It is the summer and with no games being played at the moment it is awfully difficult to rank the NHL’s 31 teams on a weekly basis. So the PHT Power Rankings will spend the next month taking a look back at some of the best (and worst) developments throughout NHL history. Best trades. Worst trades. Best all-time teams. Any other random things we feel like ranking. We begin by taking a look back at the worst alternate jerseys the league’s creative geniuses have concocted.
For the upcoming 2018-19 season a couple of NHL teams are turning back the clock for their alternate jerseys and bringing back some old favorites. The Arizona Coyotes are bringing back their original black Kachina jerseys, while the Anaheim Ducks are going with a retro-themed look for their alternates (a jersey that has already received mixed reviews).
Everyone has a favorite jersey for their favorite team and this list is not about them. This list is about the worst alternate jerseys in league history, with most of them coming from that bizarre stretch in the mid-late 1990s when things got … well … weird.
Important note to address before we begin: The Islanders Gorton’s Fishstick jerseys — everyone’s favorite jersey to hate — are excluded from this ranking for two reasons. First, they are awesome and the Islanders should bring them back. Second, they were not an “alternate” jersey. They were the Islanders’ actual regular jersey for several years and hockey was better for it.
Also excluded: The St. Louis Blues “Cool Cat” jerseys because they never actually saw the light of day and were never worn during a game. They are more of an urban legend than anything else at this point. The story goes that they were presented to then Blues coach Mike Keenan who completely rejected them, refusing to put his team on the ice if they wore them. Our Sean Leahy asked Keenan about that story a few years ago.
“I could speculate that it probably was true at the time,” Keenan said at the time. “I couldn’t confirm it, but I probably had an inclination that that would be something at that time in the context of the league I probably wasn’t too enamored with. I don’t remember specifically, but I think that’s probably right.”
As for the jerseys that did see the ice…
The Worst Of The Worst
1. Anaheim Ducks
The NHL’s third jersey program kicked off during the 1995-96 season with Anaheim, Boston, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Vancouver all introducing new threads. Most of them will make this list, but none of them were as bizarre as the Ducks’ monstrosity that featured their mascot, dressed in goalie gear, bursting through the ice like he was emerging from a deep sea scuba diving expedition. The Ducks are a team whose jersey’s I have never really cared for in any era and these probably the closest thing the NHL ever saw to the Cool Cat Blues jersey actually hitting the ice.
2. Los Angeles Kings
During the Wayne Gretzky era the Los Angeles Kings’ silver and blake uniforms were just awesome. A tremendous look. Simple design. The colors worked perfectly. It was just awesome. Then, when the league introduced the third jersey concept, they came up with this, which is the exact opposite of awesome.
3. Edmonton Oilers
This is an underrated jersey that does not get enough respect in the bad jersey discussion. Though, slapping giant tear drop on the front of the Oilers’ jersey is very fitting for that organization over the past 15 years.
4. Tampa Bay Lightning
This just looks like a bad All-Star jersey.
Why Did You Mess With A Classic?
These really do not need much comment. You know what the original uniforms are supposed to look like. And then … these.
5. Boston Bruins
Remember that “turn ahead the clock” promotion that Major League Baseball went with in the late 90s, where teams would wear what they thought to be “futuristic” uniforms?
They were basically just a bright color with a giant team logo (or some version of the logo) slapped on the front of it.
That is kind of what these remind me of. That bear doesn’t even look intimidating or fierce. It’s like the goofy bear that accidentally stumbles into your backyard swimming pool.
6. New York Rangers
You know the classic New York Rangers jersey? What if we replaced it by puttting the painting of the Statue of Liberty from Mike Richter’s mask on the front of the jersey?
What is happening here?
7. Dallas Stars
Interesting design here in Dallas.
8. Calgary Flames
The idea of a fire-breathing horse seems kind of cool, but it just does not work here.
What’s with the colors?
9 (tie). Nashville Predators/Atlanta Thrashers
I think with the right look a team can make mustard yellow or powder blue work.
These two looks are not the right look.
10. Vancouver Canucks The Canucks tried a few different alternate jerseys over the years and for some reason between 1995 and the early 2000s they really tried to focus on a lot of red, which was never really one of the primary colors. It just looks weird.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.