The Islanders past with sweaters is about as rocky as their present is in figuring out how to build a new arena. They started off so well, then went off course horribly before finding themselves all over again. If nothing else, the Islanders proved with their sweaters that you can always go back home again. And again. And again.
Best: The Islanders sweater history is that of a classic look. A large, logo crest on the front with simple sleeve and waist stripes with team colors ahoy. For me, the Islanders looked their best between 1998 and 2007. After recovering from the mistake years of the fisherman and adding teal to their look to resemble a bottle of detergent more than a hockey team, they went back to basics and added a shoulder patch as a nod to their past. The patch had four stripes, one for each Stanley Cup win in team history. The Isles white home jerseys of those days made you think of the Isles dynasty teams of the 1980s. Sadly for Isles fans, they didn’t perform the same way.
Worst: You’re assuming I’m going to pound on the Islanders fisherman days here. Not so fast, friends. When the Isles went back to their old look that won everyone over once again they made one big mistake in 2002-2003 by adding a third sweater. Their third embraced the color orange in such a way it made the Islanders look like a stock car gone mad with orange dominating the look and jagged blue edges throughout the sweater. The Islanders’ move to orange was bold, garish, and awful looking.
Don’t Trust The Gorton’s Fisherman: As for the fisherman years, this was all about a marketing wizard gone mad. The Islanders wanted a new look and move into the hip mid-1990s. Switching from an iconic logo that won the fans over in the first place and replacing it with something that belonged more on a box of frozen seafood than a hockey sweater made matters worse. I have a fondness for the awfulness contained in the Islanders’ fisherman era, but I’m also a jerk that owns more than a few really awful sweaters as well. The fisherman was a colossal mistake in judgment and one that Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank recounts all too well and is worth giving a read to.
Assessment: The Isles have done right by their fans and by hockey fashionistas by re-embracing their original look and paying no more attention to the RBK Edge constraints of design. They tried that, it looked bad, they went back to normal. Kudos to Charles Wang for keeping it real. Of course, if the rumored Isles black third jersey this season turns out to be the nightmare concoction that Greg Wyshysnki at Puck Daddy showed off, the era of good feelings is over.
(photo credit: Islanders Point Blank)