The image above was captured outside the Verizon Center on Saturday, before the Washington Capitals' home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. There's no question that Dale Hunter is a celebrated figure for Caps fans, and you'll see his name appear on dozens of classic jerseys at the game. But this isn't a classic jersey.
This is Washington's re-imagined sweater from last season, which was introduced eight years after Hunter played his last game for the franchise. He never wore this design. Yet there was more than one Capitals fan rocking the '32' on this still-new jersey.
We appreciate the nostalgia here, because choosing to wear Dale Hunter's name on a 2008 Capitals jerseys instead of fan favorites like Alexander Ovechkin or Mike Green can be interpreted as a little punk rock: A celebration of a different, sadly dwindling kind of NHL warrior. Perhaps when you have an iconic player in your team history, it cuts through fashion considerations -- there are probably a few Mario Lemieux Pittsburgh Penguins Winter Classic-style jerseys floating out there, too.
Then again: Hunter never wore this jersey. This is like a Buffalo Sabres fan rocking a Patty LaFontaine No. 16 on a Buffaslug sweater. Or a Los Angeles Kings fan putting "Gretzky 99" on the back of the purple and black jersey, when we all know what a Gretzky Kings jersey is supposed to look like.
So we begin this week with two questions:
1. Pass or fail: Putting the name of a player on a style of jersey he never wore for the franchise?
2. If you said "fail": Does the decision above rank higher or lower on the Crimes Against the Hockey Gods scale than putting your own name on the back of an NHL jersey?