On Tuesday, fans got a first glimpse at the official Team Canada hockey jerseys that will be worn by Olympic and Paralympic athletes for the upcoming Winter Games in Beijing.
Hockey Canada shared three versions of the new Nike jerseys — in red, white and black, featuring a maple leaf crest.
But … is that a maple leaf?
“Looks more like a London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia) than any Canadian maple (genus Acer) I know,” tweeted Marc Johnson, a botanist and Professor of Biology at University of Toronto Mississauga.
The London Plane Tree — a hybrid originating from a cross between American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Oriental Plane tree (Platanus orientalis) — is “an enormous deciduous tree adorned with a massive trunk and a rounded crown of huge, crooked, horizontal branches,” according to the plant finder on Gardenia.net. The tree is commonly planted in urban areas because it tolerates pollution and water stress well.
“It seems Hockey Canada has created a new species for science, somewhere between a London Plane Tree and one of Canada’s many maple species,” Johnson told the Star. “If they were trying to depict a maple leaf, I think they needed to go no further than Canada’s flag for inspiration, or even the leaf of a Sugar Maple (the species depicted on our flag) from a nearby wood lot.”
And while the London Plane Tree, which originated in the British Isles, does grow in Canada, it doesn’t quite carrry the patriotic value of the maple leaf.
“I’ll cheer for Canada’s women’s and men’s hockey teams as they go for Gold regardless of their jerseys,” Johnson says, “but I think the artist might have taken a little too much artistic licence, or maybe sought inspiration from the wrong tree.”
Overall, the reaction to the new jersey among hockey fans was decidely mixed.
The newly designed “maple leaf” crest reminded some fans of other corporate logos.
Others pined for the jerseys of yesteryear.
On Wednesday, USA Hockey unveiled their new jerseys for Beijing 2022.
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