Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game One

This may not be the case for all hockey fans out there, but when I turn on the TV to watch a hockey game, my enjoyment of said game is affected by the uniforms being worn, the way they work together, and how they work with the crowd around them. I can barely watch the Panthers, for example, regardless of opponent.

A couple simple things matter:

* Contrast: for example, Oilers/Flames is going to be better than Senators (white/red/black)/Hurricanes (white/red/black).


* Simplicity: Clean, two-coloured jersey matchups – say Red Wings/Leafs – is going to be better than busy, multi-colour jersey matchups – say Florida/Colorado or something. (Guh, the thought of that.)

We all have our personal preferences – for me, I find red-on-red matchups less pleasurable than cooler colours. So we might not agree entirely on the order of the list below, but that’s only because you probably have bad taste and I don’t.

Without any further ado, here are this year’s eight playoff match-ups, ranked by jersey aesthetics. Obviously it differs depending on which team is home or away, so take the rankings to mean a general take on any combination of the main uniforms:

8) Montreal/Ottawa

Montreal Canadiens v Ottawa Senators - Game Three

I know, I know, the Montreal Canadiens sweater is the most perfect, iconic thing in hockey and all that, and it is pretty damn fantastic, but combined with the Senators red/black/white mish-mash it’s just too much. Too much red, too busy, too much like goulash.

7) Anaheim/Detroit

Detroit Red Wings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Two

Much like #8, this isn’t the fault of the original six team, but those Ducks jerseys – particularly the black ones – are just about as bad as it gets in playoffs this year. Their games look like an NHL team versus a roller hockey team. It just doesn’t mix.

6) New York Rangers/Washington

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game One

I don’t hate either team’s jerseys, but red/white/blue versus white/blue/red = too much stimuli or something.

5) Canucks/Sharks

San Jose Sharks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two

Mmm, soothing marine colours. I’m a big fan of the Canucks jerseys, and something about their combination with San Jose’s teal is like staring at an aquarium. Or sitting on a tropical beach. I’m a fan.

4) Chicago/Minnesota

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Three

The Blackhawks jerseys are badass, and Minnesota’s green ones are both pretty wicked. Can’t go wrong in this series as long as the Wild agree to set fire to the red sweaters so they’re never seen again.

3) Penguins/Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders - Game Three

The Islanders digs are among my favourites in the league (sure, shout down the bias here if you like), and the direct contrast of the Penguins’ colours makes for a cool mix. If only Pittsburgh were rocking the Lemieux-era beauties, this would be even better.

2) Blues/Kings

St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings - Game Three

The sharp black-and-white against the colourful Blues jerseys is just super-easy to watch.

And numero uno…

1) Boston/Toronto

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two

Not even up for debate here. Two classic original six sweaters, great contrast, extremely clean…this was a no-doubter.

Comments (20)

  1. I like most of Backhand Shelf content, but this has to be one of the dumbest article ever. I don’t usually post my displeasure about an article, but articles like this really take credibility away from making backhand shelf a more credible hockey “source”. I only say this because I appreciate Backhand Shelf and hope for it to continue its success.

  2. I like the article. As a jersey nut/gear head, I really appreciated it.

    JT ever go to

  3. Totally agree with you about the Penguins jerseys. That copper/bronze/whatever tone makes it seem like they’re trying too hard to seem badass.

  4. Hawks/Wild and NYI/Pens series should be 7/8 and just move everything else down. The jersey’s are nice, but the teams jerseys don’t mix IMO. I think the worst series jersey wise ever had to be Red Wings vs Predators last year. I couldn’t watch more than 5 minutes of those game when they were played in Nashville.

  5. I’m upset that San Jose is using the black jerseys for their home games :(

  6. Finally, Toronto wins something!

  7. “Florida/Colorado or something. (Guh, the thought of that.)”

    It was nasty. Luckily it was over in 4 games.

  8. The only thing that would make the Leafs/Bruins series even better? White for the home team (Aka the way it should be)

  9. I agree with all except Rangers/Caps and Kings/Blues, I would have switched those. I’m a Ranger fan and am partial to their whites, and I hate the Kings and their Home/Away jerseys. Although their Black and Purple sweaters aren’t bad but their Gold and Purple are an abomination.

    • They need to bring back the Gretzky era black/white/silver. Those jerseys were awesome. You still see a ton of them around Staples.

  10. I was thinking the same thing, but not on sweater esthetics, but sweater fonts. I really like the font on the Sens red jerseys (and the Hurricanes for that matter, but they’re not in the play-offs…I know). Maybe it had to do with the beating they were laying on the Habs, but I kept saying out loud, Conacher, Karlsson, Silfverberg….

    I totally love this article, and it’s a condition of a hockey mind that is going to places where a normal hockey mind wouldn’t go. Hours and hours of hockey watching brings you to a whole new level of NHL enlightenment.

  11. I like knowing that I’m not the only hockey fan who cares about this stuff. I’m really looking forward to the Wings playing the Leafs more next season, as that jersey combo is sheer perfection.

  12. I seriously thought I was the only one who thought this way. Some combinations are just more appealing than others. And that factor contributes pretty significantly to my enjoyment of the game sometimes. One of the reasons the Habs-Bruins rivalry is so great is because those jerseys just look so damn good on the ice together. Cool article!

  13. I don’t think you know what “digs” means.

  14. Everytime I play Islanders vs. Penguins NHL 2013 I do old school Penguin jersey cause that’s a great visual match up. Ducks uniforms are probably the worst in hockey right now.

  15. I know it’s just tape, but I like to imagine that Chara’s socks get one more stripe than everyone else’s because the legs are too damn long.

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