February 15, 2008 - 10:00 pm
Don’t wear white after Labor Day. Don’t wear black to a wedding. For the love of God, don’t wear socks with sandals. And don’t ever wear a Hawaiian-style hockey jersey.
The Wranglers did in a game last season, and many in attendance still haven’t recovered.
In fact, of the 15 specialty jerseys designed by the city’s 5-year-old ECHL franchise, the "Magnum, P.I.," or Hawaiian-style, uniforms are the only ones — with the exception of pink jerseys made to promote breast cancer awareness — that didn’t sell out.
Even the players, who happily will put on just about anything for a good cause, had a problem getting into the Aloha spirit on the ice.
"We heard some complaints about the pink ones and the Hawaiian ones," Wranglers vice president of operations Deric Voelker said. "But the guys really enjoyed wearing the Elvis ones and the Friday the 13th ones. The guys really don’t care."
The most popular specialty jerseys, in terms of sales, have been for Friday the 13th, Veterans Day and St. Patrick’s Day. The team orders 50 replica jerseys at a time, and those three are the only styles to be ordered twice.
The Pacific Division-leading Wranglers (33-9-7) — who host West Division-leading Victoria (30-13-5) at 7:05 tonight at the Orleans Arena — will wear red jerseys adorned with hearts in the game in honor of Valentine’s Day and in support of the American Heart Association.
All the specialty jerseys are designed to raise money for charity. The Wranglers conduct a silent auction for the autographed, game-worn uniforms — for a starting bid of $225 — in the first two periods, and replica jerseys are available at the team store in the concourse.
"The big thing is, it allows us to fund a lot of ticketing programs for the community. After all the costs are covered, nearly every dollar goes back to the community," Wranglers president Billy Johnson said of the specialty jerseys. "The second thing is, it’s a fun promotion for the fans. They love it."
Typically, all but one or two of the game-worn jerseys are auctioned off, and all 50 replicas sell out within one or two games.
Other specialty jerseys have included a Mardi Gras theme, The Duke (based on the team’s mascot), Las Vegas Centennial, a throwback with an original team logo that never was used and a design based on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former No. 8 race car.
The team also has worn an Elvis jersey designed to look like a jump suit and a Blue Man Group uniform designed by the act itself. The black jersey featured a white silhouette of the three men in the group and was a favorite of Johnson.
"No team anywhere in the world has had an association with something like the Blue Man Group," he said. "For us to be able to put that on the ice in the form of a jersey is the coolest thing we’ve ever done."
The team also has worn an April Fools’ Day jersey — with a powder blue, mustard yellow and brown color scheme — that was intended to be as ugly as possible. It was, but that didn’t stop fans from buying it.
This season has featured another jersey to promote breast cancer awareness, an original white uniform with a pink ribbon around it, and the team also plans to wear a St. Baldrick’s jersey in March to support children with cancer.
The Wranglers, who sell about 1,000 jerseys a year at games and online (lasvegaswranglers.com), have worn five traditional home and away uniforms in less than five full seasons, with the team’s original black jerseys its most popular ones.
Las Vegas, which unveiled new black and white uniforms this season, is waiting to receive another shipment of new black jerseys, because the first ones were burned in the laundry this season when the team played at Utah.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter what jersey the Wranglers wear, because most of the players agreed the man makes the uniform, not the other way around.
"It doesn’t matter whether you wear pink, yellow or white, you’re going to play the same way," Wranglers forward Shawn Limpright said. "Wearing pink is kind of weird for the game of hockey, and people get a good laugh, but if we can play hockey and raise money at the same time, it’s a good thing."
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or (702) 383-0354.