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Elite Canadian amateur hockey players wear the new Team Canada Olympic hockey jerseys in Toronto on Oct. 8, 2013.

BRETT GUNDLOCK/REUTERS

It would be really great to be able to swoon over the new Team Canada hockey garb for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

Sadly, it's not possible.

The new sweater – or is that "jersey"? – is aesthetically offside.

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In this case the venerable Maple Leaf, set in red-and-white relief (there is also a white-and-red version, and a black "third jersey" with Canada emblazoned in white across a red-and-gold strip), primarily evokes the brand of a well-known national chain of gas stations.

The garment's designers insist Petro-Canada was not consulted in the making of this uniform; it's not clear whether the remark was entirely meant in jest.

It's a truism in every hockey room in the land: "Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good."

Team Canada faces enough challenges in Russia – bigger ice, demanding travel, ravenous opposition – without having to worry about sartorial self-esteem.

The forlorn expression on Team Canada forward Jonathan Toews in leaked photos last month of him sporting the sweater – hockey players should wear sweaters, in the Roch Carrier sense of the term, not "jerseys" – speaks volumes.

Beyond the stylistic gripes (faux laces and ersatz foliage?), there is a serious point to all this.

Because profits from hockey sweater sales are split 50-50 with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada reaps a considerable windfall from the sale of national team attire – which in turn benefits minor hockey players across the land.

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To twist H.L. Mencken's aphorism slightly, no one ever went broke underestimating the tastes of the Canadian hockey public, but it would indeed be a shame if design decisions by Nike Inc., which is the official supplier Canada's hockey teams in 2014, were to have an unintended, deleterious impact on sales.

Perhaps the insistence that the lightweight design was inspired by Team Canada efforts of yore (notably the 1920 and 1972 editions) and the fact the sweaters are made from recycled pop and water bottles will be enough of a selling point.

It may also be that fans will warm to the new look – after all, who could have predicted the frenzy over red mittens at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? – but if sales end up flagging, they needn't bother conducting much of an inquest.

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