Retro Grades


The big news in the NHL this season is that teams are wearing their colored jerseys at home and white on the road, a reversal of the rule that’s held sway since 1970. The league says teams “wanted to give a new generation of fans the opportunity to see dark jerseys on home ice,” although this is almost certainly code for “Colored-jersey merch sales have been lagging.” In any case, the bigger question is why the NHL switched from its original colored-at-home rule back in 1970 to begin with.

The answer turns out to be a doozy. According to league spokesperson Veronique Marchal, teams had historically found it hard to keep white jerseys looking clean while on the road (apparently they’d never heard of bleach). And so it came to pass that a major North American sports league changed its uniform policy because of a laundry crisis — surely a defining moment in uni history. As for the current switcheroo, Marchal says, “Washing facilities at hotels and so on have vastly improved, so that’s no longer a concern.”

In more pedestrian developments:

The Coyotes have finally abandoned their bizarre cubist jerseys. The new red-and-white unis should have the Red Wings suing for copyright infringement, but the coyote-head chest logo is a keeper.

Speaking of animal heads, the Stars have finally become true Texans by adopting a longhorn logo — and a pretty cool one at that — for their new alternate jerseys. Other new alternate looks: the Blue Jackets (a huge improvement over their standard unis), the Wild (totally old-school — can a three-year-old team go throwback?), and the Mighty Ducks (script-lettered chest insignia looks oddly baseball-esque).

The Bruins, Kings, Canadiens, Rangers, Blues, and Canucks will wear throwback unis for selected games. And in the best throwback move yet, the Canucks have revived their old “hockey stick in a rectangle” logo (you say boring, Uni Watch says admirably minimalist) as a shoulder patch on their regular jerseys.

Finally, Uni Watch happily notes that 11 teams — up from only one just four years ago — now have at least one jersey featuring a lace-up collar. Much like black shoes in football, this traditionalist trend can’t be stopped — unless the laces clog up those hotel washing machines.