The NHL and its uniforms have experienced various trends since the league's establishment in 1917, and most notably over the past two decades.
During the early 1990s, the league actively pursued the idea of numerous teams unveiling alternate jerseys and kick starting a new era for hockey sweaters. A handful of teams set off the alternate sweater band wagon that season. Clubs such as the (then) Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks all debuted third jerseys. Though, the uniform designs for the Ducks and Kings ventured away from the typical hockey sweater
Though, the uniform designs for the Ducks and Kings ventured away from the typical hockey sweater layout, and were short lived. The following two seasons more third jerseys could be seen skating around NHL rinks, as teams such as the New York Rangers, (then) Phoenix Coyotes, Washington Capitals, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks donned alternate sweaters.
Bright colors, or teams reverting back to vintage sweaters for alternate uniform designs, are the ongoing and recent trends for clubs around the NHL. Fans have still witnessed some forgettable third jersey designs, but other cities have been fortunate enough to display some of the more appreciated alternate sweaters in recent memory.
Nowadays, about half of the league has a recurring alternate jersey, while some teams have opted not to have one for the time being. Here we will rank the alternate jerseys of the 17 NHL teams that do have one.
17 New York Islanders
The New York Islanders have seemed to always struggle when it comes to designing a well appreciated alternate sweater. The Islanders have had a handful of third jerseys dating back to 1996, and two of which that have used black as a base color for the jerseys. It's no secret the Isles' most recent alternate (2015-16) was to go hand-in-hand with the sports brand Brooklyn and the Barclays Center have established, but seeing New York wear black and white themed jerseys defeats the purpose of the Islanders' storied past and identity.
Implementing the 2014 Stadium Series logo was a great choice, and the subtle tributes towards the team's past on the sweater are different then any other club's sweaters fans around the league have witnessed too. Still, I'm not alone in thinking that this jersey will not only be short-lived, but an Islanders' alternate sweater at this point and time could be better. Hopefully, the team will use the "NY" logo again, but with orange and blue filling out the sweater. I'd also like to see a different design than the Stadium Series uniform, no?
16 Los Angeles Kings - Yellow & Purple
This modernized-throwback uniform from the Los Angeles Kings arguably receives the most mixed reactions from fans across the NHL. Some appreciate the classic and vintage yellow and purple, or as the Kings refer to it as "royal blue," appearance, while others couldn't have been happier that these sweaters from the 1960's were officially retired in the late 80's. An eyesore? Not necessarily. But they're certainly not the best-looking alternatives in the league, that's for sure.
Yes, teams typically wear their alternate jerseys while skating in front of the hometown fans, but the Kings actually wore these gold throwbacks on the road last season. The Kings used to dress in the purple edition of this jersey a couple of seasons back, and if Los Angeles still did -- then perhaps the two-time Stanley Cup champions would be ranked higher on this list. There's too much gold present in this picture...
15 Boston Bruins
The familiar 1920s throwback logo used for this alternate sweater displays that the Boston Bruins were headed in the right direction with this uniform when it was unveiled in the 2008-09 regular season. The Bruins' current alternate is simple and sleek looking, but it doesn't necessarily move you one way or the other.
Personally, this hockey jersey enthusiast is not a fan of the all yellow collar in the neck area, but the jersey's piping on the sleeves do have a classic feel. It was a good idea to have the Bruins' primary logo stitched on the shoulders, and not some newly incorporated secondary logo. One almost has to wonder if the jersey's primary crest would look better with a brown bear -- instead of it being filled in with black? Boston is an Original Six franchise, so you would also think that an alternate's overall appearance would pay more of tribute to the Bruins' rich past, too.
14 Tampa Bay Lightning
Similar to the Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning's current alternate sweater shouldn't impress, nor completely disappoint fans. The Bolts did justice by having the alternate be a black based jersey, but it left fans with a bit of an empty feeling. Though, it's better than the previous blue alternate jersey, which also read Bolts across the sweater's front. Yet, I think there's room for improvement for this third jersey.
The Lightning and Ottawa Senators were two teams that originally used their nicknames on alternate sweaters a few seasons back, but now it seems like an outdated trend. Unlike the Islanders, the Bolts can pull off a simple black and white themed alternate. A third jersey that leaned more towards a color scheme of two colors, and with a hint of Tampa's blue, complements the Bolts' brand. The black sweater could probably do without the white piping down the jersey's sleeves, and maybe just two thin white stripes instead. It would be interesting to see if the Lightning used their primary white logo on the black jersey, no? That appearance would also stay consistent with the club's home and away jersey designs.
On a side note, the alternate shells used for the black jerseys are awesome to say at the least.
13 Calgary Flames
This isn't a bad jersey design by any means, but you may be asking yourself -- Why isn't this jersey design used for the Calgary Flames home and away sweaters? At this rate, it looks closely related to the team's primary home sweater, so it also doesn't have the same appeal as other alternates do. The Flames' current alternate sweater template looks great...other then "Calgary" written in cursive across the front of the jersey.
The Flames should consider only having the "C" logo on the front of this jersey template, and possibly with the white "C" that the Flames used to wear prior to the 2003-04 season. It's unfortunate and there are plenty of classic NHL teams who have fallen into this jersey trap, but a team like Calgary shouldn't already have a long list of jersey designs. A Canadian club's appearance such as the Flames should be identified as one that's consistent. Not one that has mixed reactions and the fans buying a new sweater every three seasons.
Bring back the black and flaming horse alternate jersey, Calgary.
I'm just kidding...
12 Carolina Hurricanes
As we near the top ten, the list becomes more difficult to rank. These third jerseys that the Carolina Hurricanes first wore in 2008-09 are cool, and the Hurricanes may even want to consider having a black jersey serve as their primary home jersey eventually. In fact, this jersey is better than Carolina's home and away jerseys.
The Canes' secondary logo has always been one of the best in hockey in my mind, especially with its reference to the state of North Carolina; and the triangle behind the storm flag logo also represents the state's Research Triangle area. It's a shame this logo is no longer used on the Hurricanes' red or white uniforms anymore too. The blacked out double squares on the base of the jersey were a good idea, and the red numbers outlined in white do make the jersey pop. However, the Hurricanes' primary logo just looks bad blacked out on the sweater's shoulders, and the two diagonal stripes on the sleeves, and socks, makes it look like the Canes were trying too hard here.
With a couple of minor changes the Hurricanes could end up higher on this list, and in the near future.
11 Edmonton Oilers
Some of the nicest sweaters in all of hockey belong to the Edmonton Oilers, and the Connor McDavid era didn't just kick off last season with the phenom's play on the ice either. The Oilers introduced a new alternate jersey, which was also a tribute to the original Oilers (prior to joining the NHL) of the World Hockey Association.
Edmonton had struggled in the past with designing an accepted uniform set, but it seemed that going back to the club's roots has served them well. So, adding this orange jersey was very cool. Though, like a few teams on this list, there are other clubs who simply have a slightly better third jersey. The Oilers kept things simple with this sweater by just reversing the color scheme with Edmonton's home dark jersey. It was the right call to do so, and I do like how the numbers are incorporated on the shoulders instead of a secondary logo. This jersey pops and has a nice balance to it. The jersey adds another staple to the beginning of McDavid's potential illustrious NHL career.
10 Minnesota Wild
The State of Hockey has experimented in recent years with its current NHL team. The Minnesota Wild have an awesome name, which would make one think that they would have even better sweaters. The Wild's set of uniforms aren't bad at all, and the alternate green jersey might be the best of them out of the three.
How could the Wild not have a sweater that was primarily forest green, right? Minnesota can pull off the off-white color better than most too. It was the right decision to also not have the team's primary logo on this sweater and to have a script font that no other team has used before. You could argue that it does have a close resemblance to an NHL All-Star jersey, but its simplicity cannot go unnoticed either. The piping on the jersey suits the Wild well, and is also now consistent with the Minnesota's white jersey. The Wild wear this jersey often and even in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so does it really have that same alternate vibe like other sweaters posses?
9 9. Anaheim Ducks
For starters, the Anaheim Ducks reverting back to the original logo design was an automatic win-win for all NHL fans. While the duck-masked logo is no longer seen on the purple and aqua green jersey, this is still one of the better sweaters, if not the best, the Ducks have designed since rebranding back in 2006.
Considering Anaheim's instate rivals with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks previously used black in their color scheme before the Ducks, I think it was a good decision for Anaheim to turn the corner and unveil an orange alternate sweater last season. The Honda Center seemed to be filled with more and more orange shirts as the 2016 season progressed and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The webbed "D" logo serves better as a secondary shield, and the overall design for the sweater isn't bad, at all. Some fans may think there's too much orange displayed here, but this is a nice third jersey that pays tribute to Orange County.
8 San Jose Sharks
While a majority of the black alternate sweaters are towards the bottom of this list, the San Jose Sharks' third jersey is classic. The Sharks have stayed consistent and have had a black alternate since the 2000-01 regular season; plus the teal, black and white color scheme look sleek, especially at the Shark Tank.
Adding the same piping from the sleeves to the base of the uniform would complement the sweater in my opinion, and a subtle addition like that could potentially move the Sharks up higher on this list in the future. The crest on the front of the jersey looks intimidating on black, and the "SJ" alternate logo on the shoulders looks best on this sweater for San Jose. Things wouldn't be the same if the Sharks didn't have a black alternate, right?
It should be interesting to see if San Jose eventually changes the logo on its uniforms, or as a stepping stone to change it first on this alternate. The Sharks recently unveiled three new secondary logos, which will be displayed on available merchandise only.
7 Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets' second alternate jersey in franchise history is a beaut, and is worthy of being ranked in the top ten. While the color scheme for this third jersey can now be considered unique, since a few teams ditched their navy and sky blue alternates, this sweater really stands out for the Blue Jackets' sake. One could even argue this is the best jersey they've worn to date.
Another positive with this third party is that the Jackets have stuck with it. It originally debuted in 2010, and fans have seen plenty of recent expansion franchises go through a few different regular and alternate jersey designs over the years. The vintage white and navy blue works well, especially considering the team's name. The cannon as the logo isn't just an awesome tribute to the Jackets and their fans, but it's one of the more appreciated logos in the sport, currently. The striping on the jersey has more of a hockey identity to it then in comparison to the club's home and away jerseys, or other team's alternate sweaters as well. I think we'd all like to see what this sweater would look like in white, Columbus.
6 Ottawa Senators
This sweater speaks hockey loud and pridefully. A blast from the past didn't hurt the Ottawa Senators when it came to producing another third jersey in the team's history. Sure, this is another black alternate but it suits the Senators very well.
The Sens' current primary logo and jersey designs alone are questionable, and should be retired at this point in time. The "O" logo adds a sense of boldness the Senators have been missing from establishing their brand, and the piping across the middle of the sweater rivals that of the Montreal Canadiens -- adding more charisma to the Canadian rivalry. Adding the jersey ties at the collar area was a great call, and the piping on the base of the jersey is an overlooked attribute as well. Overall, this is a great third jersey and from a club that's struggled to produce a solid alternate sweater in the past.
5 Vancouver Canucks
Another Canadian club with an alternate sweater that's as hockey as it can get. This Vancouver Canucks third jersey entails character and pays homage to Canucks' past. And, believe it or not, but this jersey does have some small differences in comparison to Vancouver's home blue uniform.
The space between the piping on the sleeves and the base of the uniform has a better appearance than the home jersey, and the "C" with the hockey stick logo provides a sense of history and pride. The "V" and Johnny Canuck logo on the shoulders add more character to the sweater, and I don't think anyone would object to having the logo displayed on the jersey. Overall this is a very clean and vintage look for the Canucks, who have had a history of producing memorable jerseys, but not in a positive sense. One could argue that the club could fill in the primary logo with a white background to give the jersey more pop too.
4 New York Rangers
This jersey will get most fans across the NHL in a New York state of mind, that's for sure. The New York Rangers' previous alternate sweater received mixed reviews from fans (Lady Liberty), but I don't think any of the Garden faithful are complaining about this gem of an alternate.
The navy blue and red used for this jersey looks fantastic, and the off-white complements the the "Heritage" nickname for the sweater. "New York" stitched diagonally down the jersey, like the home and away sweaters with "Rangers,"makes the jersey feel right at home in Madison Square Garden too. Not having the three dimensional looking numbers on the sweater, like the home/away jerseys, suits this sweater well. The all off-white collar is classy, and so are the jersey ties, which were missing from the Rangers' previous alternate sweater. I'd imagine this alternate jersey will be in New York's rotation for a long time.
3 St. Louis Blues
Some may find this alternate sweater for the St. Louis Blues plain and, well, boring; but its simplicity cannot go unappreciated. And, the crest with the St. Louis Gateway Arch is cool and a unique logo for the Blues in comparison to past sweaters -- alternate or not.
The white cuffs that come higher up on the sleeves were a nice touch, and to have one thick white stripe with a thin yellow piping were a good call on the Blues' part. It was a solid decision to also add the same piping on the base of the jersey, and not leave that area blank like most teams have done recently with alternates. The matching collar to the jersey's piping isn't typically seen on third jerseys, and it looks solid for this sweater. And, once again, you can never go wrong with jersey ties on a hockey sweater, especially in a hockey city like St. Louis.
2 Washington Capitals
It was only a matter of time before the Washington Capitals went back to their vintage appearance, and whether it was from an alternate or primary appearance. An NHL team playing in the Capital of the United States should portray America. And, while that may sound like an obvious statement, that wasn't always the case with the Capitals and their brand -- ala black alternate jersey era in the mid 1990's.
This Patriotic and decorative sweater is more than worthy to rank at number two for this list. The blue and white stripes are classic, and the stars on the front and sleeves of the jersey serve this sweater justice. Most fans may be against teams not having an actual logo as a jersey crest, but I don't think you can underestimate the word-mark logo when it comes to Washington. Is it only a matter of time before this alternate becomes the new primary for the Caps? Perhaps...
1 Colorado Avalanche
Winner-winner chicken dinner. This alternate jersey which was unveiled by the Colorado Avalanche last season is border line flawless, and innovative. The shade of navy blue, white and maroon-red portray an enticing appearance, and the modernized throwback logo that's similar to the vintage Colorado Rockies crest is impressive.
The Avalanche's sweater has a good balance to its display, especially in relation to its modern and vintage references. The Colorado state flag on only one side of the shoulder's white yokes was a cool wrinkle, and just using white for the numbers and name plates is a simple trait that can be appreciated by all. It would be tough to argue to not have this alternate sweater ranked in the top three, and after two average alternate sweaters the Colorado Avalanche now don the NHL's top ranked alternate jersey.
Additionally, I thought it was a good idea to leave out Colorado's primary logo for this third jersey. The Avalanche are headed in the right direction when it comes to rebranding.
Note: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are set to debut new alternate jerseys for both of their 50th anniversaries, but they've yet to be unveiled.
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