What makes a great jersey? When the topic comes up, it’s hard not to default to the NHL’s Original Six era. Those sweaters launched the pro game to another level. But does that means sartorial glory is a given?
This was one of the questions when we put our list of the greatest jerseys of all-time together. Just because a team has never won a Stanley Cup doesn’t mean it hasn’t looked good trying.
The criteria emphasized factors such as boldness, uniqueness, aesthetics and yes, timelessness. To guard against historical biases, we also reached out to a group of graphic designers, some of whom watch little to no hockey.
Over the next five days, we list off the best ever. Some are really old, some are brand new. And it’s not NHL exclusive. Major junior, college, minor pro, even international jerseys are repped.
The crest has been around since the franchise’s WHA days and, in fact, this new orange version of the NHL classic is a throwback to the team’s rebel league days. The Oilers logo has influenced other franchises (Rogle in Sweden, for example), and while color schemes have darkened and lightened over time, Edmonton has almost always been an oil-drop town (sorry, 2000s Todd McFarlane version). Connor McDavid wore this on stage at the 2015 draft, where the Oil selected him first overall. Not a bad omen.
Great colors and a sweet snorting bull logo for the erstwhile Ottawa Nationals.
This iconic minor league sweater has been tweaked over the years – most notably, the shield has been tilted on its side – but it still represents the same venerable franchise it always did, complete with the patriotic color scheme.
The most controversial sweater in college hockey lasted until 2012. Locals still raise a ruckus.
The Gophers have rocked slightly different versions of this sweater for decades now, using the school’s iconic ‘M’ as the centerpiece. A good deal of state high schools have cribbed the logo, but there’s no mistaking the maroon and gold original.
It’s really tough to beat the awesome ‘barber pole.’ Attempts to mess with it were futile.
Two seasons after debuting this golden gem, the Penguins made it their official home sweater for the 1983-84 campaign. Franchise pillar Mario Lemieux wore the sweater briefly before it was shuttled out of the mix, but it really does make a bold impact even today. The Penguins’ logo was never more perfect than it was in this particular iteration, with the bird large and in charge in front of the triangle. The black version may be more famous, but it’s hard to beat gold if you want to get noticed.
A quintessential Cold War jersey complete with a red star and a hammer and sickle.
Going cream instead of white really propels this recent expansion team with a great logo.
In a league where, at least from an outside perspective, teams are so closely linked to their NHL parent clubs, franchises that go their own route stand out. Sure, there have been some excellent AHL sweaters that nodded to the NHL – Such as the Binghamton Whalers tipping over Hartford’s ‘H’ logo, turning it into a ‘B’ – but one look at this new Milwaukee jersey and we were sold. Building off the pirate skeleton that preceded it, this new logo is so nuanced, so pro, that it is better than many crests in the NHL. Toss in an incredible shoulder logo (interwoven skull letter initials) and the double-blue color scheme the Ads have been rocking lately and you have a huge entry. And, for the record, the Admirals are the farm team for the Nashville Predators.
The countdown concludes on Friday with the Top 10.