Everything old is new again in the NHL, at least when it comes to team uniforms.
This was definitely evident in Saturday night’s Los Angeles Kings/Vancouver Canucks game. Both teams wore retro uniforms in order to celebrate the Canucks’ 40th anniversary. The jerseys went as far as to exclude the nameplates from the players backs, just like it used to be. Jonathan Quick even wore brown pads and a mask with ears painted on it to complete the look.
At least this time there was a reason for the retro jerseys.
Too often recently have NHL teams simply gone back in time and unveiled that their “new jerseys” were actually going to be their “old jerseys.” You can see it around the league, from Philadelphia to Edmonton and in numerous spots in between.
The retro jerseys look nice, but there’s something to be said for the lack of creatively on display here. It’s one thing to put on a period uniform to celebrate an anniversary like the Canucks did on Saturday night or the Canadiens did for far too long to celebrate their 100th, but it’s another thing entirely to switch back to an older jersey design simply because your current one isn’t very popular.
And yet this is happening across the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers started with retro third jerseys before jumping all the way in and switching their primaries to an older look. The Flyers and Islanders even created “new” road jerseys in the same retro style as their home uniforms.
The Calgary Flames turned their 30th anniversary throwback into their third. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks started with retro jerseys in the Winter Classic, but soon those jerseys became their alternates as well.
Again, it’s not the jersey styles that are the problem here. It’s the complete lack of creativity on display. It seems like every time a team wants to sell more jerseys or cheer up their fanbase, they revert to an older design.
Teams like the Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and a few other teams have gone about embracing the retro craze in a much more creative way. They’ve produced jerseys that look vintage, but are actually new designs. This is the perfect way to blend the past into the present.
Are there too many retro jerseys in the NHL, or is the league simply correcting some of the horrific design errors of the 1990s? Yes, the retro jerseys generally look great – and they’re much better than “SENS” or “BOLTS” – but you have to think that NHL teams could do better than rehashing old designs.