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The Tampa Bay Lightning Copied The Maple Leafs Colors

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a 106-year-old brand.

On September 27, 1927, 96 years ago, the Maple Leafs dawned donned their blue and white colour scheme for the first time.

Walter Broda jersey
Vintage Maple Leafs Jersey, credit to mark6mauno on Flickr

The iconic primary Maple Leafs jersey was and always has been a simple blue and white kit with minimal stripes decorated with a medium-sized maple leaf as the logo. 

Since then, the Maple Leafs have become the most prestigious brand in the NHL, and the Blue and White has been recognized as one of the most admirable jersey colour combos in all professional sports. Simply put, the Maple Leafs jersey is classic, historical, beautiful and instantly recognizable. 

And to say that the Blue and White is synonymous with the Maple Leafs is an understatement. 

Enter the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning joined the NHL in 1992, dawning donning at first very 90’s jerseys with a giant lightning bolt and large stripes, the primary colours being black and white. 

In 2011 the Lightning decided to change their brand and their jersey. The result was a blatant copy of the storied Maple Leafs. The relevance of this is significant. You have a relatively new team with little history (at that point) skating on the same ice with essentially the same jersey as one of the most recognizable franchises in sports. It’s a rip-off that watered down the Maple Leafs brand. 

Don’t let your eyes fool you. Not only are the logo sizes about the same, and the stripes are close in size, but the blue colours are very close. The Maple Leafs use the code 00488D hex for their blue, while Tampa Bay uses hex code 00205B for its blue.

The result for the fan is that you cannot see who has got the puck when the teams play each other. Look at this video below and pretend you are a casual fan, and you just walked into the room, and there’s no sound. Who just scored? It’s hard to tell because the jerseys are nearly identical. 

Also, this whole thing makes Tampa look a bit Mickey Mouse, and it makes the NHL look weak that they allowed such outright plagiarism of a brand. Fault the Leafs too: Where were their lawyers? Imagine if the NFL had a new team, whose primary colours were to be Green and Yellow like the Green Bay Packers. 

The solution here, I believe, is that Tampa Bay should add some black back to their jerseys to distinguish itself from Toronto.

I have to hand it to Tampa Bay, though. Obviously, their new kits brought them immense success. I can’t discredit them for being the much better team since they copied the Leafs’ look. Tampa won two Stanley Cups since they switched up their jerseys, and the Leafs never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. 

That may end tonight. 

Employment Lawyer in Toronto Ontario

Jeff is a lawyer in Toronto who works for a technology startup. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles. Jeff is interested in Canadian business, technology and law, and this blog is his platform to share his views and tips in those areas.