By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
Growing up in a big sports family one would grow to like or dislike certain teams by the geographical location, their players, and their colors.
In the National Hockey League, it was the sky blue of the Toronto Maple Leafs with the Canadian Maple Leaf in the middle was my favorite. The Silver and Black of the Los Angeles Kings, the bright orange and black of the intimidating Philadelphia Flyers, the big spoked black and gold wheeled B in the middle of the Boston Bruins uniform the home of the first black player, Willie O’Ree.
1. Los Angeles Kings purple and gold 1970’s Black and Silver 1989-2000. Purple and Black 2002-2012
There are three eras of uniforms for the Los Angeles Kings founded in 1967 by owner Jack Kent Cook. Cook also owned the (NBA) National Basketball Association team Lakers. The Kings shared the Los Angeles Forum with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Purple and Gold colors of the Lakers were also adopted by the Kings from 1968-1988 and identified with the National Basketball Association brother. This is one of the best old school jerseys in NHL history with white skates, that did not last long because the league mandated black skates after the Golden State Seals put on their white skates the same year.
In the 1982-83 season the Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles and the Kings did not take long to change their colors to their NFL brothers Black and Silver. With the arrival of the Great One- Wayne Gretzky the Kings jumped to the number 2 spot in sports sales. The Kings uniform became a L.A. gang favorite and a turf color. The Kings black uniform would be banned from the Los Angeles unified school district.
The Kings too made a major mistake before the great Raider move. It was the Burger King jersey which looked like a clown suit and nobody liked because it lacked hockey personality just like the Islander Fisherman uniform
In 1998 the Kings combined the old school purple to the new school black and silver until 2013 with the words Los Angeles at the bottom of the sweater. In 2021 to present the organization wanted to go back to the Gretzky era years with a modified version of the Black and Silver jersey replacing the silver with grey and white gloves
2. The California Golden Seals- Oakland Seals- Bay Area Seals
The Seals entered the league in 1968 one of the first new era expansion teams along with the Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins, doubling the number of NHL teams that year.
The Golden Seals had to deal with the curse of owner Charles O’ Finley. Finley bought them in the 1971 season and changed their name from Bay Area Seals to California Golden Seals, the name stuck. Finley also wanted gold ice and team color skates after the league rejected the white skates.
The Seals could not shake the very bad draft picks, bad goaltending and low scoring, then you add low attendance records in the East Bay, this team was domed from the start. They were the first team to wear white skates i.e., the Los Angeles Kings were second, but the Seals would later change to green and gold skates their team colors. The Commissioner went nuts and tried to pull Finley in. The league conceded with the names on the back of sweaters in 1977-78 with the push from the World Hockey Association.
The Green and Gold colors dominated all of Finley owned teams- The Memphis Tams of the American Basketball Association, and the Oakland A’s of Major League Baseball.
This took time for the rest of the league to catch up, now every team in the NHL now has their name on the back of their jersey.
The Seals’ jersey was plain but with a dynamic style and bright colors with green wording on the front and the middle of a gold sweater with green numbers on each side. Very easy to see on the ice.
The Seals seemed to always be on the move with did not help attendance… sound familiar (Oakland A’s) the cities of Vancouver and Buffalo made offers but the league’s restrictions on relocation keep the Seals in the Bay Area. Both Vancouver and Buffalo would get new teams in the next expansion. The Seals would move to Cleveland Barons in 1976 and would close shop in 1978. It is the only franchise in the 1968 expansions to never reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
3. Philadelphia Flyers-
The Flyers entered the league in the first new era expansion with their bright orange jersey and black number uniforms other hockey fans would tease them and call them the Halloween team but it was no joke the Broad Street Bullies were the first expansion team to win a Stanley Cup in 1974. Their ruff style of play on the ice earned them the name.
Even on a black and white television screen everybody knew who the Philadelphia Flyers were with that slanted P with wings in the front and a red dot in the middle of the P. The Flyers relished the rough stuff bouncing people off the boards with frequency and would be repeat champions.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs–
The Leafs are officially known as Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club because of the Montreal Canadian Hockey Club to the east. The last time they won the cup was in 1967 against the Canadiens 4 games to 2. Founded in 1917 and a member of the original six. The Leafs are still one of the best-selling uniforms in the league and one of the oldest clubs but they did not start out blue and white. In 1919 they were re-name the Toronto St. Patricks’ and wore green and blue with a big blue T in the middle and green lettering.
The team once again went through another name change in 1927-28 to the Maple Leafs and the sky-blue uniforms. The colors changed to royal blue when they exited the old Maple Leaf Garden in 1999.
As a child, I watched the New York Rangers on WOR channel Nine- New York now WWOR-superstation. The Ranger television network would broadcast a Saturday night game every weekend during the winter. The game at Maple Leaf Gardens was must-see T.V. with the many years of history. The bright lights off the ice with those white sweaters and blue pants just looked good on color television.
This was Canada’s team because of the Maple Leaf logo on the front and everyone could tell who they were by their leggings of many white strips on their blue uniform and blue strips on their white uniform. The Maple Leaf also stands out on both upper shoulders of the uniform above the numbers.
The Maple Leafs will now have to take a back seat to the Montreal Canadiens after not winning the cup in over 60 years.
5. Boston Bruins-
Another one of the original six, in the beginning the Bruins colors were brown and gold with a walking bear in the middle of the jersey with the Bruin name. Boston has used this as their alternate jersey today. No love for this team because they would knock out the New York Rangers year after year in the playoffs with their silent bully tactics. On December 23 1979 Bruin players went into the stands at Madison Square Garden to beat a Ranger fan with his shoe.
The eight spoked black and gold wheel with the B in the middle has been there since 1948. This is and always will be an iconic logo in the NHL.
The Bruins are another team that have three sweaters today: a gold one, a black one, and a white one, plus the Retro jersey or throwback jersey to the 1975-95 teams.
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Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad News Network Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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