By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
The second five best would be 1) the Montreal Canadiens when you say hockey you have to say Canadiens with the letters HC in circled the middle of their blue, white, and red jerseys, The big blue and white stripe across the middle of the jersey. The Habs have won 24 Cups and are the Yankees of the hockey world. Just like the Toronto Maple Leafs they have gone through a Cup drought.
2) Chicago Blackhawks The Hawks also have three sweaters Red, Black, and White and have the crossed tomahawks on their shoulders over a gold C. On the front of the sweater is the face of a noble native American man. The Black pants stand out on all three uniforms. So, when this organization decides if it is a native American name for the Sauk leader of the British War of 1812 or the military name of the U.S. 86th Infantry Division which was named the Blackhawk Division or the Blackhawk helicopter of the 1980’s Somali War. When Native American protest get very warm in the Chicago area the organization falls back to the military name.
Call me when this team knows who they represent.
3) Detroit Red Wings are the American version of the Montreal Canadiens with half of the Stanley Cups 11, the last one 2007, The hockey team’s first name was the Detroit Cougars from 1926-1930 before becoming the Detroit Falcons in 1930-32. The Wings have not changed their uniform since 1932. The red winged wheel in the middle of the sweater is famous in Hockey Town U.S.A and honors the automobile industry in Detroit. The Red sleeve on the white uniform and the white sleeve on the red uniform makes them very different. New expansion teams have followed the Wings with their dominate color sleeves.
The 4) San Jose Sharks the National Hockey League tried hockey in the Bay Area again but this time in the South Bay and San Jose in 1991. The last time it was the Golden State Seals in the 1970’s. The Sharks had a unique and different color, teal blue and their mascot the shark. In the middle of their sweater was the head of the shark biting on a hockey stick. In the early years they would put a shark fin on the shoulders of the sweater, in later years it would be replaced with the letters SJ. The Shark organization had three sweaters’ white, teal, and black and in the 2013-14 season added a fourth the grey jersey with teal trim. San Jose beat the Flyers to the Finals by one year as an expansion team in 1997. We are not counting the 68-71 run by the St. Louis Blues because every team in that new division happens to be an expansion club.
The 5) New York teams, The Rangers had New York City to themselves until 1972 when the Islanders moved into Long Island- Nassau Coliseum- Uniondale, New York and won four straight Stanley Cups. The Rangers had not won the cup since 1940, people are still chanting 1940. The Islanders adopted the city colors of blue, orange, and white to match the New York Mets MLB and New York Knicks NBA city brothers. The Islanders had the big N.Y. lettering The Y was a hockey stick in front of the puck with the silhouette of Long Island in a circle. It stayed this way until the 1995- 96 season when they adopted the Fisherman (Fish stick) sweater with the Montauk Lighthouse patch on the shoulder which nobody like and was a money grab by the organization. It was dropped two years later to return to the old sweater with the addition of the 4 bars on their shoulders representing the four Stanley Cup victories, jabbing at the New York Rangers who only had three at that time.
The Islanders moved to Brooklyn and debuted an all-black uniform to match the Barclays Center housemate Brooklyn Nets of the NBA in 2015-16. This did not go well either with complaints coming from the west coast and the Los Angeles Kings. The Islanders put four strips on their uniforms just to remind the cross-town New York Rangers. Again, it was dropped to return to the old style, orange, blue, and white uniform of today. The organization continues to make subtle changes to the uniform.
The New York Rangers are one of the original six in 1926 and they really have not changed much in 94 years. They came into the league as the first expansion team. They got their name from owner and president George “Tex” Rickard. Sportswriters called them Tex’s Rangers and Richard adopted the name putting them in red, white, and blue sweaters with brown paints can’t figure that one out, but. The Rangers were the first team to put their name on the front diagonally.
The first Ranger uniforms were sky blue before 1929 and they went dark blue. In 1941 they added white piping around the name and number and red paints. In 1946 the words Rangers moved to the top in the usual hockey ark this did not sit well with the Madison Square Garden crowd. In 1951 they went back to the old-style uniform with the diagonal letters.
Also, in 1951 the league requested teams to have home whites. This remained the same until 2001 when teams reversed this and wore white on the road. Teams did not like the white outs in home stadiums started by the Quebec Nordiques.
In 1976 was the first major change and many thought the Rangers look like the Winnipeg Jets. First it was all blue with the paints a blue hue too. The New York Ranger logo was on the front with white piping and red trim. It did not last long 2 years when head coach John Ferguson was fired, he took the Ranger design with him to Winnipeg.
In 1979 the Rangers went back to their staple only this time they changed the road jersey putting the words New York diagonal. This stayed until the Rangers got back into Stanley Cup contention.
It would take another 20 years before the next change inspired by goalie Mike Richter’s Lady Liberty helmet and G.M Smith. Along with the addition of Wayne Gretzky to the Broadway Blueshirts. In 1996 It was the number one hockey jersey until the Black and silver Los Ang. Kings two years later took over the lead. The Rangers added grey piping to this uniform with Lady Liberty in the front. This is one of my favorite Ranger Jerseys.
Once again, the Rangers went back to the original jersey with diagonal lettering and has been that way since 2010.
We cannot forget the great old school-classic uniforms – Atlanta Flames- This organization went with this logo in looking at the history of the south and the Civil War. Atlanta was burn down by Union troops at the end of the war and the Flames wanted to remember this. The hot red and gold trim jersey with the matching pants stayed with them to Canada. African American hockey fans the few they were back in the 1970 were not pleased with this decision to honor the burning of their town. The Flames moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada and took the flaming A with them and turn it into a flaming C.
Minnesota North Stars- always liked this sweater with the big N in the middle and the big yellow star at the top of the letter N- the colors made them the Oakland A’s hockey team of the mid-west. They moved south and are now the Ding-Ding Dallas, Ding Ding Stars, with the green, black, and white sweater and of course the big D in the middle.
Vancouver Canucks- went through three uniform changes the first was the stick in rink blue and green uniform then came the bright Gold and Black- this was an interesting uniform because the sweaters form a big V in the front, they wore a white, gold, and black sweater. Then they switched to the flying skate sweater of the 1990’s until they would return joining their northeast sports brothers with the ocean blue and green of the Seattle Mariners and Seattle Storm of the WNBA.
Quebec Nordiques- a member of the old-World Hockey Association the little engine that could in only 15 years they accomplished a lot winning 4 Division championships, if the other Canadian teams help them, they would still be north of the boarder not in Denver, Colorado. The Nords look like the altered version of the Montreal Canadiens in blue. The fleur-de-lis went completely around the sweater modeling the flag of Quebec. They were the first organization to use the white out when everybody in the building would wear white shirts- other teams followed suit. It was a shame that we never got to see the 1997 blue and grey jersey of the fierce Siberian Husky on the front of their sweater.
NEXT PART 3 BUTT UGLY NHL UNIFORMS
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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