Misconduct

Reviewing the Griffins' Jersey Contest

As I surely showed in the lead up to the Red Wings' appearance in the 2014 Winter Classic, I'm a bit of a jersey geek. So when the Grand Rapids Griffins brought back their jersey design competition this year, I jumped on it.

I've been following the entries all month and, with submissions now closed, I'm going to take a stab at seeing who are likely winner(s) might be.

There were 114 entries this year. Based on the fact that every previous winner featured a logo that was at least a modified version of an existing logo, I think we can remove any entrants that re-used a logo. There were a lot of people who re-used previous contest winners' logos, which surprised me. Applying that filter, we've cut 74. I think there were a lot of good striping patterns lost in that cut - some I think the Griffins could adopt to replace their Edge-ified current home and road - but I'm going by what seems to be a rule established by the team.

My next pass is applying my personal preference, removing entrants that have Red Wings-related elements shoehorned in. The Winged Wheel. Colors limited to red and white. Things like that. The Griffins have an identity unique in North American professional sports and I hate seeing them reduced to the Baby Wings. We lose nine from that pass.

A third pass removes those using the color black for the sake of using black, dropping two more.

The last pass is entirely subjective, dropping the ones that I just think are poorly executed, either in design or in drawing. That cuts 19.

We're down to 10 finalists. I don't think all of these have a shot at winning, these are just the ones that made it through my broad filters to get down from the initial 114, which means they're probably worth at least a look at. I'll give my notes on each.

Clark Rasmussen
Of course I have to start with my own to get it out of the way. And of course I made the finalists because I applied all of the above filters before I made my design. I wrote up the details of this design on my personal blog so I won't reiterate here but the basics are that I went for a simple, classic, strong look. No crazy striping or weird fonts (the latter of which may be an issue, actually). An homage to the team's primary logo as well as some elements from my own work for DH.N. Screams tradition. The more I look at it, though, I think there's an unintentional European feel that could be something the team isn't looking for.

Dave Delisle
A couple tweaks and this one could be my favorite. The crest looks more like a soccer badge to me but that's not a bad thing. Pull the "GR" out of it and move that to the shoulder. Add stripes along the waist. Maybe remove the gold outline from the numbers. This one is so close. That said, I don't know how well that griffin rendering (another unique depiction of the team's namesake) would translate to fabric.

Dylan Wonka
This one is so close to me. There's something about the griffin crest that seems a little off but it's very, very sharp. Drop the "Griffins" over the top of the crest and I might be sold. The custom font is gaudy to me but it's not a dealbreaker.

Jen Harley
That crest logo screams minor league hockey in a very good way. I like it more than the "Griffzilla" on Grand Rapids' current alternate jersey. That said, the striping seems a little bit of a mess to me, but I'm on the record as liking symmetry and clean lines and all that.

Justin Cox
The striping is pretty classic and using two griffins is unique. There's a very European feel to it, kinda looks like it should be a German beer logo. I think placing the shoulder logos each in a shield is overkill and I don't love the custom font. The opposite-color nameplate is a personal pet peeve.

Mark Roberts
I will be shocked if, at the same time the Griffins announce the winner of this contest, they don't also announce a throwback night at which they'll be wearing this jersey. Because it's essentially a recreation of a previous jersey, I don't think it'll win the contest, but I do think it looks too good not to use.

Matt McElroy
As I watched the evolution of this concept on the forums at SportsLogos.Net, I thought for sure this was going to be the winning design. I think the final product, though, falls a little short. In the shoulder logo, "Griffins" shouldn't be upside down. The striping pattern... Is it a red jersey or a white one? But that crest is fantastic.

Ryan Haslett
The founder of Hockey Jersey Concepts, where the contest was held, throws his hat into the ring. There are things I love and hate about this design. It's based on a concept he did for the Griffins' outdoor game so it might be familiar. I hate the sublimated "wing" shoulders, I think they need to be grey for that to work. I hate the number font, as I did when the Red Wings used it. I really dislike the trend of putting design elements inside the collar, as no one sees them. The striping pattern on the sleeves and body is pretty sharp. The "Griffins" wordmark works better than I expected. But that griffin design is absolutely fantastic. I wish I'd come up with it.

Scott Markiewicz
I'm 90% certain that this is the one to beat but it depends on what the Griffins are looking for. Let's do the checklist... Griffin in a shield for the crest. Interlocking GR logo in a roundel on the shoulders. Traditional striping. It's all the stuff I put in my own concept, so I can't argue with it here. Add in a custom number font that's pretty sharp and "Grand Rapids" in the crest logo (the Griffins love having text in their crests) and I think it might have a leg up. That said... I think cramming the Grand Rapids city logo onto the crest is unnecessary. I don't get what the two different-colored stars in each logo are for. I think there's too much gold in the striping. I think "Grand Rapids" should have been "Griffins" in the crest logo. Finally "Hockey" in the roundel shoulder logo should have been "Est. 1996" (as I did). All nit-picks. This was the first design that made me think I had no chance of winning, though I've backed off that a bit since.

Trevor Ezaki
This one makes the final cut as a sentimental favorite but I don't think it actually has a chance. I love individual pieces but it just doesn't work as a whole. The Euro-style crest looks good. The single star representing the Griffins' Calder Cup Championship is unique. The State of Michigan's Latin slogans are a nice touch (though I'd put one on the collar and one on the cuff). All-blue just doesn't do it, though. The star is too prominent. The crest needs more definition. And those slogans don't tie to Grand Rapids, just Michigan.


Obviously I want my own concept to win and I'm biased towards it so this means just about nothing. If I remove myself from contention (whether or not I should), right now I would expect the top two to be Markiewicz and Haslett (with Roberts' design getting a second night). I'm very interested in seeing how this turns out.

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