Admit it, at some time in your life, you’ve rooted for a team simply because you liked their jersey. Whether it was the color scheme, the lettering, or the insignia, the aesthetic appeal of the sweater was enough to sway your allegiance in a game you otherwise had no rooting interest in, or knew nothing about.
Jerseys and uniforms say a lot about the teams they represent. The name, the city, the team logo, the individual player’s name, and, in certain sports, the team sponsors, are all included on a single uniform. However, for practical purposes, we’ll focus simply on the design.
Despite my New York Rangers fandom, I’m not ashamed to admit that the Chicago Blackhawks have the greatest jerseys in the NHL. Maybe it’s the classic Native American chief plastered in the center, the crossed tomahawks on the shoulder pads, or the perfect white-on-black striped trim at the waistline. Any way you look at it, that jersey is just beautiful.
Fortunately, for much of their existence, the Blackhawks haven’t had to change the core design of their jersey too much. However, over the years, teams have constantly updated their respective jerseys. Some designs were unsightly, while others were easy on the eyes.
Here are 15 such jerseys that NHL teams should revive:
15 Los Angeles Kings - 1980s Jersey
Purple is a loud, bold color that can be hit-or-miss on a jersey. We associate purple-and-gold with the Los Angeles Lakers, but let’s not forget the other L.A. team to rock these colors in the 1980s: the Los Angeles Kings.
The yellow crown logo stood out nicely amid that perfect shade of purple. These uniforms were truly unique, much more so than the black and grey color scheme the team has now. Too many teams in today’s NHL have black in their color palette. The Kings’ purple was distinctive and demonstrative of the team and the city. After all, purple is the color of royalty.
The Kings brought these beauties back for select games during the 2011-12 season. It’s time to revive them once again, this time, for good. They've since brought back the yellow jersey, but it'd be cool to see purple and gold remain a fixture for the Kings.
14 Pittsburgh Penguins - 2008 Winter Classic Jersey
The Penguins hit a home run when they rolled out these Winter Classic jerseys before facing the Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. The team utilized the original skating penguin logo, encircled by the team name, complimented by a gorgeous powder blue-on-white color scheme.
The sweaters were reminiscent of those worn during the 1968-69 season. It wasn’t until 1980 that the Penguins adopted the black-and-yellow color pair of the Steelers and Pirates. The Winter Classic revival of the powder blues shows how the Pens need to bring these back on a regular basis.
Fortunately, the team has worn them a few times during the 2011 season, but bringing them back, even in a third jersey capacity, would be a welcome change. We wouldn't want these back as their permanent jersey though. There's another classic jersey of theirs that should be their permanent uniforms.
13 Calgary Flames - 1980s Jersey
The Atlanta Flames moved to Alberta in 1980, and thus arose the Calgary Flames. The trademark flaming “C” has been a constant on the team jersey since its inception. Despite the many iterations of the sweater over the past 30+ years, none is as timeless as the red, white, and orange pattern of the 1980s.
The flaming white “C” logo with bright orange trim perfectly complimented the rich red background. The red trim fit well with gold-and-white on the sleeve and waistline. This was the simplest, most appealing of the Flames’ jerseys. Not to mention, they donned these sweaters during their Stanley Cup championship season in 1988-89.
They added black to their color palate in 1995, a move that would become commonplace in subsequent years. However, the beauty of the 1980s jerseys is in their simplicity; the jerseys were “red hot.” All (terrible) jokes aside, these sweaters need to make a comeback.
12 Quebec Nordiques - 1989-91 Jersey
I guess you could say I’m a fan of powder blue. Maybe it’s out of nostalgia, since no team currently features the color on any of their primary home or away jerseys. I saw the Penguins’ striking Winter Classic jersey, which inspired me to search for other instances where teams utilized this unique pastel.
Sure enough, I came across the Quebec Nordiques late ‘80’s-early ‘90’s jerseys and loved the blue-white trim, the fleur-de-lis lining at the bottom, and the red logo in the center. Of course, the Nordiques are now defunct. The team moved from Quebec to Colorado in 1995 and rebranded themselves as the Avalanche.
Yet, with the Minnesota Wild reviving the “North Stars” jerseys during their Stadium Series game last season, why can’t the Avalanche do the same with the Nordiques sweaters? Even if just for a game or two, it would be a classy homage to Quebec’s former hockey club.
11 Edmonton Oilers - 2001-07 Third Jersey
Many Oilers fans weren’t too fond of these jerseys. The dark blue and white colors were a radical departure from the team’s classic royal blue, orange and white piping of the ‘80s-era uniforms. Yet, the colors were fresh, and exemplified what a third jersey should be: unique.
I’m also a big fan of the “Oil Drop” logo, designed by team co-owner Todd Macfarlane. It’s modern, and has some interesting symbolism. For example, the five rivets at the bottom of the streaking gear represent the team’s five Stanley Cup Championships. It was a creative re-imagination of the signature oil drop at the top of the team logo.
This underrated third jersey had a brief run. Beginning in 2008, the team introduced a new alternate jersey, which saw the return of the team’s classic colors. Perhaps the team wanted to recapture past glory. I can’t blame them. That ‘80s sweater is gorgeous. It deserves a permanent spot in the jersey rotation, but so does the “Streaking Oil Drop” third jersey.
10 Buffalo Sabres - 1996-06 Jersey
The Sabres took a big risk by swapping their primary blue and yellow jerseys for red, black, and grey ones. The team also updated their logo of two sabres crossing under the image of a bison. They introduced a menacing grey Bison head, outlined beautifully by the black and red trim.
That gamble paid off well in the mid 1990s. The modern colors seemed to revitalize the team, as they reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1999 on the backs of stars like Dominik Hasek. The design was a perfect mix of identity and intimidation. Changing the colors AND the logo was somewhat drastic, yet it perfectly reflected the renewal of the team into the new millennium.
Since 2006, the team has returned to their classic blue and yellow colors, and introduced a more contemporary bison head. I’m a fan of these sweaters, but would love if the team could bring back the ‘90s jerseys as third alternates for select games.
9 Boston Bruins - Early 1970s Black Away Jersey
It’s fitting that the “Big, Bad Bruins” teams of the early 1970s had equally ominous jerseys to match. The black style with yellow and white accent stripes really brought out the ferocious nature of those teams. The iconic “B” encased by the spoked wheel in the center remains a primary look on the jerseys, but the simplicity of the ‘70s design was especially appealing.
It was before they introduced the secondary logo of the bear on the shoulder, and well before they thickened the lines of the “B” logo. This made the jersey look a bit too busy. Don’t even mention the 2008 alternate jersey that relegated the “B” logo to the shoulders, while the crawling bear moved front and center.
It’s time the Bruins got back to basics and revived their greatest jersey from their greatest era. At the very least, they could bring these back for a few games a season.
8 Toronto Maple Leafs - 1961-62 Jersey
I'm a big fan of simplicity. Red and white in Detroit, black and gold in Boston, and blue and white in Toronto. The Leafs, wisely, have never changed their primary colors. The perfect pastel pairing looked better than ever on the 1961-62 uniforms. The royal blue with the white trim on the sleeves and the waistline is simple yet remarkable, classic yet modern.
Even the leaf at the center looks great. The serrated edges are a great touch, as they add contour to the team's insignia. I love the look of the Leaf logo now, but its geometric shape leaves more to be desired.
The 1961-62 leaf is distinct. It stands out in a special way, and maybe that was what helped the team win the Cup that season. Having last won the Cup in 1967, the Leafs may want to revive those jerseys for more than just visual appeal.
7 Winnipeg Jets 1980s - Away Jersey
I’m glad that the rabid fans in Winnipeg have their hockey team back. Winnipeg is a much better hockey city than Atlanta, where the now-defunct Thrashers were based before they relocated to Winnipeg. In the 1980s, they were a fairly successful Western Conference team, making the playoffs eight times after a putrid nine-win 1980-81 season.
Despite their solid play, the best thing about those Winnipeg teams of the 1980s was arguably their classic blue away jersey. The three-color combo of white, orange, and blue on the sleeve is reminiscent of the Oilers’ uniforms from that same decade. But the retro logo dead center, popping against the royal blue background, puts it over the top.
With the “J” creatively shaped like a stick, and the “Winnipeg” perfectly curved underneath the “Jets” name, this jersey is a beauty. The Jets should definitely break this baby out this season. Hey, it may rekindle their hopes for a playoff berth.
6 San Jose Sharks - 1991-1998 Jersey
The Sharks haven’t toyed too much with their original jerseys, and rightfully so. The design is classic. Just like the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Blackhawks own the color red, the Sharks own teal blue. They’ve perfected it. The home teal with white, black, and grey trim is still a great look. Plus, is there a cooler logo than that of the Shark surging out of the center, biting through the hockey stick? Or the dorsal fin insignia on the shoulder?
CCM definitely had it right with these jerseys. Nike took over production in 1997, but kept the original design for one more season. Yes, the Sharks were an expansion team, and their early seasons reflected that. Yet, if one thing was for sure, it was that they had the one of the coolest sweaters in the league. They've since continued that tradition to this day.
5 Detroit Red Wings - 1926-27 Jersey
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of the Red Wings’ classic “Winged Wheel” logo. It’s been going strong since the 1950s, and should remain the primary focus of their simple, iconic red and white jerseys.
However, after seeing the retro 1926-1927 uniform rolled out for the 2009 Winter Classic, I’m all for the Wings mixing it up a bit. The Winter Classic jerseys keep with the red-and-white color scheme, save for a few modifications.
The jersey is white with a single red stripe extending across the body from sleeve to sleeve. The winged wheel is replaced by a gothic white “D,” which really pops against the red background. Initial reaction to the design was mixed, but critics have since warmed to it. The Red Wings should capitalize on this favorable trend, and bring the jersey back as a third alternate.
4 Pittsburgh Penguins - 1990-1992 Jersey
As much as I love the powder blue of the Penguins’ 2008 Winter Classic Jerseys, the team’s true colors are black-and-gold. The team adopted them in 1980 to show unity with their fellow Steel City teams, the Steelers and Pirates.
These jerseys still had the classic skating penguin logo front and center, which looked stronger and bolder than ever in front of the gold triangle. The white and yellow trim on the sleeve and at the waistline perfectly complemented the black background.
Sadly, in 1993, the team revamped their jerseys, doing away with the skating penguin and introducing a modernized striped penguin profile, which now looks dated.
The team captured their first Stanley Cup Championship wearing the 1990-1992 jersey. A little nostalgia can’t hurt, right? The Penguins have since brought back a version similar to the jerseys of the early 90s, and they won a Stanley Cup this past spring. What does that tell you?
3 New York Rangers - Liberty Third Jersey 1997-2007
I'm a bit biased on this one since I'm a New York diehard, but most fans acknowledge the Rangers had it right with their "Liberty" jerseys. Worn as an alternate from 1996-2007, it was a welcome change from their usual diagonal lettering across the chest. Yes, the Rangers perfected this design early on in their history, but the Liberty logo was a huge hit with the fanbase.
On this particular sweater the Liberty Head looks flawless over the "NYR" initials. The darker navy blue compliments the more crimson shade of red, giving new life to the classic team colors.
Unfortunately, with the introduction of Reebok Edge Jersey league-wide in 2007, the team retired these jerseys, and adopted a third jersey more in line with their primary one. They kept the darker colors, but instead of Lady Liberty, simply inserted a diagonal "New York" in place of "Rangers." They're still nice, but lack originality in my opinion. Luckily, the Lady Liberty logo survives in some capacity, as netminder Henrik Lundqvist has it plastered prominently on his mask.
2 Dallas Stars - Minnesota North Stars Jersey
The North Stars may have moved down south to Dallas in the 1990s, but the allure of those green, white, and yellow jerseys remains. No other teams has that color scheme, and the Stars would be wise to bring it back, even if only as a third jersey.
The white “N” at the center, with the arrow pointing up to the yellow star, really bursts against the green. The white on the shoulders fits beautifully as well.
The Stars have changed their uniforms design several times throughout their history, but nothing quite beats the jerseys of their former city. The Minnesota Wild brought these classics back for their Stadium Series Alumni Game against the Chicago Blackhawks last February. The Dallas Stars should bring them back full-time.
As for the iconic “N?” Keep the same design, just change it to a “D.” I’m sure they can make it look just as timeless.
1 Anaheim Ducks - Mighty Ducks Original 1990s Jersey
Of all the retired logos and designs, this one takes the cake. It’s sentimental for anyone who grew up a fan of the “Mighty Ducks” movie series, nostalgic for the days of Gordon Bombay and Charlie Conway.
The team’s current scripted “D” web foot logo looks alright, but nothing looks better than the stylized duck hockey mask superimposed over the crossed hockey sticks. It’s just fantastic. It has that classic feel, yet still looks modern. The purple, silver, and green color combination also worked surprisingly well.
Sadly, Disney sold ownership of the team in 2006, and “Mighty” was dropped from the team name, as was that incredible logo.
I would love if the team would bring these bad boys back. If the team is hesitant about the colors, at least revitalize the logo. A black jersey with orange and gold highlights would fit perfectly with the duck bill mask. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to re-watch my VHS tape of “The Mighty Ducks.”
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