Thursday, 24 August 2017

It’s official – Pac-Man jerseys back as Blades regular look

Michael Farren, left, and Jantzen Leslie model the Blades Pac-Man uniforms.
    Colin Priestner chuckled it might have been the worst kept secret in Saskatoon sports history.
    Actually, it might have been the most welcomed worst kept secret in Saskatoon sports history.
    For the last few months since the Saskatoon Blades 2016-17 campaign came to a close in March, the team had been using its classic blue and gold Pac-Man logo in its various communications.
    The logo and colours became prominent on the team’s Twitter and Instagram handles as well as its website. The traditional Pac-Man jerseys were used during team press conferences and public appearance functions. The appearance of the Blades dressing room was changed to the full out Pac-Man look.
    The Pac-Man jerseys have been utilized on special occasions and on more of third jersey status in recent years. A call from fans had been out for a lengthy time to bring that look back as the club’s regular look, and the frequent appearance of that style increased hopes the Blades would use that look again on a regular basis.
Leslie Jantzen grins in the Blades blue Pac-Man uniform.
    On Thursday during a press conference, Priestner confirmed the Blades would return to using the blue and gold Pac-Man colour scheme and logo as the club’s regular look
    “The first day we got the team people were emailing bring the Pac-Man back,” said Priestner, who father, Mike, purchased the Blades before the start of the 2013-14 campaign. “We’ve tried to bring the Pac-Man back at times, but there are definitely limitations in lead times in the WHL as to how quickly you can get things done.
    “We didn’t want to make any rash decisions. Everybody that we’ve talked to for years said, ‘Let’s get this back. Let’s bring back a little bit of that Pac-Man swagger.’”
    After Priestner confirmed the Pac-Man look was back, defenceman Jantzen Leslie walked into the media gathering in the team’s dressing room to model the dark uniform in full gear and right-winger Michael Farren arrived to show off the white look to Aerosmith’s “Back in the Saddle.”
    The development drew praise over social media channels with one Regina Pats fan saying on Twitter the Blades Pac-Man jerseys have to be two of the best in hockey history.
    The Pac-Man jersey look is by far the most identifiable one the Blades have ever had. The team sported the blue and gold Pac-Man style as a regular look for 12 seasons from 1982 to 1994.
Michael Farren shows off the Blade white Pac-Man uniform.
    During those 12 campaigns where tie games existed, the Blades posted a 479-353-32 regular season record, had six campaigns with 40-or-more wins, made the WHL playoffs 10 times, advanced to the WHL Eastern Conference championship series five times and fell in Game 7 of the WHL Championship series in 1992 and 1994 to the Kamloops Blazers. The Blazers went on to win the Memorial Cup in both those campaigns.
    They wore the Pac-Man jerseys as the Memorial Cup host team in 1989, where they dropped a heartbreaking 4-3 decision in overtime to the Swift Current Broncos in the event’s championship game. Tim Tisdale scored the overtime winner for the Broncos.
    The Pac-Man was the look worn by Blades legend Wendel Clark, who went on to star with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs after being selected first overall in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. It was the look sported by star netminders Tim Cheveldae, who is currently the team’s goaltending coach, and Norm Maracle. Standout defencemen Trent Yawney, Curtis Leschyshyn, Richard Matvichuk and Rhett Warrener all wore this style too.
    High scoring forwards Lane Lambert, Kevin Kaminski and Frank Banham all donned the Pac-Mans. The look had toughness as the Pac-Mans were the uniforms of heavyweights Joey Kocur, Kelly Chase, Tony Twist and the late Wade Belak.
    Blades head coach Dean Brockman, whose team has missed the playoffs for the past four seasons, welcomed the fact the Pac-Mans will be the team’s regular look.
    “I love it,” said Brockman. “I think it is great. There is a lot of history in that logo.
    “It just gives us that fresh air that we needed. No more stale blue. Now we have the royal blue.”
Braylon Shmyr, left, celebrates a goal last season in a classic look.
    With the move back to the Pac-Mans, the Blades have retired the “SB” logo and the double blue colour scheme that was their main look.
    Colin Priestner was well aware fans were fond of the Pac-Man look due to what the team accomplished while wearing it.
    “People have been asking for this,” said Priestner, whose has missed the playoffs for the past four seasons. “They associate these jerseys with better days.
    “I think that is one of the reasons we wanted to have them back was just too really kind of have a visual change. We have had four years of real trouble in terms rebuilding in having to kind of going through what you have to in this league to rebuild.
    “Now I think we are well on our way to being a competitive team every year and a championship team in the future. Plus, they are just really cool jerseys.”

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