Ranking the 25 Best European Hockey Uniforms
The picture above might have some of the finest design ever seen on a hockey uniform. Ever. Unfortunately, these kits belonged to the Kalamazoo Wings of the IHL, which disqualifies them from consideration in this article.
Fun fact: The K-Wings official theme for this night, in January 2009, was "Golden Ice Night." Sponsored by McDonald's, the ice was also yellow to make the evening just that much more special. Insert yellow snow/ice joke here.
European hockey jerseys have served as placards for sponsorships almost as long as the leagues themselves have been around. With the money that is brought in from selling jersey space, the Euro leagues often resemble the worst NASCAR race ever. With high-speed collisions between resplendent colorful billboards, the only discernible difference is the player's ability to turn right (NASCAR joke).
Some of the jersey selections from the foreign franchises simply appear to be rip-offs of their North American cousins, while others lack creativity altogether and are literally sponsored top to bottom, line by line. Original.
There also seems to be a common ecological predator that is the scourge of Europe. Savage bears appear on almost two-thirds of all hockey jerseys abroad. Is there some sort of bear population explosion that is kept out of the news to avoid tourism issues? Granted, the bear presents menace and intimidation to a foe, but there could be a little more variety here, folks.
Now, understand that when you "power rank" something, it is open to interpretation, and I tend to enjoy the weird and unconventional (and conveniently enough, bears too). Flamethrowers, gas up your weapons. I do, however, have appreciation for the classic look too, and I think you'll find plenty of both on this list. Enjoy now!!
Luleå HF (SEL)
HC SKA (KHL)
Here's a picture of KHL team SKA signing Ilya Kovalchuk . You may know him as a mild-mannered sniper from the New Jersey swamp-lands. He may have spent his winters in America before, but he shouldn't have a hard time adjusting to life in the KHL should the NHL lockout continue.
The SKA jersey is a classic look, not unlike a certain New York team, including the lace-up at the collar.
HC Lokomotiv (KHL)
Out of reverence and appreciation of the Lokomotiv team, I have to include their jersey. All things considered, this is legitimately one of my favorites. I'm a big fan of the train logo and the color scheme, and just saying Lokomotiv sounds like an awesome name for a hockey team.
HIFK -Oy HIFK-Hockey Ab (SM-Liiga)
Let the sponsorships creep in here, as HIFK has KOFF brewery as their featured sponsor along with Snickers and Xerox. It's a sharp, clean look with the crest of the franchise featured on the front of the jersey. Let me just say that I would not be opposed to the team bringing back the old "Thundercats" style logo to the front of the jersey.
JYP- Jyväskylä Oy (SM-Liiga)
In the award-winning cinematic feature Talladega Nights-The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the lead character is a money-hungry NASCAR driver who will take on any and every sponsor, often times at the expense of his own safety.
The sponsorship logos of reigning Finnish league champions JYP are neither dangerous or inconvenient, but they do compliment the uniform. It literally looks as though they have sold almost every inch of the uniform to sponsors. The only thing missing would be a Fig Newtons sponsorship displayed on the visor of every player.
Lukko-Rauman Lukko Oy (SM-Liiga)
Another jersey from Finland with no shortage of corporate flavor is the Lukko jersey. I like this one because of the smirking fox on the front of the jersey. It kind of reminds me of a much more smug Phoenix Coyote without the worry of being relocated every year.
TPS-HC TPS Turku Oy (SM-Liiga)
I like the jersey for TPS of the Finnish league because of the all-black look. What I like most of all is that "TPS" is featured as the logo on the front.
Honestly, though, what I love most about them is that at some point during operations for the SM-Liiga, someone will legitimately have to say (likely in Finnish) something about the TPS reports, and possibly cover sheets for them.
Brynäs IF (SEL)
The Swedish Elite league has no shortage of sponsorships either, including Callaway, which proudly sponsors the back sides of Brynäs IF. I enjoy the color scheme of their jersey, including the stripes on the sleeve that most people will probably hate.
It kind of reminds me of the Florida Panthers third jersey from the early 2000's. The crest on the front gives the jersey a classic look in spite of the excessive endorsements.
Skellefteå AIK (SEL)
I'm a big fan of the striped sleeves that most people tend to be split on. The black and yellow color combination and the almost maple-leaf shaped crest on the front give the jersey almost a throwback look.
HC AK Bars (KHL)
Spare me the Christmas tree jokes, but I really like the Ak Bars jersey from the KHL. The striping is a bit more progressive than I prefer, but I like the crest and name below it. Not sure what creature that is on the crest, but I can only assume that it is a Liger, which is bred for its skills and magic.
Tappara-Tamhockey Oy (SM-Liiga)
Tappara, which, translated, means "battle axe" in Finnish, rock the classic Edmonton blue and orange with the cool axe crest. Splash on the ornaments promoting water-based lubricants and gluten-free toothpaste, and you have another sweet kit from Finland.
HC Milano Rossoblu (Italy Serie A)
Sorry Serie A, but this is your only entry into the cool jersey list. Almost every jersey that is worn in Serie A was either exclusively logos top to bottom or something resembling a rec league team that I played against 10-years ago.
I like the soccer-style cross on the front with the logo in the middle. I'm sure it's a look that some might not agree with, but it's striking to say the least.
SC Bern (National League A-Switzerland)
Here we go with another ferocious bear-themed jersey from Swiss league SC Bern. I like the color-scheme on the jersey along with the number placement. The color accents down the side of the jersey are cool, and I'm a fan of how the bear actually bleeds into the background of the front.
Traktor Cheylabinsk (KHL)
From Swiss bears to Russian cartoon bears that eat hockey sticks. Traktor's black jersey with red and green accents is sharp. The lace-up front and minimal logo traffic make this jersey look even better.
Krefeld Pinguine (DEL)
I always love the yellow and black jersey/uniform combinations, and Krefeld puts out a nice jersey in spite of the excessive logos. The jersey modeled here by Sabres exile Christian Ehrhoff, has a nice white and black trim with the logo centered below the sponsors.
HC Dynamo Moscow (KHL)
HC Dynamo Moscow has a classic look with some contemporary flash. Of course, the jersey has its fair share of sponsorship decals, but they don't take away from the crisp design. The numbers have a cool faded look. The classic "D" on the front has a retro-throwback look, certainly worthy of the name "Dynamo."
Ässät- HC Ässät Pori Oy (SM-Liiga)
For a team that evokes a chuckle every time I say it aloud, they have one of the nicest jerseys. Love the red with black and white trim, and even the white collar. The spade logo on the front is sharp and draws attention away from the excess in advertising splashed around it.
Eisbären Berlin (DEL)
More bears, but German this time. Berlin's bear is slightly less menacing, but their jersey is sweeter. Classic design with subtle color trim make the jersey look very streamlined. The color scheme number design and location give the kit an almost NHL look.
The CSKA jersey is classic "evil empire" Russia and reminds me of the old-school Soviets with the single blue star in the center of the front. With Sergei Fedorov, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Bryzgalov in tow, could world, nay, universe domination be next?
Jokerit Helsinki (SM-Liiga)
My favorite from the Finnish league, Jokerit plays on the name of course to get their logo. The winking jester and bright color scheme make this jersey an eye-catcher without being obnoxious.
Sweden (National Team)
I would be remiss if I didn't include the jersey featuring the three crowns of Sweden. One of my favorite national team jerseys, Sweden keeps it simple and clean with sharp stripes and trim. No logos either. Wait, what?!
Hamburg Freezers (DEL)
Slipping in just ahead of their Scandinavian neighbors are the Hamburg Freezers, who have a sick-looking jersey that has a creepy logo on the chest and faux stitches across the sides and bottom. I'm not sure of the origin of the name Freezers (cue paragraph-long comment below about the storied history), but I love the logo and color scheme of the jersey.
Plus, they skate out of this thing for their on-ice entrance. Nice.
Germany (National Team)
Sneaking just ahead of Sweden for my favorite international jersey is the Germany kit. It's a shame they don't have the quality of team to fill the jersey, but for my money, this is the best one out there.The color combinations look amazing and the accents and trim are spot on. Vancouver circa 1985-1997 anyone?
Who knew that German fashion could rival their automobile engineering?
EHC Red Bull München (DEL)
Well, I'm sure to catch grief for this, but how can you argue with EHC Red Bull Munchen's tribute to Oktoberfest last fall? Complete with overall jerseys and the knee-high sock look, Munchen takes the cake.
The jerseys that they sport on every other game night aren't so bad either. They certainly don't leave any doubt as to who they are sponsored by.