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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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