Friday, July 17, 2009

1991-92 Toronto Maple Leafs TBTC Wendel Clark Jersey

July by the Numbers checks in at #17 with a Turn Back the Clock jersey from north of the border today.

As part of the celebrations of the NHL's 75th anniversary in the 1991-92 season, the Original Six teams, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Montreal and Toronto, all wore a Turn Back the Clock jersey from their past at various times throughout the season.

The success of the Turn Back the Clock jerseys would inspire both the NFL and NBA, with teams in those leagues also wearing throwbacks to celebrate their 75th and 50th anniversary seasons, but credit must be given to the Chicago White Sox, who wore the first throwback jerseys during the 1990 MLB season.

The influence of the throwback jerseys is still being felt today, as the popularity of retro jerseys is still strong, while the edgy, futuristic alternates that followed in the 1995-96 season were nearly universal failures with the public, as short-lived designs from Anahem and Los Angeles were immediately panned and discarded. St. Louis' proposed alternate was so bad that it was famously rejected by coach Mike Keenan before it ever hit the ice!

Other alternate designs from Boston and Vancouver were polarizing at best. Then you add in the entirely new jersey designs from Calgary, the Islanders, St. Louis, Buffalo, Phoenix, Washington, Pittsburgh and Vancouver that were all replaced by more traditional, if not outright throwback, designs as original logos continue to make return appearances, such as on Long Island, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Vancouver you can see that the public prefers the classic old-school look. Minnesota even invents a throwback jersey that never existed to begin with, which immediately becomes the club's best selling sweater. And no matter how hard the Islanders try to come up with something new, they always seem to quickly gravitate back toward their classic jersey from their Stanley Cup dynasty in some form.

The latest trend in the throwback jerseys comes from the successful concept of the outdoor games, originated in Edmonton with the Heritage Classic, as the Oilers and Canadiens wore throwbacks to play outside, followed by the Sabres and Penguins then the Blackhawks and Red Wings going back in time for retro looks, which have proven so popular that five of the six teams have either incorporated their throwbacks from their respective outdoor games into their jersey set as an alternate or based a subsequent alternate on their designs, with only the ultra-traditional Red Wings standing pat, most likely because their basic home and road jersey already remains unchanged since 1932 and can be considered a throwback in and of itself.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Toronto Maple Leafs Turn Back the Clock Wendel Clark jersey.

Toronto's choice was the style originally used in 1940 and featured a vintage style Maple Leaf logo. It proved to be so popular that the basic home and road jerseys from 1991-92 were changed for the following season to incorporate the vintage Maple Leaf logo as a secondary shoulder patch, replacing the silhouette of the modern logo, as well as adopting the throwback jerseys more simplified striping pattern. In 2000 the retro Maple Leaf logo also adorned the Maple Leafs new vintage-themed alternate jersey. It was easily the most influential of the 1991-92 Turn Back the Clock jerseys as far as future team designs were concerned.

Toronto Maple Leafs TBTC F
Toronto Maple Leafs TBTC B
1991-92 NHL Toronto Maple Leafs Throwback Wendel Clark jersey

Since we came up empty trying to find any live game action of the Maple Leafs throwbacks in action, here's a throwback interview of Maple Leafs fan Mike Meyers and Dennis Miller sporting a pair of wicked mullets in Clark's honor.

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