Ranking the NHL's line of 'Reverse Retro' sweaters

Justin Cuthbert
·9 min read
Maple Leafs Retro Reverse. (Via NHL)
Maple Leafs Retro Reverse. (Via NHL)

Never before has the NHL’s full slate of teams collaborated for a league-wide launch of fresh jersey re-designs. That means after the NHL and Adidas combined for its “Reverse Retro” line for official release in stores and online on Dec. 1, we have an unprecedented opportunity to fulfill something we so desperately crave — which is to rank professional sports teams based solely on what they’re offering to us aesthetically.

Let’s slot these new threads appropriately, shall we?

The Ten Best

1) Colorado Avalanche

Frankly, I’d be embarrassed to release a jersey that’s not this one today. Revamped by the customary Avalanche burgundy, the classic Quebec Nordiques logo and fleur-de-lis trim absolutely pop on the cleanest of white sweaters.

It is so simple, and so, so beautiful. And WE GET TO SEE NATHAN MACKINNON IN THEM for goodness sake.

2) Boston Bruins

This is a straight-up beautiful hockey sweater. Beautiful. And it is most effective in that it immediately ushers back memories of the legendary Bruins from previous generations.

While this might be somewhat blasphemous, the only knock for me is the bear on the shoulder, which belies the overall simplicity of the jersey — even if it is keeping with tradition.

3) Carolina Hurricanes

The advantage is built-in for the Hurricanes, who have one of the best, most classic logos and uniforms to lean on — and have done so already — with the Hartford Whalers belonging to their family tree.

They would have had to try to mess these up, and quite clearly didn’t.

The whales on the shoulders are way better — or at least cuter — than that mildly terrifying stitched bear on the Bruins sweaters above.

4) Minnesota Wild

I’m not sure the Wild’s logo looks better with the old Minnesota North Stars colour scheme, but it certainly improves the overall look of the sweater. It harkens back to such a classic look, which so obviously belongs in the league’s repertoire.

The lettering is the best aspect for sure, and the modern logo on the chest doesn’t look out of place.

5) Los Angeles Kings

Here’s another colour scheme that should be a staple for the league. The purple base with the gold trim is a bold and effective design for the Los Angeles Kings, and dates back to such an important period in the club’s past: when Wayne Gretzky was making history.

6) Edmonton Oilers

If anything, it’s a reminder of how good the Oilers jerseys should always be. Yeah, it’s not a complete overall or something silly around the alternate oil drop form the early 2000s. Instead, it’s just a gorgeous and classic sweater.

7) St. Louis Blues

I must say, I was a little concerned about the idea of reversing the colour scheme on a personal favourite of mine: the late 1990s St. Louis Blues alternates.

But the red is working here.

8) Toronto Maple Leafs

The most contentious revamps are the ones designed for timeless franchises — and more specifically with those that have only two primary colours. Because the Toronto Maple Leafs have basically had the same uniforms for 100 years — or at least have had either blue or white, always, as their base — it seems they have added up all the small tweaks made over the decades and thrown them all into a single sweater.

It’s a bit jarring, and the silver numbers on the back are questionable, but it’s a quality sweater overall.

9) Florida Panthers

Pretty sure these are the nicest jerseys the franchise has ever produced.

10) Montreal Canadiens

This almost feels dirty, because Montreal’s sweaters should never, ever change. But the results from a simple flip to the colour scheme — which is, of course, the entire point here — are unquestionably very nice.

If this was the original design 100 years ago, I don’t think anyone would be upset.

The other passing grades

11) New Jersey Devils

Green belongs on the Devils’ sweaters. Forever and always. These are very nice.

12) Pittsburgh Penguins

These lack ambition a touch, and perhaps I want to love them more than I do. But anything that immediately makes me think about vintage Jaromir Jagr is OK in my books.

13) Nashville Predators

Beautiful sweater, but not enough sheen on the shoulders. C’mon now.

14) San Jose Sharks

For whatever reason, the Sharks logo looks exceptional on the grey base, but it distracts from the fact that the rest of the uniform is somewhat lacklustre.

15) Philadelphia Flyers

They’re nice, but it looks like another small tweak from their typical redesigns — not an homage to previous seasons.

16) Winnipeg Jets

I’m having trouble seeing the connection to the 1979 expansion Winnipeg Jets, but this is a distinct look and a nice jersey overall.

17) Chicago Blackhawks

Has anyone seen the logo yet or nah?

18) Ottawa Senators

This is a little one note. And that note is red.

Novelty Item No. 1

19) Arizona Coyotes

Hey, you have to give them credit for choosing the most unconventional design in their history and revamping it. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity to not flip the Kachina design, which is among the league’s best.

This jersey screams roller hockey, but this is the most passable sweater among the truly out of the ordinary offerings. Plus, the logo is cool.

‘We didn’t follow the rules’

20) New York Rangers

Where are the red shirts?

21) Calgary Flames

Bringing back “Blasty” wouldn’t have been my first choice. That said, literally every “Blasty” jersey in history came on a black sweater. Cheaters.

22) New York Islanders

Did the Isles participate or?

The whiffs

23) Columbus Blue Jackets

With the Blue Jackets, therein lies a reason to not follow the rules.

24) Washington Capitals

This is a bit much.

25) Buffalo Sabres

I was just expecting better.

26) Tampa Bay Lightning

Not much to work with here.

27) Dallas Stars

From a literal glow-in-the-dark logo to one you can’t read in broad daylight.

Novelty Item No. 2

28) Anaheim Ducks

My word.

The regrets

29) Vegas Golden Knights


30) Vancouver Canucks

If not a play on the flying skate, we should have at least received some uniforms with green used as the base. Instead we have this cheap Microsoft Paint colour gradient thing happening from the top to the bottom of the jersey. Ugh.

31) Detroit Red Wings

This is a practice sweater right?

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