Ranking the NHL’s Reverse Retro Jerseys
The best, the worst and everything in between
The National Hockey League officially unveiled its full slate of “Reverse Retro” jerseys on Monday, a generally-exciting set of jerseys that pays tribute to each organization’s history in one way or another. Teams are expected to wear these special alternates multiple times during the upcoming season in what will be considered “rivalry games.”
Some of the new jerseys revealed absolutely knocked it out of the park, while others are lackluster and just downright boring. With that said, here’s my ranking of the 31 NHL Reverse Retro jerseys, from worst to best.
31. Chicago Blackhawks: When the NHL posted its reveal photo of Chicago’s alternate, they didn’t even post the front of the jersey. A video that was later posted? Barely shows the front, as if the league is trying to hide the fact that it’s still using a racist name and logo. Zero points for this one, NHL.
30. Detroit Red Wings: Did you even try? This looks so much like a practice jersey. It’s bland and disappointing. Sure, the Red Wings logo has largely remained the same over the franchise’s history, so it’s not a lot to work with, but it would’ve been neat to see them play off the old Cougars’ jerseys.
29. Winnipeg Jets: The colors in this jersey just don’t do it for me. The blue on the front logo doesn’t stand out enough from the colors around it, and I’m not a big fan of the dark gray jersey, either.
28. New York Islanders: If someone paid me $50 to tell them the difference between this and a regular Islanders jersey, I wouldn’t be getting that money. I like the darker blue, but these jerseys are supposed to be more fun! If you’re going to go for retro, go all the way & bring back the fisherman jerseys.
27. Nashville Predators: As a standalone jersey, these are fine. They’re clean and the colors look great together. But they don’t scream anything special to me, and they look more modern than anything ‘retro.’
26. Toronto Maple Leafs: We get it, you play for the Leafs. I’m not sure if the logo could be any larger on the front of this jersey; it’s almost comical. The font is also bothersome, and makes it look like one or two letters are for some reason in a different case than the rest.
25. Dallas Stars: I understand what they were going for, but I don’t like the attempt at a green star outline across the whole jersey. It chops up the uniform, and thus, the body of whoever’s wearing it. I was hoping they’d bring back the ‘mooterus.’ (Also, is it just me, or does the white of the center/logo not match the rest of the white?)
24. Philadelphia Flyers: It’s fine. It’s nothing special. Honestly, it looks very blocky and I’m just not a big fan of that look. Meh.
23. Edmonton Oilers: I have nothing bad to say about this jersey, but I don’t really have anything good to say, either. It’s just.... what it is. It looks like any Oilers jersey. It’s another one of those that I couldn’t necessarily tell you the difference between this and any other.
22. Vegas Golden Knights: A nice homage to the area’s hockey history, for a franchise that in and of itself has little history to work with. I love the red, but the striping across the bottom cuts the jersey in an awkward way and draws attention to the midsection that could be unflattering. (Am I judging these as fashion choices? You bet I am.)
21. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks logo, which has always been fantastic, really takes center stage here. The striping on the arms is just enough to offset the full gray front without being distracting, and the teal accents on the bottom bring things full circle. I dig it.
20. Columbus Blue Jackets: RED! RED! RED! For a team whose name is the BLUE Jackets.... there’s a lot of red here, but I’m kind of digging it. It’s vibrant and bright and screams “Hey, you can’t help but notice us on the ice!” For the way the CBJ organization has presented itself over the years, this seems quite fitting. I’ve also always liked this logo because it’s just... clever.
19. New York Rangers: Lady Liberty is back! But that’s about all there is to this jersey, which is why it’s in the bottom half off my rankings. The dark blue is nice, the minimal arm striping is definitely a more modern take on the original striping, but for some reason, this one feels incomplete.
18. Ottawa Senators: Can you tell that I’m all for red? Very nice. The old Sens logo, newly modernized, brings me back to the early days of my hockey fandom. I think the stripes on the arms are what’s throwing me off here; the way they cut into/under the numbers is awkward.
17. New Jersey Devils: It’s almost Christmas time, which makes these jerseys feel rather appropriate. There’s so much striping here though, and it’s way too much for me. Nearly the whole bottom half of the jersey is stripes, which really breaks up a person. I’m on the short side, so wearing a jersey like this would only make me look even shorter, which I’m not into.
16. Colorado Avalanche: A clean, crisp way of paying homage to the Quebec Nordiques era of the franchise. It’s a beautiful jersey, and the fleur de lis at the bottom is a great addition. Using the Nordiques style logos but in Avs colors brings this historic franchise into the modern era.
15. Carolina Hurricanes: Cue Brass Bonanza! These are a great take on the old Hartford Whalers jerseys. While I respect many who believe the Avs, Hurricanes, etc. are disrespecting the old franchises and co-opting their logos to make a quick buck, it’s hard to deny how beautiful these look. Making them the gray/silver color brings them in 2020, and you know these will sell like hotcakes.
14. Pittsburgh Penguins: The sparkle! The diagonal wording! The clean striping. It all works so well together for this one.
13. Florida Panthers: There’s always been something about these jerseys that I’ve liked. They just remind me of the past - which is exactly what you’re looking for in a retro jersey, I suppose. The logo seems large, but in this case, I think it actually works in the team’s favor because it really makes you feel like the panther is jumping at you. I dig it.
12. Tampa Bay Lightning: Clean and crisp, these jerseys hit the mark. The victory stripes under the arms - which are barely visible in the initial photo posted - add that extra-special touch. This shade of blue is also beautiful, and the minimal block striping across the shoulders and bottom keeps it clean.
11. Washington Capitals: Honestly, it’ll be pretty sweet to see Alexander Ovechkin wearing this jersey. The red is great; it’s bold, it’s vibrant, it’s in-your-face. This is a great example of a modern twist on an old jersey; updating that past look with the red-white-and-blue color scheme is fantastic. The “C” being on the opposite side of most jerseys adds a unique touch.
10. St. Louis Blues: It’s bright, it’s bold, it’s chaotic. It’s everything you could hope for in an alternate jersey, honestly. This is a great flip of the color scheme in the old Blues jerseys, which makes it feel modern but also provides that throwback to the team’s history. (And yes, I realize the oddity in a team named the “Blues” wearing a majorly red jersey.)
9. Anaheim Ducks: Wild Wing is back! This jersey is so fun and creative; it’s really got a good energy with it that I think a lot of hockey jerseys miss out on when they’re afraid to step outside that box. The font is wild and fun, the logo on the front is unexpected and animated (literally) and overall, this is an enjoyable look.
8. Buffalo Sabres: I’m sorry to put the Sabres this low on the list, but there are some points of this jersey that push it down the list for me. So many of us wanted the loathed as the primary logo, but instead we get the crossed swords. It’s fine, but let’s be real: it looked better in red and black, and that color scheme would’ve been great to bring back with this one.
7. Minnesota Wild: This jersey is a nice mix of the modern and an homage to the Minnesota North Stars. Unfortunately, I just saw a Photoshop on Twitter of this with the Subway (fast food restaurant) logo plastered on the front, since these are pretty much exactly the company’s colors, and now that’s all I’ll be able to see for a while. Sigh.
6. Boston Bruins: Overall, I really like this look. It’s clean, it’s smooth, and it’s not overly bright like some of the alternates are, but it still stands out in its own way. I think the main yellow color is really nice, but this jersey loses points for the, uh, interesting looking bear on the sleeve. It’s the stuff of nightmares!
5. Los Angeles Kings: There’s not nearly enough purple in hockey, so I absolutely love these. They’re a perfect homage to the franchise’s early days and, of course, the colors coexist perfectly with the Lakers to really tie the city together. (Can you imagine a blue & gold Bills jersey, or a red, white & blue Sabres jersey?)
4. Montreal Canadiens: Classic, elegant and beautiful. These are perfectly fitting of such an historic franchise, but making the rich blue as the primary color brings the design into the modern era and makes it feel new. The minimal striping is pretty well in line with what we’ve come to expect from a Montreal jersey, and this feels like a great addition to the team’s collection.
3. Calgary Flames: It’s horse that’s on fire. How can you not love this logo, which perfectly encompasses the Stampede that the city is so known for, and the ‘Flames’ name, in one. The colors are warm and rich, and the striping along the sleeves and bottom is minimal enough, yet enough of a change to make this a modern jersey that ties back to its historic roots.
2. Vancouver Canucks: Honestly.... I just love these. A color fade/ombre look can be super hard to pull off on a jersey, but this is executed perfectly. The blue and green are rich and vibrant, and the striping on the sleeves helps the color-faded look on the center fit into place just perfectly.
1. Arizona Coyotes: There’s just so much to love about this jersey. The desert landscape on the bottom and the logo itself point back to the Coyotes’ alternate in their days in Phoenix, while the largely purple color up top makes this one feel more fresh and modern. It’s a clean look that also manages to be fun and unique, and it perfectly suits the Coyotes franchise.