How The NHL Looked 25 Years Ago

As we prepare for the start of the 2011-2012 season, we can’t help but look back at seasons past. We also love talking about jersey designs, as you’ve probably noticed from previous posts. Today we’re going to head back a quarter of a century and see how the NHL looked 25 years ago. This how the 1986-1987 NHL season looked.

In the image above you can see Jimmy Carson of the Los Angeles Kings celebrating a goal against the Hartford Whalers. Carson is perhaps most famously known as one of the players who was sent to Edmonton in exchange for Wayne Gretzky. You’ll also notice that neither team is wearing white at this game. The Kings had gold home jerseys and they wore purple on the road. The Whalers, of course, were wearing their distinctive green uniforms with the classic logo on the front.

Here we see Mario Lemieux wearing the Penguins uniform of 1986-87 (and an ‘A’ on his jersey.) As you can tell, these jerseys were a much finer mesh than we’re used to today. The numbers on the shoulders give the team an almost football look as well. The Penguins would move the numbers lower down onto the sleeves in 1988. The team wore yellow helmets with their white jerseys on the road during this season as well.This photo of Dale Hawerchuk may not be from 1986, but this style of jersey is very similar (if not identical) to what the original Winnipeg Jets wore during that season. Again, you can see that the jerseys were made of mesh and that the quality is much different than today’s jerseys. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

Another franchise look that comes to mind when we think about the 1980s is the green and gold of the Minnesota North Stars. There’s just something about this look that just says “hockey” to us.The 1986-87 NHL season was also known for “Rendez-vous ’87″ which replaced the NHL All-Star Game that year. It was a two-game series between the NHL stars and the Soviet National Ice Hockey Team. The NHL won the first game 4-3 while the USSR won game two 5-3.

Here’s the game-winning goal from game one:

Maybe it’s because of our age or because of nostalgia, but the jersey designs from this era seem classic to us. They’re what we picture hockey looking like in our minds. Apparently we’re not the only ones who think this way as several NHL teams have brought back these old looks recently. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, especially when it comes to selling merchandise.

Take a look at this photo of a Montreal Canadiens/New York Islanders game from the 1986-87 season:

Outside of the poor lighting and the smaller equipment, this photo could be taken at a Habs/Isles game today and the jerseys would be almost identical. Back to the Future is clearly popular among NHL teams right now, though the Canadiens haven’t really changed their jersey design in years.

When you look at the jerseys from the 1986-87 season, you’ll see a lot of familiar looks that have either stayed the same for years or that have come back recently. The 80s were certainly a more colourful time for the NHL. As an aside, the season started on October 9, 1986 and ended on May 31, 1987 with the Edmonton Oilers defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup. An NHL season ending in May… how about that?