Ranking the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins Outdoor Game Jerseys

Joe YerdonNovember 27, 2022

Pittsburgh and Boston unveiled their 2023 Winter Classic jerseys
via NHL

One of the most fun NHL games of the season is the Winter Classic. Two teams get together in a big outdoor stadium, throw a rink down and play a game of high-level pond hockey. It’s been an annual New Year’s Day tradition since 2008 and is the unofficial midpoint of the regular season.

As great as it is to see teams duke it out on the ice while also occasionally fighting the elements, it’s also the best opportunity to bust out a new jersey.

This year’s Winter Classic combatants, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins, have already been in a few Winter Classics. This is the Bruins' fourth Winter Classic and second one at home in Fenway Park. This is the Penguins' their third Winter Classic and sixth outdoor game, with three Stadium Series matchups as well.

That’s 10 special jerseys among the two teams now that this year’s Winter Classic jerseys have been unveiled. That lends itself to a proper ranking. The majority of my scoring system comes from aesthetics, but style and "it" factor are part of it as well. Very scientific.

Ten jerseys, two teams, an unfortunate uneven split between the two, and one opinion–mine. From worst to best, I’ll slot them how I see fit.

If you have a problem with that…let me know in the comments, please.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins 2019 Stadium Series

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 23:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates during the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Lincoln Financial Field on February 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

When you’re the Penguins and you’ve had so many occasions to produce a special jersey, you’re going to have some misses. This was one of them.

It’s a flat black and gold look with huge numbers on the shoulders so they could be seen from the upper deck and a helmet with the logo included on roughly half of it. We’re judging jerseys here, but the whole look is so bland apart from the wacky helmets.

If nothing else, this jersey is proof that having a third color involved to break things up for your eyes is almost necessary. It’s bold but bleak, kind of like a prediction from Nostradamus.

Fortunately, the Penguins found more inspiration for the 2023 Winter Classic as opposed to going back to the well. Because if they continued down the road that their 2019 look was headed, things could’ve gotten rough.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 Stadium Series

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 1: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Chicago Blackhawks during the 2014 NHL Stadium Series game on March 1, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

Getting a white jersey to look good can be tricky, but the Penguins tried their best for the 2014 Stadium Series.

For this game against Chicago at Soldier Field, Pittsburgh brought Vegas gold back into the mix and put its usual, good gold away. It’s unremarkable but unoffensive. The logo crest is enormous, and the black shoulder yoke helps break up the white all over the jersey.

If you wanted to describe this in one word, it would be "fine." Another word for it might be "boring." It doesn’t do anything to jump out at you or command your attention…kind of like seeing Chicago and Pittsburgh in a main event setting when it happens too often.

Variety is the spice of life, and this look needed more salt and pepper at the very least.

8. Boston Bruins 2019 Winter Classic

SOUTH BEND, IN - JANUARY 01: Zdeno Chara #33 and David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrate after the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium on January 1, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. The Bruins defeated the Blackhawks 4-2.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Brown is a very difficult color to get right. To the credit of the Bruins and Adidas, they tried hard and did as well as they could.

It’s a lot of brown, which was one of the Bruins' main colors when they were founded in 1924. But brown isn’t a very popular or overly stylish color now unless you’re a business executive or a rancher. Using their capital “B” logo from the 30s and 40s is a great look, and the striping and design scream throwback.

It’s great! But it’s so, so brown. They used these against Chicago at Soldier Field, which was an apropos setting for the color scheme, but they would only wear it two other times that season and never again. It’s unfortunate, because it’s a great style, but…you know…brown.

7. Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic

Boston Bruins @NHLBruins

Bears roaming wild around here. 🐻 <a href="https://t.co/4kxw3iaR0r">pic.twitter.com/4kxw3iaR0r</a>

This year’s jersey gives a supporting character the main event status it deserves and demands. The wild-eyed, scraggly bear from the shoulders of Bruins jerseys of the late '70s and 1980s takes front and center on this black jersey. The, ahem, “meth bear” has gained popularity in recent years.

The off-white/beige letters spelling out “BOSTON” above the bear’s head give it kind of a college hockey jersey feel. The letter “B” is the same style of “B” that the Bruins had on their 2010 Winter Classic jersey, which was inspired by their jerseys from 1948. You can dip into the same well when it produces sharp-looking stuff like this.

The sleeve striping has an old-fashioned feel, and the yellow yoke on the shoulders breaks up the black of the jersey. But make no mistake, the secondary logo turned into the main event is the star of this jersey. It’s the bear of the Bruins days of Raymond Bourque, Cam Neely and Adam Oates. For this guy in his early-to-mid-40s, that hits just right.

Had the Bruins gone with just the bear, I’d already have one ordered, and this would be a bit higher up the list.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins 2023 Winter Classic

Pittsburgh Penguins @penguins

Hockey history class is now in session.<br><br>The logo on the Penguins' Winter Classic jerseys is inspired by the city's original NHL franchise, the Pittsburgh Pirates, who entered the league for its ninth season back in 1925. <a href="https://t.co/Duvjc9KEfp">https://t.co/Duvjc9KEfp</a>

The Penguins have been in a ton of outdoor games, which makes it difficult to find a new way to spice up the skating penguin. Rather than do that, the Penguins went way back into Pittsburgh hockey history and used the city’s first NHL team, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the late 1920s, for inspiration.

This white jersey uses the big letter “P” from the Pirates' first jerseys in 1924-1925 and is almost an exact recreation of it. Gone is the script that said "Pirates," and there’s an added black stripe at the waistline. It’s a clean look, and the gold “P” with black outline looks slick.

We'll soon see how it looks in action, but at first glance and second look-over, it’s a strong, different kind of jersey. Making a white jersey look good and appealing is a major accomplishment. Tapping into the deep history of hockey in the Steel City is a superb twist.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins 2017 Stadium Series

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 25:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal with Jake Guentzel #59 during the second period of the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game at Heinz Field on February 25, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

When it came time for the Penguins to create a new look for their 2017 Stadium Series matchup against the cross-state rival Flyers, taking some inspiration from the steel industry was a no-brainer.

Call it the Penguins’ ode to the Pittsburgh Steelers if you’d like, but this bold gold layout with steel-industry-inspired numbering and lettering looks great. The keystone logo (Pennsylvania is the Keystone State) on the left sleeve with stars marking off the Penguins' number of Stanley Cup wins made for a not-so humblebrag. The skating penguin crest without a triangle behind it or being encircled helped make it unique to other Penguins jerseys as well.

It's wholly different and not derivative of anything from their history. If there’s a reason to take points off, it’s the not-so subtle reference to the Steelers, but even the Steelers were named as an ode to the industry that built the city. Fortunately, the Penguins kept Steely McBeam out of the process.

4. Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic

Hockey: NHL Winter Classic: Pittsburgh Penguins Kris Letang (58) on ice before game vs Washington Capitals at Heinz Field.Pittsburgh, PA 1/1/2011CREDIT: David E. Klutho (Photo by David E. Klutho /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)(Set Number: X85201 TK2 R5 F62 )
Set Number: X85201 TK2 R5 F62

This was the first Winter Classic I attended, so it has special meaning to me. It was an incredible matchup between the Penguins and the Washington Capitals at the height of their rivalry against each other.

I loved the jersey matchup and the Penguins' dark blue jersey with the baby blue and white stripes and the original logo form their inaugural season. By all accounts, this should be an all-time look...but it's haunted.

One of the grimmer moments in Winter Classic history occurred when Sidney Crosby collided with Capitals forward Dave Steckel during the Penguins’ 3-1 loss to the Capitals. After another hard hit in their next game four days later against Tampa Bay, he was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the rest of the season. He didn’t return to full-time action until March 2012, more than a year later.

It's a beautiful set of threads, but the Penguins shelving them not all that long after that season was probably for the best. Despite the spooky aura around the jersey, the Penguins thrived when wearing it, going 14-6-0 in them over two-and-a-half seasons. Even with that record, the Penguins stopped wearing it as a third jersey following the 2012-13 season.

3. Boston Bruins 2010 Winter Classic

BOSTON - JANUARY 1: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins skates up the ice against the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Bruins' first Fenway classic gets them high marks for going bold in gold.

Gold or yellow are tough colors to do right because there’s no way you can ignore them. They're bright like the sunshine, and the only way to mute them is to minimize their use. Instead, the Bruins took it a step further by making the other prominent color dark brown.

As hard as it is to make gold look good, brown and gold is doubly difficult to make it work and be stylish. The Bruins used the “spoked B” from their jerseys in 1948 featuring a bulbous letter-B encased in the circle to go with white stripes on the sleeves and waist. It’s a vintage look for something that’s brand new, not to mention eye-catching.

In the end, the simplicity of the look is what makes it work so well. Bold colors with a vintage look just works, whereas going bold with a more modern style is a bit riskier. This jersey looks like something from the Bruins’ past, yet it isn't at all. But you could tell someone they had it in the 1930s or 1940s, and you likely could convince them, too.

2. Boston Bruins 2016 Winter Classic

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 01: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins looks on in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Stylists will tell you that wearing brown and black together is a major fashion no-no, but this old look made modern by the Bruins is the exception to the rule.

The Bruins went with a mostly black jersey with thick gold striping and the original logo from 1924, a brown and yellow crest.

There’s no reason for a jersey like this to look as good as it does, yet here we are. Boston debuted it against Montréal at the Winter Classic in Gillette Stadium and went on to break it out as its full-time third jersey the following season due to how popular it became.

It’s as close to an old-school jersey as you can get with a modern feel. The original Bruins logo is unique and highlights that they are indeed named after bears. We love the “Spoked B,” as it’s a classic that will never get old, but changing things up for a little bit can work if you do it right.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 Winter Classic

ORCHARD PARK, NY - JANUARY 01:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins smiles as he skates on the ice after scoring the winning shoot out goal in the NHL Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres at the Ralph Wilson Stadium on January 1, 2008 in Orchard Park, New York.  The Penguins won the game 2-1 in a shoot out.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Sometimes you get it right the first time. That’s the case with the Penguins with their baby blue throwbacks from the inaugural 2008 Winter Classic against Buffalo.

The Penguins broke out the modern version of the jerseys they wore from 1968-71, adding only names to the back. Baby blue was the perfect color in what was a winter wonderland game at the place formerly known as Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. A baby-faced Sidney Crosby was the hero for the day, scoring the winning shootout goal against Ryan Miller that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 victory.

The snowy setting, the raucous crowd and Crosby doing what he does best helped make this look special for Penguins fans, and it established this jersey as a feel-good look for them as well. A classic look with modern accoutrements showed how what once was old can be new again and be one of the best of all time.