
” We've got some silver accents on there because of that era. Also, (the silver) is going to look so cool under the lights. The lights are really going to pop that silver. It's a process. Silver's one of those colors (where) it's gray with a little bit of sheen to it. There's so many different attributes of finding that perfect silver. A lot of them can look too brown and then a lot of them can look too white. It's finding that balance.”
Todd Howk on why the alternate jersey pays little homage to the purple and gold jersey era:
“We talked about that. One of the things that we looked at was having that color scheme. The silver and the black and the white but perhaps putting the crown from the purple and gold era. We thought long and hard about that. It really went back and forth. We felt that where they're at right now with the brand - it’s really headed in the right direction. At the end of the day, we also wanted to have it look to the future. Sometimes when you try and do too much with something and having just sort of too many things going on… Ultimately what it ends up with is kind of convoluted. We thought that the look to the past really would…. It made the most sense to look to the era where the team enjoyed its most success. We took it with a look to the future as well and not dwell too much on the past.”
Todd Howk on how the alternate jersey also points to the team’s future:
“It’s the shield in the front. It's very linear. We didn't want to go with any kind of ….. That was part of the initial – initial brainstorming and the initial exploratory, but we didn't want that holding element to look too much like sort of an antique shield. We wanted it to be very linear which does give it kind of that futuristic type of feel and look and the inclusion of the existing crown - the existing primary mark on the bottom of it. (This) is also sort of that look to the future. If we had gone too retro and dropped in… We looked at comps with that exact mark and we tried our own crowns. We did the crown from the purple and gold era.
We just felt by doing that it does have a little bit more of a look to the future. It's very clean - the jersey. There's really nothing going on up on the shoulders. We looked at doing a number (there) a lot of the teams are doing numbers on the front. Dallas has them huge and Atlanta's alternate jersey has the number really huge under the name of the team. Buffalo had their numbers in the upper right. Some teams are doing the numbers sort of right centered and directly over the logo. We just wanted it to be very, very clean and a little bit more of a futuristic type of look as well.”
Here is a little bit about Todd Howk personally and why I believe heading up the design team for the alternate jersey was a labor of love for him:
“I joined AEG coming in here with the Kings being the real carrot for me. I've been a season ticket holder for I want to say eight years now and I've been with AEG for five. I come as a hockey fan and as a King's fan. It was really exciting for me to join the organization and be able to work, sort of call a hobby or my hobby my work. When Chris (McGowan) called me over, it wasn't this past summer. It was the one before, and he said, you know, we're looking at doing a third jersey. Would you be interested in doing it or – or should we go to some of the more conventional uniform design firms that are out there. I got real territorial real fast and I said no, no, no, no and hold on to it. As you know, I'm a hockey fan. Over the years, (I) have collected jerseys. This is sort of like the dream assignment for me.