Shred on Threads #3: NHL Reverse Retro Jerseys

By Chad Miller Jr.
On December 7, 2020

Photo courtesy of The National Hockey Leauge

The Introduction

In the few entries to the series that have been published, we’ve only looked at individual teams and their respective uniform set. Never have we looked at multiple teams at the same time. Well, that changes today!

A few weeks ago, the NHL released a league-wide jersey for each respective team called “Reverse Retro”. The meaning to it is exactly what you expect it to be. Each team was tasked to make a uniform throwing back to one in the team’s history and then change the colors around on the original design. As you’ll see from this column, I believe some of these teams did exactly that. Some took it above and beyond, while others didn’t even try...literally. You’ll see what I mean when we get into the shredding.

A few things before we begin. I will be going in order from the worst jerseys all the way to the best in my opinion. I will include what year the team is throwing back to next to their name in parentheses so you can look up for yourself how the team changed the jersey around. I will give a little blurb about where the jersey is from and give a short overview of why I put that jersey in the spot I give it. Considering there are 31 teams to go over, this is going to get pretty long so bear with me.

Next, as a disclaimer, this is my personal opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own as I am mine. I understand that my list may be a bit controversial to the common hockey fan, as some of these designs are not enjoyed by their own fanbases. Lastly, the information I got for today’s column is from a story released by NHL covering each jersey which can be found here as well as from the unofficial NHL uniform database which can be found here. If you want to share your opinion about these jerseys, then follow me on Twitter and tweet me your thoughts. That can be found here.

Now without further ado, let the shredding begin!

The Shredding of the Threads

31. New York Islanders (1980? apparently…) This is what I was talking about in the introduction when I said a team didn’t really try. According to the NHL press release, the Islanders are throwing back to the 1980s to the start of their dynasty years to honor legends such as Mike Bossy, Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier. This sweater became a meme to the common hockey fan, as all the Islanders did was keep everything the same and flipped the stripe colors on the sleeves and the bottom...from their current home jerseys. Nice job guys, you get last place.

30. Detroit Red Wings (1998) Our first “Original 6” team on the list, and those who have seen these jerseys can guess why. The press release says they’re a rendition of their 1998 home jerseys when they won their ninth Stanley Cup. I appreciate the effort done. But, switching the base red to white and the gray striping on the sleeves and bottom make it look like a practice jersey and that’s really all there is to it. 

29. St Louis Blues (1995) Just like a lot of teams that had him, the Blues are throwing back to a time when they had the “Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. What they did was take their home jersey from the ‘95 season and flipped the blue and red around. It’s not a terrible jersey in my opinion, but when your team name is the Blues, you really cannot do much else except blue, and the red is just kind of weird. Nice try though.

28. Vegas Golden Knights (1995) The team in Las Vegas has only been around since 2017, so they do not have an “old jersey” to throw back to per se. Instead, they took this opportunity to pay homage to “pro hockey franchises that preceded them and paved the way for their existence,” which includes Manon Rheaume, the first woman to play in the NHL. Although the gesture is kind, the jersey itself is not, in my opinion. The red used in Vegas’ color scheme should only be used as a trim or striping, not a jersey.

27. Arizona Coyotes (1999) Throwing back to their original alternate jersey and putting a desert night spin on it, the Coyotes had an idea that I really liked. But, I think it just simply fell short. I do not like the way the colors came together, and I wish they used the full coyote logo instead of just the head for the front crest.

26. Toronto Maple Leafs (1970) The Leafs threw back to two back-to-back seasons with the front crest from the 1969-70 season and the striping from the ‘70- ‘71 season. As much as I like the colors and the logo throwback, I simply do not like the striping from the shoulders all the way down the side along with the single wide stripe at the bottom.

25. Columbus Blue Jackets (2000) Throwing back to their first season with the logo and jersey design coming from their first away white jersey and making it red for these. I love the colors and the original logo. I just believe that for a designated home jersey, there’s too much white on the shoulder, sleeves and striping on the bottom.

24. Winnipeg Jets (1979) Winnipeg brought back their first jerseys, as well and put their current colors in it...kind of. The charcoal gray, which is not in their current color scheme base, is pretty hit or miss with fans. Quite frankly, as much as I dig the idea, I think it failed. I think it would’ve been ranked higher if they just stuck to their current colors and not change it up with the gray.

23. Vancouver Canucks (2001) The original jersey colorway was red and blue. With their current color scheme on it, I think it looks pretty OK. My only gripe is the gradient pattern that happens behind the front crest. The gradient on uniforms has been hit or miss throughout sports history, and just like a majority of the times before it, this one missed. I also wish they brought back one of their old logos instead of keeping the current one. 

22. Tampa Bay Lightning (2004) These jerseys are similarly designed like their 2004 home black jerseys when they won their first Stanley Cup but updated with the blue that they wore in the 2020 Stanley Cup Championship. Overall, I kind of like the logo, but the striping is off to me and I just can’t put my finger as to where.

21. Ottawa Senators (1992) Another team throwing back to their inaugural season, these jerseys simply flip where the red and black are from the original jersey. I love the 2D logo and it’s simple. Simple has kicked teams down, but this time, it kicked up a team.

20. Nashville Predators (1998) Throwing back to their inaugural jersey but keeping the current color scheme and logo is a smart idea. The speed nicks on the numbers pay homage to the original design. The only thing I dislike is similar to the Blue Jackets’ design, where it’s just too much white for a designated home jersey.

19. Dallas Stars (1999) I have a love-hate relationship with the jersey my second favorite team put out. I absolutely love that they brought back the old front crest and the star striping on the jersey when they won their Stanley Cup. I just do not know how to feel about changing everything that was once gold, to an icy white. I love the idea, but I do not know how I feel about the execution of the said idea. The icy white on a white jersey is cool for those of you all who like the aesthetic, however.

18. Edmonton Oilers (1979) The Oilers are bringing back their jerseys worn in their inaugural season, which was also the first year they had Wayne Gretzky. Overall, I love the colors and consistent striping. It probably would be higher if I just did not like the ones in front of it more on this list. 

17. Buffalo Sabres (2000) The Sabres did a fantastic job with these, as they took their alternate jersey from the 2000 season, made the base white and then put the current color scheme in. The wording on the bottom stripe is hit or miss with fans, but it hit with me and it makes it just a bit more unique compared to other teams. I think the front crest could have a bit more gold in it, however.

16. Pittsburgh Penguins (1997) Ahh yes! My favorite team. They brought back the home uniforms from 1997 when Mario Lemieux won his sixth scoring title. The Penguins flipped the iconic black jersey into white. The only thing about this jersey that seems off is the diagonal word pattern, which has become so iconic with the New York Rangers.

15. Philadelphia Flyers (1995) The Flyers made a few changes to this ‘95 throwback when they won the division title and Eric Lindros won the Hart Trophy. The changes were simply flipping the black and white on the sleeves and striping. A subtle but good-looking change to the throwback.

14. Chicago Blackhawks (1940) NOT PICTURED IN TIERMAKER. The oldest throwback on the list, Chicago did an overall pretty good job on the objective of these uniforms. They threw it back to 1940 with the jersey design and crest and flipped the black and red where they are on the jersey. You’ll have to look it up for yourself because the Tiermaker I used to make my list did not include the jersey for some reason. Apologies for that.

13. San Jose Sharks (1998) Another team utilizing the design of a past third jersey, the Sharks did a good job using a gray base and surrounding it with the team’s colors. The teal, black and white does a fantastic job making this rather dull jersey pop.

12. Anaheim Ducks (1995) This is probably my most controversial placement as this is a rather much-loved jersey by the majority of fans. The Ducks brought in the “Wild Wing” jersey, which was their first alternate jersey. The reason why it is down here is that I find the “Mighty Ducks” logo that they’re using as shoulder patches to be more iconic and love that logo much more than I do the front crest. Aside from that, I love the colors and love that they are using the original number and letter font from the original design.

11. Washington Capitals (1997) This design is one of my favorites on this list, as I believe the eagle is one of the best logos in NHL history. What was once blue, black and bronze on the original design, the Capitals updated it to the new patriotic red, white and blue while still holding the original design of the jersey.

10. Montreal Canadians (1976) This is the classic Canadian jersey from what is arguably one of the greatest NHL teams ever assembled. The 1976 throwback simply flips the red and blue on the jersey and the striping, and honestly, I love it. I feel like it’s a new take on the long history that is Canadians’ hockey.

9. Calgary Flames (1998) Another placement where a simple design and a great logo takes it a long way, the Flames brought back the horse head logo and put it on a black jersey with simple but amazing looking fire-colored striping and numbers.

8. Boston Bruins (1988, 1990) The original white jersey of this design was worn by legends such as Ray Bourque and Cam Neely from the 1988 and 1990 Stanley Cup Final seasons. The base is yellow, and the bear head logo is placed as shoulder patches. The reason why this is so high is simply that this can slip right in as the Bruins’ third jersey and it would fit in perfectly.

7. Los Angeles Kings (1989) The Kings combined the Forum Blue and Gold from the 1960s and 70s and slapped on the logo from the season the “Great One” became the most all-time leading scorer in NHL history. Honestly, I am in support of the Kings permanently switching to these colors again, as they look amazing on a hockey sweater. The mix of consistent striping, the colors and the logo make this deserving of the number seven spot. 

6. Minnesota Wild (1978) This jersey is so clean with the old North Stars’ colors mixed with the current Wild logo. The striping and the numbers with the colors make it amazing and make me wish they permanently switched to these colors as well. 

5. Florida Panthers (1996) This jersey is what was worn in their Stanley Cup Finals appearance with the red and blue flipped. Simple amazing changes, as I love the jumping panther logo with the way the colors are mixed on the jersey. Yet again, a simple flip taking a team far on this list. 

4. New Jersey Devils (1982) People joke about these making players look like walking Christmas trees, but I love the Devils bringing back the green and red color combo. The design of the jersey itself carried this one high to number four, as I just really love the unique color combo being a simple change with flipping the red and green from the original design.

3. New York Rangers (1996) This one was simply carried by the iconic logo. The “Lady Liberty” logo finally makes her return 24 years after her first appearance in ‘96. The jersey itself has a simple design with small red and silver accents with the logo on an all navy base that is most deserving of the number three spot.

2. Colorado Avalanche (1979) This is the greatest mash-up of past and present! The Avalanche went back in their history and pulled out the Quebec Nordiques Igloo logo for the front crest with the fleur-de-lis on the bottom of the base jersey and put it in the current colors. It is truly a beautiful jersey and one of my favorites out of this whole list.

1. Carolina Hurricanes (1979) This is by far one of my favorite NHL jerseys of all time. The Hurricanes, like the Avalanche, went back to the team they were once before and modernized it into greatness. Their throwback pays homage to the Hartford Whalers, bringing back the logo, colors and their iconic Pucky the Whale logo as a shoulder patch that I love. The colors on a gray base looks clean and the striping on both sleeves and the gray base look amazing which makes this easily number one on my list.

In Conclusion…

As I mentioned before in the introduction, some teams went above and beyond with their throwback choices while some did very little. I am almost certain that your opinion is different than mine, as I made a few controversial placements, but I hope you enjoyed the list. This took a lot of time, but the next time I do this will be when the NBA is finished releasing all the team’s new “City” uniforms for the upcoming season.



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