Today’s players are bigger, faster, stronger and the hockey is better than ever. Yada, yada, yada. We’ve heard it ad nauseum and we don’t disagree.
But if we could turn back the hands of time for one aspect of the game, it’d be for fashion. In particular, I miss the jerseys and logos of the 1970s.
I’ll acknowledge bias, because those were my formative hockey years. The first NHL game I attended was at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1973, Toronto versus the California Golden Seals. When I walked into the rink the sensory overload was just that. The 16,000 multi-colored seats (golds, reds, greens, blues and greys) were spectacular.
And then there was the apparel of the visitors. They sported a gold and green color scheme with colored skates! This was at a time when we got one game on TV a week, two if we were lucky, and as a tyke, I only was able to stay up to watch the first period. With the Seals being in the West, this was all so new to me. I’d only ever seen them in hockey cards.
So as a tribute to the gaudy ‘70s, here’s my list of the top 10 logos I miss:
1. The Minnesota North Stars. Dallas abandoned this for obvious reasons when the team fled south, but it’s a pure classic. Its beauty is in its simplicity and bold use of colors. If this were a soda, it’d be Wink.
2. Atlanta Flames. Yes, Calgary followed the template, but nothing beats the original flame-inside-the-letter concept. It was also a fairly simple logo for a 7-year-old to copy and color and get some use out of the fire-engine red Crayola.
3. Los Angeles Kings. This has re-emerged on occasion, but only in cameos. The full-on regal purple, or even the golden-based home jersey scheme, shouted Southern California and something exotic.
4. Kansas City Scouts. Named for a famous statue in the city, this look was just confounding to a kid, but in a weird and wonderful way. What on earth does a dude on a horse have to do with hockey?
5. Hartford Whalers. It’s not always easy being green, but the Whale was lovable. Straightforward and bold, with a nice accent of blue, it had the feel of your good pal in class who’d let you copy his homework.
6. Quebec Nordiques. The Picasso of old logos. A stick, a puck and that ‘n’ that I couldn’t figure out as a lad. A mouse house? An igloo? Dan Bouchard’s five-hole? Something tells me we’ll be seeing a lot more of this logo in the coming years.
7. California Golden Seals. They had two looks. One featured a psychedelic seal. If it were a song, it’d be Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. The other a classic script. Both are memorable, if if the team wasn’t.
8. Cleveland Barons. A step down from the aforementioned, its saving grace is the use of a classic old English font. Now where have we seen that before?
9. Colorado Rockies. Looks like something a second-grader might design, but perhaps that’s why a second-grader liked it.
10. New York Islanders. OK, it’s not from the 1970s, but it could have been. Someone had some cajones to take a chance in the conservative 1990s. And in an ironic way, the look has endured.