How would you describe the process of examining every NHL All-Star Game jersey ever made and debating the merits of each at the THN office until we'd hammered out a definite set of rankings?
Silly? Stupid? Fun? Pointless? Nothing to do with the actual sport? Cool?
See the parallels to the All-Star Game itself? If you hate the whole idea, jersey rankings likely don't excite you. If you're OK with one day of on-ice zaniness, read on. We assessed every set of threads, starting with the first branded All-Star Game in 1947. We even put our biases to the test by having our far more fashionable friends at Elle Canada (Lisa Guimond, fashion features editor, and Ava Baccari, assistant fashion editor) audit our choices after the fact. The results were interesting. Where does the newest abomination incarnation fall?
(images are from nhluniforms.com)
19. THE CREATE-A-PLAYER TEMPLATE JERSEY (2003)
Don't these look like any generic jersey your avatar takes on while you're creating him in one of EA Sports' NHL games? Nothing captures the fun of an All-Star Game like... black and white. Woof.
Elle's opinion:One jersey in and the fashionistas are shaming us already. Ava ranks this sweater No. 5 overall, giving props to the classic laces on the blue (Western Conference) edition).
18. THE SPOTLIGHT JERSEY (1998-1999)
We punished these threads mercilessly for their new-age, late-1990s Xtreme look. They ushered in the North America vs. The World format, fittingly resembling a throbbing Euro dance party.
Elle's opinion: Gulp. Now we're really convinced we know nothing about fashion. Ava rates this sweater No. 1! She thinks it's the most beautiful design of them all!
17. CREATE-A-PLAYER, WITH COLOR! (2002)
Amazing that the red preceded the white. The league decided red was just too racy for All-Star game duds. Could lead to inpure thoughts.
Elle's opinion: Ava checks in again, rating these No. 2 overall. The pattern becomes clear: as an objective observer of fashion, she has no bias toward nostalgic hockey designs. New age? No problem for Elle if it looks good.
16. THE MOTOCROSS JERSEY (2015)
Start your engines, load up your paintball guns and get ready for the NHL Winter X Games…or something. It would be too easy to bury the newest design in last place, as it's at least something brand-new and risky. But my colleague Ken Campbell nails the motocross comparison here.
15. THE STAR-SPANGLED PIT STAIN JERSEY (2012)
The hockey world needed three years without an ASG jersey after this. There's at least an attempt at color and fun, and we finally get a star motif, but what's with the colored pit stains and the busy piping all over the place? Ugh.
14. THE NEW-AGE NBA JERSEYS (2008)
Nothing to truly hate about this uniform setup. Pitting the East and West against each other calls to mind NBA all-star jerseys. The color schemes to match the conference logos are decent. The fonts and side piping are still too new for most of our tastes, though.
Elle's opinion: Lisa Guimond checks in here, ranking the 2008 sweaters No. 5 overall. Score another one for the flashy new designs.
13. THE DEATH STAR JERSEY (1994-1997)
These jerseys are ugly as sin, no doubt. Loud and obnoxious design and color scheme. BUT it's hard not let nostalgia seep with this look, admittedly. Owen Nolan called his shot on Dominik Hasek in one of these. Ray Bourque won the ASG in overtime wearing one, too. And at least they're a bold attempt at something different.
Elle's opinion: Both editors agreed with our low ranking, slamming this design for looking too much like a football jersey.
12. THE ACID TRIP SUPERNOVA JERSEY (1982)
Wow. Forgot these things existed. The THN staff and Elle panned them, but a few dissenting voices, mine included, fought to pull them out of the basement. Hideous, yes, but boy, are these interesting and out-of-this-world. What is the All-Star-Game if not weird, fun and silly? Stare at them too long and you'll fall through a portal into another dimension.
11. THE LATE-80s NBA JERSEY (2009)
Seeing it now, the 2009 design looks a bit retro, borrowed from some of the NBA designs of the late 1980s. The asymmetrical piping was divisive among THNers, but at least it makes the sweater memorable. The stars on the sleeves represent 2009 host Montreal and every other ASG played there.
Elle's opinion: The 2009 look stood out to Lisa, who slotted it No. 3 overall.
10. THE NAMELESS JERSEY (1960-68)
Two different jersey designs appeared during this stretch, but only the socks and the bottom striping changed. There's something refreshing today about the old-school decision to exclude names. It was the end of the Original Six era and beginning of expansion, so fans should've known every player pretty easily.
9. THE MINNESOTA WILD CHRISTMAS JERSEY (2004)
Yawn. Retro? Check. Gorgeous? Check. Lazy as can be? Big check. It's like the NHL arrived in Minnesota for the 2004 all-star weekend and realized, "Oh my god. We forgot the jerseys. Quick – somebody run to Minnesota's merchandise store and we'll doctor some Wild jerseys!"
Update: Fun jokes aside, this was an error. We forgot this look came before the Wild adopted it. Great jersey, but we'll keep it at No. 9 as self-punishment, since it turns out we were the lazy ones. It can't contend with the orange squadron at the top of the list, anyway.
Elle's opinion: Understandably, not being hockey fans, Lisa and Ava don't know the design is based on Minnesota's, so they give this one high marks. It's a great-looking sweater. Lisa ranks it No. 1, Ava No.3.
8. THE EXPANSION JERSEY (1968-1972)
The contrasting color schemes ushered in the age of conference rivalries in the expanded NHL. The whites are simplistic, but how about those blue-and-orange diddies? Classy as can be. Editor in chief Jason Kay pounded the table (OK, placed his hand confidently on the table) for this design.
Elle's opinion: Lisa fell in love with Red Berenson the blue, ranking the 1968-72 sweaters No. 2 overall.
7. THE CLASSY CONFERENCE JERSEY (2007)
The 2007 look marked the world premiere of the svelte, side-piped Reebok Edge jersey. We gave these sweaters a big bonus for branding themselves with official Eastern and Western Conference logos. Not the most thrilling uni design, but a solid one.
6. THE MARMALADE CAT JERSEY (1973-81)
Now we're talkin'. The orange unis in particular are nothing short of badass. Cool color scheme representative of the NHL. They happen to follow a Philadelphia Flyers palate during the franchise's heyday, too. We penalized them slightly for the stars on the upper chest which contain miniature NHL logos, directly above the giant NHL logo. Methinks that's overkill.
Elle's opinion: The orange won over Ava, who ranked this design No. 4 overall.
5. THE JERSEY THAT STARTED IT ALL (1947-59, 1992)
They resemble old Rochester Americans jerseys but look like no other all-star threads, which we appreciate. This is the hipster pick, the true throwback, simplistic and pretty. In the initial 1947-59 run, half the all-star team wore each jersey some years and in others we saw the all-star team don one while the Stanley Cup champion donned the other. Darryl Sutter would weep tears of joy if these puppies returned.
4. THE HALLOWEEN JERSEY (1988)
Glorious jerseys worn by glorious players during an era of glorious scoring. What's not to like? Very little, except for the "naked" numbers and nameplates. They always look better when traced with another color, don't they?
3. THE ONLY NEW-AGE JERSEYS WE FIND REMOTELY COOL (2000-01)
Somehow, this design came across as fresh and new while maintaining a classy aura. Flyers-style shoulder piping looks nice, as does the miniature number on the front. Note the difference between the blue North American jersey and the red World jersey: the latter parks its names below the number, which would violate the NHL's uniform policy, as names must be shoulder height.
Elle'sopinion: We blind squirrels found a nut. Lisa agreed with us about this being one fine-looking garment, slotting it No. 4.
2. THE COMPANY MAN JERSEY (1989-1991, 1993)
Something about this majestic, clean design screams "Official Uniform of the NHL army." Can't you see Gary Bettman's soldiers clad in these if he decided to take over the world? The stripes, piping and strokes of trim seem perfectly congruent with the NHL shield.
1. THE HALLOWEEN AT A NEW YORK RANGERS GAME JERSEY (1983-86)
Funny that these followed the infamous supernova jersey of '82. A stern "take it back a notch, everyone" resulted in the classic, modest look. These had everything: nice shadow effect on the numbers and name plates, prominent use of orange, enough stars to celebrate the all-star theme and, of course, the Wales and Campbell conferences represented with New York Rangers-like letter logos. After this design debuted in 1983, a tweak the following year made the logo font identical to that of the Broadway Blueshirts. We're in love with this look, but note the utter lack of support from the true fashion experts at Elle, which suggests the hockey writer nostalgia clouds our sense of style.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin