Steve Yzerman knows how important Hockey Canada's logo is, the one with the hockey player framed inside a red and black Maple Leaf. He's worn it, celebrated in it, and would like to see Canada's team emboldened by it when it hits the ice at the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympics.
But that's unlikely to happen.
According to International Olympic Committee rules, Hockey Canada's 13-year-old logo is a violation, a breach of the Olympic charter that forbids sports federations from having their logos on Olympic jerseys. That means Hockey Canada must help pay for designing and producing a new jersey while losing out on whatever revenue it would have generated from selling its former jersey at a home Olympics.
"I'd love to wear the old crest on the front of our jersey because of all the success it represents," Mr. Yzerman said.
"And because it's synonymous with hockey at all levels in Canada, male and female," the Olympic team general manager continued. "It's very important to the players. They take great pride in wearing it. Everyone's a little disappointed."
Hockey Canada has been allowed to wear its logo at the past three Winter Olympics because the Canadian Olympic Committee asked for and received permission from the IOC. The IOC controls what teams wear on their jerseys (from sponsor's names to logos) and favours what insiders call "a clean look." For 10 years, the IOC hadn't been concerned with a hockey player outlined inside a Maple Leaf.
But the COC said that changed before the Beijing Summer Olympics, when the IOC announced it was going to enforce its rules and did, restricting what the Brazilian and Argentine soccer teams wore on their uniforms.
It was that harder stand that persuaded the COC not to ask for special permission for Hockey Canada. The International Ice Hockey Federation, which oversees the Olympic tournament, can't argue for Canada when Hockey Canada lacks the COC's support.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson can only shake his head in disbelief.
"Each one of them tells me it's the other," he said when asked which organization is responsible for Hockey Canada having to alter its jerseys. "In a way, I equate it with the COC. If the IOC knew the COC gave us its support, it might change things. But [the COC]refuses to do it."
COC president Chris Rudge has been quoted as saying the IOC has simply chosen to follow its rules to the letter.
"In the past three Winter Games, this wasn't the same issue that it is now," Mr. Rudge said. "In those Games, the IOC turned a blind eye to its own rules. That's no longer the case. They made that very clear going into Beijing."
Mr. Nicholson insisted that not getting an exemption from the IOC will have a financial impact on Hockey Canada. Selling a new jersey will raise some money, but a portion of that revenue will have to cover the redesign and marketing fees not paid for by sporting manufacturer Nike. Plus, Mr. Nicholson said, there is no definitive way to estimate how much revenue Hockey Canada would lose by not selling the jersey Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla wore when they helped Canada win gold at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
"It could be millions [of dollars]" was Mr. Nicholson's guess. "The COC is trying to take our revenue generator away from us. We use the money from jersey sales to fund our women's team and our grassroots programs. It'll make us look at how we fund our other programs.
"I don't know if there's any way [to use the old jerseys in Vancouver]"
The COC has told Hockey Canada that the IOC has not yet finalized its jersey/uniform rules for Vancouver. Hockey Canada says that without the COC's support, it doesn't matter; the old jersey is sunk.
"We can put a Maple Leaf on it," Mr. Nicholson said of Hockey Canada's Olympic jersey. "We can't put our official sport logo on it but we can design another jersey. You just go, 'Why?'
"I tried explaining it to Steve Yzerman," he added. "It's like you wear your jersey all season long but when you get to the Stanley Cup playoffs [NHL commissioner]Gary Bettman says you can't wear it. I don't understand."
With a report from The Canadian Press