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
No. 40: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL) The origins of this sweater actually date back to 1982, though the primary logo was modernized in the late 1990s. This QMJHL franchise rocks a great double-blue color scheme, and the striping on the shoulders is what really sets it apart from most other sweaters. The Sagueneens (named after the Saguenay region where the team is based) also rocked some pretty impressive, albeit now dated, logos during the franchise’s early days of the 1970s.
No. 39: Peterborough Petes (OHL) A unique lettered logo and a strong contender for the rights to maroon and white.
No. 38: Minnesota North Stars (NHL) An all-time great logo, topped off with that wicked Green and Gold color scheme.
No. 37: Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees (CHL) Turquoise is a unique color for hockey, but it’s a southwestern staple. Sick logo, too.
No. 36: Hartford Whalers (NHL) Will NHL hockey ever return full time to Hartford? Probably not. But few teams have inspired as much love as the Whalers do, even though the franchise was rarely successful on the ice. Perhaps it was their Brass Bonanza theme song. Perhaps it was their underdog status. A lot of it surely stems from an all-time great logo, a whale tail on top of a ‘W’ that forms an ‘H’ in the negative space between. Several Connecticut teams have paid tribute to the franchise since it moved to Carolina in 1997, using similar names and the green-and-blue color scheme. Hartford has also been referenced in pop culture (the Kevin Smith film Mallrats for example) and continues to stick in the minds of hockey fans. Long live ‘The Whale’ and its magnificent sweater.
No. 35: Soviet Union (1972 Summit Series) You can’t have a one-sided rivalry, and in North American hockey circles, no four letters inspired more fear and vitriol during the Cold War than ‘CCCP.’ But there was also a fascination for many who didn’t understand the Russian language, and the simplicity of the sweater made it even more enigmatic. There was no logo, not even a hammer and sickle to tie the team to the “evil empire,” as the Soviet Union became known over here. What those letters stood for on the ice was unwavering talent and discipline.
No. 34: Canada (1987 Canada Cup) The Summit Series may be more iconic, but this Canada Cup sweater is better aesthetically.
No. 33: Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) When you think of orange, the Flyers immediately leap to mind. The logo is a classic that has never needed any sort of substantial change. If you think differently, talk to the Broad Street Bullies. Philly’s current home sweater is quite similar to this original one.
No. 32: St. Louis Eagles (NHL) The former Ottawa Senators lasted just one season in St. Louis, but, man, did they look good.
No. 31: San Jose Sharks (NHL, 2008-09) The original didn’t need an update, but this black third jersey has a lot of merit of its own and was a favorite among graphic designers polled. The jumping shark is cool, while the ‘SJ’ shoulder crest is a nice addition to the repertoire.
The countdown continues on Wednesday with Nos. 30 to 21.