NHL: Why the Montreal Canadiens Have the Best Sweaters in Hockey

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2012

The Canadiens' uniform is among the classiest in sports.
The Canadiens' uniform is among the classiest in sports.Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens have the most memorable, stunning and classy uniforms in sports.

While the most recent edition of the team finished last in the Eastern Conference, there is something electric about sitting in the arena when the Canadiens come charging out of the locker room, take the ice for warm-ups and then the game.

Les Canadiens sont la!

It's one thing to see those uniforms on television, it's quite another to see them in person, filled out by the greatest legends in the game.

That is no longer the case. But when Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, Yvan Cournoyer and the great Jean Beliveau flew around the ice in those uniforms, it was like having front row tickets for the greatest show on ice.

This was especially true when you were fans of the home team and the Canadiens came visiting. At the start of the 1970-71 season, NHL teams wore their "white" jerseys at home and their full "colors" on the road. Prior to that, you did not see the more explosive colors when you had tickets.

Seeing the full glory was a most memorable experience.

Especially when you were used to seeing the Minnesota North Stars, Pittsburgh Penguins or St. Louis Blues. Adding the expansion teams was the right move for the NHL in 1967-68, but those teams did not carry the gravitas of the Original Six.

All of those teams had unique looks that were brilliant, but none of them had the style of the Canadiens.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were all about basic blue while the Detroit Red Wings were about as red as you could get.

The Boston Bruins wanted to intimidate you and their black and gold uniforms did just that. The red, white and blue of the New York Rangers with the diagonal writing down the front of the jersey was as All-American as Jimmy Cagney in "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Then there was the Chicago Black Hawks (note the two-word style of the name; it wasn't changed to Blackhawks until 1986), as unique and stylized as any uniform in sports.

All of them were beautiful in their own way, but none of them quite had the majesty of the Canadiens with their famous "CH" crest in the middle.

Would the uniforms have been so special if they hadn't been worn by all-time greats such as Aurel Joliat, Howie Morenz and the greatest of them all, Rocket Richard?

Perhaps not.

Would the New York Yankees' uniforms be as special if they had not been worn by Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and the greatest of them all, Babe Ruth?

Of course not.

But the legacy is intact even if the current Canadiens team can't carry their predecessors'...ahem...jock straps.

Most hockey fans will always back their own team, but when they take the protective wall down, they will admit that many of their rivals' uniforms are worth admiring.

Many older hockey fans have had their hearts ripped out by the Canadiens at one point or another. But when that pain is in a state of dormancy or numbness, those fans can look out on the ice and admire the majesty of those incredible sweaters and admit just a bit of reverence for them.