The Five Worst NHL Uniforms
The NHL has seen its share of uniforms and jerseys over the years. Many of them are based in tradition, looking just like or featuring designs from uniform concepts from decades ago. It's a tried and true style that works with nearly any color scheme.
Some teams, though, like to "spice things up", as it were and bring out more eccentric jerseys to try and drum up interest and, more importantly, sales. Whether its an alternate "third" jersey or a complete uniform makeover, the look of new jerseys can be met with mild applause, or with severe ridicule. This article looks at the latter.
Now, there is a caveat with these rankings: I only included uniforms that have seen use for at least TWO seasons. Most teams are aware that if they whiff on a design, they'll pull it out of circulation relatively quickly, but the five that made the list were jerseys that were somehow given an okay for at least a second year.
This article features a lot of links to the NHL Uniform Database, a very comprehensive database featuring NHL uniforms for every team and season.
Before I start, there are a few jerseys that didn't make the list that I did want to make note of. These include:
The Ottawa Senators "SENS" wordmark uniform: 2008-09 to 2010-11
Its not so much the wordmark itself; if the jersey was just the wordmark it'd simply be boring like Dallas' old uniforms. The jersey just features an odd mishmash of black, white and red with no real pattern going on; a common "feature" with the modern Reebok uniform designs. Its since been replaced with a retro uniform that's much better.
The Tampa Bay Lightning "BOLTS" wordmark uniform: 2008-09 to present
Its the same kind of problem as with the "SENS" uniform, though the colors are a bit more organized. This design continues to live on despite Tampa Bay going through a simplistic uniform design change in the meantime.
The Phoenix Coyotes green "desert scene" uniforms: 1998-99 to 2002-03
I'm actually a bit of a fan of Phoenix's uniforms both past and present overall, but this is a major exception. "Scenic" uniforms are very minor league-ish in design, look, and appeal and this was no exception. The team stopped using these only when they overhauled their uniforms in general.
The Buffalo Sabres "dual-color" uniforms: 2013-14 to present(?)
These uniforms, which are gold in the front and sides but with a navy back, look awful and probably would make the top five if Buffalo brings it back for this season. They wouldn't, would they?
The Anaheim Mighty Ducks "Wild Wing" uniforms: 1995-96 only
The Los Angeles Kings "Burger King" uniforms: 1995-96 only
For a couple of seasons starting in 1995, several teams would roll out alternate uniforms, something previously unheard of in the NHL. Some teams, like Boston and Pittsburgh, brought out uniforms that weren't too bad. Southern California, though, completely failed. The Wild Wing uniform, which has the aforementioned mascot bursting through ice at the bottom of the jersey isn't even nearly as bad as the ol' King just hanging out near the shoulder of a contempory Kings "uniform". These two wouldn't qualify for the top five list because they were only around for one season, which is too bad because they would've qualified for sure otherwise. Sad thing is, it could've been even worse.
The New York Islanders "orange" uniforms: 2002-03 to 2006-07
The New York Islanders "black" uniforms: 2011-12 to 2013-14 (pictured above)
The Islanders are a frequent supplier of bad uniforms, and these two alternates are among them. The orange uniform utilizes these edgy "spikes" that pop up both in front and in the back for no good reason, while the black uniforms have curved amounts of blue and gray (and a tiny bit of orange), ahd frontside with nothing but a wordmark and number which implies its both flashy and boring.
As we'll see in a bit, these aren't even the worst the Islanders have to offer, but for now, here are the five worst uniforms in NHL history.
The Atlanta Thrashers Sky Blue "One Sleeve" Uniforms: 2003-04 to 2010-11
Atlanta originally introduced these as an alternate back in 2003, but made them their primary home jerseys starting in 2006, even adapting them for the Reebok Edge template. The skyblue uniforms would be alright if it just wasn't for the single "ATLANTA" sleeve that runs down the left side, where the right side doesn't even feature a navy contrast. The design doesn't work at all, and even an awful third jersey worn by the team in its final years isn't quite as bad as this.
The original version had a single waist stripe with arrows pointing to one's left, perhaps pointing out the sleeve, I don't know. This was removed with the Reebok Edge template, instead replacing it with random patches of navy on the sides, making this bad jersey even worse. Its a shame, too, because otherwise I think this color scheme would've been fine, which I expect will be the case when the current Thrashers - aka the new Winnipeg Jets - come out with what I hope to be a skyblue third jersey that'll look much sharper than this.
The Buffalo Sabres "Buffaslug" Uniforms: 2006-07 to 2009-10
In 1996, the Sabres ditched their classic blue and gold scheme for a much edgier, very 90s "red and black" scheme complete with your tough "buffalo" logo. These uniforms lasted about a decade, and finally the team gave in to fan demands to revert to the team's original color scheme.
The phrase "be careful what you wish for" applies here. Buffalo revived the old color scheme (sort of, the blue is darker and way more washed out), but introduced the now infamous "Buffaslug" logo - what appears to be a newer, edgier buffalo attempting to zap or leap or something, I don't really know.
Accompanying this change was uniforms that had no idea what they were doing. The uniform is overly crowded with several lines and color streaks, as well as the addition of numbers to the front of the jersey, an annoying trend still used by Buffalo, San Jose and in a couple of alternates.
Its as if Buffalo took the criticism of the red and black set and decided "if fans thought this was bad, we'll show them just how much worse they can get!" This set has since retired but the off-set blue and silver colors remain in the current set which look similar to the team's classic uniforms besides the color differences.
The Vancouver Canucks "Flying V" Uniforms: 1978-79 to 1984-85
Wacky uniform design can really be traced back to these uniforms, which really made a statement when they replaced Vancouver's old blue and green set back in the late 70s. Ditching the logo on the front, the Canucks instead use a giant "V" pattern from the collar down to the chest in some combination of the colors of Germany's flag (or Belgium's, your choice), with smaller "V" patterns on the sleeves, on each side of the pants, and on the socks. The home uniforms weren't white, they were deep gold. Somehow, the uniform numbers are spared any sort of treatment and look rather plain on the backside of the otherwise "V"-tastic jersey.
The team actually reached a Stanley Cup final in these uniforms, which lasted seven years until the Canucks decides to scale things back a bit: reverting to the team logo on the front, but the home unis were still gold and the "V" pattern was still on the pants. Four years later, those two aspects would finally be eliminated and the Canucks looks relatively conservative from then on, third jerseys aside.
The Dallas Stars "Mooterus" Uniforms: 2003-04 to 2005-06
Dallas introduced this jersey, and its logo under the assumption that, hey, its the constellation of stars known as Taurus. However, individuals whose minds were stuck in the gutter took the look of the logo and thought of only one thing. As such, the cow-like logo received a nickname that would force it among the most notorious logos of all time: the "mooterus".
The uniforms themselves aren't too bad, comparatively, though the random use of red in a team that utilized black, green and gold was a bit odd (and, worse yet, the "red" furthered the mooterus jokes into crazier territory). In 2006, Dallas retried this, and the much more excellent star-patterend unis, in favor of the most boring uniform set of all time. Talk about different sides of a coin...
The New York Islanders "Gorton's Fisherman" Uniforms: 1995-96 to 1996-97
For those unaware of the nickname reference:
- The New York Islanders logo for those two seasons (via sportslogos.net)
- The Gorton's Fisherman, the logo of a frozen fish food company
Of course, the Islanders fisherman is far edgier than the otherwise reserved Gorton's version. To accompany that unexplainable logo, the uniforms carried a "wavy" effect at the waist, so much so that the uniform numbers on the back had to bend and contort along with the waves, causing some very odd backsides.
After one full season of derision, the team brought back the old logo, but on the same awful uniforms, which is still a mild improvement, but after three full years of this uniform design, the team finally ditched them in favor of a modern version of their classic uniform design.
Alas, the lessons of that time does not carry over with the current ownership of the Islanders who still ring out bad uniforms far too often. Even then, its only a matter of time before another team brings out a uniform disaster that overstays its welcome as soon as players bring it out for its first game.