The Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins are taking things outdoors to Fenway Park on Monday for the 2023 NHL Winter Classic; puck drop is set for January 2nd at 2 pm ET.
In this post, I’ll be looking at the full slate of 2023 Winter Classic logos for the event itself, the Bruins and Penguins specific logos and uniforms, the ice setup, and some interesting equipment.
First up, the 2023 Winter Classic Logos:
The 2023 NHL Winter Classic logo depicts Fenway Park’s famous Green Monster, icicles forming at the top with the usual scripted “Winter” wordmark across the front and “CLASSIC” below in scoreboard-style lettering.
Additional artwork continues the green Fenway Park theme while throwing in a couple of baseball diamond designs. This carries over to the matchup (or duelling) logos which feature both the Penguins and Bruins retro-themed logos along with the event artwork.
Looking more in-depth into each of the team designs…
The Bruins are combining several eras to create their sweaters, paying tribute to the origins of their iconic “spoked-B” logo and a popular shoulder crest from a generation ago.
The Bruins 2023 Winter Classic uniform is black with yellow shoulders and thick, alternating yellow and black stripes down each sleeve and around the waist. The collar is black with a lace-up collar, and the NHL shield logo is placed above the laces.
On the chest is “BOSTON,” arched in a vintage white in a font inspired by the original “Spoked-B’ logo from 1948, originally created as a 25th anniversary logo for the team. Below this wordmark is the Bruins’ bear head shoulder patch worn from 1976 until 1995; the logo has been recoloured here from its original yellow and black to more of a brownish colour. This logo is centred and positioned below the BOSTON wordmark. The club says the idea of an arched wordmark on the front of the sweater is a tribute to New England Amateur Hockey.
This design takes the “B” from the Bruins’ original “spoked-B” logo from the 1948-49 season, originally created as an anniversary logo celebrating the club’s 25th year in the NHL and worn on the front of their white uniform for just the one year (it was later recycled for the Bruins appearance in the 2010 Winter Classic). A new, custom typeface inspired by this “B” was created to finish off the city name.
Below the “BOSTON” portion of the logo is the bear head that had been worn as a shoulder patch on the Bruins’ home and road sweaters from 1976 through 1995. Brought back most recently on the team’s yellow Reverse Retro jersey in 2021. The NHL says the “arched form of the wordmark is a subtle nod to New England amateur hockey.”
The visiting Pittsburgh Penguins will be counter by tapping into the early days of the NHL’s history in the city.
The Penguins 2023 Winter Classic jersey is vintage white with two black horizontal stripes across the chest and each sleeve. Shoulders are black, as is the collar, and an additional single stripe is added to the end of each sleeve and around the waist. On the chest is the italicized yellow “P” logo trimmed in black, similar to that worn by the NHL’s original Pittsburgh team, the Pirates.
The italicized “P” logo is based on the sweaters of the Pittsburgh Pirates, worn from 1925 through 1928. The Pirates were the NHL’s first team based out of Pennsylvania, and though they used the same name as the baseball club, the NHL’s Pirates beat baseball’s Pirates to the punch by wearing a black and gold colour scheme more than two decades earlier.
A matchup between the Bruins and a Pirates-inspired Penguins team is appropriate as the first-ever game in Pirates hockey history was at Boston (a 2-1 victory on November 26, 1925). Additionally, when the Penguins switched their colours from blue and white to black and gold in 1980, the Bruins protested — the Penguins pointed to the uniforms of the 1925 Pirates as an example of the colours being used in Pittsburgh before being adopted by the Bruins. The protest was dropped. A story I go into detail about in my book Fabric of the Game: The Stories Behind the NHL’s Names, Logos, and Uniforms, co-authored with Todd Radom.
The rink setup at Fenway Park places the ice with one end on the baseline between third and home and the other off in shallow right field. This makes the ice appear better centred with the Green Monster out in left field. Speaking of left field, there’s a diamond-shaped sheet of ice out there with two baseball diamond-inspired logos featuring the Winter Classic-themed logos for both teams.
There will be plenty of references to baseball on what some of the players will be wearing today…
Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman has this mask featuring depictions of former Red Sox players David Ortiz, Ted Williams, and Curt Schilling on the side.
The David Ortiz love continues with these skates belonging to David Pastrnak:
“Hopefully, he’s not gonna be mad and bring me some luck,” Pastrnak said in the video shared by the Bruins. “Hopefully, I can score a couple of home runs into the net.”
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith showed some love to Pittsburgh baseball legends…
DeSmith’s mask shows Pirates’ Roberto Clemente on the front right side and Ralph Kiner on the left. The teddy bear from the Boston-based movie “Ted” is on the back, which DeSmith says is a reference to Ted Williams.
I leave, as always, with a look back at the logo history of the Winter Classic to give you an idea of how this year’s design stacks up with the rest.
The Winter Classic follows a slight template; as seen in the graphic above, each of the fourteen editions of this event uses a similar “Winter” script across the front of the design, the differences coming with a heavy focus on either the host city/state/region (see 2012, 2017) or the venue itself (see 2009, 2014, 2023). The result is a template that doesn’t appear quite so templatey (once again, I’m looking right at you Super Bowls XLV through LVII).
None of the details, including host or competing teams for next year’s 2024 NHL Winter Classic, have yet to be announced.
UPDATE: The NHL has announced the 2024 Winter Classic would be played at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park between the Seattle Kraken and Vegas Golden Knights on January 1, 2024.