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The Best and Worst Jerseys in the NHL

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Our staff gather to praise and slam some hockey sweaters.

NHL: Centennial Classic-Detroit Red Wings at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

A recurring debate here at Pension Plan Puppets, both in the comments and amongst the masthead, has been which hockey jerseys are good or bad. Everyone feels very strongly about this, and there are often sharp disagreements, so we decided to collectively hash it out in an article. Also, everyone is wrong but me.

Here are the best and worst jerseys in the NHL.

The Best

Fulemin: Detroit’s Home Reds

NHL: Washington Capitals at Detroit Red Wings Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Look, I don’t care what anyone says: the winged wheel is one of the coolest and most creative logos in North American sport. It’s sleek, it’s simple in concept without being simplistic in design, and it relates to the history of the city. Put that with an elementary but bold colour scheme and you have a winner. Hey, it’s not like I like giving more praise to the most overpraised organization of the last two decades, but credit where it’s due: their jerseys are dope.

Annie: Their jerseys bore me and the logo is irritating, but I have to give the Red Wings a shoutout for their player nameplates. I love the use of a distinctive font and the curved shape, and more teams should try that sort of thing.

seldo: The logo is bad and these jerseys are boring. Hey look. Red. Oh, red pants and socks as well? Super. Annie is right about the name plates though, so, kudos, I guess.

Brigstew: I’m with Annie and Seldo, it’s just too plain. If it was any other colour but red, people would realize this easier, but just being red doesn’t get a pass from me.

Janik: I change my mind on the Red Wings' jerseys about twice a day. All that red is hideous but at the same time it's simple and classic. Right now I'm leaning toward really cool, but ask me again tomorrow.

Arvind: I’ll stick up for my co-host here and say that these uniforms are good. Yes, they’re simple. But you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Lambo, and that principle applies here. It’s a beautiful, deep red. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

seldo: I choked on some water when the word “Lambo” was brought up in context with the Red Wings.

Hardev: I have to agree with Mr. Seldo when it comes to the jersey being generally boring. From afar they are very boring, but when you look at the jersey from up close, there are a lot of nice touches. The nameplate and number are great, for sure, but i really love the “MR. I” and Joe Louis patches on the shoulders. Nice touch of history.

Arvind: Minnesota’s cream/green

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Green is criminally underused in hockey. So in a sea of red and blue, Minnesota stands out among NHL teams. First off, the green itself is a great colour. It’s rich and not lurid. It evokes imagery of the outdoors - it’s called forest green for a reason. The cream accents it well - much better than white would, in my opinion. Cream makes the jerseys look old school, and rustic. You don’t want some hipster millennial look for a team called the Wild.

The Wild logo is controversial, but I like it. On a jersey that is otherwise devoid of bright colour, the large hit of red adds visual interest. The cream stripe does the same. Critically, both are done without straining the eye - it’s pleasant and simple to look at. The various red accents prevent this jersey from falling too heavily into boring minimalism. The team might not be able to make it past the second round, but these jerseys are second to no one.

seldo: This is good, but they jumped on that ‘big bar through the middle’ band wagon as fast as they jumped on the ‘put the logo in a circle’ bandwagon (tucks box marked ‘Maple Leafs centennial jerseys’ under the desk). Get an original idea Wild, you’re as bad as the Kitchener Rangers.

Brigstew: Honestly, I love these jerseys too. Good mix of colours and I love their logo. So I’ll just second Arvind’s opinion and say this one is the best.

Annie: Cream, and other shades of off-white, are so underutilized in hockey jerseys. More teams should recognize that the starkness of true white (or black) is not necessarily the best choice. I agree with the prevailing opinion; these are really nice.

seldo: I agree with this. Cream is awesome. The Peterborough Petes use it instead of white and it’s Italian chef kissing fingers.

Hardev: I really like the new Wild home jerseys, their logo isn’t simple so you can’t put it on a simple jersy, which is what they did for a very long time. The not-yellow cream is a hit, forest green is unique as well as classy, and the touch of red brings it all together.

Annie: Flyers’ Home Orange

NHL: Preseason-Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Annie: Nobody really thought I’d pick anything else, right? The best thing about the Flyers color scheme is how distinctive it is—orange and black is a bright, stark contrast—and making orange the base color of the jerseys emphasizes that. The plain black pants, helmets, and gloves, and simple white striping keeps the whole thing from becoming overwhelming. A subtle detail I like is the white collar, forming a solid border at the top of the jersey—it has a similar effect to the black pants in breaking up the line and adding contrast. All the visual interest is provided by that glaringly bright orange, and since the Flyers flicked through the Pantone book and selected “traffic cone” as their color, that is plenty of visual interest. (Side note—this is where the Oilers’ orange jerseys went wrong. Screamingly orange + blue accents + white piping + a busy logo is a nightmare). I’m also a fan of the white nameplate, if just because the black-on-white contrast makes them easy to read.

Arvind: I like the Flyers home orange too, but the nameplate thing is jarring to me. Just have the name be in white text with black outlines, like the numbers. It has a similar level of contrast, and is consistent with how the team outputs the number on the back of the jersey.

seldo: At least this on has no weird gold on it.

Katya: Yes, never forget the misguided Flyers thirds from last year. Their jerseys rank well for does it clash with the hair/skin tone of all our red heads as well.

Fulemin: The Flyers are as close to iconic as you can get beyond the original six; I’d don’t love their jerseys but at least they stand out. We need more variety in NHL colour schemes.

Hardev: The OG orange team!! I love love love the nameplates on the back and the colour scheme as a whole. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the logo, it just doesn’t make any sense to me, but i can get over it for the rest of the jersey.

Katya: I can’t pick just one

Oh, hey, boss. I don’t have to.

Gasp! I like this weird Ducks third from last year. I love the tonal difference of the orange and the gold. There is so little that’s new, but not ugly, in hockey jerseys and this one appealed to me a lot. I know a lot of people hate it, and I don’t care.

Also good is the rectangular shapes. Old jerseys used to be knit as one piece of cloth, the shapes that were knit in had to be simple straight lines, stripes, blocks. I’ve always found this appeals much more than the modern designs full of complex curved shapes that are there just because they can be there.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

seldo: The Ducks thirds last year were amazing and should be their full time jersey, no one likes that stupid webbed foot D.

Fulemin: Bring back the purple Mighty Duck!

Arvind: Agree with seldo here. The Ducks don’t get enough shit for their logo being the word “Ducks”.

seldo: Word marks are awful.

Hardev: The Ducks need to replace their ugly black and almost brown jerseys with these, like, yesterday.

Annie: This color scheme grates on me very deeply, but I have to give them points for choosing something that no one else is wearing. It’s ugly, but I’d rather see distinctive and ugly than flat-out boring. On that note, purple and teal are right there.

Katya: I like the Leafs latest design just fine, I like the Detroit reds too. But something appeals to me about the very simple and stark colours of the Kings in their black period. Their old purple period was pretty hilariously bad, but these are classic, with a bit of fun in the funky number font. (This is Adrian Kempe scoring a hat trick against Montréal, by the way.)

Montreal Canadiens v Los Angeles Kings Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

seldo: I don’t like the font. I’m also mad about these jerseys because the Gatineau Olympiques copied this look and dropped the orange/purple explosion they used to wear.

Arvind: I think the Kings jerseys are emblematic of their play in that they are very boring.

Janik: Boring colours, weird piping, weird everything. Not a fan.

seldo: The Maple Leafs Blues

Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

How? How? This is a Toronto Maple Leafs blog and it took until me to bring up the best damn team on this list? Look at that blue, it’s like staring into the eyes of a Disney prince who you know will swoop you onto his horse and gallop away to the perfect castle.

The new maple leaf logo is a little crisper than the older version of this logo. The veins in the leaf flow smoothly around the worlds’ Toronto Maple Leafs’. I at first thought the white strip was a bit odd but seeing it on a real living person swayed me to the ‘oh my god these are the best’ side of things. It really helps that the person was Auston Matthews but, this is just a beautiful jersey. The simple shoulders, no patches no opposite colours keeps it simple and beautiful.

Shame on you all for ignoring this perfect specimen of a hockey jersey.

Brigstew: Wait I changed my mind, Seldo’s right and the One True Jersey is always and will forever more be the Leafs’ blue.

Janik: I'm not entirely sure why it took this long for someone to bring up the Leafs either, but I'm glad Seldo did. Because the Leafs' look is as clean as the Red Wings', except it's not as aggressive. If I were approached by someone offering to change one thing about these jerseys, I don't think I would.

Fulemin: We all knew someone else would pick it, is why. The Leafs really do have one of the great classic jerseys. I might be the only person who doesn’t think the butt Leaf is a huge improvement as a logo, but it’s not like you can go especially wrong with the Leafs’ blues, they’re simple and great. Just don’t mention those gruesome St. Pats jerseys with the brown pants.

Hardev: At the end of the day, we all know that the best uniform in the league is this:

Annie: Hardev is right. But seriously, this is how you do a single color + white jersey: adequate other detailing (shoutout to the Leafs’ socks, which are just stripey enough, and the little bit of white around the collar), use of a vivid yet flattering color like blue, and most importantly, putting it on Auston Matthews.

The Worst

Fulemin: Habs’ Away Whites

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

God, these suck. The Habs’ jerseys, like the organization itself, are overrated, and their jerseys don’t even have the excuse that they were good in the past. A colour scheme that’s better done by the New York Rangers and a logo that looks like a horseshoe with buck teeth, coming together against a background that simultaneously does too much and not enough. Don’t think I don’t notice the four-stripe colour scheme on the thumbs of the gloves, for no defensible reason. Boring and infuriating all at once.

Annie: I’d never looked closely at their gloves before, but now I’m laughing and also angry.

seldo: It’s so boring. I hate white jerseys more than anything in the world - yeah let’s wear something that goes see-through by the third period - but something about this one, and the blue pants, and the patchwork gloves, that makes me scream with disgust.

Arvind: While we’re here, we should never forget the time the Habs thought this was a good idea

TheHockeyNews.com

Also, I don’t like it more than the Minnesota greens but the Rangers’ third jersey shows how to ACTUALLY use red, white, and blue properly.

Hardev: That jersey is what happens when your “I cheer for all the Canadian teams” older family member puts together pitches a design. Ottawa 67s style, Habs colours, Leafs logo. All it needs is the orange Edmonton helmets. Yikes.

Katya: Good god, that’s hideous. Um, no one’s whites look good, to be honest. But the Habs manage to look even worse than everyone else. Except the Stars. Theirs are terrible.

Arvind: Tampa Bay - all of them

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Get your own fucking jerseys.

Katya: The “at least it’s better than it was” Colorado Avalanche cartoon suits

Okay, fine that absurd footprint [or Foote-print, ammirite - Hardev] thing is gone, but everything here is bad. Yes the colours are less jarring. Yes that grey stripe is better than the old piping look. But the logo is still a cheery cartoon of a natural disaster (amazing the NHL has two of those) and it looks remarkably like the shit emoji. They have the illuminati C design right there on the shoulder (replacing that cartoon bigfoot thing). Use it!

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The old Avs jersey looked like it was thought up by someone who dropped acid and binge-watched the Flintstones. When you want to put that past behind you, you don’t just tweak it, you throw it all out and start over. But the Avs chose to just make some changes around the edges. (This metaphor is really subtle, isn’t it?)

There is no excuse for the non-straight lines. They exist because the old jersey was worse and they’ve edited the old, bad one, instead of really re-designing it. The black pants look like a cost-cutting measure that doesn’t go with the rest of the design, and the only thing that’s ever been good about this mess is the three-colour socks. Somewhere in that improved colour scheme is a good design. This weird regurgitation of past mistakes hangs like an omen over a team that wants to renew.

seldo: I never noticed the black pants before. You’re probably right that they cheaped out. They should wear their third jerseys full time. I don’t hate these but I like the non-90’s look of the third. Imagine what these would look like if they were named the ‘Rocky Mountain X-TREME’ like the owners originally wanted?

Brigstew: I’m gonna carefully step out and voice dissent from the boss lady. I actually really like these jerseys, mostly for the colour combination. But I’ve always like very vibrant colours, when mixed together well enough anyways, and that combo of the teal-ish blue and with the purple really does it for me. Their logo is kinda meh but the rest I would say are one of my favourite jerseys. [Gets handed termination papers.]

Arvind: I’d agree with you more Katya, but you chose a photo of Babe Landeskog, who looks good in everything.

Janik: You are all wrong. The Avs are beautiful in their new jerseys. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, Gabe. [Note from brigstew: hey, I’m on your side!]

Hardev: Poor Duchene.

Annie: The thing I do like about these jerseys is the blue and maroon color scheme, which would be great on a less-awful template. But you gotta get rid of the gray and black. Those black pants are the sort of thing that once you notice them, you can’t stop focusing on them.

seldo: Nashville Predators yellow

Dallas Stars v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Nashville, how did you go so wrong with so little changes? That little bit of blue they used to have under the neck made such an impact. I think they’d be better off if they dropped the yellow helmets. It’s just so much yellow. It’s like the team took a dip in the creamy Velveeta Cheese™ fountain they had at the All Star Game.

Janik: I'm going to have to agree here. The Predators have a cool colour scheme (i.e. unique) but really butchered the Adidas redesign...

Hardev:

Fulemin: The Geneva Conventions have banned mustard gas and I think the Uniform Conventions should ban mustard yellow.

Annie: There is one (1) good thing about these jerseys, and it’s the piano key detailing inside the collar. That is it. They are terrible and the only person who doesn’t look terrible in them is PK Subban.

Brigstew: Vegas Home Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Jerseys

I. Cannot. Stand. The Vegas “colour” jerseys. Or as I call them: The Aggresive Grey jerseys.

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Vegas Golden Knights
Just.... ugh.
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I mentioned above I like vibrant colours. So imagine what I think about this monstrosity. It’s this bizarre mix of vibrant yellow (gold?) and red, but then has this massive canvas of the dullest grey tone imaginable. You ever been in a room that had the roof painted a grey/black, and how much it sucks away all light and vibrancy so by the time you leave the room your soul feels completely numb? That’s how I feel looking at these jerseys. What makes it worse for me is that these are the jerseys for Las god damned Vegas! And their team name is the GOLDEN KNIGHTS! How the hell did to have one of the most aggressively bland jerseys in the whole league????

Janik: I really hate the white gloves on their road jerseys and when they were first released I assumed they'd always wear white gloves. Thankfully, they don't. And with that, the home unis look really neat, in my opinion. It's not dull, it's crisp. And the gold and red makes it unique. The Golden Knights had the incredibly difficult task to join a league of 30 teams and come up with a unique colour scheme – and they did.

Arvind: I’m okay with these ones, actually. They’re pretty nondescipt.

seldo: I think it would be better without the square of black on the arms. I like the glittery gold though. It’s cheesy.

Fulemin: The contrast between body and arms is awkward, I’m not a fan. Beyond that I don’t hate these, though.

Annie: These are mediocre to me (Clarkson does Golden Knights way better), but can I put in a plug here for more lamé in jerseys? I want the whole league sparkling like a disco ball.

Arvind: The Oilers hideous orange

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Edmonton Oilers Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Arvind: In 20 years or so, we’re going to be watching Connor McDavid’s HHOF highlight reel, and recoil because he was wearing these monstrosities for most of them. I have nothing against orange. But as Annie mentioned, if you’re going to go with a bold colour as your base, you can’t ALSO add a million other things. The rest has to be simple, otherwise it’s visual overload.

That’s exactly what the Oilers didn’t do. To start, the shade of orange is basically that of a visibility vest. It’s insanely bright and not great for a hockey jersey. It’s made so much worse by everything around it though.

The stripes at the bottom of the jersey add nothing. The unecessary outlining of the names and numbers add nothing. The white piping around the shoulder yoke adds nothing. Milan Lucic adds nothi - wait, sorry, I’m supposed to stay focussed on the jersey. If they removed these elements, the jersey would look fine! It wouldn’t be good - you can’t rescue that shade of orange, just like you can’t rescue a defence corps that is playing Kris Russell in a top four role. But it’d be a lot better than what it is now.

What makes it worse is that the Oilers had some baller jerseys last year!

These have a lot of the same accents (the stripes, the border around letters, the collar piping), but it works because the orange is in a secondary role, and with a more conservative blue as the main colour, the extras add interest, rather than being cloying. The Oilers essentially swapped out the blue for the highlighter orange and changed nothing else, and it just doesn’t work. A primary player colour exchanged for one that is quite clearly inferior, even though the old one was perfectly fine. At least they stayed on-brand.

Janik: I agree with Arvind, the Oilers' homes are hideous. I don't mind them wearing orange at home – one could argue the Flyers are the only orange team in the league and it should stay that way, but when I can pick between another blue team among 20 others and a second orange one, I'll pick a second orange. My problem is with the striping, which is wrong on so many levels.

seldo: I thought these were fine when I see them on TV and in NHL18. Then I saw one at the store and yelled at it. Like, yelled at the jersey hanging on the wall. It deserved it.

Janik: The Senators who just didn't want to take their chance and run with it

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Ottawa Senators Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine you've been wearing boring jerseys with a bad design for years. There were once other teams who had the same design with different colours, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they decided it was ugly and should go. Now Adidas shows up and offers you to revamp everything and finally look good for once and you're like “nope, we're good.” That's essentially what the Senators did this year, instead of promoting their fancy alternates to primary jerseys. Stupid Senators.

Fulemin: Honestly, the centurion logo is not as bad as people say, and believe me, laughing at the Senators is one of my favourite pastimes. Those alternates with the big O on them look like some sort of failed Dr. Seuss experiment. Thing Zero, the warped sibling of Thing One and Thing Two.

seldo: These jereys are weird because of the black on the arms. In that picture Karlsson looks like he’s wearing a red pinnie in practice. The Senators need to steal the Ottawa 67’s look. It’s so great and the stripes are amazing. They honoured the original Senators team in a way that wasn’t completely ripping them off. Since the modern Senators rip off the old ones, they may as well rip off the 67’s as well.

Arvind: Sorry, I know you guys were talking about the Sens here, but let’s be honest - everyone is always talking about them. Have you heard about Auston Matthews?

Annie: Columbus’s home blues

NHL: New York Rangers at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

You know how I said that I’d rather see ugly and interesting over boring? The Blue Jackets’ home jerseys are a prime example here. They had the choice of any color scheme, and decided to go with red, white, and blue, which is definitely modern and distinctive and not the color scheme of two Original Six teams alone. Top that with an uninspiring logo and unwillingness to try much in terms of detailing—although, like with the Red Wings, they get credit for a nifty font on the nameplates—and we have a jersey that commits the worst sin of all: it’s forgettable.

Montreal Canadiens v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

It’s especially grating because their thirds did exactly what the original jerseys should have done, which is scrap the red entirely and only use tonal shades of blue, with cream instead of white. This is fantastic! It’s a color scheme that specifically suits a team named after Union soldiers—the muted tones of the colors lend a cool, antique-y look that fits with the Civil War theme, and sticking to just blue places it in the specific context of Blue Jackets rather than “you know, American stuff, I guess.” It’s distinctive. It’s interesting. It doesn’t look like a miscellaneous high school hockey team jersey someone found in the back of their closet. The logo needs work, but it’s still better than their primary one.

Fulemin: I hate this logo more the more I look at it.

Arvind: Couldn’t agree more with Annie here. Those third jerseys are beautiful - just roll with that all the time!


Those are our picks for best / worst jerseys in the NHL right now. Please feel free to tell us how much you agree with us in the comments.

Poll

Which of our picks for best jersey really is the best?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Toronto Maple Leafs - Home
    (937 votes)
  • 11%
    Detroit Red Wings - Home
    (186 votes)
  • 10%
    Minnesota Wild - Home
    (175 votes)
  • 7%
    Philadelphia Flyers - Home
    (120 votes)
  • 2%
    Anaheim Ducks - Alternate
    (39 votes)
  • 2%
    Los Angeles Kings - Home
    (37 votes)
  • 9%
    Other - I’ll let you know how wrong I am in the comments
    (153 votes)
1647 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of our picks for worst jersey is the absolute worst?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Montreal Canadiens - Away
    (271 votes)
  • 7%
    Tampa Bay Lightning - Everything
    (110 votes)
  • 9%
    Colorado Avalanche - Home
    (138 votes)
  • 18%
    Nashville Predators - Home
    (267 votes)
  • 10%
    Vegas Golden nights - Home
    (155 votes)
  • 11%
    Edmonton Oilers - Home
    (168 votes)
  • 12%
    Ottawa Senators - Home
    (182 votes)
  • 7%
    Columbus Blue Jackets - Home
    (110 votes)
  • 3%
    Other - Letting you know how wrong I am in the comments
    (49 votes)
1450 votes total Vote Now