Compared to all the major professional sports in North America, the NHL and its uniforms are by far the most extraordinary concept. Some of the league’s most notable sweaters continue to carry not only a rich and storied history, but consistent designs and logos that can be recognized across the globe.
Since the early 1900s, NHL fans have witnessed their teams take to the ice with jerseys that established an uncanny inspiration for expansion teams in years to follow, and a trademark for the sport of ice hockey. And, like any other sport, the league has seen more than a handful of uniform trends, which stood as either a success or epic failure.
The evolution of the hockey sweater has entailed both bright and dark color scheme movements, and some overall designs that still leave people scratching their heads while asking themselves, “What was our team’s marketing department thinking?” Still, some vintage sweater creations live on, as a classic never dies.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, there are 30 clubs and all whom posses at least two jerseys (home and road). While the pace and strategy of the how hockey is played has drastically progressed, some teams have reverted back to their grassroots for a club’s identity after the players pull the notorious sweater over their shoulder pads. Yet, some organizations have appeared to have gone in the wrong direction with their jerseys.
This list ranks the NHL’s current jerseys from worst to best. Keep in mind, alternate jerseys were not factored into deciding the list. This is strictly of the writer’s opinion, as all of us are bound to have our own favorites.
30. Carolina Hurricanes
In 1997, when the Carolina Hurricanes franchise had relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, the Canes already had some tough shoes to fill. Formerly the Hartford Whalers, one of the more appreciated logos in the sport, the Hurricanes have never received much praise for their uniforms.
In 2013, the Canes redesigned their jerseys to have a “cleaner” appearance; where the home jersey’s design portrayed that of the Toronto Maple Leafs or Team Canada’s past uniform designs. I understand the direction Carolina wanted to take with the more classic hockey look, but they could have done a better job. These specific jerseys always remind me of the “default jersey” fans start off with in EA Sports’ Creation Zone for an NHL video game, right?
The home jersey entails too much red, and the black collar doesn’t seem compliment either sweater. Both home/away designs aren’t consistent either, which has proven to be a risk for teams in the past. The road uniform is nicer, but they could do without the red shoulders.
29. Ottawa Senators
The Ottawa Senators are one of the few teams left who haven’t changed their uniforms from the original Reebok Edge series, which were introduced in 2007-08. It was an odd time for hockey jerseys, and it’s about time for the Sens to enter a new era for jerseys. If Ottawa ditched the designs under the left and right arms, that flow along the top and bottom of the sleeves, and added basic horizontal stripes instead — I think we’d be having a different conversation.
Another idea is to have the current alternate jersey design serve as the primary jerseys, and then have the a red jersey stand as alternate. The Senators’ primary logo isn’t terrible, but in comparison to other teams I don’t think it’s in the top 15 for logos. It seems that Ottawa organization is in need for a fresh start in general. And, they can start by rebranding.
28. Colorado Avalanche
Again, I can’t reiterate enough…
The Colorado Avalanche fell into the Reebok Edge series trap in 2007-08, and never found their way out. The Avs’ jerseys prior to that year were one of the league’s nicer and most unique uniforms of all time. Now, the piping down the sides of the jerseys make the jerseys look more like a dress or an apron. Even if you don’t think Colorado should revert back to the original Avalanche design, the two-time Stanley Cup champion organization could do better, that’s for sure.
Similar to the Sens, perhaps the Avalanche should consider making the team’s new alternate sweater (2015) the primary home, and last year’s Stadium Series jersey the primary road, but with minor modifications. Both of those jersey designs are sleek and would add a sense of freshness to a rocky Avalanche team over the past decade. It’s time for a new leaf in Denver.
27. Anaheim Ducks
It was a sad day for most hockey fans when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim became the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, and introduced new logos and a color scheme. Why are the Ducks this low on the list?
For starters, the Ducks crosstown rivals in the Los Angeles Kings were already using black as a base color for decades. The white jerseys looked better without the black shoulders, and the webbed “D” just doesn’t seem like it’s going to last much longer anyway. Anaheim has slowly moved in the right direction by incorporating more orange into the team’s appearance, especially with the new alternate jerseys that were introduced last season.
Fans across the NHL seem to appreciate the duck-shaped hockey mask logo more than others, and it does have a more modern appearance with the orange and gold color scheme. Give the fans what they want, and bring back the duck-masked logo full-time.
26. Calgary Flames
If this list was based solely on which teams have the best logo then the Flames would rank in the top three. But, that’s not the case. Calgary has had a few different jersey designs over the past two-to-three decades, but it seems that the Flames are a team who can pull off that modern “clean” look that more and more teams are flocking towards.
The sharper red color the team began using in 2003 works well, especially with the black and yellow secondary colors. Still, the current jerseys are too busy. The lines and piping on the sides of the jerseys, which were added to the uniforms in 2007, need to be removed. The black logo can stay on the red jerseys, plus the Alberta and Canada flags on the shoulders were a great choice to incorporate too. If and when the Flames do get a new sweater, they should consider a design similar to the alternate uniform.
25. Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild jerseys tend to receive the most mixed reactions from the all fans alike. The jersey patterns aren’t consistent, and one has to wonder why the red jersey is used as primary home, and not the green? Like the Hurricanes, the green shoulders on the white road jersey appeared to be shaped funny and don’t look like they belong. I don’t think the Wild will do this any time soon, but another reasonable question is if the Wild would consider introducing a more simple logo? While it is unique, it may not be the best logo to use on the front of a team’s primary sweaters.
I think the Wild would be better off with the red jersey as an alternate, and then have the green and white jerseys match with the reversed color schemes. And, don’t get me wrong. The Wild don’t have poor jerseys by any means, but it’s just that they fall towards the bottom of the pack after reviewing other team’s sweaters.
24. Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks have probably had the most interesting and strangest history in regards to a club’s uniforms. I was torn on where exactly to rank the Canucks, too. I applaud them for reverting back to one of their vintage color schemes, but there’s too much blue going on with Vancouver’s home sweater. The “C” logo with the jumping Orca-Whale is cool, but it almost gets lost in the jersey with just the white and blue fill in. “VANCOUVER” written and arched above the logo could probably be removed from the home jersey at this rate, but the team’s original hockey stick logo on the shoulders was a nice touch.
If the blue wasn’t as bright, and became a darker tone, then the Canucks might have been ranked higher on the list. Another suggestion would be to add a silver or gray outline to the primary logo on the front of the sweaters.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets did an OK job with their latest uniforms. The Jackets found a way to pull off the Reebok Edge series debacle by not going too over the top with the overall design. It may portray a soccer team’s jersey, but the logo size and placement of the running stripes down the arms are appealing and separates them from other teams. The Blue Jackets’ jerseys are easy on the eyes, but more than likely still won’t move you one way or the other.
I don’t think it’s even a question that the white jersey has more pop to it — even though both uniforms are the same design. The stars stitched onto the bottom of the sleeves give the sweater character, but the Jackets should add more stars to the jersey, so they could be visible to the fans; perhaps the alternate logo on the shoulder patches could be replaced with a star?
22. Nashville Predators
I give the Nashville Predators a lot of credit for incorporating designs on the jerseys that have sentimental meanings to the Music City. This new approach will more than likely serve as a trend going forward with teams who are looking to get new jerseys too. It was a great decision to go with the gold home jerseys, as it gives the club and its fan base a true identity. The Preds could use a new design for their socks and the alternate gold helmet should be eliminated and I’d also like to see what the current jerseys would look like without the white stripes going down the sides of jersey, and then also on the base. I don’t see a need for the white stripes to be incorporated.
The guitar pick shape, which also represents the logo used the Tennessee’s state flag is awesome, along with the guitar strings running across the numbers on the jersey’s back and the piano keys located inside the collar was a clever idea.
21. Winnipeg Jets
I know a majority fans were disappointed that the Winnipeg Jets couldn’t bring back the vintage Jets uniforms, but these aren’t too shabby, at all. The dark and light blue scheme is presented well, and the two sets of three stripes on the sleeves has a old school feel to it. Still, the white jersey could be refurbished. Having more white present on the road jersey would benefit the jersey, instead of having the blue run all the way down from the shoulders. While most may not mind the Jets’ logo, it does have a Canadian corporate airline appearance. The circles around the jet make it look like somewhat of a target too. A modified version of the club’s wordmark logo may not be a bad idea to try and use as a primary logo. I would imagine that the Jets would introduce a new jersey in the near future.
20. Arizona Coyotes
The Arizona Coyotes desert brick red jerseys are a great fit, especially with the desert white (on the logos) and then black colors which were added into the color scheme last season. The black-filled arms are trendy, and compliment the direction the Coyotes were trying to take with the new design; as well as the black pants and gloves the team now wears. The new alternate logo was a solid addition on the shoulders, which portray paws and outline an “A” in the middle. It gives the Yotes fans more of a “this team is here to stay” vibe too. Another accepted trend was having the parallel ties located at the lower collar. The logo is a tad too large on the front of the jersey, and you’d like to see them also have the captain’s letter on the proper side, the right. Yet, I think these sweaters will receive better praise as time goes on.
19. Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres made the right call by reverting back to the double crossed-swords with the jumping buffalo logo, but I still think they could change their sweater’s appearance. I’m not sure how I feel about gray being in the jersey’s design, especially when it’s used under both of the arms. The gray stripes that arch into the jersey and away from the sleeves seem useless, and the numbers in the upper left corner aren’t necessary anymore either. Buffalo typically had an alternate logo for shoulder patches with past jerseys, but not with these sweaters; which could add a nice compliment to the overall design.
Additionally, I think the Sabres should hop on the vintage bandwagon and don the original royal blue and yellow colors, again. Those colors with the modern logo could pan out to be one of the league’s top jerseys. Until then, the Sabres are in the middle of the pack.
18. New Jersey Devils
Plain and simple. That’s been the identity of the New Jersey Devils for over two decades now. Credit is due towards Jersey’s team, as they’ve been one of the few consistent clubs in regards to a uniform design. New Jersey wears the red and black color scheme the best, especially in comparison to the other teams who converted to red and black in the 1990s. And, when a team wins three Stanley Cup championships with a classic sweater such as the Devils have — it adds to the appreciation of the jersey. There’s nothing exciting to see here, nor is there anything to really be a critic about.
One suggestion I do have though — I’d like to see the Devils receive permission from the NHL to wear the white jerseys on home ice all season. Not only would it set them aside from every other club, but the red logo pops much better with the white jersey and I believe Jersey’s fan base would appreciate something slightly different in a new era, too. But, that’s a story for another time.
17. Los Angeles Kings
The Kings black, white and silver jerseys aren’t quite the Wayne Gretzkey era uniforms, but these are close enough. The Kings’ jerseys portray a sense of intimidation, and how could one argue with that after they’ve hoisted Lord Stanley twice since introducing these gems back in 2011. The Los Angeles fanbase had always embraced the “Silver & Black” era uniforms, but is it safe to say that the Kings won’t be making any drastic changes to their uniforms for quite some time? The thin piping down the sweaters is decent, but you do have to wonder if the Kings will ever make that transition back to the Gretzky era jerseys, because why not?
Some sort of more visible piping added to the bottom of the sweater wouldn’t seem like a bad idea at the moment either. Also, incorporating a shoulder patch to honor the club’s recent Stanley Cup success doesn’t sound like a bad idea to me either. The addition would also separate Los Angeles from its instate rivals.
16. Florida Panthers
I know, I know what you’re thinking. “How are the Florida Panthers ranked higher than some of the teams already mentioned?” While these fresh sweaters haven’t hit the ice at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida yet, the jerseys are arguably the most intriguing designs we’ve seen in quite some time. The Panthers jumped up at least 10 spots on my list since the change, and the Cats also deserve an A+ in the rebranding department too. The badge logo fits in nicely with the center piping, which also doesn’t wrap all the way around the jersey, like the Montreal Canadiens’ jersey does. The militaristic appearance turned out to be awesome, and specifically with the Airborne Division patches which will be added to each of the captain’s sleeves.
The Panther above the state’s flag looks great on the sleeves, and the crossed jersey ties are supposed to symbolize the state flag. The fonts on the back of the jersey for the numbers and last names are appealing. Overall, the new color scheme and design was much needed for the Panthers and their fanbase.
15. New York Islanders
The first thing that always came to mind in relation to the New York Islanders was royal blue and orange. The Isles, like many others, made the mistake of changing the team’s colors and jersey designs in the 1990s and then again in the 2000s. But, the modern-throwback look the Islanders wear now was a nice polish job to a struggling and lackluster organization. The bright colors brought a new energy back to the Islanders fanbase and at whichever home-ice rink they’ve played at recently (Nassau Coliseum/Barclays Center).
The thicker orange and white stripes at the base of the jersey give the sweater more pop, and separate the Isles from the rest of the pack. The jersey ties underneath the collar were an underrated addition in my mind, too. The names and numbers on the back of the jersey look good in white and outlined in orange. It will also be interesting to see if the Isles will bring back the four tallies on one of the shoulders in honor of the team’s Stanley Cup championships.
14. Washington Capitals
Once the Alex Ovechkin era was in full swing the Washington Capitals decided to bring back the nation’s colors of red, white and blue. The most recent jerseys were unveiled in 2007, and based off of the original team logo dating back to 1974. Yes, these were one of the few jersey designs that panned out well from the Reebok Edge series, but you do have to wonder if the Capitals will also go back to their vintage sweaters; as the Caps have already worn a modern version of both as alternates in years past. Either way, the Ovechkin era jerseys are worthy to crack the top 15. The thin piping that goes down the sleeves coincides with the branding and wordmark logo on the front of the sweater. The Capitals alternate logo that’s used on the shoulders might be one of the best in the league. The eagle is shaped like a “W” and then outlines the United States Capitol Building.
13. St. Louis Blues
These are the nicest jerseys in the history of the St. Louis Blues. Not only does the logo pop well on the white uniforms, but so do all three colors used on the sweater. The two shades of blue compliment each other, plus the yellow stripes. Having the navy blue cuffs come up higher on the sleeves was a good call, and the shoulder piping is the best design in all of hockey if a team is going to do so. The font for the numbers seems to be different than most teams, and a team can never go wrong when using just one one color for the last names on the jersey’s back. Not having an alternate logo on the sweater’s shoulders was quietly a good decision by the Blues, and fans can appreciate the character this uniform offers. The Blues made the right call with these, and the timing couldn’t have been any better after St. Louis had a similar jersey design to the Colorado Avalanche from 2007-2014.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning
A jersey that appeared to be inspired by the Detroit Red Wings, the Tampa Bay Lightning did a fantastic job with rebranding and the club’s new sweaters in 2011. At first, I think most fans across the NHL bashed the new logo as “super hero” esc, but it’s exceeded expectations and is clearly one of the better overall uniforms the league has to offer. The blue is vibrant and looks even better in a sea of Lightning blue fans down in Tampa. The alternate shield logo on the shoulders is one of the better secondary logos, and the lightning bolts going down the pants are one of the coolest wrinkles added into an NHL uniform.
“TAMPA BAY” written above the logo on the white jersey adds some flair to the plain look, and the single stripes used throughout the sweater accomplished what Tampa was aiming for. It was also a good choice to finally introduce jersey ties, plus the numbers are a different style then most would have expected. The Bolts have redefined what a timeless jersey means in the NHL.
11. Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are innovators when it comes to a club’s style on the ice. The Flyers current jerseys, which are modernized from the 1970s, are the best Philly has donned to date. The bright orange on the home jersey makes the Flyers’ logo pop like no other, and not a single team can pull off having the two-colored name plates on the back of the jersey like the Broad Street Bullies can. The single stripe at the base of the jersey works well too. The uniforms are simple, yet they do have some swagger to remind opposing teams and fans who exactly they’re playing each night.
Aside from the crest on the front, there isn’t a ton of black visible on either uniform and that’s not necessarily a bad characteristic. The Flyers and the black uniforms had their time for plenty of years prior, so this retro look is a nice change of pace for the City of Brotherly Love.
10. Dallas Stars
In 2013, when the Dallas Stars introduced their latest uniforms, I think most fans were against these sweaters that the one time Stanley Cup champions had unveiled. But, that negative attitude quickly changed. Like Tampa, Dallas introduced a vibrant and fun color that also redefines what the modern hockey jersey should look like. The “victory green” looks fantastic with the white, black and silver colors too. Also only having two colored stripes on the white uniform is classy, and also unique for a team introducing a new jersey.
Using just one color for the numbers and names on the back of the jersey was a perfect fit for this five star jersey. Though, for some reason I think the white jerseys would look better without the green shoulders. I would imagine a sleek alternate jersey would be introduced at some point too. Things just keep getting better by the season in Dallas for Stars fans.
9. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to rebrand for the 2016-17 season, and honor the club’s past. As Toronto’s Centennial Anniversary approaches, the Maple Leafs new and modified logo from the 1950s is without a doubt one of the NHL’s best to date. The custom font on the leaf is hands down better than the previous one used, and the more “leafy” appearance is an upgrade from the old pointed logo. The number of stems that branch out from the veins on the leaf represents the city’s 13 Stanley Cups, which is one of a kind. And, the there’s even optimism in Toronto as there’s room on to add more stems.
The jersey design is simple and classy, but as we buckle down and near the top ten the competition gets higher. Though, fans can appreciate the homeage of the two stripes used on the sleeves towards the “Mats Sundin and Doug Gilmour days,” and the single base piping that pays tribute to the 1970’s Leafs’ players was a nice change of pace too. Not having a logo on the shoulders isn’t the worst decision for this specific team, and changing the blue to a darker shade was a good idea.
8. San Jose Sharks
The name, San Jose Sharks, speaks for itself; but the only NHL team to wear the color teal speaks volume. Sure, San Jose’s jerseys are plain and simple, but there’s enough flair and character in the teal sweaters to have them placed in the top ten. The tie strings were a first for the Sharks and nice addition to the Sharks jersey history. The use of orange plays in favor with the teal, and the minor modifications that were made to the piping on the sleeves was an overlooked change. Both the home and away jerseys are consistent, plus the alternate, and it was the right decision to have the alternate logo placed as the shoulder patches.
Yes, at this point in time I think most fans could do without the extra jersey numbers in the upper left corner; but it’s reasonable considering the appearance the Sharks were going for.
Not having stripes on the base of the jersey is usually not the best decision, but once again the Sharks can pull it off; because the more teal — the better. The updated logo was hard to get used to at first, but it stands out even more with a simpler jersey design.
7. Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are the definition of “clean” and “classy.” A championship caliber club and Original Six franchise can pull off a simple and two-color scheme jersey better than, well, every team. The white uniform is the better of the two, and the team’s wordmark logo might be the best in the NHL.
Tradition is the first word that comes to mind when you think of not only the team as a whole, but the Red Wings style as well. The team hasn’t had as many uniform changes or additions like other Original Six teams either (not counting outdoor games). While the classic Wings logo doesn’t look the best on the red jersey, it can certainly be appreciated on the club’s road uniform. Also, the areas filled with red on the road jersey look great and separate Detroit’s style from a team like Toronto. The last names on the back of the uniforms have an arc to them, which is bold and but acceptable with Detroit. Never change, Hockeytown.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
If the Pittsburgh Penguins hadn’t made the recent change to the club’s early 1990s uniform design, then the Penguins would be much lower and well out of the top 15 on this list. It became apparent that it was time for the “Vegas gold” and Reebok Edge jersey to go in the closet. The jerseys that the team will wear for the club’s 50th season anniversary are gorgeous and have more character than the previous jerseys.
The Steel City’s hockey team now matches its other professional sports teams, again. Fans were able to see players such as the great Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr wear these black and gold sweaters, and now it’s time for a new a generation to witness Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin do the same. The overall design is one of a kind, and seeing the skating penguin logo in black and gold looks ten times better than it did with the Vegas gold.
5. New York Rangers
New York fan or not, the Rangers have donned some of the nicest jerseys the sport has ever seen. No other team can pull off the diagonal lettering going down the front of the sweater, or let alone not have an actual logo on any of their jerseys. The blue jerseys with the red lettering, plus the red pants are fancy; and the three stripes on both uniforms compliment the sweater’s image.
Unlike some teams, there’s no need for the Rangers to have an alternate logo on the jersey’s shoulders, so all is well there. While the jerseys from the late 1980s to mid 1990s were cool, but didn’t entail jersey ties, it’s clear that the ties need to be incorporated when it comes to the Rangers. The white jersey’s shoulder piping looks cool, and the three-dimensional numbers and names on the back of the sweaters make the jerseys stand out the most. Similar to Detroit, the last names are presented with an arc, which also make the fancy lettering standout that much more.
4. Montreal Canadiens
No, the Montreal Canadiens are not ranked number one on this list. While most view the Habs’ sweater as the definition of a true hockey jersey, they’re still not number one on the list. The horizontal piping is innovating, and the light blue and red color scheme has always been a unique pattern for any sports team. The white collar and jersey ties was also a nice and recent touch. You could argue that the red jersey is the best, but this post considers both jerseys, and the white doesn’t quite cut it like the home jersey does.
I think Montreal should use a white uniform similar to the 2016 Winter Classic jersey they wore. Why not use the same layout and design for the white uniform? If the red jersey is that good, then replicate it for a white sweater. Still, the Canadiens are a top five team for this list.
3. Edmonton Oilers
The truth is that the Edmonton Oilers should have never disposed of this jersey template, especially when the club had the Great One, Mark Messier and more build a dynasty while donning these classic sweaters. The shoulder yokes should be appreciated by all, which are outlined on both jerseys (take notes Carolina and Minnesota), as should the extended cuffs on the home jersey. The jersey collars are different, and no team can go wrong by using three thin stripes on the sleeves and base of the uniforms. The blue and orange color scheme is different than that of the Islanders, and worn a tad better. Once again, a team can’t go wrong with using one color for the player’s names, and the numbers look good on both sweaters.
While some may disagree with this choice, I have a feeling the Connor McDavid era and potential winning years will change fans’ point of view on the jerseys.
2. Chicago Blackhawks
Classic. Cool. Vintage. You name it. The Chicago Blackhawks overall jersey designs are worthy of being in the top two for this list. The home uniforms have an interesting combination with the black and white stripes, and specifically in relation to the bottom white stripe which contains more space on the jersey than the others. The alternate logo used for shoulder patches is a perfect fit for just that, and luckily the Hawks have never gone overboard in trying to use it as a jersey crest either.
The white road has the right amount of detail to stand out. Though, I would like to see the Blackhawks use jersey ties, as every Original Six team should to make its mark. Either way, the primary logo has always received the most attention. It would be hard to imagine the Hawks with a crest on the front of Chicago’s beloved and favorite sweater.
1. Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins have an almost identical jersey template to the Blues, but the Bruins pull off the look better. The logo factored into this one, as it’s flawless on both jerseys in comparison to other clubs. The stripes and shoulder piping compliment the logo too. The alternate logo used as the shoulder patches was an unexpected and cool wrinkle when the jerseys were unveiled almost 10 years ago. The numbers and font used on the back of the jersey are simple, and overall there’s not much, or nothing at all, to criticize about the jersey.
It seems that the black cuffs coming up high on the white jersey was a good decision, and I’m sure we’re all glad the B’s didn’t add yellow cuffs to the black sweater. The jersey ties and thin piping one the sleeves and base of the jersey had been missing from the Boston’s jersey design for too long. The black and gold has never looked better on a pro sports team.
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