Canucks, Sens unveil Heritage Classic sweaters

Team captains Jason Spezza (left) of the Ottawa Senators and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks pose with NHL Heritage Classic jerseys during the official unveiling at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.

American Thanksgiving blesses sports fans with a trio of football games, while hockey heads are limited to just two Turkey Day matches, one being a prelude to a Classic.

In advance of 2013-14’s least-attended Vancouver Canucks vs. Ottawa Senators game Thursday, the Canadian clubs unveiled the throwback, throw-waaay-back sweaters they’ll don on March 2 at BC Place in Vancouver for the third Heritage Classic.

Tickets to the NHL’s sixth “outdoor” game of the season (BC Place has a retractable roof — will it open or be too rainy?) go on sale Dec. 5, but the retro jerseys team captains Henrik Sedin and Jason Spezza modeled Thursday are available now.

The Sens’ uniforms tip their hat to the barber-pole stylings of the original Ottawa franchise, which captured four Stanley Cups in an eight-season span from 1920 to 1927.

The Canucks’ special sweaters, first worn last season, pay homage to the Vancouver Millionaires (champs in 1915!) and 100 years of hockey on the West Coast.

NHL Heritage Classic Jersey Unveiling

NHL Heritage Classic Jersey Unveiling

But clothes alone do not make a team. And this year’s versions of the Senators and Canucks — believed by many to be Canada’s strongest Cup threats heading into the season — present compelling, disappointing cases. The former has made it known its looking for help on defence; the latter should be hunting for help on offence.

The Canucks enter Thursday’s game in greater Ottawa as the Western Conference’s ninth seed, five points behind the pack, and losers of seven of their last eight. The goals dried up during an ugly home stand, and a four-game road swing could be what they need to get back on track.

The Sens, the 10th-place team in a soft Eastern Conference, have been just as underwhelming, but an important victory over the Washington Capitals Wednesday could have given them some confidence.

At first blush, March’s Heritage Classic looked to pit two of Canada’s oldest professional hockey cities — but, more importantly, its two best teams right now — against each other. Now both clubs need to get rolling if a late-season, big-stadium game is going mean much more beyond increased toque sales and gate receipts.

For one outfit, that could start tonight.

(photos: Getty Images)

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