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Canucks tease return of skate jersey with black practice gear

Will the black skate jersey make its return for the Vancouver Canucks this season?
The Vancouver Canucks wore black gear at practice on Monday, suggesting the return of the black skate jersey could be imminent.

There are a lot of Vancouver Canucks fans who are hoping to see the return of the team’s skate jersey.

It’s partly fueled by nostalgia. Fans in their thirties and forties have fond memories of the Canucks in the nineties, who were led by Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, and Jyrki Lumme, and backstopped by Kirk McLean. That team came agonizingly close to winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history — literally a post away from taking Game 7 to overtime.

While nostalgia might be the primary driver of calls to bring back the skate, it might not be the only factor. 

It could just be fans wanted to see a few more wins on home ice. Since they were brought out of retirement in the 2019-20 season, the Canucks are undefeated in regulation while wearing the black skate jerseys. In eight games, the Canucks have a 7-0-1 record while wearing the black skate.

Perhaps there’s something to designer Bill Boyd’s assertion that the black, orange-red, and yellow redesign of the Canucks jerseys in the late 70’s would be more aggressive and intimidating than the more passive blue, green, and white colour scheme the Canucks were wearing.

“With the Canuck uniforms we are going from the coolest of colours — blue-green — to the hottest: red-orange,” said Boyd. “What we are attempting to create is an atmosphere that will help create the happy, upbeat, aggressive player — and, hopefully, the happy, upbeat fan. The Canucks want to provide the fan with an atmosphere in which it’s easier for him or her to have fun.”

The Canucks could use some happiness and fun these days. Perhaps that explains why the Canucks were not wearing their typical blue pants, socks, gloves, and helmets at practice on Monday morning after dropping two games on the road to end 2022.

Instead, the Canucks were decked out in black gear to go with their multi-hued practice jerseys. 

Most notably, goaltender Spencer Martin was wearing a skate-themed mask and skate-coloured goalie pads. 

The last time the Canucks wore the black skate jersey was at the end of the 2021-22 season in their last two home games, with Martin getting the start in both games with Thatcher Demko injured. But Martin didn’t have custom gear at the time and wore his regular pads and mask — the skate-themed pads and mask are clearly new.

Does this mean the black skate jersey will be making its return this season? Well, maybe not.

According to Sportsnet 650’s Brendan Batchelor, the Canucks wore the black gear on the ice for practice so that it could be auctioned off at the team’s annual Dice and Ice Gala.

Here’s the thing: the Dice and Ice Gala typically isn’t until February or March. While it’s unclear when this year’s event will be, would the Canucks really be donning black skate gear over a month in advance of the event, just so the gear could be auctioned off as “practice-worn” gear?

Or is that just a cover story, meant to head off questions about whether — or when — the team will be bringing back the skate jersey this season?

On what must be a completely unrelated note, the Canucks' game on Wednesday against the New York Islanders is 90's night.