Admit it, you’ve been wondering when this was going to come out and you’re dying to reflect on whether any of your old hot takes still hold up compared to how some of these beauties actually look on the ice.
Once again it’s time for one DTFR writer’s thoughts and ranking of all the newest threads introduced in the National Hockey League for the 2019-20 season and beyond.
NHL teams often try to create a buzz and stick to the brand, but occasionally there’s a few outliers that do the opposite of what the introduction of Gritty as the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers has done that organization, for example.
In other words, remember that Dallas Stars third jersey from 2003-06? Yeah, that one. Beloved by some, but hated by many– nevertheless, everyone wonders the same thing “who gave the final approval for that?”
Please enjoy this year’s light-hearted ranking of the newest threads and fashion sense.
13. Anaheim Ducks (unveiled, Sept. 30, 2019)
In their 26th NHL season, the Anaheim Ducks brought back their Orange County Orange(™) alternate sweaters that were previously worn from 2015-17.
After the mandatory one-year hiatus from the NHL’s third jersey program while the league made the switch from the Reebok Edge to adidas ADIZERO design in 2017-18– as well as Anaheim’s one-year specialty jersey to commemorate their 25th anniversary last season– the current alternate threads have made their official comeback.
While most like the homage of the crest to the original name of the franchise as the “Mighty Ducks of Anaheim”, this sweater just doesn’t really do it for me. Yes, more orange isn’t a bad thing in the NHL, but overall the design is pretty formulaic when it comes to featuring secondary logos, tertiary colors, etc.
It’s nice to see it make its return, but dare I say it, the 25th anniversary alternate sweater was actually… kind of great. Perhaps it should come back.
12. Los Angeles Kings (unveiled, Aug. 31, 2019)
The Los Angeles Kings are living in the past these days– what with Rob Blake as their General Manager and all, plus the reintroduction of their iconic 1988-96 look.
Los Angeles brought out these Heritage sweaters from the closet to appease jersey collectors looking for a little something from the past, but in the modern ADIZERO fit and with names like “Brown”, “Doughty”, “Kopitar” and “Quick” on the back instead of those other guys who never won a Cup in a Kings sweater like “Gretzky” and “Robitaille”.
We live in strange times, indeed.
That said, Los Angeles’ 2020 Stadium Series sweater (leaked in Nov.) leaves something to be desired.
It’s as if someone took one of those pieces from an Othello board, added some streaks from Vancouver’s “Flying Skate” spaghetti stripes and worked in the coolest feature (the checkerboard pattern behind the neck) in the smallest place they could’ve possibly done so just to smite us.
The “Burger King” is dead. May he continue to rest in peace.
But if the Kings ever wanted to go all out on a zany Stadium Series design, think black and white checkerboard with the “Burger King” crest. Now that’s how you get a European feel in an outdoor NHL game.
Anze Kopitar would be proud. Do it for your captain, Kings.
11. St. Louis Blues (unveiled, Sept. 14, 2019)
The St. Louis Blues decided that Los Angeles couldn’t be the only team digging up what they wore when Wayne Gretzky was on their roster, so they dusted off their own 1990s look and put it back on the shelves at Enterprise Center.
There’s nothing original about it, since it’s just their 1995-98 dark sweater, but ADIZERO-fied. Does this mean Gretzky’s going to come back for another 16 regular season games?
10. Colorado Avalanche (leaked, Nov. 12, 2019)
The Colorado Avalanche had a rather conservative 2016 Stadium Series sweater at Coors Field and the Avs paid for it dearly by losing, 5-3, to the Detroit Red Wings.
This time around, Colorado’s looking to take flight at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with what’s already a winning design.
Embrace the chaos.
Traditionally, the Stadium Series is always about taking hockey where it’s never been– whether it’s an outdoor game in Los Angeles or simply in the sweater design. This year’s Stadium Series matchup is certainly living up to the outlandish theme– dare we say futuristic? If only that future involves minimalism combined with the absurd.
9. Vancouver Canucks (unveiled, Sept. 12, 2019)
The Vancouver Canucks refreshed their look for the 2019-20 season and beyond by dropping the “Vancouver” wordmark from above the orca and making their crest logo larger than ever before.
Not to be outdone, the Canucks modernized the stick in the rink logo on the shoulders, cast it in white instead of blue and only committed one jersey foul by not keeping the shoulder patches clad in blue on the white road sweaters for contrast.
A little subtle change in detail from home to road sweaters isn’t a bad thing like how the Boston Bruins home shoulder patch reads as “Bruins” above the bear and “Boston” above the bear on the road sweaters. Again, it’s the little things that really make something feel complete and the Canucks could very well rectify this “existential crisis” in time for the 2020-21 season, but it’s nothing major.
The Canucks really did a great job of reducing their colors to blue and green on their alternate “Heritage” sweaters. Is it perfect? No, but it is something different from what they’ve had and different from their usual look, so that’s better than nothing.
The stick in the rink logo really pops on the alternates and it’s a shame they’re likely only going to be worn for this season unless I can convince them otherwise (do the right thing, Vancouver).
Maybe take a little inspiration from the Vancouver Millionaires sleeve striping pattern and figure out a way to correlate that with the alternate logo and you just might make a certified gold mashup of Vancouver hockey sweaters from over the years.
In addition to celebrating their 50th anniversary in style, Vancouver brought back their “Flying Skate” jerseys as throwbacks this year and, well, they’re decent in the ADIZERO design, but unless the Canucks are going to forfeit pacific green and blue to Seattle in 2021, Vancouver shouldn’t switch their colors back to red, yellow and black.
Pavel Bure could pull off the look, but don’t make Elias Pettersson wear those things more than he has to.
8. Calgary Flames (unveiled, Sept. 13, 2019)
Simply put, these 2019 Heritage Classic sweaters should be the Calgary Flames’ road sweaters.
Calgary dug out their 1989 look last season for their current alternate sweater and unless the Flames are planning on bringing back the flaming horse head sweater from 1998-06, it’s probably time to go back to the past for a little while and wallow in the nostalgia of when the franchise didn’t let Jarome Iginla down every year and actually won a Stanley Cup.
7. Winnipeg Jets (unveiled, Sept. 13, 2019)
Not many things from the 1970s have as much staying power as these Winnipeg Jets 2019 Heritage Classic sweaters. Everything about this jersey is sharp and it’s a shame the Jets can’t use them more often.
Winnipeg is cursed with superior design in both their past life as well as in their current iteration. It’s hard to tell the Jets to use these more when their current complete jersey set is as dynamic as it is and underrated.
6. Edmonton Oilers (unveiled, Sept. 12, 2019)
When the Edmonton Oilers changed over to their modern orange and navy blue color scheme, I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan at first.
Now, after remembering the days of my youth enjoying the hell out of watching Edmonton’s last great team– the 2005-06 Oilers roster– I want everything to be steeped in the navy blue of Ryan Smyth’s prime.
At first glance, these sweaters look like something you’d find in an intramural floor hockey league, but hey, even if you don’t win the championship, you’d still look better than all the other teams.
They’re bold and daring, but don’t scream “out of this world” in concept. They’re just fun and after all, isn’t that the point of the game? To just “have fun”?
Years from now we’re going to remember Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl’s prime as such a conflicting era of Oilers hockey.
The Second Coming of Sidney Crosby (McDavid) was forced to abandon the Wayne Gretzky colors for his own identity– this team’s current identity– led by two-time All-Star goaltender, Mike Smith (who’s corresponding pads with the new alternates are phenomenal, by the way), of course.
Ok, really, I got nothing else about this design. It’s plain, but electric. It has just the right amount of marketability to kids who will have their hearts broken by this team.
5. Nashville Predators (unveiled, Nov. 2, 2019)
The Nashville Predators’ 2020 Winter Classic sweater is a timeless look– most notably because it is actually a thing from the past based on the Dixie Flyers’ sweaters from 1962-71, but also because anytime there’s a script involved on the front of an NHL jersey instead of a logo, there’s a 99% chance Hockey Twitter is going to compare it to the old Minnesota Wild alternate sweater from 2009-17 and wish for more teams to try their hand at cursive writing.
In other words, the Preds actually made something good and that’ll sell well, even if fans are going to have to acknowledge that Nashville’s Stanley Cup contender status window may be closing– and fast.
This strikes me as a very good pond hockey jersey to wear for some reason and that shoulder patch should see added mileage on a future alternate sweater, in case the Predators are looking for a starting point (and to avoid whatever mustard yellow sweater Peter Forsberg had to wear in his short Nashville tenure).
4. Boston Bruins (unveiled, Nov. 24, 2019)
The Boston Bruins played it conservatively for the second alternate jersey in a row, simply pulling an old sweater out of the closet, bringing it to a tailor and tweaking a few minor things.
That said, Bruins President, Cam Neely, has a knack for marketing his organization.
Boston’s new alternate is just a throwback from their first full-time road sweater in 1948-49, but with a modernized “B” font from the 2019 Winter Classic sweater and small changes to the stripes.
It’s elegant, but just how daring is it?
“Original Six” franchises are proud to display their history and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s not a one-off sort of thing that pits the organization’s current stars in a weird alternate timeline where things just don’t look right (looking at you, Montreal Canadiens 100th anniversary trio).
Sure, the Toronto Maple Leafs occasionally bring out something from their Arenas days or St. Pats days for a game or two each year, but they’re not as hideous as whatever the Habs went through before settling on their tricolor motif a few years prior to the NHL’s creation.
Anyway, you have to give credit to the Bruins for actually taking some things from the past and updating them to modern building codes such that players like Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara can get a feel for what franchise legends like Eddie Shore, Lionel Hitchman, “Dit” Clapper and Milt Schmidt wore back in the day without cheapening the spectacle in a one-time only scenario.
Neely has a history in his tenure for overseeing every aspect in the design of a legacy product– the 2010 Winter Classic sweater featured an updated 25th anniversary spoked-B crest from the 1948-49 season white jersey clad on a 1958-59 gold jersey with brown instead of black accents.
The 2016 Winter Classic sweater was an updated version of their original 1924-25 sweater– exchanging brown for black. And of course, Boston’s 2019 Winter Classic sweater was based on their look from the early 1930s with a modernized “B” and more stripes on the sleeves.
Timeless doesn’t have to mean drab if the players are flying up and down the ice adding their own creativity to the sweater.
3. Dallas Stars (unveiled, Nov. 6, 2019)
Hockey sweaters can never have too many stripes, nor can they ever have too much green– and I’m not just saying that as someone who’s favorite color is green.
The Dallas Stars are paying homage to the 1940s professional hockey team before them– the Dallas Texans– with a “fauxback” of sorts.
Though they’re claiming the identity of a long-gone team in the basic design elements, the Stars brought forth something fresh and clean to the drawing board instead of all the possibilities the former Minnesota North Stars could have ran with for one game.
Dallas wearing a North Stars emblem in an outdoor game in Dallas wouldn’t be very Dallas.
But this sweater is. Plus the old-school colored pants and white gloves really complete the aesthetic. Who could be mad at that?
Bonus points for the State of Texas patch on the sleeve with an ode to “The Big D” inside it.
2. Carolina Hurricanes (unveiled, Aug. 20, 2019)
You may call them “Candy Canes”, but the Carolina Hurricanes are the owners of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and we’re all just trying to be one of the lucky five people with golden tickets.
Perhaps that’s the strangest way of saying this year’s new road sweater is everything that most jerseys aren’t– actually creative. There’s no “copy, paste and invert the colors” involved.
The hurricane warning motif was brought back as a bottom stripe (major style points) and they introduced red gloves to match the red pants, as well as a red-based 3-D Hurricanes logo on the sides of the helmet.
Carolina got rid of the added weight on the shoulders by removing the red yoke and righted a wrong on the previous version of their road white sweaters– the names and numbers are back in red.
Though three distinct jerseys for each sweater style (home, away and alternate) is usually not my thing from a brand consistency standpoint, the Hurricanes made significant improvements to playing within their stormy elements and not trying to blend in with anyone else.
They are their own thing– diagonal “CANES” moniker across the front of the road sweater be damned.
If you don’t like it, then you’re clearly not a Caniac.
(And if– for some reason– you are a Caniac and you don’t like these sweaters, well they’re still doing Whalers Night this year, so please enjoy your “traditional” fix on Jan. 11th.)
1. Buffalo Sabres (unveiled, Aug. 16, 2019)
You can never have too many stripes in soccer, rugby or hockey. Take notes kids.
Also, the Buffalo Sabres really hit it out of the park with the same shiny gold thread that’s prominent in the Vegas Golden Knights’ overall identity.
Much like how the Ducks– in retrospect– nailed their 25th anniversary aesthetic with an element from every jersey in one, the Sabres nailed their 50th anniversary– their golden anniversary– with almost literal gold.
It’s gold in color, but not in carats.
Buffalo’s switching back to royal blue in their home and road sweaters for the 2020-21 season and beyond, so it’s really only fitting that white is the basis for this ode to the team’s inception, growth and existence over half a century.
The Sabres made sure to include all four renditions of their primary logo over the years inside the collar, which is a unique thing about NHL sweaters compared to other leagues– the incredible level of personalization to an organization– no detail is overlooked.
It’s a shame these will only be worn for this season, but it’s a sacrifice many are willing to make for the return to royal blue, I’m sure.
One of these days the Ottawa Senators are due for a rebrand (and with it, new third jerseys), but until then, the Vegas Golden Knights, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Nashville Predators may all introduce third jerseys at some point.
Probably not this year at this rate, but maybe next year.