Canucks unveil Millionaires jersey; did lockout ‘maroon’ original plans?

As had been rumoured for some time, the Vancouver Canucks officially announced that they will be wearing throwback Vancouver Millionaires jerseys on March 16th against the Detroit Red Wings. It’s a great move for the team, as they further connect with the history of hockey in Vancouver.

The Millionaires were founded back in 1912, so the Canucks will be wearing the retro jerseys as part of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the team. The Canucks have already been wearing a Millionaires patch on their regular jerseys and have begun selling merchandise in the Canucks store with the logo, albeit in Canucks colours.

Since the actual 100th anniversary of the Millionaires would have come in 2012, I wonder if the Canucks had actually intended to debut the jerseys and wear them earlier in the season, but were prevented from doing so by the lockout. Taking a look at the Canucks’ original schedule, the perfect date to wear the jerseys would have been December 8th, when the Ottawa Senators were going to be in town.

Wearing the Millionaires jerseys on December 8th would have been the perfect opportunity to honour the history of hockey in Vancouver and simultaneously celebrate the city’s only Stanley Cup victory.

Yes, Vancouver has won the Stanley Cup; it’s just that the Cup was won way back in 1915 by a team that has no causal connection to the Canucks. The Millionaires, as champions of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, faced the Ottawa Senators, champions of the National Hockey Association, for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup. The Millionaires dominated the Senators, sweeping them in three games by a combined score of 26-8.

Hockey Hall of Fame legend (and purveyor of fine sports equipment and apparel), Fred “Cyclone” Taylor led the way with six goals, as the Millionaires won on home ice in Denman Arena.

The only issue is that the Millionaires bear no relation to the Canucks beyond playing in the same city. That said, unless the Canucks actually try to raise a Stanley Cup banner on March 16th, there’s nothing wrong with them claiming the history of the Millionaires as their own, as the Canucks do represent the continuation of professional hockey in the city of Vancouver.

Thus, wearing the Millionaires colours against the Ottawa Senators on December 8th would have been ideal. The Senators could have even worn their current third jerseys, which bear a strong resemblance to the ones they wore in 1915.

Wearing them against the Detroit Red Wings, an Original Six franchise, is an acceptable substitute, but having that extra connection to the history of the Millionaires franchise would have been even better. The Canucks have tried to emphasize the connection between the Red Wings and the Millionaires, as the Red Wings started their existence as the Victoria Cougars in the PCHA, with both teams started by the Patrick brothers, Frank and Lester, but the Stanley Cup victory over the original Senators franchise seems like a much stronger connection.

It’s entirely possible that their original plan was to wear the jerseys against the Senators, one that had to be changed when the lockout wiped out the first hald of the season. We have reached out to the Canucks for comment and will update if we hear from them.

Update: Director of Media Relations and Team Operations Ben Brown confirmed that there were no plans to introduce and wear the jerseys any earlier in the season, so the lockout did not change their plans. Since this March 16th game against the Red Wings was part of the original schedule, it was essentially the plan all along to introduce the jerseys at this time. Oh well, it was a fun theory while it lasted.

On the plus side, he also confirmed that the Canucks will have helmets that match the colour-scheme of the jerseys, avoiding the awkwardness of white helmets with cream pants that the Vancouver Giants encountered when they wore the retro throwbacks.

It will still be a special night on March 16th, particularly since the retro Millionaires jersey is gorgeous. The maroon and cream colour combination is fantastic and the design doesn’t stray too far from the originals, merely streamlining the logo itself.

Graphic designer and hockey jersey aficionado, John Van Der Woude, who previously appeared on PITB to rank the Canucks jerseys throughout their history, had some smart things to say about the new Millionaires design on his blog:

Yes, the logo is weird in the sense that nobody except for some Asian countries reads up to down, and absolutely nobody then reads down to up. And the font’s in Helvetica, which is a great font for readability, but has no character at all when placed on a hockey jersey. But the simplicity and ballsy bizarreness of it – as well as understanding that it was designed in a total different era where you could get away with weird things like this – makes me totally okay with it.

Aside from that, I love the simplicity of the uniform in general. One colour and white, which is what the Maple Leafs have been thriving on and succeeding with for decades. The stripes on the sleeves is a common aesthetic for the early days of hockey and it’s actually done quite well in this case.

The Canucks acquired the Millionaires trademarks on October 1, 2010 from Vancouver businessman and body building champion David Jon Mikl, better known as Jon Mikl Thor, seen here dancing around half-naked on the Merv Griffin Show in 1976.

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14 comments

  1. nee
    March 1, 2013

    “unless the Canucks actually try to raise a Stanley Cup banner on March 16th”

    Am I the only one who wants to see this happen? I think it would be kinda hilarious, and I say this as a Canucks fan. The Twitter reaction would be worth it.

    Also, I would love to see these as our 3rd jersey, though it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to do it since they aren’t the Canucks. But I’m a history nerd and these jerseys just ooze history.

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    • John in Marpole
      March 2, 2013

      Save On Arena in Victoria displays a Stanley Cup banner commemorating the Victoria Cougars of 1924/25, so why shouldn’t the Canucks do so for the Millionaires?

      The Cougars banner is in the concourse near where the home team enters the ice surface (both teams walk through the concourse to get to the ice from their dressing rooms).

      As long as the banner isn’t hung from the rafters of Rogers Arena I see no reason for anyone to take issue with doing this.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        March 2, 2013

        I wouldn’t have a problem with displaying a Stanley Cup banner somewhere else in the arena (I like the idea of having it on the concourse, perhaps next to or above a display on the Millionaires), but it wouldn’t be right to have it in the rafters. That’s all I’m saying.

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        • John in Marpole
          March 3, 2013

          My lack of word-smithery (a dry-land version of Sedinery) being very much inferior to yours, my message wasn’t as clear as it should have been.

          I completely agree with you that hanging a Millionaires banner in the rafters would be oh so wrong. But I do like the idea of acknowledging the past accomplishment somewhere in Rogers Arena and I think the folks in Victoria have done it the right way.

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  2. Zach Morris
    March 1, 2013

    Really wish they had old-school wool versions.
    With brown leather gloves!

    And it would have been nice if Chelios was still playing, so we could have commemorated his rookie season.

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    • A.C. Slater
      March 1, 2013

      Hey preppy! Loungo and Schneider should also go without a mask for authenticity.

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    • Nee
      March 1, 2013

      Old Man Chelios jokes are the best : )

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  3. chinook
    March 1, 2013

    Wow, is that Thor video bad! I couldn’t get more than a few seconds in; some things should stay in the dustbin.

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    • chinook
      March 1, 2013

      But the archive photos on the Canuck website are GREAT! The interior of the Denman arena! the women’s hockey team! the cool poster with disparaging cartoon of “eastern hockey”!

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  4. paul Mackay
    March 1, 2013

    Hot dang! I really like those sweaters! And yeah that’s what my Grandpa called jerseys (probably made sense in Winnipeg in the 30′s!) so that’s what I ‘em…anyways. Those are darn sharp! I can’t abide by spending $125 every darn time they put out a new uniform, what is that every 3rd year these days? But my ’02 version Ruttu jersey is starting to show it’s age. If I ask the wife real nice maybe she’ll let me get one. Pardon me, I have to go practice my foot rubs and go buy the ingredients for her favorite vegetarian (sigh) lasagna.

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  5. BakerGeorgeT
    March 1, 2013

    Is the best part of this not the Jon Mikl Thor “Everyone wants a piece of the Action!!”. Lol. All sorts of magnificent. Blowing up a hot water bottle and having foresight to own the right to the Vancouver Millionaires? Lol.

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  6. TeeJay
    March 2, 2013

    I have a Maroon Orca bullcap to go with the Jersey but I have to washed it bcause it’s a realy old one.

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  7. Amor de Cosmos
    March 3, 2013

    As a designer and historian, this is a bit intriguing. So far as I’m aware no one knows for sure what colour the original jersey actually was, as none of them exist. Sure, the team was later called “The Maroons” but, particularly during the first couple of decades of the last century, the word maroon was in common usage as an explosive device used in the military and mining, so a a suitable name for a team in this area . For all we know that could have been its origin, and their jerseys might have been blue.

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    • Kit Leroux
      March 4, 2013

      We can be pretty sure that the Millionaires did wear maroon, actually, because both Vancouver Maroons and Vancouver Amazons jerseys have survived, and they are, in fact, maroon. The Amazons jersey is particularly compelling evidence since they were a women’s team who wore the Millionaires’ logo.

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