NHL: The 50 Worst Uniforms in League History
This article is part two of a four part series here on Bleacher Report power ranking NHL uniforms. This series will cover past and present, best and worst, standard uniforms and alternates. For updates on when the following parts are published either check Robert’s writer profile or follow his Twitter feed here.
With the playoffs right around the corner and the matchups set, now seems like a time we all could use a deep breath before the plunge and have a little fun.
There is nothing more iconic about the NHL than the jerseys and uniforms each team wears on the ice. They are the most decorative and creative in all of North American team sports and have been nearly since the league’s inception in 1917 with only six teams. However, sometimes that "creativity" goes much, much too far.
As the second of a four part series on Bleacher Report, this article covers the 50 worst uniforms in NHL history. For all the good there is in the history of NHL sweaters, there is almost as much bad and each of these jerseys exemplifies that.
This is an opinion article. In the other parts of this series, each uniform either was or will be ranked out of 10 points in each of four categories.
However, in the spirit of fun, we decided to throw away the rankings and just have a good laugh at the failures. These 50 uniforms are in no particular order, but in the cases where a team has botched more than one, they are grouped by team.
Now, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Illustration by Andrew M. Greenstein, The Hockey Uniform Database
All-Star Game 1982
Kicking off this list with a stunner here. I don't even know what to say, the atrocity of these uniforms literally leaves me speechless.
All-Star Game 1960-1963
The shoulders on these look like pull tabs on a can of tuna. Still can't think of a reason why.
All-Star Game 2009
Not sure what they were going for here but whatever it was, they missed it.
They missed it by about 3,000 miles.
New York Americans 1925-1930 Home & Away
I know, I know, it was the late twenties. Times and tastes were different. That being said, this looks like one of those bad sweaters your grandmother would knit you that you would never wear.
New York Americans 1940-1941 Home & Away
The team's play never really got better and neither did their uniforms. This crest in particular is confusing and seems to be full of random letters. Thankfully New Yorkers were only subjected to these for a year.
Colorado Avalanche 1995-Present Home & Away
They have lost the jagged edge along the bottom and the arms, but they haven't lost the hideous burgundy and remain some of the ugliest in NHL history. That being said, their logo is one of the best out there. Shame it is wasted on these sweaters.
Chicago Blackhawks 1937-1955 Home
Don't get me wrong, I know this was a common style at the time, but this is the worst of the bunch. What makes this uniform so bad is what they had before these striped ugly ducklings. This is one of many cases where what they had was so much better than what they came up with.
Just for nostalgia and history, I love these jerseys, but I wouldn't wear one unless the Hawks were playing that day or no one was around to see me in it.
Columbus Blue Jackets 2000-2003 Home & Away
There are only two major things wrong here and they are both logos. What the Blue Jackets have to do with a bug called Stinger, I don't even want to know. Also, how does "Columbus Blue Jackets" abbreviate to "CJB" such as in the crest?
Even if you know the answer, please don't tell me. My brain hurts enough from looking at these.
Columbus Blue Jackets 2010-Present Third
In this case, it isn't the design or the logo, it's the colors. The "vintage" navy blue is nice, but if you see these in person, that "beige" is so disgusting it looks like each of these was left in the much at the bottom of the Ohio River for the last 10 years.
That being said, I like the logo in the middle, just fix that off white vintage wanna-be color and all will be well.
St. Louis Blues 1984-1987 Home & Away
For how long they have been in the league, the Blues have rarely stumbled in this department. That being said, when they decided to add the arched "BLUES" to the from of this jersey, they just made them look hilarious and ridiculous.
Anyone with half a brain cant connect a musical note, St. Louis (or the Midwest in general) and a blue shirt to be referencing the blues. Shame that when we woke up in the morning these jerseys hadn't done left our closets and memories.
Boston Bruins 1995-2006 Third
The Bruins are another team who have rarely made mistakes in the uniform department. They had a handful of entries in the first part of this series and I can tell you ahead of time that they don't do too shabby in the second half.
These however, are just plain bad. They kept the colors which is a good start, but the "stripes" look like they are trying to be an optical illusion. The worst though is that the bear logo look somewhat like it suffered a stroke and is more cuddly than ferocious. That's the kind of bear you would hand feed a meat smoothie to with your hands, not one you wouldn't feed raw beef to with a 100 foot pole from the other side of a fence.
A rare misstep from Bean Town, but it was a big one.
Vancouver Canucks 1997-2007 Home & Away
These aren't the worst that Vancouver has put out there, but they are still pretty bad. The colors do not work well together and they are pretty plain in their layout.
The worst part however is the logo which is shameless product placement of their parent company Orca Bay Entertainment. It was a clever idea, but it just ends up looking awkward and lame. The stick-in-rink was so much better.
Heck, the flying skate was better.
Vancouver Canucks 2001-2006 Third
These are even worse than the last ones. An alternate or third jersey is supposed to be fun and different. This is neither. It doesn't improve on the logo or the colors making this the second worst design in team history though when compared to number one later you'll see that doesn't mean a whole lot.
Washington Capitals 1995-2007 Home & Away
Yes, the old uniforms were due for an update. Are these an improvement? Not a chance.
The design and logo aren't so bad but the color is drab and boring and makes this another case of don't overhaul what is hardly broken.
In 2000 the Capitals would replace the away jersey with their most recent third sweater...
Washington Capitals 2000-2007 Away
..this one. This was Washington's third jersey from 1997-2000 until it became their away uniform for seven seasons.
So many questions about this one. Why black? Why the hideous copper? Why the need to put the Capital Building on the logo? I'm sure you can come up with even more questions of sheer confusion involving this disgraceful representation of our nation's capital.
Phoenix Coyotes 1996-2003 Home & Away
Shame that we lost the Winnipeg Jets red, white and blues to gain these Pueblo inspired atrocities. the logo is quite disturbing, the pattern could probably induce seizures and the colors are all fairly ugly together.
The shame is that partway through this jersey's tenure, something worse came along...
Phoenix Coyotes 1998-2003 Third
...this. I've been in the desert at night in Arizona and it looks nothing like this. It is beautiful, majestic and mysterious. There is only one word for this: hideous. Possibly the worst thing to ever happen to the NHL.
Phoenix Coyotes 2003-Present Home & Away
Granted, these are a huge improvement over the old ones and the logo is great. The colors are just flat and look like the back of someone's sunburned neck after a day of golf in the Arizona sun.
These are nearly the worst uniforms in the NHL today, but surprisingly they aren't quite No. 1 in that category.
Detroit Falcons 1930-1932 Home & Away
Before the Detroit Red Wings there were the Falcons. I think it is pretty clear why they changed.
Calgary Flames 2000-2003 Away
These sweaters began and ended their lives as the third jersey for Calgary for a total of five more years of use. The problem here is that the logo is really lame.
It looks like something that belongs in Dungeons and Dragons, not in the NHL. What was wrong with the old white and yellow C that actually looked like it was on fire?
California Golden Seals 1970-1974 Home & Away
Do I even need to explain why these are bad? Yes, it was the 70s, but even with that in mind there is only one way these could be worse...
California Golden Seals 1974-1976 Home & Away
...and here it is! These are painful to look at so I won't say much so you can move on to the next slide before the image is permanently burned into your computer screen or retinas.
New York Islanders 1996-1998 Home & Away
Bad uniforms come in pairs as this and the next one demonstrate. This was the second attempt at this design with the old crest in a desperate plea to quiet the complaints from fans about the crest on the original version of this layout...
New York Islanders 1995-1997 Home & Away
...the Gorton's Fisherman! Hopefully whomever designed these did the honorable thing and forced him or herself to eat frozen fish sticks until their stomach exploded.
I know many Islanders fans hoped for that exact same thing.
New York Islanders 2002-2007 Third
Compared to those last two, these are a godsend. They aren't horrible, I just don't understand their purpose. A third jersey is supposed to really be the best of the bunch which makes them all the more desired because of their rarity.
I can't think of anyone who would want this version over the standard Islanders sweater.
Los Angeles Kings 1967-1988 Home & Away
True, these underwent minor changes in their 20 year run but none of those changes could save them from how ugly they always were. The colors are derived from the LA Lakers uniforms since the same man owned both teams. He also claims he wanted these colors because they "gave the uniforms a regal feel."
I don't know about you, but they give me a headache.
Los Angeles Kings 1995-1996 Third
This gets one of the ideas behind the third jersey right, it sure is different. It also looks like the ugliest soccer jersey ever, much less one of the worst sweaters in NHL history. Not even the presence of The Great One's name can make this Burger King inspired design better—and that's saying a lot.
Tampa Bay Lightning 2011-Future Home & Away
These haven't even been worn in play yet and they're already bad. They aren't particularly ugly, but they look like the lovechild of a Red Wings and Maple Leafs sweater. This phenomenon has led to this uniform being referred to as the "Detroit Maple Lightning."
It is flat, essentially stolen from two legendary teams, and not nearly as great as the old ones were. Change isn't always good, especially in the NHL.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 1993-2006 Home & Away
Thank God Disney finally sold this team so all of their uniforms could stop being sewn together from different colors and shapes of failure.
These aren't the worst, but they were around for the longest even though they saw minor changes in their 13 year run.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 1997-2000 Third & Fourth
For some reason, the Mighty Ducks' front office thought that the team needed not only one, but two alternate jerseys. They still weren't the worst that their creative department had come up with, but that doesn't mean they were good in any way at all.
The fourth was retired in 1999 but the third sweater persevered for one more year before getting the ax.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 2003-2006 Third
Maybe if it weren't for the minuscule "Might Ducks of" in the script logo or the use of that purple, these wouldn't be so bad. In fact, the sad part is that these are the best uniforms the team wore before Disney sold them. However, you have yet to see the worst ones they wore in that time...
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim 1995-1996 Third
I don't even feel it necessary to make fun of these, they do it to themselves. If by chance you recently suffered a concussion and think these aren't too bad, look at how they look on a player...
Edmonton Oilers 2001-2007 Third
I get the symbolism, I get the five teeth on the gear representing the team's five Stanley Cup wins. I just don't get this uniform. It is trying to bring modern touches to a classic game where the fans would much rather listen to "The Good Old Hockey Game" than anything else.
Please, leave the lame modern and pseudo-vintage stuff to the NFL.
Florida Panthers 2009-Present Third
What did I just say about the pseudo-vintage failures? These aren't throwbacks, the Panthers haven't been around that long. They are just terrible and should be allowed to burn in the Miami sun.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2007-Present Home & Away
These are based off the previous design with the "Vegas Gold" in place of the old yellow. The jersey and logo here aren't bad but that "Vegas Gold" is terrible.
What was wrong with the yellow? Why does every team have to feel pressure to use more "metallic" colors. We hockey fans love the bright colors, let them be bold and brash!
Pittsburgh Penguins 2008-Present Third/Winter Classic
I have one question for Pittsburgh here:
Why powder blue? Yes, I know these are throwbacks, but they don't match the time frame of the throwback your opponents wore in either of your Winter Classic appearances. The 80s or 90s jerseys were great, all of them.
I'm not knocking the originals of these, it was the 70s and powder blue was okay. Nowadays, if you are wearing this, you deserve an elbow to the face and a concussion.
(Sidney Crosby fans, OBVIOUSLY I am kidding around here and I wish him nothing short of a speedy recovery)
Nashville Predators 2001-2007 Third
I have nothing against color-blind people. That being said, what non color-blind person would look at this design proposal and say, "Sure! I'll force 20 guys to wear that for 60 minute increments over the course of six years!"
Maybe it was his sanity and not his vision that had gone. Either way, it is a "miracle" that these were ever made but an even larger miracle when they went away for good.
New York Rangers 1976-1978 Home & Away
Another modern re-design gone awry. Thankfully these only lasted two seasons before the originals returned.
Buffalo Sabres 2006-2010 Home & Away
Ah the "Buffaslug"...how we don't miss you. The colors and such are fine here but that logo is just too hilarious to take seriously. Where did its legs go?
Kansas City Scouts 1974-1976 Home & Away
Apparently the only thing worse than naming your NHL team after a statue in your city is putting that statue on the team's crest. The crest looks like a three headed dog from far enough away but it still beats the color scheme by a long shot.
Thank the Hockey Gods these only lived for two seasons.
Ottawa Senators 2008-Present Third
Another modern third jersey gone wrong. Just a word of advice to NHL teams, just because you are wearing black doesn't mean you can't look lame.
Ottawa Senators 2000-2007 Third
The 3D crest makes its first appearance and we all learn how it fails to be better than the old flat one. Also, that trim can induce seizures faster than a Nintendo 3DS so be careful!
Dallas Stars 2003-2006 Third
The "Mooterus" as it became known is still a source of embarrassment for the Stars. The thought would be that the Taurus constellation in the crest would link the cattle industry of Texas and the Dallas Stars.
What it did was make fans laugh until their sides hurt when they realized that it looked like a uterus. Go Google "Mooterus" if you don't see it. I'll wait.
Atlanta Thrashers 1999-2003/2003-2007 Home/Away
The first of many abominations from the Thrashers, this was their original home jersey. It isn't the worst, but that logo makes no sense until you know that the Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia. Also, what is that on the shoulder...
Atlanta Thrashers 1999-2003/2003-2006 Away/Home
..oh! That's what it...wait. I'm not sure if that is a bird, a soul rising to heaven from the underworld or a dagger about to stab me. The colors and patterns don't make it much better, but this still isn't as bad as they get...
Atlanta Thrashers 2008-Present Third
...and sadly neither are these. They look more like football jerseys than hockey sweaters, the color is terrible and they are just way too busy overall.
The worst however, are yet to come...
Atlanta Thrashers 2006-Present Home
...and here they are! For my money, these are the worst uniforms in the league today. That blue has no place in hockey, you can't read the "ATLANTA" on the sleeve unless you take the jersey off, and that logo still hasn't been explained or made any better. At least that secondary logo is gone.
Hamilton Tigers 1920-1921 Home & Away
This is another case that proves that the "it was the 1920s" defense only goes so far, especially considering that these look more like bees than Tigers.
Pittsburgh Pirates 1929-1930 Home & Away
Yes, you read that right, the NHL had a team called the Pittsburgh Pirates too. Considering how bad both the team and their jerseys were its no surprise they lasted only five seasons.
Fans of the baseball team by the same name, don't fret. Remember that your team still has one World Series title for every year this team was in your city.
Vancouver Canucks 1978-1982 Home & Away
I saved this one for last for one simple reason:
Bar none, this is the single ugliest uniform in the history of professional sports and I doubt few will disagree with me.
I can't think of anyone who would choose this over the "stick-in-rink" originals. Actually, I doubt there is one hockey player in the history of the sport that would rather wear this uniform than nothing at all while on the ice.
The seven "V"s around the entire uniform are supposed to stand for victory (not sure why they don't stand for Vancouver) but they seem to stand more for vomit.