In the NHL and the rest of the major North American sports for that matter, a team has two primary jerseys - a home and road jersey. Along the way there may be jerseys that teams wear to pay homage to an event such as in the MLB where players don camo uniforms to pay homage to the military. There may be jerseys to celebrate a holiday a la in the NBA where teams wear Christmas Day uniforms.
These jerseys aren't main stays and are worn very scarcely throughout the year, usually once or twice. However, the jersey that is sported the most often aside from the home and road jersey is the team's alternate jersey.
The majority of NHL franchises have alternate jerseys. Some hit it out of the ballpark with sharp, striking uniforms. Others on the other hand have the unenviable task of throwing on jerseys that are less easy on the eyes. Here, we take a look at the NHL's 8 best and 7 worst alternate jerseys in recent memory.
15 BEST - Pittsburgh Penguins
Just in time for their big Stanley Cup win last year, the Pens reintroduced their classic 90s jersey with a modern flare as their alternate. It was unsurprisingly so well received, that they brought back the white jerseys from the 90s and made it their current home and away jerseys. The Penguins alternate jerseys are the prime example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The black and yellow color scheme along with the incorporation of the penguin has been synonymous with Pittsburgh Penguins uniforms year in and year out. With this alternate jersey the Penguins have ensured that spectators will see them sporting a penguin on their jersey for a minimum of 82 games annually regardless of what jersey they wear.
14 WORST - Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres simply have way too much going on with their alternate jerseys. For one, the sleeves contain three colors - blue, grey and yellow. Buffalo, you may have set a record, but do not applaud yourselves for doing so! The word "Buffalo" appearing in small letters above the team's logo on the front of the jersey may be unique but it is an element that the jersey could do without. The front of the jersey is primarily yellow while the back of the jersey is primarily blue. With these jerseys the Sabres simply tried to do too much. Ever heard of "less is more"?
13 BEST - Colorado Avalanche
The Mile High City's Colorado Avalanche got it right with their tertiary jersey. The diagonal placement of "Colorado" on the front of the jersey is bold and it instantaneously catches your eye as it deviates from the common team name or location across the center of the chest. The primary logo of the Avalanche is featured on its shoulders and adds for a nice finish to the jersey. Arguably the sharpest part of the jersey is the color scheme highlighted by the usage of blue. A fun fact about the Avalanche's alternate jersey is that on the back of its collar it features the word "AVALANCHE". It would be a safe bet to say the Avalanche faithful wouldn't mind seeing their team where these jerseys more often.
12 WORST - Calgary Flames
Is there a team in the big four sports that needs a new team name moreso than the Calgary Flames? The Flames have as much to do with Calgary as Jazz has to do with Utah! These jerseys would look much better without introducing the patented "C" Flames logo. To make matters worse it looks as if Calgary made it a mission to include their "C" logo by any means necessary. If it was that necessary why not change the "C" in Calgary and then continue on with the script format? The "C" looks small and dinky. It's a shame because the rest of the jersey looks rather clean.
11 BEST - Philadelphia Flyers
The other Pennsylvania franchise, the Philadelphia Flyers have some nice alternates in their own right. The classic Flyers "P" in black surrounded by bright orange provides for a jersey that immediately draws eyes to it. Taking a page out of Pittsburgh's playbook, the Flyers ensure that you will not see them without a Flyers "P" across the chest of their jerseys just as you won't see the Penguins without a penguin across their chest. The back of the jersey also makes its mark as instead of beginning the lettering of the player's last name from left to right the Flyers instead center the player's name. To add on, the player's name appears in a rectangular box. Touche, Flyers.
10 WORST - Tampa Bay Lightning
Unlike the Avalanche and the Rangers who see themselves amongst the best jerseys using a diagonal design to write out their team name and city name respectively, the Lightning do not excel in this department. Perhaps its seeing the word "Bolts" in place of "Lightning". "Bolts" signals San Diego Chargers more so than Tampa Bay Lightning even if the color scheme is totally respective of the Lightning and not the Chargers. Perhaps its the fact that the letters look to bulky. Perhaps its the fact that it doesn't immediately signal that its a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey. Memo to the Lightning: do away with these like your 2015 Stanley Cup Final result.
9 BEST - Toronto Maple Leafs
The royal blue, white and stripes is as classic an alternate jersey as there is throughout the league. When looking at the Maple Leafs alternates for the first time they can easily be confused for their home jerseys as the shade of blue is slightly lighter then on the home jerseys. While Maple Leafs appears centered on both the home and alternate jerseys, Toronto differs for the two jerseys. The home jersey shows Toronto centered straight across whereas the alternate appears arched. Another differing factor is the lack of maple leafs on the shoulders for the alternate jersey. The Leafs alternate is a simple jersey that makes a statement.
8 WORST - New York Islanders
If I were to step into the Barclays center and see a jersey with a black and white color scheme I would anticipate seeing the Brooklyn Nets hitting the hardwood. Instead with these jerseys the Islanders have joined the Nets as not being the only Brooklyn franchise that sports the black and white. The Islanders colors are blue, orange and white. As a result, its hard to see how or why these alternate jerseys came about. This jersey doesn't come off as an Islanders jersey because of the color scheme as well as the lack of an image of an island to represent Long Island. Sure they may play in Brooklyn now, but the home and away jerseys still have the island on their jerseys.
7 BEST - St. Louis Blues
The first thing that catches people's eyes on the Blues alternates is the addition of the St. Louis Arch hovering over the Blues logo which is encapsulated in a circle. With this design the Blues have done a great job at not only putting together one of the better alternate jerseys in the league but they have also paid homage to the city of St. Louis by adding its most famous landmark to the jersey. The blue, white and yellow on the jerseys stays with the theme of the Blues colors on their home and away jerseys and also features their logo on the shoulder area. Score one for the Blues with these jerseys!
6 WORST - Ottawa Senators
The design looks eerily similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers "bumble bee" uniforms which have recently been retired to the pleasure of most. The jersey lacks pizazz as the O is about as plain as it gets. To make matters worse, the red and white stripes don't do the jersey any favor. The shield on the shoulders also looks a tad awkward, and sadly is probably the best element of this uniform. It's quite obvious that these jerseys aren't worthy of being primary jerseys, but these jerseys aren't worthy of being alternates either. Take a page out of the Steelers playbook, Ottawa; retire these jerseys at once!
5 BEST - Boston Bruins
The black, yellow and white color scheme in the Boston Bruins jersey is in line with their home and road jerseys. Unlike the home and road unis that bears a large "B" on the chest, the alternate bears, well, a bear. Not to fear,the "B" emblem makes its mark on the shoulders of the jersey. Despite the jersey deviating away from the classic jersey Beantown natives are accustom too it is hard to deny how crisp and clean the Bruins alternates look. Not to mention, fans that are for the bear and fans that are opposed to the bear will all likely be in agreement that the current alternate is leaps and bounds ahead of the bear design the Bruins wore from 1995-2006.
4 WORST - Los Angeles Kings
Last I checked the Los Angeles Kings colors were black, silver and white. The Kings alternate jersey is purple and gold! Was this jersey created to pay homage to Tinseltown's most successful franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers? The jersey is loud- and not in a good way. The gold looks gaudy and makes whoever is wearing it stick out like a sore thumb. The crown looks nothing like the Kings primary crown logo. The player's name on the back of the jersey is incredibly thin. Not only should the Kings discard of these jerseys as their alternate uniforms, they should discard of these jerseys permanently. Leave the purple and gold to the Staples Center's other tenant, the Lakers. P.S. don't come up with a red, white and blue Los Angeles Clippers design either.
3 BEST - Washington Capitals
You'd be hard pressed to find a jersey in any sport that is more Americana than the Caps alternates as it features the red, white and blue accompanied by stars. Yet most would likely point at the clever usage of turning the "T" in Capitals into a hockey stick accompanied with a puck. At first glance it is easy to miss the fact that the line going across the "T" is created via the "I" in Capitals and appears in white, not blue. Good on ya, Caps! The stars do not only appear across the chest, but also on the teams sleeves which begin at mid sleeve right below the player's number.
2 WORST - Carolina Hurricanes
The colors, the shapes, the stripes! The Carolina Hurricanes have a colossal mess, better yet a hurricane of a mess with their alternate jerseys. The logo on the chest looks to be a ripoff of the San Jose Sharks primary logo and unlike the Sharks logo, the Hurricanes logo is sloppy and all over the place. There's a hockey stick, what appears to be a slanted triangle and what looks to be an oddly shaped eye. The bottom of the jersey features a multitude of squares. What do squares have to do with North Carolina or hurricanes? The eye of the hurricane in black on the shoulders deemphasizes the contrast of the hurricane. Fortunately for you, me and especially the Hurricanes, these are alternate jerseys and not home or away jerseys.
1 BEST - New York Rangers
The Broadway Blueshirts integrate a darker shade of blue on their alternates then they sport on their home and road jerseys. However, what remains constant is the diagonal pattern across the chest. Except unlike the home and road uniforms the words "New York" make their mark as opposed to "Rangers". The Rangers jersey is straight to the point as it features no other designs on it. Here, the Rangers have taken a classic design and have applied minor modifications to it with great success in switching "Rangers" to "New York" and switching the shade of blue. The Rangers uniform provides for an impactful design that echoes modern yet classic.