Hockey’s Best Throwback Jerseys

This season marks the return of the “third” or “alternate” jersey in the NHL. Other than outdoor games, NHL teams did not wear third jerseys least season due to it being Adidas’ first year outfitting the league. Over the summer, several teams unveiled third jerseys for the 2018-19 season, and they have been fantastic. Most notably, the Carolina Hurricanes will wear Hartford Whalers jerseys as an homage to the team’s past life. 

The Whalers jerseys are one of the best throwback jerseys out there, and that got me thinking of some of the other awesome vintage sweaters that I would like to see return. So I made a list of my favorites, as well as the most iconic players to don that jersey — in case you buy one tomorrow and can’t decide what name to put on the back. See if your favorite throwback made the cut! 

Phoenix Coyotes: 1996 to 2003 

Most Iconic Player: Keith Tkachuk
Honorable Mentions: Shane Doan and Jeremy Roenick

Growing up, I had some family in Arizona, so I was fond of the Coyotes. These jerseys are special because there is nothing that says 1990s more than this jersey. The animated graphics combined with the regional, desert flair make for one of my favorite throwbacks. This jersey is awesome because its style and patterns say everything you need to know about the era and location of the team who wore them. I prefer the white style more than the other two because I think the logo pops a bit more.

Keith Tkachuk was one of the best players to wear this jersey. What makes him the best option for this throwback is because his best years were in the 1990s, and many of them for the Coyotes. I want a player who when I think of him, I immediately think of him wearing a specific jersey. That’s what makes Tkachuk the best option.

Minnesota North Stars:  1988 to 1991

2003-04 Topps Lost Rookies #LRC-MM - Mike Modano

Most Iconic Player: Mike Modano
Honorable Mentions: Basil McRae and Neal Broten

It’s a shame that the Stars had to drop the “N” when they moved to Dallas, because these jerseys were iconic. These jerseys scream the era in which they were worn, and the N just feels more Minnesota than anything the Wild will ever wear. The North Stars just fit Minnesota, and when a logo/jersey represents more than the team wearing them, like an entire city, they stand out. The best part of this design is that I feel that both the home and away jerseys carry their own weight and are equally awesome.

If there is one player that optimizes the early 1990s North Stars, it’s Mike Modano. And that’s really all you need to decide that he should be the one representing the jersey.

Anaheim Mighty Ducks: 1996 to 2006 

Most Iconic Player: Paul Kariya
Honorable Mentions: Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Teemu Selanne
Special Honorable Mention: Charlie Conway

The design changed slightly over the course of the 1990s, but the Duck’s classic eggplant, jade and white jerseys with the Duck mask was, and is again, one of the greatest logos in hockey. Made famous by the Disney’s, The Mighty Ducks trilogy, Disney bought an expansion team and brought the “Quack Attack” to life. It’s too bad that they sold the team and scrapped the jerseys the year before they won the cup. However, I would argue that this is one of the most iconic jerseys in sports and is one that almost everyone can revel in due to the film series. The colors really popped together and the logo is instantly recognizable and is one of my favorites. I love both the majority white and purple jerseys, with the purple style gaining a slight edge over the white.  

With all due respect to anyone that has this jersey with J.S. Giguere’s name on the back — because that’s awesome — Paul Kariya is the ONLY option if you’re looking to add a Ducks’ sweater to your throwback collection. Not only is he one of the newest members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, he was also one hell of a player back in his prime. There were a lot of great and unique players to wear this jersey, but Kariya is the only one who seems to represent it the best because he wore it during his prime career years and never wore the post-Disney Ducks uniform. It is also my personal belief that this is the best throwback jersey in all of sports. A special shout out to anyone that has a Charlie Conway Ducks jersey, because those are awesome too!

Quebec Nordiques: 1980 to 1996

Most Iconic Player: Joe Sakic
Honorable Mentions: Peter Stastny and Guy Lafleur

This is definitely one of the more popular throwback jerseys I have seen. A huge reason is obviously that the Nordiques have since relocated and rebranded to become the Colorado Avalanche. But these jerseys have lived on longer and further from their hockey-crazed home than expected. From 1980-81 to 1995-96, the jersey underwent slight alterations, with the logo growing in size and the fleur-de-lis being spaced closer together. I’m biased towards the jersey from the 1990s because of the player I picked to represent the team. Similar to my take on the Star’s jerseys, I love that both the home and away threads have equally stood the test of time.

If you couldn’t predict that Sakic was the player I would chose, you must live under a rock. Not only is Sakic one of the best players of his generation, I have probably seen his Nordiques jersey more than any other jersey on this list. A major reason being that great players from defunct teams make for great throwback jerseys (see Mike Modano). Obviously Sakic went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the same franchise, and his legacy still lives on through this sweater.

Calgary Flames: 1981 to 1994 

Most Iconic Player: Lanny McDonald
Honorable Mentions: Mike Vernon and Al MacInnis

I knew I needed a jersey that would please the older crowd, so this one strays from the heart of the 1990s. These jerseys were awesome, specifically the solid reds, for a few reasons. The first reason is that most NHL teams don’t have bold, eye-popping colors like this in their color scheme anymore. The second is, the teams that do have those colors, don’t wear them as their jerseys primary color. Or they wear that color from head to toe (see NFL color rush). The Flames, in these classic uniforms, look like six guys dressed as tomatoes skating around a rink. I’m stoked that the Flames are bringing these back after a one-year hiatus. The all-reds are a classic.

Picking the most iconic player from this era for Calgary is also easy — because you already pictured him. The second you read “Calgary Flames: 1981-1994,” you thought of Lanny McDonald hoisting the Stanley Cup after winning it in what would be his last NHL game. McDonald was a legend on the ice, and had one of the coolest mustaches of all time. He is also a hall of famer which makes him a perfect choice to be the icon to represent these sweaters worn by the Flames. ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.

2 thoughts on “Hockey’s Best Throwback Jerseys”

  1. All good choices. I’d throw in the blue Pens jerseys from 1967 with the team name diagonally down the front and the old ugly Flying V Canucks jersey because it was so bad, it was good.

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