Ranking the 6 Best 3rd Jerseys in NHL History

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2020

Ranking the 6 Best 3rd Jerseys in NHL History

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Want to start an argument among hockey fans?

    Wade into a particularly passionate group and casually bring up the topic of jerseys—or sweaters, to the purists out there—with a quick suggestion or two about the best and worst of all time.

    Then remove yourself to a safe distance because a glove-drop may be imminent.

    The rabble-rousing B/R ice hockey team decided to venture into the sacred territory with a specific lean toward the best third (or alternate) jersey designs franchises have come up with over the years, particularly since they became prevalent across the league in the mid-1990s.

    We looked at all the incarnations from A to Z—or Anaheim to Winnipeg, in this case—and whittled the collection down to a top six, along with two honorable mentions we just couldn't let go.

    Read on to see what we came up with and skate on over to the comments section to let us know where we got it right or to (gasp!) talk a little trash about your disagreements.

    But keep it civil or it'll be five minutes and a game misconduct.

Honorable Mention: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (1995-96)

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    Maybe it's just the pain of three weeks without hockey, but we can't leave this one alone.

    Known as the Wild Wing design in the third season of the team's Mighty Ducks of Anaheim phase, the jersey features a muscled-up version of the team's mascot crashing up through a sheet of ice with a hockey stick clutched firmly in a gloved right hand.

    A casual script typeface known as Mistral was used for the number and name on the back, and while it's certainly eye-catching and compelling two decades later, the jersey was roundly panned at the time and lasted only a few games in 1995-96 before it was retired.

    It returned in the 2018-19 season, as the franchise incorporated all its historic jerseys during a 25th-anniversary celebration, but with nowhere near the fanfare it deserved.

Honorable Mention: St. Louis Blues (2008-14)

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Color scheme, logo, striping and lettering are all factors of a good jersey design.

    And when you can combine them while incorporating a city's premier landmark, you've scored.

    The St. Louis Blues did just that in 2008 when they introduced the Gateway Arch in a circular crest and a base navy color to create a strong, simple boost for the team's recognizable brand.

    There's a lot to like, and it's a razor-thin near-miss from making the top six.

6. Phoenix Coyotes (1998-99)

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    A little too 1990s for some? Perhaps.

    A bold new take on the Phoenix Coyotes' original logo design featured a magnified coyote head as the primary design, augmented by a desert-landscape trim complete with cacti, mountains and a crescent moon.

    The designers went all-in with green as the base color, a big departure from the standard white home and dark road jerseys.

    It lasted through 2002-03 with slight variations along the way, but we'll take it back anytime.

5. Pittsburgh Penguins (2011-13)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have a way of teasing changes.

    The vintage jersey they wore for the Winter Classic during the 2007-08 season became their alternate jersey the following season, and they followed suit a few years later when they came upon this one.

    It was the vintage Winter Classic outfit for 2010-11 and the third jersey come 2011-12 with a darker base color and adjustments made to the sleeve stripes.

    This look lasted through 2012-13 before the team went back to its familiar designs from the early 1990s.

4. Dallas Stars (1997-99)

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    DONNA MCWILLIAM/Associated Press

    Stop us if you've seen this one before.

    The Dallas Stars seemed to have dipped into the mid-1990s All-Star Game catalog for the third jerseys they introduced in the 1997-98 season, incorporating the star design with its green-and-black color scheme.

    The design was so popular that it became the team's full-time road uniform a few years later, and it was the outfit Brett Hull had on when he scored the controversial goal that gave Dallas its first Stanley Cup in 1999.

    If you're a fan of the Buffalo Sabres, we're sorry for the reminder.

3. Edmonton Oilers (2001-07)

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    LM OTERO/Associated Press

    We're fans of logos with hidden meanings that become obvious after they're revealed.

    Such is the case with the third jersey the Edmonton Oilers unveiled in 2001.

    Designed by Canadian comic book artist Todd McFarlane, who had a minority stake in the team at the time, the logo was the first significant shift away from the classic oil drop and featured three skate blades along with five rivets that (spoiler alert!) symbolized the franchise's five Stanley Cup championships. 

    The jersey was popular with the team's fanbase throughout its run, which ended when the league shifted to Reebok as its jersey manufacturer after 2006-07.

2. New York Islanders (2015-17)

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Another ode to hidden meaning gets the No. 2 spot.

    The New York Islanders haven't had the best luck when drastically moving away from original designs—Gorton's fisherman much?—but their inaugural 2015-16 season in Brooklyn provided another opportunity to get it right.

    They succeeded by going with a black color scheme and a tweak to the NY hockey stick logo.

    And the four stripes on the sleeves and socks? They were in honor of the franchise's four Stanley Cups.

1. Boston Bruins (1995-2006)

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    ROBERT E KLEIN/Associated Press

    A "Pooh Bear," you say? We say no way.

    The Boston Bruins have little cause to depart from their classic spoked-B design, but the introduction of the brown bear head on a yellow sweater in 1995 was good enough for us.

    Bruin does mean "bear" after all, and we think its rugged and regal appearance as the primary feature screams cool rather than cuddly.

    It stuck around for several seasons before the team decided to go back to less drastic tweaks in the mid-2000s. And though subsequent incarnations have featured the bear in various four-legged stances, we think the standalone head is, well, head and shoulders above the rest.


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