Halloween is amazing for little kids. Their imaginations are so free that they can become their costumes in their minds. Young adult Halloween is pretty darned fun, too, as we're smart enough and confident enough to think of cool costumes that represent who we are and what we find interesting. But remember those awkward early-teen years? When you'd be labelled uncool for trying too hard, for liking Halloween too much, for full-bore trick-or-treating? The goal was to still acquire the candy but to do so with the least possible enthusiasm. Where I grew up, as an Ontario kid, that meant throwing on your shoulder pads, helmet, gloves and jersey and going "as a hockey player." Lame, but I did it for a couple years, voice cracking as I stammered out "tr-IICK or treat." If only I had access to the hardcore, scary, legitimately Halloweeny hockey uniforms I can find on the Interweb today. Those teen Halloweens would've been infinitely better. With that, I proudly present the 10 most Halloweeny jerseys in hockey today. Logos make up a significant portion of the criteria, but the entire sweater experience matters. What constitutes a Halloweeny jersey? Some combination of… (a) A bold, costumey and/or Halloweeny color scheme (b) A logo of something one might wear as a costume (c) Just plain scary (d) Active team* (e) Is not a Halloween-themed special jersey, because that's cheating Some check off just a couple of those boxes. Others ace all five. Enjoy, and share your own picks in the comment section.
HONORABLE MENTIONS *
Fernie Ghost Riders (Kootenay International Junior League) *
Knights of Meaford (Greater Metro Junior A League) *
Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) *
Medvescak Zagreb (KHL) *
Whitecourt Wolverines (Alberta Junior League)
THE TOP 10 HALLOWEENY JERSEYS
10. Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
YARR. Sorry. Actually, no I'm not. If you can look at that crest without wanting to act like a pirate, you don't like Halloween. Get outta here. The Admirals' new look for 2015-16 captured the hearts of most THN staffers the second it was unveiled. The only thing holding these duds back in the rankings is the color scheme, which is awesome but doesn't scream Halloween.
10. Augsburger Panther (Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany)
Good lord. That Panther is…enraged. The eyes are blood-red. As is the tongue, which has likely just finished lapping up human remains. A lot of red, a lot of black... the green creates a confusing Christmas-from-Hell motif, but this is one frightening uni nonetheless.
8. Chicago Wolves (AHL)
It's all in the eyes. Rabies produce foam at the mouth, but what gives a wolf green eyes? The only answer I can muster is demonic possession. Wolves are scary enough, thank you. We don't need them cutting deals with the Prince of Darkness. Bonus points for mixing in orange and black. Demerit points for haunting our dreams by
urning the Maniac Wolf into a Leprechaun 10 years ago.
7. Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Casey Jones combined their spirits to form one scary being, then dipped his mask in black tar to create one damn Halloweeny logo. And with Bret 'The Hitman' Hart's seal of approval to boot.
6. Ilves (SM-liiga, Finland)
BLARGH! GWARB! Is what I presume it sounds like when it speaks. The Finnish translation of Ilves is Lynx. The hideous yellow character adorning this jersey is about as much a lynx as
Frank is a bunny in
Donnie Darko. Remember, though, the jersey is part of the Halloween experience. The barrage of monstrous adds surrounding Frank II's face is the scariest thing on the whole damn jersey. Put it away. PUT IT AWAY!
5. Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL)
You'd swear someone designed this sweater for a Halloween jersey contest. It's the Phantoms, and the color scheme makes orange and black very much the stars. The only problem: this design ain't scary. The Phantom logo looks like it's about to pop out of a bush and reveal itself to be a cute, misunderstood creature. Like
My Pet Monster.
4. Knoxville Ice Bears (Southern Professional League)
Lots to like here. Color scheme is Halloween incarnate. The 'Ice Bear' is scary. Note the pupil-less eyes, which are very
Undertaker. It's also extremely muscular and looks like it can handle itself with a giant hockey stick quite adeptly. I'd stay far away.
3. Minnesota Magicians (North American League)
The character adorning Minnesota's jerseys puts the "trick" in "trick or treat." He's a trickster. He's not an obvious kind of scary, but before you write him off as a benign Charles Dickens wannabe in a top hat, ask yourself…would you leave your loved ones alone with this guy? Would you pick him up at the side of the road if he twirled his cane at you and asked to hitch a ride aboard your steel carriage? Yeah, that's what I thought (drops mic).
2. Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Now the jerseys are getting seriously awesome. There's nothing to dislike about this getup from a Halloween standpoint. The colors are on point. There's nothing cute about this phantom, either. This is a wraith who steals your soul. It can't quite claim the top spot, however. The Phantoms are owned by Youngstown, Ohio's Phantom Fireworks, a company with the identical logo. Commercialization is scary in its own way, but it sucks some of the mystique out of the hockey version of the Phantom, no? Plus I have a hard time telling it apart from Batman's foe,
1. Topeka Scarecrows* (Central League/United States League)
Yep, after all that work setting up the ground rules, I broke them. The Topeka Scarecrows ceased operations 13 years ago. But one look at this nightmarish jersey eliminated any concept of "rules," or space and time for that matter. Nothing can touch the sheer Halloween-ness. My colleague Ryan Kennedy described it as "f---ing terrifying." Well said, sir. It's a hefty dose of another Batman villain,
Dr. Jonathan Crane, with a hockey stick and a dash of Freddy Krueger.
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