If you’ve been a fan of NHL team logos and jerseys for the last 30 years, you might view them as either traditional, well-designed, or corny. Three of the Original Six teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers have logos that have stood the test of time. Then in February of 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs recently modified their primary “leaf” logo in order to start a new chapter in their storied history.
Then the first wave of expansion in 1967 brought the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars), Philadelphia Flyers and Los Angeles Kings into the league. Those teams continue to thrive a half-century later, but some of them have created the weakest logos for over two decades. For example, remember when the Pens ditched the “skating penguin” for the infamous pigeon-head after their second straight Stanley Cup win in ’92? Or how about the LA Kings’ egregious Burger King logo from the 90s that The Great One actually wore? With that said, let us review the 20 worst logos from current NHL teams, along with one failed Sun Belt franchise since the beginning of the ’90s.
20. DALLAS STARS – Bull-Headed Constellation
We start off with an alternate logo from the Stars that might be out of this world in a way, but it never should’ve been used by them in the first place.
The bull-headed “constellation” logo on their long-gone alternate jerseys in the 2000s was a total mess. First off, what do bulls or Taurus have to do with the Dallas Stars? Secondly, the “flying” red and green star on the right side makes this look much worse than it needed to be. Not to mention that it resembled a set of female organs, but you can figure that one out yourself. It was also a rip-off the Houston Texans’ main logo, which is also shaped like a bull’s head. At least that one uses the state flag of Texas for inspiration, but it would be funny if Stars fans sent those horrendous logos and jerseys into space so that they’re never seen again.
19. ATLANTA THRASHERS
If you remember the old Atlanta Thrashers, what comes to mind has to be their dreadful collection of logos and jerseys. Throughout their brief stay in the ATL, they experienced multiple losing seasons and one division title in 2006-07. Their primary logo was the brown thrasher, which represented the state bird of Georgia. It held on to a dark gold hockey stick with the wing inside a navy oval-shaped shield and was one of the strangest-designed logos by any NHL franchise.
The logo may have looked pretty decent for the Thrashers’ early years, especially when they had offensive snipers Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley, but the fact that it almost resembled a brown tornado on a shield made it look atrocious later on. It seems quite fitting Atlanta lost quite often with that logo on their chests, and that led to them moving to the city of Winnipeg in 2011 to become the second iteration of the Jets. At least their primary circular logo is a modest upgrade over the Thrasher head and wing.
18. OTTAWA SENATORS – SENS
Okay, if you found the Senators original logo from their first 15 years of existence in the 90s as terrible, their script-based alternate logo in the late 2000s might top those as simply uninspiring. Ottawa used dark-colored third-jerseys during the 2008-09 season and slapped the word “Sens” with red and gold edges diagonally to the crest.
The font may have looked decent, but the logo itself is just bland and doesn’t scream “intimidating”. I’m starting to wonder if the team’s use of their former dark alternates was to increase jersey and/or merchandise sales, rather than build a worthy playoff contender in Ottawa. The Sens recently used the stylish “barber pole” thirds from 2011-12 to last season, but those ones were an upgrade over the previous alternate logo and jersey.
17. CALGARY FLAMES – Flaming Horse
You might remember the Calgary Flames’ “flaming horse” logo that they introduced for the ’98-’99 season. It was one of the worst-designed in their history and it’s also cringe-worthy, to say the least. The upside of it was the color scheme, which consistently matched the Flames’ team colors.
But it left me wondering if the narrow “horse head” was a nod to their annual Calgary Stampede or their CFL counterparts in the Stampeders. After the 2006-07 campaign, the Flames came to their senses by abandoning the infamous “flaming horse” and primarily uses the classic, flaming “C” on the crests of their jerseys. They’ve pretty much stuck to that ever since and there’s no reason to change it, as the flaming “C” is just a masterpiece.
16. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – ‘Modernizing’
I’m in shock over how the Bolts landed on this particular list. Before the 2007-08 campaign, Tampa Bay decided to “modernize” their original logo they used during their inaugural season and the 2003-04 Stanley Cup championship run since the league switched to Reebok as their jersey supplier.
The final result was an oversized lightning bolt with a gray circle behind it and a blue “Tampa Bay” wordmark with some strange font. Personally, I feel the Lightning could have retained the old logo instead of changing it to something a major junior team would have created and the fact it wasn’t the same. Thankfully, the second variation of the Bolts logo became a distant memory. They switched it to a logo that has a traditional feel, although the name “Tampa Bay” isn’t seen on their blue home jerseys, but on their road whites.
15. NASHVILLE PREDATORS – Mustard Logo
The Nashville Predators may have some of the league’s most underrated primary and secondary logos on their jerseys. Ranging from the blue “guitar pick” logo and three stars that are part of Tennessee’s state flag to the saber-toothed tiger head using a blue, white and gold color scheme, they’re important parts of their franchise’s identity.
But in the early 2000s, the Preds unveiled a slightly modified version of their original logo with the saber-toothed tiger inside a triangle facing the front, in which they had slapped it onto a mustard-colored alternate jersey! The sweater along with the revised logo made for a pretty awful combination by the Preds back then. Nashville discontinued the use of the mustard threads and tiger after the 2006-07 season, but it’s pretty clear their current primary logo is miles better than that.
14. EDMONTON OILERS – Oil Drop
In the early 2000s, the Oilers utilized an alternate logo in which the idea of it was a “mechanic oil drop” with a dark blue and silver color scheme.
To the Oilers fans who actually liked it, I have to say it was a disgrace to the traditional logo of this proud franchise, considering how iconic it is to the older fans who witnessed their successful dynasty of the mid-1980s. It might be fitting that Edmonton couldn’t win a Stanley Cup wearing that cheap excuse of a third jersey and logo, and there was no need to go bush league with their uniforms and identity. I mean, the “metal oil drop” resembled a streaking comet for goodness sakes! Thankfully, they retired those logos for good after the ’06-’07 season and used their classic circular logo full-time. Not to mention their all-orange jerseys don’t look so bad as well.
13. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – Inaugural Logo
If there’s any Blue Jackets fan who vividly remembers their early years of little success and the arrival of Rick Nash in 2002, their very first primary logo was something that might strike you as either decent or pretty odd. I might give Columbus good marks for being clever with their original team logo, but grant low marks for how seemingly bad it looks several years later.
The red “C” and “B” kind of resembled one long and choppy ribbon with 14 stars on it, but the designers of it may have put little effort or thought into that part. But let’s get into what might be the corniest part of the Jackets’ original logo, a yellow hockey stick with a large star on top. The entire logo just didn’t appeal to me because of how “cartoony” and cheap it looked, but Columbus came to their senses and used this gem of a logo from 2007-08 to last season. Talk about an upgrade!
12. Arizona COYOTES – Kachina Style
The Jets-Coyotes franchise has been through multiple lean years in their history, but let’s focus on the start of the ‘Yotes era. The league approved the Winnipeg Jets’ relocation to the Southwest city of Phoenix, Arizona in the mid-1990s. They were named the Coyotes and would introduce a “Kachina-style” primary logo just six months before the ’96-’97 season.
Their cornerstone players in Jeremy Roenick and Nikolai Khabibulin donned the Kachina-themed coyote on their crest during the team’s early years, but the look of their unique, yet strange logo has to be dissected. Let’s start with the coyote’s split head, it might remind you of Picasso’s artwork at first glance. It had a red eye and the other one was closed as if it was winking. The rest of its body looked quite busy with multiple colors all over the place, but the crescent symbol and hockey stick seem decent for that logo. By the 2003-04 season, they opted for a simplified, howling coyote logo that is still used to this day.
11. BOSTON BRUINS – Winnie The Pooh?
Remember when the Bruins had all-yellow third jerseys in the mid-90’s and 2000s? That had a “roaring bear” logo on the crest, which might’ve reminded some people of Winnie The Pooh.
The bear logo was mostly coloured brown, but it might be hard to believe how the Bruins approved of it in the first place. They set aside the “spoked B” logo for that awful emblem? The bear head could’ve been used by their AHL farm team as a primary if they wanted to. Currently, the B’s no longer use all-yellow alternates or the bear head for their uniforms. They ended up winning a Stanley Cup in 2011 using a modified version of the spoked B. These definitely didn’t look like jerseys that should be worn by a professional hockey team.
10. NEW YORK RANGERS – Statue Of Liberty
If you’re a New York Rangers fan, you probably prefer their timeless shield logo that’s seen at center ice of the hallowed Madison Square Garden. But back in the late 1990’s, the Rangers attempted to modernize their traditional shield on their old third jersey.
It may have boasted a well-designed “Statue of Liberty” logo on the front, but the new-look shield was downright mediocre! The typography of their entire team name was incredibly weak, and so were the silver edges. It’s almost a shame that hockey greats Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, and Brian Leetch had to don a modernized Rangers shield on their shoulders. For the Blueshirts fanbase, they no longer saw the dark blue alternates after 2006-07. Their traditional look is much nicer anyway.
9. ANAHEIM DUCKS – Wild Wing
When the Ducks branded themselves as “Mighty” for over a decade, the team took the iconic goalie mask logo from The Mighty Ducks films. Disney owned the former Mighty Ducks until they sold it to the Samuelis in February 2005. But going back to the “Mighty Ducks” era, they unveiled one of pro hockey’s worst alternate jerseys and team logos in league history.
Best known as “Wild Wing”, it showed a duck mascot jumping out of a hole in an ice-covered pond holding a right-handed goalie stick and blocker with both arms raised. It looked very cartoonish for its time, and it brought shame to the popular goalie mask and sticks logo that many Ducks fans actually liked. Unsurprisingly, this atrocious excuse for a third jersey and logo lasted for the 1995-96 season.
8. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS – Robo-Penguin
Perhaps most Penguins fans don’t have fond memories of the dreaded “robo-penguin” logo from the 1992-93 campaign to the early 2000s. Created by design firm Vance Wright Adams & Associates, it depicts a penguin’s head and a beak that was perched in some sort of motion above a gold and black triangle.
That logo may have put a hex on the Pens after their 1992 Cup win, as they lost to the underdog Islanders in seven games a year later. What also comes to mind about the robo-penguin is how the logo resembles a pigeon’s head. The Penguins’ 90s logo is no longer used as the primary, thanks to the return of its traditional skating penguin logo. The change led to three Stanley Cup wins for Pittsburgh.
7. ST. LOUIS BLUES – Blue Trumpet
The Blues may have endured a long history of playoff disappointments and letting their former star players move on from St. Louis through free agency or trades, but their primary “blue note” logo is a lasting fixture on their home and away jerseys.
But back in the mid-1990s, they used an alternate circular logo that had a color scheme of blue, red, yellow, and white with large trumpet and the team name. Coach Mike Keenan flat out refused to let his players take the ice in these, which saved a lot of embarrassment for the players. In my opinion, the blue trumpet came off as either hideous or flat-out unnecessary. The Blues opted not to bring that logo back after the 1997-98 season.
6. WASHINGTON CAPITALS – Capitol Building
Remember that old primary logo from the Capitals in the early 2000s? It was pretty busy by the Caps’ standards. You may remember the color scheme used in the logo was black, bronze, and dark blue. It also included a mockup of the U.S. Capitol Building on top of the team name flanked by a pair of hockey sticks and stars with a puck down the middle. Unfortunately, the logo looked very busy and oversized for its time.
The Caps decided to retire their Capitol-themed emblem after ’06-’07. They made their current logo look a bit similar to the franchise’s early days but more simple and clean for the Ovechkin era. It seems kind of dull compared to their past logos, although it’s not as busy.
5. BUFFALO SABRES – Buffaslug
Sabres fans, prepare to show your displeasure over one of your team’s retired logos. It isn’t the black, red, and silver sabre logo from the Dominik Hasek era you remember fondly, but I’m referring to the dreaded “Buffaslug”.
The Sabres wanted to move on from their previous logos and colors after 2005-06, which was the year they lost in the Eastern Conference Final to Carolina. They may have returned to their past colors of blue and yellow, but the logo was disliked by their loyal fans. The “Buffaslug” was depicted as a curved, jumping sabre and I just wasn’t a fan of it. The reasons why was that it was a downgrade over the aforementioned logo and how it mimicked the NFL’s Chargers logo. They finally ditched the slug after four seasons.
4. VANCOUVER CANUCKS – Maroon Alternate
How could the Canucks continue their long history of designing terrible team logos, such as the “Flying V”, or the classic skate one from the 90s when Pavel Bure emerged as a star for Vancouver? Some fans might have different tastes with either of those.
They unveiled a maroon-colored logo for their Vancouver Millionaires-themed alternate uniforms earlier in the decade, but it was just poorly executed and simply awful to look at for most hockey fans.
You see the placement of every letter of the name “Vancouver” and ask yourself, “How does this type of logo ever made it onto a hockey sweater?” You’d have to look downwards and up the other side of the V to read Vancouver. All in all, terrible execution of a logo.
3. LOS ANGELES KINGS – Burger King
The LA Kings franchise may be known for its hideous crown logos and uniforms from their early years, but they had to reveal the dreaded “Burger King” logo during the tail-end of the Gretzky era! The king’s entire face looked so confusing, then it had a gold crown, purple beard and moustache.
The color scheme of it was quite atrocious. Having black, purple, gold and white for an alternate logo made it less than appealing. In my opinion, that one may have resembled a “royal” comic book character or something you might see in a children’s coloring book. Much like the Ducks’ infamous wild wing jersey, the Kings discontinued using the “Burger King” sweaters after one season.
2. COLORADO AVALANCHE – Rockies Inspired Throwback
Look, I might get a little flack for including the Avs on this list but they designed a pretty bad alternate logo for their recent third jersey that won’t be used in 2017-18 due to the league’s transitioning to Adidas for all team uniforms.
As if the alternate jersey was bad enough, but the mountain-shaped logo was pretty bland and less than creative for an NHL franchise. First, they wanted to pay homage to their NHL predecessors, the 1970s Colorado Rockies who moved to Kansas City and is now in New Jersey as the Devils. Second, they had some of their worst seasons using the dark blue thirds. The logo’s color scheme of burgundy and dark blue couldn’t save the jerseys from being a total mess.
1. NEW YORK ISLANDERS – Fisherman Logo
I bet you’ve all been waiting for this one. The Islanders “fisherman” logo from the mid-1990s shall go down in NHL history as one of the worst in the league’s current era.
Let’s start with the typography below the fisherman holding a hockey stick. It was so corny and took a little too much space on the crest. But the color scheme of teal, navy blue and orange absolutely ruins a logo that should’ve never existed. To no one’s surprise, the incredibly unpopular “Fishsticks” logo was abandoned after two seasons, and the Isles returned to its classic Long Island logo from their era of championship excellence in the early 1980’s. To say the fish sticks logo was bad is an understatement, because they were the epitome of the term eyesore!
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