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.
Previously: Nos. 50-41 | Nos. 40-31
No. 30: Ottawa Senators (NHL 1923-24) It’s impossible not to appreciate the audaciousness of this sweater. Ottawa was indeed coming off a Stanley Cup championship in 1922-23, so the club decided to remind all their opponents of this fact while it tried to defend the crown. No team would ever dare do something like this in modern times, but the Sens were owning their victory. Perhaps karma caught up to the Bytown boys in the end, however, as the Montreal Canadiens got revenge in a rematch of the final, taking the Cup in 1924.
No. 29: Flin Flon Bombers (WHL) Totally unique jersey worn by Bobby Clarke.
No. 28: Los Angeles Kings (NHL) Can you imagine Wayne Gretzky wearing purple and gold? The Kings made the switch to these sleek, L.A. Raiders-inspired sweaters in time for The Great One’s arrival, and their new AHL affiliate club, the Ontario Reign, wear duds inspired by them.
No. 27: Boston Bruins (NHL) The iconic spoked ‘B’ originated in a different form one year prior, but this is the version everyone knows. Many teams have aped the crest since, including Kingston and Boston-affiliated teams such as Providence and Oshawa.
No. 26: New York Rangers (NHL) With a few tweaks here and there, the classic Rangers jersey was born in 1949. But the diagonal lettering dates back to the start in 1926 and has become one of the most common jersey tropes in the sport. New York popularized it and countless teams have imitated it over the years.
No. 25: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) It’s impossible to have a better start than the Fighting Saints, who captured the United States League championship in their first year of existence. The junior squad, partowned by Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli, looks as sharp as it plays. Not only is the logo a total winner with its plunging fleur-de-lis sword down the middle, but the simple striping and bold red base color really make everything pop, too. You’d be forgiven for mistaking this entry for an NHL jersey, as it looks that professional.
No. 24: Laval Voisins (QMJHL) Just an outstanding logo. And good enough for Mario Lemieux to wear as a junior.
No. 23: South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) A fantastic modern logo with great colors and a clean look for this South Carolina squad.
No. 22: Calgary Hitmen (WHL) Historically, pink has not been a popular color in men’s team sports – and often times, it is overused in a condescending way towards female fans when gear is aimed at them. But when the Hitmen made their WHL debut 20 years ago, they rocked pink with pride. And when one of your original owners is pro wrestling legend Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart, it’s fair to say no players were questioning their masculinity. The pink eventually made an exit in 1998, but the franchise is celebrating its roots with a throwback sweater this season. The most controversial thing about the original jersey was actually the mascot and name of the franchise, as some thought the connotations of the term ‘Hitmen’ were too violent.
No. 21: New York Riveters (NWHL) Reworking of an iconic feminist image, this is a perfect logo for this new women’s team.
The countdown continues on Thursday with Nos. 20 to 11.