Throughout their 39 year history the Washington Capitals have undergone several uniform changes. Some have been better than others.
In the early days of the franchise, the Caps uniform was very much a slice of Americana. Regardless of whether the Caps were home or away, the uniform had red, white and blue with stars and stripes to boot. The uniform spelled out the word "Capitals" and turned the "t" into a hockey stick.
Around the 1995-96 season, the Caps implemented their eagle logo and completely abandoned the earlier design. The eagle closely resembled a bird of prey swooping down on its helpless victim.
The change in design seemed to change the fortunes of the Caps for a while and in 1998 the Caps reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first and only time in their history.
Around the 2000-01 season, the word "Capitals" for the first time in team history did not appear on their primary jersey.
The Caps, like many teams, had an alternate uniform they wore. Quite frequently they would break out their black jerseys with the actual Capitol building appearing on the jersey.
For the 2007-08 season, the Caps returned to their roots, to a great extent, and brought back a variation of the original design. It had a much more streamlined and sleek look to it with some additional features added in.
So, which Washington Capitals' uniforms have been the best?
Here are the five best uniforms in Washington Capitals history.
You have to show some love for the original uniform of the Washington Capitals.
Now I might know a little bit about hockey but my sense of fashion is...well...not so great (which explains why I enlisted the help of my girlfriend for this article). Still, there is something appealing about the Caps' original uniform. Its not the best of the bunch, but it's not bad.
The jersey pretty much screams America. The red, white and blue are extremely prominent—particularly in the home white version. The stars and stripes are a nice touch, too.
Personally, though, I was never that partial to the way "Capitals" looked in this jersey. Complaining about font and letter style seems pretty petty, I know.
Still, if you compare this version to the Caps' current jersey, the difference is pretty profound. Also, the 1974-75 version seems kind of busy. There is a lot going on with the Caps' original uniform.
Turning the "t" into a very long hockey stick never appealed to me, personally. The dashes on either side of the stick just blended into the dot for the "i," making it a little too awkward-looking; the hockey puck firing off of the end of the stick seemed superfluous, as well.
It's not a bad uniform at all (compared to that train wreck of a uniform the Maryland Terrapins rolled out a couple of seasons ago), but certainly not the best Caps uniform we have ever seen.
This uniform is sometimes called the Caps' alternate—or third—jersey, particularly before the 2001-02 season.
After the 2001-02 season, this basically became the Caps' primary road jersey for about four years.
From roughly 1995 through 2008, the NHL really pushed the "third sweater program" and most teams had a third, or alternate, uniform they wore from time to time; the Caps were no exception.
This particular uniform was popular with some fans.
I have always really liked this uniform. It is the only time the Caps have worn a predominantly black jersey. The gold and blue—primary colors from the Caps' main home and away jerseys at the time—fit in very well with this particular jersey.
Having the U.S. Capitol building on the jersey itself with the two hockey sticks intersecting behind the building is a nice piece of artwork.
There is a sleekness and style to this particular uniform that makes it very distinct among all other Caps uniforms to date. There might be people who would rank this jersey higher, but I suppose it depends on whether you prefer architecture or animals.
It is one of my favorite Caps uniforms so far and one I would love to see them break out for a throwback night in the future.
The differences between the No. 3 best uniform and the No. 2 best uniform are very subtle, to say the least.
Nevertheless, the next two uniforms are some of my favorites for one reason only—the eagle.
In 1995, the Caps uniforms lost the color red for the first time in their history. The color scheme changed dramatically to the obvious white for home games; this included black, gold and a somewhat lighter shade of royal blue.
For road games, if the Caps were not wearing their alternate uniform from the previous slide, then the road jerseys were a different shade of blue. The road jerseys were a beautiful mix of royal blue, ultramarine and turquoise.
As unique and different as the color scheme was, though, it was the appearance of the eagle that made this jersey so unique.
It is a simple yet elegant design. An eagle diving down to swoop up its prey, its talons extended—almost certain death awaiting the unfortunate object of its attack.
The only real difference between this uniform and the uniform holding the No. 2 spot is that this particular uniform, unlike the one the Caps wore the preceding six seasons, had the team name just below the eagle's outstretched talons removed.
There are some who preferred the removal of the team name, but I was personally never that fond of it.
Nevertheless, the eagle—in one form or another—was a mainstay in the primary uniform of the Washington Capitals. It was a radical departure from the more traditional Capitals logo the team had worn since its inception.
Some fans loved the change, others despised it.
To me, it is one of the best uniform designs in the history of the team.
This uniform holds a special place in my heart and in the heart of many Caps fans for one simple but important reason—it is the uniform the team was wearing when it clinched its only berth to the Stanley Cup Final in team history.
Go back to June 5, 1998, Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Capitals and Buffalo Sabres to understand why.
When Olaf Kolzig outplayed the great Dominik Hasek and blanked the Sabres 2-0 in Game 4. The Caps had a 3-1 series lead and stood just one win from, at long last, getting to the Stanley Cup Finals.
When the Sabres beat the Caps in Washington in Game 5 by 2-1, all those nasty old ghosts of past playoff disasters came rushing back.
Game 6, in Buffalo, was not looking good for the Caps as they trailed 2-1 late in the third period. But Peter Bondra would rescue the Caps, scoring on a power-play goal with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Once again, the fate of the Caps season would be decided in overtime.
In overtime, Kolzig would make a huge save on a breakaway by Buffalo's Vaclav Varada—and that set the stage for the biggest goal in Capitals history.
It came at the 6:24 mark of overtime: Brian Bellows, who had been such an integral part of the Caps' improbable playoff run, got the puck to the front of the net. Joe Juneau was there to bang home the loose puck and the Caps were finally heading to the Stanley Cup Finals.
When Juneau put the puck home and sent the Caps—finally—to the Stanley Cup Final, he was wearing the royal blue with the eagle, gold stars and team name rolling across the left hip.
To this day, when I reflect back on that jersey, I still see Juneau being mobbed by his teammates as the Caps were finally going to get a chance to compete for Lord Stanley's Cup.
The best uniform in the history of the Washington Capitals is the current version and, in particular, the home red uniform.
The Caps current uniform is an evolution and merging of all the prior uniforms already discussed. There are elements of all of those other uniforms included in the uniform the Caps have been wearing since the 2007-08 season.
The biggest change the Caps made was the red, which they not only brought back but decided to make the primary color.
This uniform became huge as its implementation coincided with the Caps' amazing run back to the playoffs.
As the Caps got better, the attendance at the Verizon Center swelled. The fans at Verizon soon became some of the loudest and most passionate fans anywhere in the NHL.
Hence the phrase "Rock the Red" was born.
"Capitals" in bog words across the front of the chest was back—but it was quite a bit different than it had been before.
The lettering was no longer blocky, it looked more modern, more streamlined and cleaner. The "t" was turned into a hockey stick once again, but unlike its earlier design the "t" doubled equally well as a letter and a hockey stick.
Another subtle difference was the three stars above the word "Washington," apparently to represent D.C., Maryland and Virginia, or the DMV as it has come to be known.
The eagle also returned in a new way. The eagle was no longer the primary logo, but instead it appears on the shoulders with its wings outstretched in the shape of a "W."
In the white space below the eagle's wings is the silhouette of the U.S. Capitol building—it is a fantastic touch to an already impressive uniform.
The current Caps uniform incorporates so much. It brings the best features of past uniforms and seamlessly blends them together to give the Capitals the best uniform in their 39 year history.