Well, we’re nicely into July now so I figured it was high time for a post about… hockey? What can I say—I’m as Canadian as they come. Like many kids growing up on the prairies, I was obsessed with hockey as a child. I played on ice, on grass, and on concrete. I played table hockey and video game hockey. I watched hockey religiously every Saturday night (we didn’t have a TV for part of my childhood so every Saturday night my brother and I would race across the yard to my grandparents’ house to watch Hockey Night in Canada on their black and white television). I collected hockey cards and my brother and I would spend hours arranging them according to every conceivable category, memorizing endless numbers of players and their statistics along the way.
I would also spend hours “creating” entire leagues complete with imaginary teams, imaginary players, imaginary statistics… and imaginary uniforms. I would haul out my crayons and draw out sets of home and away jerseys, coming up with team names, and designing logos and colour schemes. I got reasonably good at this—better than many of those responsible for designing the real-life ones, in my humble opinion. Alas, my secret longing for a career in hockey uniform design never did pan out. But I have always retained my love for and fascination with hockey uniforms.
Last week a friend loaned me a book by Ed Willes called The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association. Reading the book spurred me to do a little online “research” into the history of the WHA and the NHL and today I found a couple of sites that would have set my 9-10 year old heart aflutter. They are sites devoted exclusively to hockey uniforms! The sites come from the same creator (Andrew M. Greenstein) and show every hockey uniform in the history of the NHL and the WHA. I realize that not many share my fascination with all things hockey-related, but I couldn’t resist posting a few pictures.
The Hartford Whalers! This was my favourite team during my teenage years. I actually had a white Ron Francis jersey just like the one above! For some reason I sought out the most obscure and hapless team I could find and cheered for them. I’ve always loved an underdog but “underdog” barely captures the futility of the Whalers for virtually their entire existence.
The New Jersey Devils, circa 1989. For the life of me I have never been able to figure out why they changed the green in these uniforms to boring black! My wife still has a pro-style autographed John MacLean red Devils jersey. They look even better in real life.
The famous flyingV’s! The Vancouver Canucks in the 1980’s were certainly a thing to behold!. The website has this to say about these gems: “This uniform set is widely regarded as one of the ugliest in NHL history.” No argument here! The Canucks seem to have gone through more uniforms in a relatively short period of time than almost any other team. Maybe they’re compensating for something…
And sticking with the yellow theme, how about the classic purple and gold of the early Los Angeles Kings. They need to bring these back!
These are for my friend J, who still laments the demise of the Winnipeg Jets. With any luck, maybe we’ll see these classic beauties again once the pitiful Phoenix Coyotes come back to Canada with their tails between their legs.
We wore uniforms like this for several years in minor hockey in Coaldale, AB. Still love ’em!
I always loved these Quebec Nordiques jerseys. The fleur-de-lis and everything!
And finally, my beloved Flames. I’ll always love these because they wore them during the glorious Stanley Cup win in 1989!
Among the interesting discoveries at these websites were some jerseys that were mostly new to me (I wasn’t a fan of hockey just yet in the 1970’s!). Here’s a few weird and wonderful ones from the crazy WHA.
The Vancouver Blazers? Apparently such a team existed in 1973-74! They can’t have been much worse than the current team trying to play in Vancouver :). One thing teams from Vancouver are good at, apparently, is churning out some spectacularly hideous uniforms.
1973-74 Chicago Cougars. Um, interesting.
The 1976-77 Minnesota Fighting Saints. Looks kind of like the Washington Redskins on ice…
The 1973-74 New York Golden Blades. I’d never even heard of them before today, but you gotta love the unies! The Golden Blades lasted a grand total of half a season.
And of course the 1978-79 Indianapolis Racers, forever immortalized as Wayne Gretzky’s first professional hockey team.
Well, thanks for indulging me on this trip down memory lane. I was just about tempted to haul out my paper and colouring crayons after browsing these sites for a bit today. Just about.