Chris Creamer and Chris Smith are the insiders whose names you don’t know but whose websites have broken some of hockey’s most colorful stories. Creamer and Smith – of sportslogos.net and icethetics.info, respectively – are the McKenzie and Dreger of logo and jersey design. But neither Creamer nor Smith sought to become a jersey insider. Both were hockey fans who fell into it through a love of design. “(SportsLogos) was an excuse to learn how to make a website, really,” Creamer said. “Back (in 1997) there was no social media, so the only way to express yourself online would be to make a site that was a random collection of your own personal interests. I was really into computers, sports and team uniforms from a very early age.”
Smith, a hockey fan without a full-time job out of college, created his site aimed at jerseys in 2007. It just so happened after Icethetics came to be, the NHL announced the switch to the Reebok Edge jersey system. Smith landed his first big scoop shortly thereafter when a source leaked a photo of the Vancouver Canucks’ third jersey. “That was the first time that I had something no one else did and put it on the site,” Smith said. “It showed up in The Vancouver Sun the next day.” Creamer’s first breaking story came a decade earlier when he got word the Los Angeles Kings were to switch from the Gretzky-era black and silver jersey to the purple and black sweater. “In those days, I’d be so excited about getting inside information that I’d just post it right away,” Creamer said. “I’ve matured quite a bit since then and understand that consequences could come with revealing information like that – not only for myself but for the one who tipped me off.” That’s a notion both men share. Sources range from those within an organization, retail workers or someone in the right place at the right time. Creamer and Smith know fans want to be the first to see jerseys or logos but understand the work that goes into every design. “I try to never be the one to originally post a leaked graphic on the Internet,” Creamer said. “Honestly, most things sent to me have yet to be released to the public, but I just hold on to them rather than post it. With that I’m able to use that knowledge, that image, to confirm or deny any other leak that may pop up from time to time.” Over the past several years, however, Creamer, whose site has grown to cover all sports, and Smith have broken numerous logo and jersey announcements. Smith landed the big scoop this summer when he displayed the Anaheim Ducks’ and Colorado Avalanche’s new alternates. Smith, who works in marketing, knows the meticulous planning that can go into unveilings. He hates to ruin a surprise for a team, and he was called out on Twitter for stealing Colorado and Anaheim’s thunder. “I get that, and I understand, but the way I see it, if not me, then somebody else,” Smith said. “If I can leak it, I can frame it in a way that might be more helpful to a team.” It has never been about becoming go-to sources but rather about providing a place for jersey nuts to share in their love of design. Smith hopes to make it a full-time gig. Creamer did in 2012.
TOP FIVE JERSEYS
Chris Smith (
1. Hartford Whalers (1992) "It's not just the classic hockey logo but the execution of the sweaters that make this look my favorite of all time. A lot of older fans prefer the original green and white look but I prefer the 1992 update that was heavier on blue and added silver trim."
2. St. Louis Blues (1998) "The Blues have always had a great logo, but I think their best jerseys were the ones from the late '90s. Something about the two-tone blue color palette and the angular shoulder stripes won me over."
3. Dallas Stars (2013) "For a long time the Stars had a rotten logo. The gold was gaudy. The black was overwhelmingly bad. I've always said the NHL needs more green and to see the Stars embrace it that way was a treat. The logo itself has some minor problems but the jerseys are absolutely perfect."
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (1980s) "When the Penguins debuted their new throwback third jersey last season, it was a major reminder for me that they used to have some of the best jerseys in the league. The bland Vegas gold they use today is depressing next to those uniforms from the 1980s. I understand wanting to differentiate from the Bruins, but this look is too good to ignore."
5. Tampa Bay Lightning alternate (1997) "Believe it or not, this was the jersey that sparked it all. Before the Lightning introduced their "storm" jersey in 1997, jerseys weren't really anything I noticed. When I saw this jersey, my mind was blown. I didn't know you could do that!"
Chris Creamer (
1. Montreal Canadiens "This is the uniform people see when they close their eyes and think of hockey. The Habs own this design style like Gretzky owns No. 99: nobody can touch it ever again."
2. Detroit Red Wings "The way the red pops off the white, the reverse shoulder yoke. Two colours. So simple and so great after all these years."
3. Chicago Blackhawks "The main colour of the logo is nowhere to be found on jersey and nobody notices. That’s how good it is."
4. Toronto Marlboros (OHL) 1980s
/Toronto Marlies "The yellow and red of the crown on that blue maple leaf is such an underrated colour scheme. The all blue arms frame it up nicely."
5. Florida Panthers (1994) "The first jersey I ever owned. Sometimes a favourite jersey has to do with more than just its design."
(NHL jerseys via of NHLUniforms.com / Marlies jersey via AHLStore)