It’s out with the old and in with the new. Or similar might be the better way to put it.
The Prince Albert Raiders introduced the “Green Movement” to a large crowd in the Ches Leach Room at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday and the reaction was very favorable as the Western Hockey League club reverted back to its traditional green identity after 17 years of wearing black.
“It’s a new, modern, sleek look,” said Raiders general manager Bruno Campese in introducing the new jersey and logo. “We have to progress with the times.”
“It was time for a change,” added Bruce Vance, the Raiders business manager and director of marketing. “We had that look for the last 17 years – it’s a new evolution for the team.”
It is the third time in the 43-year history of the franchise that the club has changed its identity and on Thursday the Raiders rolled back the clock so that the crowd could see where the team has come from and where they are going in the future.
Alumni Mark Odnokon, Warren Harper and Garrett Zemlak each donned a jersey from yesteryear with Odnokon wearing the “half moon” style from his days in the late 1970’s and early ‘80s. Harper sported the “Raider man logo” uniform the club wore when they first joined the WHL in 1982 and Zemlak gave the audience one final look at the “Raider head logo” along with the black colors that were brought in during the 1996-97 season.
The Raiders continued to pay tribute to its rich history as current players Sawyer Lange, Reid Gardiner and Tim Vanstone came out in the stylish new threads and they were joined by long-time season-ticket holder Carol Hilkewich, original Raider board member Ed Habetler and recent alumni Dustin Cameron.
It was announced that the Raiders’ association with minor hockey development teams will continue so the Liteway Electric Raiders in Midget AA, Venice House Raiders in Bantam AA and NAPA Raiders in Pee Wee AA will all wear the new jersey this coming season as well.
To make the cycle complete, the Tim Bits participants during home-game intermissions will also be dressed in the new jerseys.
“It’s new and refreshing,” commented Raiders’ assistant coach Tim Leonard. “I like the fact that that we are bringing the green back. After all, it is a part of that Raider song.”
Vance said it has been about 18 months in the works, but he is happy with how the final product presents itself.
Partly due to the fans requesting the team go back to the traditional green, the change is also a marketing dream as fans will certainly be looking to update their wardrobes in preparation for the upcoming season.
A complete set of merchandise has yet to be brought in, but the Raider Store will be stocking its shelves as fast as possible. For the history buffs, there are a number of items bearing the old logo still for sale and season-ticket holders are reminded that anyone renewing a season ticket by the end of the month will be eligible for a draw for game-worn jerseys from last year.
As Vance pointed out, those are collector’s items as a new chapter has just begun for the Raiders.