A Look Back on the League’s Uniform History

Have you ever questioned why referees put on striped shirts, or groups must put on contrasting colors? Then that is for you.

Contrasting Colours in NHL Uniforms

Hockey uniforms have been quite simple in the early days. Since most gamers additionally performed soccer in the summertime, they merely borrowed these pants for hockey video games, then added a turtleneck sweater to remain heat together with some knee excessive socks. With solely a mixed whole of fourteen gamers concerned there was no need for decidedly differing uniforms, it was straightforward for gamers to know who performed for who.

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This started to alter as groups of assorted leagues started to play one another, and so they usually wore the similar uniform, as in the 1920 Stanley Cup Final when the PCuHL champions from Seattle had comparable uniforms to Ottawa. Ottawa determined to put on white jerseys and the downside was solved. In 1933, the Detroit Red Wings selected the color of their new uniforms and so they have been the similar as the Montreal Canadiens. When the groups first met in Montreal, with the intention to inform them aside, the Wings have been pressured to put on white covers – like in a contemporary health club class. They coated up the participant’s numbers angering the followers in attendance, along with trying silly. Thus started the debate about the colors utilized by groups throughout video games.

In the Forties, some groups had begun voluntarily to put on contrasting colors (together with Montreal’s now odd-looking unique white uniform), however at the NHL conferences in 1950 the use of contrasting uniforms turned necessary. The cause was on account of the rising variety of movement image newsreels being made from the motion (which might quickly turn into black and white tv), that the NHL required every workforce ought to put on contrasting colors to make it simpler for viewers to differentiate the groups throughout the black and white broadcasts.

Montreal Canadiens in 1942 (supply: Montreal Gazette/Library and Archives Canada)

The house workforce would put on darkish, the customer white. It was Hockey Night In Canada that urged that the NHL swap in 1970 to the house workforce carrying white jerseys with the intention to showcase visiting workforce’s away jerseys (which have been deemed extra fascinating) for color broadcasts. Which workforce wears the darkish jerseys has modified backwards and forwards in the forty years since, with at present the house workforce now carrying the darkish.

NHL Uniforms Numbering Players

The Patrick brothers have at all times been credited with devising the numbering of gamers for the PCHL in 1915, however that is false. The NHA first adopted this observe in 1911 with a rule stating “players had to wear identifying numbers on armbands placed on their left arm.” When these have been deemed unsatisfactory, massive numbers have been positioned on the entrance of the sweater, and a board with the participant and quantity positioned at one finish of the rink. Eventually, numbers could be moved to the again of the jersey, and the board changed by particular person packages. In 1954, the NHL requested that participant’s numbers be painted in white on the boot of their skates. This was to assist recognition of gamers for the awarding of assists and in tv or pictures the place the uniform numbers weren’t seen. This solely lasted for a couple of years.

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In 1977-78, the NHL handed a brand new rule stating that gamers needed to have their names seem on their jerseys together with their numbers. Leaf proprietor, Harold Ballard refused, claiming nobody would then purchase his packages. The league threatened heavy fines, so Ballard gave in. For Toronto’s subsequent sport in Chicago on February 26, 1978, the names appeared on the Leaf’s blue jerseys….in blue, making them unreadable. The subsequent day the league modified the wording of the rule, to stipulate the names should be in a color reverse to the color of the jersey. The Leafs then started utilizing a contrasting color as the remainder of the league.

Montreal Canadiens NHL Uniforms

Georges Vezina, Montreal Canadiens, 1910 – 1911 (THW Archives)

The Montreal Canadiens are the most recognizable hockey workforce in the NHL with their pink, white, and blue sweaters with the ‘Ch’ on the entrance. However, the first Montreal jersey on their inception in 1910 was a stable blue color with a white crescent ‘C’ on the entrance. They didn’t change to pink, white and blue till the following 12 months, however their sweaters have been nonetheless not the acquainted ones. This uniform had striped traces just like the barber poles of the Ottawa Senators, and had the blue letters ‘CAC’ (Club Athletique Canadien) on a white maple leaf. Thus, Montreal not Toronto was the first NHA/NHL workforce to put on a maple leaf on their sweaters.

When Montreal lastly modified to the extra acquainted jersey, they didn’t play with their acquainted ‘CH’ on the chest however ‘CA’ (which was modified the subsequent season). After profitable the Stanley Cup in 1924, the Canadiens returned for the 1924-25 season with out the ‘CH’ however as an alternative had an earth globe on their chest to indicate that they have been the World Champions. By 1925-26, the distinctive uniform we have now come to know was finalized.

Hockey and NHL Uniforms’ Oddities

In Nova Scotia, the Windsor Swastikas used the historical image of excellent luck on their sweaters. They gained a number of championships throughout the 1910s. With the image’s new use in Nazi Germany in 1933, the workforce determined to alter the emblem. The Toronto 228th battalion, a workforce of hockey gamers in the military, appeared for the 1917 season in khaki jerseys. Needless to say, the alternative of color was not a giant hit with the followers.

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1934, King Clancy was honored with a particular evening in Toronto. After many presents have been offered, Clancy arrived seated on a throne atop a big float. He performed the sport in opposition to the New York Rangers wearing a green uniform with a large shamrock on the back. Lester Patrick requested Clancy to alter again to his common uniform after the first interval, as the inexperienced sweater was complicated to the Rangers. It is the solely time in the NHL {that a} participant has worn a jersey completely different from each different participant on the ice.

Note the white skates. nhl uniforms
California Golden Seals (THW Archives)

The New York Rangers felt that their sweaters have been the reason for their dangerous efficiency in the 1940’s. They modified the acquainted uniform that they nonetheless put on for one 12 months in 1946, including a quantity to the entrance of the jersey. When they once more missed the playoffs, they went again to the acquainted uniform. The Philadelphia Flyers needed to start out a development by having the defending Stanley Cup champions put on a small Stanley Cup patch on their jersey in 1974-75. The NHL was not thrilled by the thought, and the Flyers used it for a couple of video games earlier than discarding them.

There have been some poor NHL uniforms selections in the final forty years. In 1970 Charles Finley, proprietor of baseball’s A’s, purchased the California Golden Seals. He so appreciated the white footwear worn by the baseball gamers that he needed his hockey gamers in white skates. Unfortunately, this gave the gamers the impression of carrying girls’s determine skates, which was not a superb confidence enhance for the already low-physical Seals. Players additionally urged that one thing about the white skates retained extra water than regular skates, making them extraordinarily heavy by the third interval, truly slowing the gamers down. They have been solely used for a season.

The early ’80s noticed two abominations. The Philadelphia Flyers and the Hartford Whalers modified to the new Cooperalls (or moderately CCM Pro Pak lengthy shells, in response to Mr. Pichette – thanks) that have been coming into trend in beginner hockey. Also, the Vancouver Canucks who had worn ugly blue-green uniforms since their entrance to the league determined to alter NHL uniforms. Most felt that this was a good suggestion till the replacements have been proven. The new jerseys resembled a mustard stain. I’m unsure which was worse, Tiger Williams trying like he simply ate a scorching canine or the sight of Bobby Clarke and Darryl Sittler in lengthy pants.

Referee NHL Uniforms

Officials have worn many various uniforms in the course of hockey’s historical past. Pre-NHL period officers wore fits and Derby hats, whereas Mike Grant wore a hard-hat in the tough 1905 Stanley Cup Series between Kenora and Ottawa. In the early NHL days, referees normally wore black pants with a white sweater and a tie. This look might nonetheless be worn by referees in latest NCAA U.S. College hockey and in a couple of NHL out of doors video games. For some time the referee’s assistant wore a blue jersey in the 1930’s. In the late 1940’s, the NHL modified their officers from the white sweaters to orange shirts. They would put on these shirts till December 29, 1955.

The great Red Storey
The nice Red Storey (THW Archives)

On December 29, for a sport between Toronto and Montreal, the referee’s new NHL uniforms brought on heads to show. With the introduction of televised hockey (which was black and white) too many viewers complained that the referees have been mistaken for members of the house workforce (who wore darkish jerseys). The NHL started this evening to position their referees in black and white vertically striped shirts with the intention to distinguish them from the gamers. The striped shirt for referees appears to have its origin in US school soccer in the 1920’s, however I can discover no reference of this uniform utilized by any main hockey league till 1955. In 1969-70, the NHL adopted orange armbands for the referees, adopted out of the truth the earlier jersey color was orange. The trendy uniform had been born. NHL referees have since at all times worn the vertical stripes, aside from one playoff sport in 1988, the famed “doughnut gate” between the Devils and Bruins. (A good have a look at referee sweaters by means of the years can be found at Third String Goalie)

(Source materials used for this text includes- Charles L Coleman, Trail for the Stanley Cup quantity 1-3; Claude Mouton The Montreal Canadiens; Scott Young, The Boys of Saturday Night; Garth Vaughan, The Puck Starts Here; Dan Diamond The Spirit of the Game, Red Storey picture from the HHoF)

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