Fans are going to start feeling the influence of the new owners of the Penguins sooner than later. Fenway Sports Group, are expected to start upgrading the in-game experience in Pittsburgh, most notably with a new video board in the near future.
The new ownership could make a big splash aesthetically too, if they wanted.
Hockey alternate jerseys are an ever-evolving area. In larger part because the league, team and jersey manufacturer wants to keep things fresh and keep the fans buying new jerseys.
In recent years, the Penguins have been incredibly loyal and focused on their branding. This included going back to “Pittsburgh gold” (also known as yellow) and dropping “Vegas gold” after the 2015-16 season in the jersey. Last year, the Pens brought back a very popular alternate jersey for the 1990’s jersey known as the “Snoop Dogg” jersey.
But it wasn’t a pure throwback jersey, as you can see on the shoulder of Kris Letang here in this past season.
That’s the “skating Penguin” logo, the team’s branded emphasis. In the 1990’s, the original look had the famous (or infamous) “RoboPen” on the shoulders.
Through rumor, urban legend or accepted common place, Mario Lemieux was said to not be a fan of the RoboPen, and in his stewardship that logo was phased out by 2002. In a more marketing outlook, it makes sense that the team would turn from that logo to the popular “skating Penguin” and away from the gold and more towards yellow. That, after all, is the team’s brand and image that they want to focus on.
The RoboPen was introduced in 1992-93, odd timing considering that the Pens were back-to-back Stanley Cup champions at that point. Via a directive of former team owner Howard Baldwin, they adopted the more futuristic triangle logo, and eventually gray gradient additions, and that era of Penguins never won the Stanley Cup again with the new logo. For that reason, whether it superstitious or nostalgic or just preferable design, the Skating Penguin was back in favor.
Ironically though, in recent years, the RoboPen has seen increasing popularity and yearning from a portion of the fanbase. It stems in large part fond memories for people who were young and fell in love with hockey and the Penguins in the 1990’s.
What is old often becomes new again, and now it has been 20 years since the Penguins have sported that design on their jerseys.
Personally, I don’t find the white version of that jersey to be all that intriguing or warranting a revival on the ice. But that could be considered a personal preference.
However, especially when considering the spirit of an alternate jersey (which usually isn’t white — save for the 2020-21 “reverse retro” concept), the gray/silver on the shoulders on the black jersey and the colors going all the way across the front of the jersey around the logo really pop in this era, with the added flair of the silver striping on each of the cuffs.
Here’s the height of the RoboPen, which the team wore from 1997-2000. Earlier in the decade, the Pens had a black jersey that sported the PITTSBURGH diagonal, and after 2000 (and perhaps not so coincidentally matches up with the start of Lemieux’s ownership of the team) the Pens brought back the skating Penguin in a black jersey as an alternate more and more until the RoboPen was completely gone by 2002.
Via NHL Uniforms
With new ownership in the picture, bringing back the old jersey, at least partially in the handful of home games, could be a nice nod to the nostalgic turn in popularity to part of the fanbase. It might not happen for this season, but with the fluid nature of how NHL teams rotate through alternate jerseys frequently, it seems like now more than ever we might not have seen the last of the RoboPen on the ice.
But internet outcries can also reflect some portion of the vocal minority more than the people who prefer the status quo. So the results of the poll will be interesting to see how the Pensburgh audience feels about the future jersey design. Have your say and let us know!
Should the Penguins bring back and wear the "RoboPen" jersey design on the ice?
This poll is closed
No, I prefer other "Skating Penguin" designs for the alternate jersey (blue jersey, current PITTSBURGH diagonal, yellow jersey, etc)
Doesn’t matter to me that much, I don’t have a preference about what jerseys/logos the Penguins use