The 10 Ugliest Uniforms in NHL History
In preparing the this list of the ugliest NHL uniforms of all time, I talked with Ray "Chicken Parm" Ferraro.
Ferraro had a fine, 18-year NHL career. He played from 1984 to 2002, scoring 408 goals in 1,258 games. He played for six teams–Hartford, Los Angeles, Atlanta, St. Louis and both New York franchises. Three of those teams moved.
"So, does that mean I only played for three teams?" Ray said.
Depends on your technical definitions probably. One thing is for sure: Ray Ferraro wore a pair of atrocious-looking uniforms in his long career. Two of them happen to be on the following list of the 10 ugliest in NHL history, which is subjective of course.
We'll keep it suspenseful for now, but Ferraro said he was "truly embarrassed" to be wearing one of the uniforms on the list.
There is no hard science on this, but uniforms matter. The saying is, "You feel how you look." Well, the players who were forced to put on these uniforms couldn't have felt too good about themselves. None of the uniforms here were ever worn by a championship team, not the actual year's uniforms anyway. Some of the franchises listed here did win Stanley Cups, but never in these sweaters.
There were some truly hideous sweaters that were left off this list, including one that probably everyone can't believe was omitted. It was the Vancouver Canucks' rainbow, flying V sweater from the late 1970s and early '80s. I'm sorry, but I can't put it on this list because...it's cool now!
Come on, right? That's a cult-classic uniform now. Of course, it's downright obscene in its neon garishness. But it's cool. That doesn't mean the Canucks escaped this list. Of all the NHL franchises, Vancouver walks tallest with the overall worst fashion history. They've had some great teams but a lot of really bad uniforms.
Let's get on with the sad countdown of the 10 ugliest uniforms in league history.
10. Atlanta Thrashers Original Road Sweaters
The only thing that took a thrashing when the NHL came to Atlanta was fashion. There's just way too much going on with the color scheme here, and the "thrasher" bird looks too much like...well, we're not sure, really. However, the name was to honor Georgia's official state bird, the brown thrasher.
The poor bird deserved better than that.
The Thrashers abandoned these early road uniforms for a completely new, powder blue getup that has shown up on other "worst uniform" lists, but we'll spare them a second appearance on our list and just leave it here.
9. Buffalo Sabres Thirds, 2013-2015
Right from their unveiling, the mustard-yellow Buffalo thirds with silver piping were widely panned, and the team discontinued their use after the 2014-15 season. The worst part might be the generically lettered "Buffalo" above the logo.
The wild and woolly sweater just doesn't look right with the team name barely visible in a simple font. The little silver V on the collar certainly didn't land this sweater in the pages of GQ, either.
8. Vancouver Canucks Thirds, 1996
The poor Canucks. They play in a province nicknamed "Beautiful British Columbia," and it sure is. Few places are prettier to the naked eye than Vancouver.
But since joining the NHL in 1970, the Canucks have worn the worst-looking laundry of any team, taken in its entirety. Earlier this year, the Vancouver Sun ran an article detailing the franchise's many sorry looks, with some described as having been the result of a "tragedy in the laundry room."
Ouch. The flying V uniforms of the late 1970s have earned perpetual scorn, but as mentioned in the preamble, the time for ridicule has passed. They are officially cool now.
These salmon-colored third jerseys, which first saw action in 1996, were obviously awful. The eyes don't lie.
They didn't last long, as the Canucks went to some crazy gold, brown and salmon mix for their next major uniform renovation. It seems like the uniform designers in Vancouver have given up now, as they have had generic blue-and-white get-ups with generic lettering for the last several years.
In a way, that's a shame.
7. Calgary Flames Thirds, 1998-2006
The face of a cartoonish horse that appears to have just ingested a gallon of Tabasco is not a good look. It's not at all an intimidating look and not at all a cool look. Flames players just looked silly in these third jerseys, which weren't abolished until 2006, eight years after they were introduced.
The colors themselves aren't bad. But that flame-jowled horse face was just terrible.
6. Edmonton Oilers Thirds, 2001-2007
Some called them the teardrop uniforms, some called them the cyborgs. I call them just plain ugly.
They were just creepy looking, like a detached eyeball whose entrails were on their way to some flaming, horrible end.
It's supposed to be a drop of oil at the tip of a drill. Hard to believe nobody got that.
This was from an era when third jerseys ran amok, and the amazing fact about these hideous jerseys is that, according to OilersNation.com, they were designed by the renowned Todd McFarlane.
Hey, everyone screws up now and then.
5. Minnesota Wild Thirds, Present
At some point in early to late aughts, it became "fashionable" for teams to adopt retro-style alternate jerseys that featured italicized, bowling-shirt fonts.
The Wild's get-ups, which the wear to this day, just don't look right for a hockey team. The italics craze started with Major League Baseball teams. A hockey team in italicized bowling shirts just doesn't work.
The Wild's uniforms have always been bad, so there could have been another one or two listed here. But these are just plain boring, perhaps the worst sin of all in fashion.
4. Boston Bruins "Winnie the Pooh" Thirds, 1995-2006
The big, bad Bruins? They certainly didn't look big or bad for the 11 years these ridiculous third jerseys were worn.
The "Winnie The Pooh" sweaters have been a regular feature on all-time ugliest lists since debuting in 1995. The bear is far too placid looking to stoke any fear in opponents. It also looks as if it has a pig's snout.
The bear looks like he's just seen Act III of an off-off-Broadway showing of Much Ado About Nothing. The Bruins' worst years as a franchise just so happened to coincide with the life of these jerseys. Go figure.
3. Los Angeles "Burger King" Thirds, 1996
"Without question, the worst uniform I've ever worn" is how Ray Ferraro described these Kings get-ups to Bleacher Report.
A royal mess, these uniforms debuted in January 1996 by the Kings as their third jersey. Instead of something majestic and regal, the Kings wound up with a logo more closely resembling a groggy version of the Burger King man.
That hideous blue-gray sash from the right shoulder down certainly didn't help the look at all. Wayne Gretzky actually wore these once, scoring the first goal in the first game they were used on Jan. 27, 1996, against the Mighty Ducks.
A good history of how the logo came into being can be found here. Maybe it's part of some college course on how not to market a hockey team.
2. Dallas Stars "Mooterus" Thirds, 2003-2006
For the record: It's supposed to be a raging bull, peering with toughness into a distant galaxy. Instead, the Dallas Stars' ill-fated third jerseys, worn from 2003 to 2006, looked like a part of the female reproductive system.
They have become something of a cult classic among diehard Stars fans, probably those who don't care what people say about their looks. Even Sean Avery, according to SI.com, said these are the worst jerseys ever.
Close. But the very worst is just ahead.
1. New York Islanders, Gorton's Fisherman, 1995-1997
Even among the nightmarish neon colors of the 1970s and the poorly renovated logos of the 1990s and 2000s, the New York Islanders' jerseys from 1995 to 1997 win the all-time ugly sweepstakes.
Keep in mind: These were not third jerseys. These are what the Islanders wore home and away for two full seasons. The old man gripping the hockey stick in the logo looked a lot like the Gorton's Fisherman from the frozen food aisle, so much so that they probably could have sued for copyright infringement.
I'll never forget the sheepish look Wendel Clark had on his face after he pulled on the sweater before a 1995 game against the Avalanche as the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"Looks like the pajamas I wore as a kid," Clark said.
Mic drop, the end.
Adrian Dater covers the NHL for Bleacher Report.