Unless you’re the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings or Montreal Canadiens, NHL teams’ jerseys can go in and out of style faster than you can say “Pokémon GO” or “ice-bucket challenge.” For whatever reason, we’re always pining for new and updated versions of our favorite team’s uniform, as if a flashy redesign or a new third jersey will be the magical cloak of on-ice mastery that finally transforms the squad into a perennial Cup-contender while looking fly-as-hell in the process.
With all the design variations over the years, it can be easy for one or two of them to get forgotten in the shuffle, especially if they were only used for a season or two. Sure, you’ll remember the look of the versions that you happen own or the ones that teams have used in recent years, but what about those special-occasion sweaters from that anniversary season or those god-awful alternates that only lasted a road trip or two?
You may or may not remember them all, but from the unremarkable and ordinary to the attempt at “edgy” that barely saw the light of day, here the most forgotten jersey of every NHL team in the league.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: EGGPLANT THIRDS
After the disaster of the “Wild Wing” alternate sweater with the overly muscular cartoon duck bursting through a sheet of ice with a goalie stick in hand that only lasted a few games in 1996, the Ducks understandably stayed pretty conservative with their third and fourth jerseys for a few years before introducing this new alternate look in 2003 that finally abandoned the duck mask and crossed sticks on the crest.
Surprisingly, they went with a black base with a baseball script “Anaheim” on the front and eggplant trim that was never really received that well. It was only active for a few seasons before Disney sold the team and the Mighty Ducks became simply the Ducks with an entirely new look and uniform lineup.
ARIZONA COYOTES: RUNNING COYOTE
In their early days, after relocating to the Phoenix desert from Winnipeg, the Arizona Coyotes sported some egregiously bad jerseys. Honestly, the geometric coyote and desertscape designs were some of the worst jersey concepts in the history of the league. You won’t soon forget those eyesores.
However, when they moved into their new arena and debuted an updated look in 2003, the Coyotes became a lot easier to look at. After several years without an alternate jersey, the ‘Yotes rolled out this pretty sweet black look with a “running” coyote and sand-colored details and numbers in 2008.
BOSTON BRUINS: WINNIE THE POOH
This abomination of a jersey is probably the Bruins’ most-forgotten sweater because so many people had to block the monstrosity from their memory for fear of chronic and repeated vomiting. They were introduced in 1995 to coincide with their move into what is now called the TD Garden, and it somehow lasted for nearly a decade as their alternate.
The odd, un-ferocious bear’s got that far-and-away look in its eyes, and the jagged edges on the lower third and around the sleeves are cheesy-looking and completely unnecessary. And that doesn’t even begin to address the blindingly gold base that forced Bostonians to bring their sunglasses to the rink every time it was third-jersey night at the Garden.
BUFFALO SABRES: RED THIRDS
The turn of the century brought with it plenty of newness into the NHL, including this full-on red alternate jersey in 2000 for the Buffalo Sabres after the team dabbled with the color in their previously updated uniforms in 1996. The crossed swords pay tribute to their original logo, while giving it an updated 21st century look, and the angry buffalo head was carried over from the previous uniform with patches on each shoulder.
The Sabres only wore these on select nights against select teams, so it wasn’t like they were a mainstay on the schedule, but they definitely sold some merchandise when it hit the pro shops back in 2000. They were finally retired in 2006, and Buffalo still hasn’t tried to make the color red work ever since.
CALGARY FLAMES: DIAGONAL STRIPES
For its first major jersey design update since moving from Atlanta in 1980, the Calgary Flames added the color black and some angled striping to both its regular home and away jerseys in 1995 that veers up at about a 60-degree angle from the right hip towards the flaming “C” crest on the torso. It’s sort of an odd, abrupt change, like they wanted to update the sweater but weren’t sure what to do with a deadline fast approaching so they resorted to adding some random stripes at the last-minute.
This look wasn’t super popular with the fans, and didn’t last too long before the stripes were done away with altogether in favor of a more angular design on the lower portion and a lot less yellow involved.
CAROLINA HURRICANES: 1997-2000
The Carolina Hurricanes franchise hasn’t changed its uniform a whole lot since coming to Raleigh in 1997, and the same can be said when the franchise was still based in Hartford and known as the Whalers. The biggest change came in 2007 with the arrival of the Reebok EDGE jersey system, so sometimes we can forget the exact style and look of the original, which is what you see here.
The concept and color scheme are all pretty similar to what the ‘Canes jerseys look like today, but the piping on the originals are straighter and feature less curvature that what Reebok incorporated into the newer design.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: 1930s
With their jersey designs staying much the same over the past half-century, it’s easy to forget that several of the Chicago Blackhawks’ earliest jerseys looked quite different than they do today. Sure, we get a nice reminder of what one of them looked like in the mid-1930s with the replica alternate they’ve been using lately, but you may not even have realized that the ‘Hawks used to have simple, black and white sweaters.
This photo, likely from the late-1920s or early-1930s, shows the circular design with the native American head and feathers surrounded by “Chicago Black Hawks” text in block letters over top thin, unevenly spaced stripes descending down from the shoulders all on a black background. This Original Six jersey is definitely a historical gem.
COLORADO AVALANCHE: BURGUNDY THIRDS
Save for some minor color alterations, the Colorado Avalanche’s jersey stayed pretty consistent for their first six years in Denver after making the move from Quebec in 1995. In 2001, though, the Avs channeled the New York Rangers’ iconic diagonal lettering with “C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O” stitched from the right shoulder down to the left hip on a burgundy sweater with a small version of the regular logo on both shoulders.
They used this one fairly consistently as an alternate until 2007, when the Reebok EDGE jerseys entered the league, so they tend to fade from memory as the last ones before the slick new designs arrived. Nowadays, they have a somewhat similar one, with the same font and typeface on a blue background and burgundy shoulders instead.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: 2000-07
One of the more patriotic team names and jersey designs in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ inaugural uniforms featured the stylized “CB” surrounding a hockey stick with a 3-D star on top, their secondary logo on the shoulders and four stars on the cuffs of both sleeves. To the untrained (or unaware) eye, it might not be totally apparent what all is going on here, so folks tend to prefer the current design, with the Ohio state flag as the primary logo instead.
Really, this jersey was a very safe, simple and traditional and largely unremarkable, so much so that it’s easy to forget what the ‘Jackets looked like when they first came in to the league, especially with their cool new sweaters featuring a Civil War cannon on the front.
DALLAS STARS: TAURUS CONSTELLATION
Somehow, the “Mooterus” made it through the entire Dallas Stars organization’s approval process without anyone noticing the fact that it bore a striking resemblance to, yes, a woman’s uterus. They rolled out this racy number in 2003 while also introducing the color red to the Stars’ color palate for the first time in the history of the franchise.
It was supposed to be an image of the bull in the Taurus constellation with a shooting-star curving around one of the horns, but as soon as someone noticed what the whole thing resembled, you couldn’t not see it anymore. Needless to say, the jersey didn’t see much playing time and was promptly removed from the lineup once the ridicule began raining down. You’d think it’d be more memorable, but it had such a short life, you’d miss it if you hadn’t seen it in a game.
DETROIT RED WINGS: 2016 STADIUM SERIES
The Detroit Red Wings – another Original Six team whose jersey design has seen only minute changes over the past eight decades or so – deviated from their normal look for their 2016 Stadium Series game against the Colorado Avalanche at Denver’s Coors Field.
Unless you knew it was the Wings’ jersey, you wouldn’t realize it belonged to them if you saw it anywhere else. The stylized “D” has sweeping wings, bearing a very vague resemblance to the same letter on their jerseys back when they were the Detroit Cougars, but it’s way too modernized to be much of a throwback design.
EDMONTON OILERS: NAVY THIRDS 2001-07
Like the previous entry, the Edmonton Oilers’ alternate jersey introduced in 2001 was such a drastic departure from their normal, longtime design that you can forget about it until you see it in photos later on down the line.
This particular sweater used only blue, white and silver with some sort of streaking drill bit or mechanical gear and a drop of oil, the one thing carried over from the original design. It did have special meaning, though. The five points or rivets – whatever you want to call them – represented the Oilers’ five Stanley Cup championships they won during their Gretzky, Messier and Kurri heyday in the ‘80s.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: PENGUINS LOOKALIKE
So the Florida Panthers were obviously copying the Pittsburgh Penguins’ alternate jerseys they reintroduced back in 2008 as a tribute to their 1960s look, right? I mean, I can’t blame them. It’s definitely a sweet design. The powder blue seems to work for just about anybody, so the Panthers just wanted to hop on the gravy train when this design made its debut in 2009.
So, yes, the colors and overall design work pretty well (and don’t look anything like Florida’s normal design, by the way), but that updated panther head in the middle of the circle and the odd half-sun and “FLA” patch on the shoulders and lower right leg were pretty unremarkable. What makes these all the more forgettable is that they debuted in a game against the Penguins, whom they jacked the design from in the first place.
LOS ANGELES KINGS: BURGER KING
Remember that terrible Mighty Ducks jersey that people had to block from their memories? Well, it must be a Southern California thing, because the Los Angeles Kings came up with one equally as bad, if not worse.
They call it the “Burger King” jersey, because the “king” on the players’ left breast looks exactly like that creepy king dude in those old Burger King commercials. But beyond that, it was just one ugly excuse for a jersey. Seriously, why is there a beauty pageant sash involved?
The funny thing is that the Kings debuted this jersey the same day that the Mighty Ducks debuted their awful Wild Wing one. It was Jan. 27, 1996 – over two decades ago. Fortunately, the thing only made eight appearances and never saw the light of day again.
MINNESOTA WILD: ORIGINAL GREEN
Like the relatively new Carolina Hurricanes, the Minnesota Wild are still a fairly young franchise that only came into the league in 2000, so there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to forget about any of their past uniforms. They’ve added a couple of alternate third jerseys over the years that eventually got put into a regular rotation, but they still use a very similar design for their home whites that they’ve had since the beginning.
This particular forest-green sweater, though, with the original logo, hasn’t been used for over a decade, since the Wild adopted their current red jerseys for their away sweaters.
Nowadays, the green jersey features the script “Minnesota Wild” instead of the logo, so it might have slipped fans’ mind that the bear-head logo hasn’t been on the green background since back in 2007.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: BARBER POLE
Fair warning: if you’re epileptic, read no further.
The Montreal Canadiens threw it all the way back to the 1912-1913 season with a tribute to the dizzying red, white and blue-striped “barber pole” sweater in a game against the Boston Bruins in February of 2009.
The horrid design drew almost 100 percent negative reviews from the players and coaches involved in the game, most complaining it gave them a headache and was hard to look at, let alone play with or against in a full-contact contest.
Needless to say, the thing had a very short lifespan – that one single game – and hasn’t been used since. The Habs might as well stick with the classic red and white sweaters with the stylized “CH” in the middle, because it’s worked forever, and the barber pole look was a total flop.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: NAVY THIRDS 2009-11
These things kind of look like the Oilers’ aforementioned – and short-lived – dark-blue alternate jersey, don’t they?
Anyways, the Nashville Predators went a couple years between 2007 and 2009 without an alternate jersey and must have felt left out from the rest of the league, so they rolled out this plain-looking navy jersey with the classic tiger logo on the front and a black and blue checkerboard-pattern stripes ringing the waist.
It wasn’t a bad look – it just didn’t look very “Nashville-y,” if that makes sense. It only lasted a couple of seasons before their current safety-yellow jerseys debuted, so these things never really got a whole lot of air time, although I have a feeling fans might support dropping the ugly yellow for a reversion back to the navy-blue.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: GREEN 1982-92
Speaking of rarely changing jersey designs, the New Jersey Devils have had basically the exact same red and white sweaters with the stylized “NJ” devil horns on the chest since the franchise moved from Denver and set up shop in the Tri-State area in 1982.
Really, their classic look still works just as well as it did 25 years ago, so there isn’t a big need for an overhaul, but the one thing that has changed (for the better, in my opinion) is the forest-green trim and breezers that always seemed to clash with the red and white.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: BLACK THIRDS 2011-14
It must be fun to work in the New York Islanders’ marketing department. They probably just sit around and come up with new jersey design ideas all day, because the Isles have tried almost every look, design and color for their jerseys since the ‘90s, that it’s hard to keep up with them all.
This one here only lasted a few seasons between 2011 and 2014 prior to the adoption of the big “NY” hockey stick as an adaptation of the letters from the original Islanders logo.
It was the first time they tried black in any real meaningful way, and they paired it with the now-popular wordmark-and-number-below-it combination on the front with orange characters, gray shoulder yokes and blue side panels. It’s not bad-looking, but it gets lost in the revolving door of always-changing Islanders jerseys.
NEW YORK RANGERS: THE SHIELD
Another Original Six squad and another jersey design that hasn’t changed a whole lot in the past 90 years. We’re used to the Rangers using the shield as their default logo, but the fact is that it was only used as the main crest on their jerseys for two seasons – in 1976-77 and 1977-78. It was then-GM John Ferguson’s attempt to revolutionize the team’s uniform by changing the look of the numbers, using darker blue and replacing the mainstay diagonal “R-A-N-G-E-R-S” design with the shield.
Ultimately, the design, with its simplistic striping pattern and unfamiliar logo, wasn’t super popular with the New York fans, so both the jersey and Ferguson were replaced for the 1978-79 season. So while the shield is familiar, the jersey that bore it is not.
OTTAWA SENATORS: BLACK THIRDS 2000-07
After going all of one season (1999-2000) without a black jersey, the Ottawa Senators rolled out a new black alternate sweater that featured bronze striping with a series of black chevrons on both the lower third and the middle of the sleeves.
It was used sparingly from 2000 until 2007 when the Reebok EDGE jerseys made their arrival in the league. It also featured the forward-looking centurion soldier that had only previously been used on their red away uniforms.
The jersey didn’t look bad, but it was the last time the Senators attempted the use of the bronze color other than within the main logo, so unless you actually own one of these replicas, you probably wouldn’t remember much about it, especially after those terrible “Sens” sweaters and now the striped throwback alternates.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: ORANGE THIRDS (2002-07)
In the first major modification of the winged “P” in the Philadelphia Flyers’ half-century history – if you can even call it “major” – they added a silver metallic outline to the mainstay logo on their orange alternate sweaters as well as featuring the first design to lack an arm-length stripe pattern.
It was a pretty minor variation of the team’s classic look and just unpopular enough that there was no attempt to carry the theme over when the league switched to the Reebok EDGE system in 2007.
After the resounding dud of an update, the Flyers went back to just the black road jerseys and white home ones for a season until they brought back the orange alternate in the 2008-09 season but without the gaudy silver outline.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: DIAGONAL “P-E-N-G-U-I-N-S”
Before the Colorado Avalanche copy-catted the Rangers’ diagonal script across the torso from the right shoulder to the left hip, the Penguins adopted it in 1992 with a diagonal “P-E-N-G-U-I-N-S” for a few seasons in the mid ‘90s while also abandoning the classic skating penguin logo for the first time in the team’s history.
They also introduced the “Robo-Penguin” at the same time, but that design lasted longer than the diagonal script, so that’s why this one’s the most forgotten jersey. Technically, it was more of a throwback to the team’s original jersey design that had similar diagonal script, though that was in 1967 and was still a copy of the Ranger’s design even then.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: SCRIPT “BLUES”
I bet you forgot all about this St. Louis Blues jersey, huh? It’s either that or you never realized that the Blues had anything other than the iconic blue note on their uniform. It would be easy to overlook, since it didn’t last very long, so don’t sweat it.
They tried this look, with the smaller note lowered a few inches on the front and an arced script “BLUES” above it, on both their home and away jerseys beginning with the 1984-85 season and carried it over for a couple more years before ultimately dropping it completely and reverting back to their normal note-only ensemble in 1987-88.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: 1991-97
Once again, we realize, with all these newfangled design capabilities and the blessing of the Reebok EDGE system, that the earlier jersey designs were pretty simple, with straight lines and somewhat bland-looking number and letter characters.
When the Sharks made their NHL debut as an expansion club in 1999, their aqua-colored uniform featured a traditional striping pattern on the lower torso and sleeves. They included a light gray color for each of their first six seasons before adding a darker shade to the side panels beginning in 1997.
As soon as you see these uniforms, it probably brings back plenty of memories of your early NHL fanhood days, but without the visual, it’s easy to forget what the Sharks originally looked like over 25 years ago.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTING: SUBLIMATED THIRDS
Not to be outdone by the excruciatingly awful Mighty Ducks and Kings alternate jerseys mentioned earlier on this list, the Tampa Bay Lightning really pushed the boundaries of the stormy Florida Gulf Coast theme with these terrible, sublimated storm-scene alternates, complete with stormy seas, slashing rain and lightning bolts crawling down both sleeves.
Honestly, these look like badly designed custom-made jerseys that an ECHL team might use to raise some cash with a post-game jersey auction after a cheesy Friday-night theme game. The funny part is that these things were rolled out with an official announcement and all the bells and whistles, but they were so bad that they were only held in circulation for parts of three seasons. And even then, they didn’t see a whole lot of action.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: ALL-WHITE SHOULDER YOKE
As we’ve seen with most of the other Original Six teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seen only very subtle changes to their jersey design over the course of their history. Since officially becoming the Maple Leafs and dropping the St. Pats moniker in 1927, the Leafs have pretty much always been blue and white with any variation of the Canadian maple leaf crest on the front of their jerseys.
They might experiment with stripes and piping and placement of the colors, but overall, it’s hard to correctly identify which era each jersey came from unless you’re a complete super fan with a photogenic memory.
In 1970, Toronto tried out an all-white shoulder yoke extending from the collar all the way to the cuff, a very simplistic design with two thick stripes at the bottom as well. It lasted until 1992, when more modern designs became prevalent.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: 1985-89
After finally getting rid of the downright garish black, yellow and orange “flying V” jerseys that are still arguably one of the ugliest sweaters in the history of the league, the Vancouver Canucks still couldn’t bring themselves to drop the mustard-yellow look in 1985.
With the new logo finally front and center the jersey, the Canucks opted to stick with with the yellow concept for their home lights for four more seasons before finally relenting and following the trend of a more common home-white look.
This jersey existed in the awkward transition period between the “Flying V” and the more conservative whites and blacks that dominated their lineup for the better part of the next eight seasons, so people tend to forget about the bridge that spanned the 1980s gap between bad and acceptable.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: 1995-97
Ditching their inaugural look that lasted over two decades, the Washington Capitals overhauled their jerseys with an all-new logo, design and color scheme that introduced the “diving eagle” crest on both their home-white and all-aqua away ones.
It was… weird, especially as a follow-up to the longtime red, white and blue jerseys with the script “capitals” across the torso and hockey-stick “L.”
The aqua shade only lasted for five seasons before the eagle was phased out and the U.S. Capitol alternate replaced it as the regular away-jersey concept. After that, the Caps re-adopted the original design again to much praise from its fans, leaving the aqua-blue-eagle jersey forgotten in time. Plus, it was never anyone’s favorite, and it didn’t sell a whole lot of merchandise, so… y’know.
WINNIPEG JETS: 1979-90
So technically I’m talking about the original Winnipeg Jets franchise (now the Arizona Coyotes), but give me a pass here, because the current iteration of the Jets has only had their inaugural jersey designs, so you can’t exactly forget about it unless you’re plagued with extreme short-term memory loss.
Anyhow, most of us best remember the Jets’ jerseys with the plane flying westbound coming out of the hockey-stick “J” on both their home-whites and away-darks. It was the last one they used before making the move to the desert. But their originals – the most forgotten ones – had the airplane silhouetted inside a red dot just above the blade of the “J.” That was the look for 10 years until the slight design change happened in 1990.
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