This is the story I was born to write.
I have collected NHL jerseys – the first thing to know is we call them sweaters – for 30 years. It’s an eclectic mix. My thought was men’s clothing was always so drab.
The only way I could get some colors in my wardrobe was by wearing a hockey jersey. One turned into 10, which turned into, well, a lot more.
The playoffs are into the conference semifinals, and with it a little more excitement for Colorado NHL betting. There is nothing like the Chase for the Stanley Cup.
For fans and those partaking in Colorado Avalanche betting — I’m sorry, the Avs didn’t make my list. Colorado take on the St. Louis Blues in the second round.
There are more NHL jerseys each year:
- Reverse retro
- Special jerseys for the Winter Classic
- Special jerseys for the Heritage Classic
- Vintage sweaters
- Teams that no longer exist (Atlanta Thrashers, where are you?)
In between betting on sports in Colorado, we have plenty of time to debate who wears or has worn, the best sweater in the NHL. As a collector though, let me tell you, you can’t rank NHL sweaters from one broad category.
So here, I’ve broken down my top favorites by category.
The new classics
These are the non-Original Six jerseys, but the ones that work for their franchises.
Minnesota is wild about hockey, get it? The high school state tournament brings the state to a halt. The classic Minnesota North Stars jersey still pops, with the simple front crest of the N and a star at the top.
When the Stars left for Dallas, the NHL gave Minnesota a new team in 1997, which became the Wild. The Wild jersey honors the North Stars, although it’s a darker shade of green, and the logo is an optical illusion. Woods, trees, and a rising moon also create the outline of an animal.
The second oldest sweater in my collection is Joe Nieuwendyk Calgary Flames, and after some recent missteps – what was with the horse head? – the Flames have returned to their sharp red jersey with the flaming C.
San Jose Sharks
Teal was all the rage in professional jerseys in the late 80s and 90s. Don’t ask. The Charlotte Hornets, version 1.0, and the defunct Vancouver Grizzlies in the NBA each wore teal, and so did the Florida Marlins.
San Jose never changed their color or primary logo and now it’s distinct. The green-tinged shark bursts through with a broken hockey stick. It’s unlike anything else in the NHL.
The old-school classic NHL sweaters
You can’t compare the New York Rangers and the Nashville Predators? So why try. These are the old-school sweaters that still zing.
Confession time, I have multiple Sabres sweaters, I bought into the unfortunate Buffalo head jersey back in the day. Then I wised up.
The Sabres’ classic jersey with the crossed swords (sabres, natch) and charging buffalo is perfect. The blue and gold blend perfectly. Makes me miss Pat LaFontaine and The Aud.
Toronto Maple Leafs
I know the Canadiens look is classic, the famous bleu, blanc and rouge, but I have a soft spot for the Maple Leafs look.
They took a national icon – the Maple Leaf – threw it on a sweater and it’s clean. I know they are dabbling with black jerseys now, and it’s just a mistake. Don’t bite.
This is the team that was the Avalanche, and one day the NHL will do the right thing and put a team back in Quebec.
The Nordiques jersey was perfect. It has a French feel with the fleur-de-lis accents and sky blue shoulders, and it incorporated a stick and puck in the front crest. Instantly, you see this and know it’s a hockey jersey.
So bad…so, so bad, these NHL sweaters are good
Thank goodness the now “Arizona Coyotes” have brought these back (I bought mine back when they just came out). The crazy peyote coyote jerseys are ugly as sin, but perfectly reflect their city of origin.
Each city and state has its own style, and the Coyotes deserve credit for going back to these.
Tampa Bay Lightning
There is only one current NHL team I don’t have a jersey of, the Lightning. That’s because the only one I desire is the infamous “thunder and lightning” jersey.
There’s never been an uglier or more busy jersey in NHL jersey. Rolling waves at the waistline, like a churning sea, multi-colored raindrops, and lots of lightning. They go for hundreds of bucks on eBay.
The issue with the Stars is that the nickname stinks. Dallas took the North Stars, dropped the North (why they didn’t do Lone Stars is beyond me) and then had the most generic name of any team in professional sports.
They’ve overcompensated with one bad jersey after the next, but I do like the new neon ones. Still, call yourself the Lone Stars, and go to a Texas-looking red, white and blue color scheme.
NHL sweaters near and dear to my heart
My all-time favorite jersey is the purple and gold Los Angeles Kings with the crown as the crest. I know LA went to black and silver because of the Raiders back in the day, but the purple and gold always fit with the Lakers.
After that, I love the Pittsburgh Penguins’ black and gold, and the vintage sweaters of the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Scouts.
The newest NHL team, the Seattle Kraken’s sweaters are a little plain. I am eager to see what they do with alternates. The latest jersey I picked up is the new Vegas Golden Knights chain mail gold. It’s unique.
And it’s not khaki.