In the history of the National Hockey League, there have been many expansion teams and several teams that have relocated. Each of those instances offered the team’s ownership the opportunity to create or modify a brand in an attempt to satisfy fans and generate a profitable, lasting business.
One of the most visual elements of any brand is the logo. In hockey, the logo is obviously important, but the most important visual element of a brand is the Jersey. In the business of hockey, the jersey, more than any other piece of merchandise, associates the brand with the team.
The New Winnipeg Jets Jersey
True North Sports and Entertainment, after naming formally renaming the Atlanta Thrashers the Winnipeg Jets, has been subjected to pressure of Winnipeg hockey fans to deliver a logo and jersey that will live up to the hype of the return of the NHL to the city. The release of the new Jets logo was initially met with divided opinions, but subsequent success of merchandise sales assured any initial negativity had been put to rest.
While fans wait anxiously to get a glimpse of the new Winnipeg Jets Jersey, the ownership group knows that perfecting the initial jersey design is a critical step in building a lasting and successful brand. While considerable brand equity in the name Winnipeg Jets exists from the former incarnation of the club, True North needs to put their own stamp on this franchise. Thus, the imposing task of leveraging the existing Winnipeg Jets brand equity into something new, unique, and built for the long term.
As excited and anxious as Winnipeg fans are, giving the new ownership group time to fully contemplate their first jersey design will hopefully prevent them from launching a uniform as terrible as these inaugural NHL jerseys.
5 Worst Inaugural Jerseys in NHL History
The Colorado Rockies joined the NHL for the 1976-77 season after the Kansas City Scouts were relocated to Denver. The Rockies maintained the Scouts color scheme as it matched that of the Colorado State flag.
However, they adorned the jersey with a hideous, almost equilateral, triangle “Mountain” with the letter “C” in it. The Red, Gold and Blue is (barely) acceptable for the jersey, but the Gold and Blue stripes on Red pants and the red “C” shoulder patch… not so much.
When the San Jose Sharks joined the NHL as an expansion club for the 1991-92 season, many wondered how the moniker Sharks and their Teal jerseys would be accepted by the fans.
The Home jersey at the time used White as primary color with Teal, Grey and Black as secondary colors. Not bad. But, the Road Jersey used Teal as the primary color. A bold move to say the least. Top that off with a terrible logo that featured a Shark biting through a broken hockey stick and we have the fourth worst inaugural NHL jersey of all time.
The California Seals joined the NHL in the 1967 expansion along with the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the St. Louis Blues. Part way through the initial season they were renamed the Oakland Seals.
If that wasn’t bad enough, their logo was a Seal jumping out of the letter “C” (Later an “O” when they were renamed). The Seal was apparently holding a hockey stick. The Green and Gold colors were familiar in the expansion year as the Minnesota North Stars also used them, but the Seals added a flurry of Blue stripes and used Blue numbers on the shoulder, while White numbers adorned the back of the jersey.
Predictably, the Seals altered the original jersey several times in an attempt to rectify the initial flop. The Seals and their array of jerseys lasted 10 years before moving to Ohio, becoming the Clevland Barons in 1976.
In 1993 the National Hockey League added two new franchises, the Florida Panthers and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. The Walt Disney Company, following their 1992 youth hockey movie The Mighty Ducks, decided to make a foray into the ranks of professional hockey. The problem was that they put their cartoon influence on the jersey of their very adult professional athletes.
The Jade and Eggplant (Green and Purple) jerseys featured yet another triangular logo with crossed hockey sticks. The cartoon kicker, however, was the angry goalie mask fashioned after the facial features of Donald Duck. The worst part of the inaugural Mighty Ducks jersey is that is wasn’t even close to the ugliest jersey they produced. In 1995 the Ducks introduced a “Wild Wing” Third jersey that is easily one of the most hideous jerseys in NHL history.
When the Winnipeg Jets were relocated to Phoenix in 1996, salt was thrown in the wounds of Jets faithful when their teams took the ice in Arizona bearing the name of the “Phoenix Coyotes”. Even worse, the inaugural jerseys worn by the Phoenix Coyotes featured a despicable mosaic color scheme of Maroon, Hunter Green, Black and even Purple. Do you think they used enough colors?
The Coyote holding a hockey stick logo might have had potential, but was drowned out by the awful jersey design.
What solidified Phoenix for first place in the worst inaugural jersey competition was the combination of their first standard uniforms and their inaugural Third jersey, which edged out the Mighty Ducks “Wild Wing” jersey as the ugliest Third jersey in NHL history.
In 1998, the desert met the ice. A green primary colored new third portrayed a midnight desert scape as a tail stripe, complete with cacti, a crescent moon, and the red rock mountains. It might sound beautiful, but it looks horrendous as a hockey jersey.
The same desert design would bleed out on the sleeves from elbow down to the wrist. The logo actually changed for the better, becoming simply a Coyote head with a half goalie mask face.
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