Teemu Selanne went out in style, both figuratively and literally. The 43-year-old earned a bronze medal – his third, to go along with a silver from 2006 – by scoring the game-winner in his final Olympic Games. While doing so, Selanne and his teammates donned my pick for the 2014 Olympics’ best sweaters. Here’s why the Finns “home” jerseys were the best, along with the rest of the top five.
1. FINLAND “HOME”
Suomi has always rocked great jerseys in international competition, but the use of the flag over the typical lettering/crest – which they wore on their “away” version and was still featured on the upper left side – on this year’s edition was a stroke of genius. The continuation of the horizontal stripe across the arms was a good plan, too. This was simplicity done to near perfection.
2. SLOVAKIA “AWAY”
Pretty straight forward design, employing negative-space shoulder patches separated from the main color with the red stripe, but what puts this jersey over the top, and in heavy consideration for No. 1, is the use of the lyrics from the Slovakian national anthem, Nad Tatrou sa blýska, as the pin striping. Hromy divo bijú Zastavme ich, bratia Veď sa ony stratia Slováci ožijú (Thunders loudly sound; Let us stop them, brothers; After all they will disappear; The Slovaks will revive). Indeed!
3. SLOVENIA “HOME”
The Slovenians, led by Kings star Anze Kopitar on the ice and his father, Matjaz, behind the bench, made their first Olympic appearance in 2014, overachieving both with their play and sweaters. I emitted a visceral grunt of pleasure and immediately texted my approval to fellow THN jersey enthusiast Ryan Kennedy the minute I laid eyes on these. The day-glo green (RK’s terminology used in the upcoming Olympic Wrap edition of the magazine) was something to behold.
4. CZECH REPUBLIC “AWAY”
The Czechs made some curious moves, both in the selection of the team and in the utilization of the players they did take, but the design of the flag-inspired “away” version was spot on. And, as always, the coat of arms is second to none among hockey powers.
5. SWEDEN “HOME”
The top four jumped out for me, but this slot was actually a tough pick. I’m going with Sweden’s home over the Russian “home,” the Austrian “away” or even the U.S. “away” because while every other “home” was white (other than the German women’s, which deserve a stick tap), Sweden stood out with gold. Is it telling of who will walk away as champion? We’ll find out Sunday morning.
Edward Fraser, The Hockey News’ Managing Editor, joined THN in 2005 after covering the Jr. B Stratford Cullitons. The London, Ont., native graduated from the University of Western Ontario – where he did campus radio color commentary for both men’s and women’s hockey – with a Master’s in Journalism. He really, really hates the loser point.