Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: 2018-19 NHL Alternate Jerseys

The new 2018-19 NHL season is nearly upon us, and that only means one thing: JERSEY UNVEILS!

Like during the transition to Reebok a decade ago, Adidas decided to forego alternate jerseys during the first year of their new Adizero system. Some say that this was to avoid overloading the production line with too many variants, although the cynics would suggest that this was done for all the alternate jersey sales in the second year.

But I digress. Point is, with a year under Adizero’s belt, the much-awaited alternate jerseys are finally here. Let’s take a closer look:

Anaheim Ducks

For its Silver Anniversary, the Anaheim Ducks took notes from its Mighty past and unveiled a retro-inspired alternate. Accompanying the classic logo, diagonal striping, and teal colour are modern twists such as a new shoulder yoke and black torso.

👍 Thumbs Up: This jersey takes most of what we love from the Mighty Ducks jerseys, including the badass crest and diagonal hem stripe. Contrary to other opinions, I actually like the shoulder yokes. They balance out the diagonal hem that used to dominate visually. I think once you get past the fact that it’s not supposed to be an exact replication of the older jerseys, things start looking better.

👎 Thumbs Down: I would have preferred the old eggplant base, but the change to black is slight and really isn’t too detrimental to the jersey’s design. What is, however, are the bright-orange sticks that draw so much attention away from the rest of the crest. Yes, orange is a major component of the Duck brand, but come on, so is the more understated gold which would have looked much better and matched the shoulder patches.

Arizona Coyotes

Unveiled the morning of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes turned back the clock with their 1996 Kachina jerseys – only this time on the Adidas template. The familiar masked coyote sits front-and-centre, flanked by Southern-style detailing in the stripes and collar.

👍 Thumbs Up: I love how true these throwbacks are to the original design, even down to the pattern on its collar. Really, the only difference are template-specific things like the black stripe around the neck.

👎 Thumbs Down: Nothing really. Maybe I’m a little disappointed we do not get to see a brand-new design but there’s no way I can complain about bringing these classics back. They’re just so Arizona.

Calgary Flames

Calgary brings back a fan-favourite in the form of their fire-red 1989 Stanley Cup-winning jerseys. With black completely absent on the colour palette, a white Flaming C, trimmed in yellow, is flanked by traditional striping of the same hues. Fun fact: when the Flames first wore throwback jerseys in this style for their 30th anniversary, they were but in the CCM style, despite Reebok Edge being the standard at the time.

👍 Thumbs Up: The team had a choice between their most-recent wordmark alternates, but stuck with their retro jerseys as per the de facto theme in 2018. The jersey is, naturally, traditional (no vertical piping!), and -again – different enough from the team’s main set to stand out.

👎 Thumbs Down: There is really not much I would change about this jersey, especially being a throwback. If it were a brand-new design, I’d be tempted to add some black for a little more contrast, but the blinding brightness works well for a team named the Flames.

Carolina Hurricanes

Like the Coyotes, the Carolina Hurricanes also unveiled their alternate jersey prior to the 2018 draft, going with a new – yet familiar – design. The jersey features a hurricane warning flag surrounded by deep blacks and classic striping.

👍 Thumbs Up: I love when alternate jerseys are able to stick to the team’s brand without looking identical (cough Canucks, Leafs). Black is not my favourite jersey colour, but I think it works well here paired with the bright red stripes. Oh, and they finally have the correct flag (although I wasn’t as bothered as others seemed to be).

Quick note: Not technically an NHL alternate jersey, but the Hurricanes unveiled an amazing Hartford Whalers throwback that they will be wearing for two games next season. It is ridiculously stunning.

👎 Thumbs Down: While Carolina’s previous alternate logo was criticized for being merely a storm warning flag, its proportions allowed for a more solid structure especially with the triangle behind it. The new, taller crest however, is way too vertical and imbalanced when matched with the horizontal stripes. I’m also not a huge fan of the grey shoulders, red piping, or blacked-out patches. I get that it kind of gives an Tron-ish, modern vibe (like the cross-check jerseys of yesteryear), it really detracts from the otherwise solid sleeve and hem striping.

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado adds to their already-impressive Adizero uniform set with the introduction of their 2018-19 alternate jerseys. Bringing back their 2015-17 thirds, it features sharp white shoulder yokes and striping along with red lower sleeves all overlaid a navy blue base. The crest modernizes the old Colorado Rockies logo, and on the jersey’s left shoulder sits the Colorado state flag.

👍 Thumbs Up: Colorado may have one of the best uniform sets in the league, or at least top three. The bold blocks of colours and clean-cut laces create a simple, yet decidedly modern look. The angle of the shoulder yokes complement the triangular logo well and I am a huge fan of asymmetrical shoulder patches (like the Coyotes jersey way back when).

👎 Thumbs Down: More of a knock on the Adidas template, but the collar style looks especially out of place here. It’s almost as if the jersey is low-cut to a point where the shoulder pads are showing. I’m not sure why the team didn’t go with white to match the adjacent shoulder yokes, like this.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Another Reebok-era jersey makes its return, as Columbus brings back their “Cannon” third jerseys used from 2010-2017. This navy blue jersey features elegant cream shoulders, as well as light blue striping trimmed in grey and cream. Its vintage, circular crest features an old-timey cannon – a nod to the American Civil War from which the team’s name is drawn.

👍 Thumbs Up: The jersey remains true to hockey sweater conventions with simple, horizontal stripes and a prominent crest (which may be felt from the look of things – awesome!). I also like the lack of shoulder patches, which works well to increase the simplicity of the uniform. The no-frills design of this Blue Jackets third jersey contrasts with the sleeker, more modern design of their main set, as all alternates should.

👎 Thumbs Down: Certain colours lend well to a vintage style, while others are more fitted for modern jerseys. For example, the burgundy and cream of the Vancouver Canucks’ heritage jersey is much more fitting for a throwback than the maroon and yellow of the Calgary Flames’ Calgary Tiger throwbacks. Similarly, this uniform’s modern grey and blue looks out of place, although the latter can be excused as part of the team’s branding. The former, however, can be removed for a cleaner look.

Edmonton Oilers

After a one year hiatus, the Edmonton Oilers will be wearing their royal blues once again – this time in a third jersey capacity. Since switching to their orange uniforms full-time, fans have been yearning to see the style of the Dynasty, with its tricolour stripes and orange shoulders. Nothing has changed from its Reebok iteration, other than Adidas-specific requirements.

👍 Thumbs Up: The blue and orange combination is both unique and timeless, although I must say I like this version better (less blinding and all that, you know?). The two colours complement each other well, and the alternating stripes frame the logo perfectly.

👎 Thumbs Down: I have nothing against the design itself, but I wish the Oilers tried something other than bring back their jersey from two years ago. I get it – several teams did the same thing, but what they brought back was their alternate jerseys from the Reebok era. This jersey, however, was used full-time since 2013 (and even more if you count their actual retro years), so it would have been nice to see something new.

New Jersey Devils

With their first-ever alternate jersey, the New Jersey Devils unveiled a blast to the past by adapting their inaugural uniforms. While not too different than their current set, black is now completely absent and replaced with the original green, and striping pattern slightly modified.

👍 Thumbs Up: Like Arizona, the Devils did a fantastic job with the faithful recreation. It is essentially a 1:1 copy of their 1982-92 jerseys minus the template specific details such as its collar. Overall, I think the design is a little busy, but I’m a huge fan of throwbacks regardless.

👎 Thumbs Down: Interestingly enough, they based it off their home whites similar to the Capitals’ alternates from years past. While doing this ensures differentiation from the Devil’s 2014 Stadium Series jerseys, it also severely limits their use to opponents on one-game road trips or special occasions.

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders refresh their 2014 Stadium Series look
(which the team used as their thirds for one year) with subtle but definitely beneficial refinements. Gone are the jagged shoulders and chrome, and in its place a clean blue jersey with traditional orange and white stripes. Simple white shoulder yokes complete the look, along with the redone crest. Finally, the orange numbers throw back to the team’s original jerseys.

👍 Thumbs Up: Although clearly based on the team’s previous outdoor jerseys (which featured monstrosities such as these), the Islanders made notable improvements and settled for a decidedly modern but clean alternate jersey. The changes to its crest, including removal of chrome accents, is the certainly the biggest improvement here.

👎 Thumbs Down: The only thing I want to complain about – and it’s literally such a small thing – is the weird hanger effect. Upon closer inspection, it’s Long Island, but from far away it looks like a stain.  Other than that, I actually think it might be the best (along with Winnipeg’s Thirds). It’s not a throwback, not a Reebok import, distinct from the team’s main set, and still uses brand colours impactfully.

Philadelphia Flyers

The storied Philadelphia Flyers continue their unimaginative practice of taking previously-used specialty jerseys and turning them into regular alternates. This time, they have adopted the black and orange from their 2017 Stadium Series uniforms.

👍 Thumbs Up: This jersey is incredibly clean, with just a few orange stripes on the black base. Like the Carolina alternate jerseys, the Flyers were able to create a distinct uniform while maintaining brand identity, which is awesome.

👎 Thumbs Down: Although I’m usually a huge fan of two-tone jerseys such as these, I’m not sure if orange and black has enough contrast to really stand alone. The striping would look a little more balanced if there was a high-contrast stripe flanking the orange, but then you lose the outstanding simplicity.

Pittsburgh Penguins

In one of the league’s later releases, the Penguins unveiled a gold third jersey inspired by those worn from 1981-84 as well as their Stadium Series uniforms. A triangle-less Penguin is laid upon a Pittsburgh-gold torso, with black and white striping on the sleeves. 

👍 Thumbs Up: The Penguins make good use of their signature Pittsburgh Gold with these jerseys, creating a uniform that stands out on the ice and among their regular set. The TV numbers placed on the shoulders is also a nice touch as a throwback to the previous era

👎 Thumbs Down: Seeing the skating penguin logo without its triangle background makes me realize just how much structure it adds. Similar to Vancouver’s Johnny Canuck fan jerseys, the shape of the crest is too intricate to stand on its own, although the two-toned colours help a simplify it a bit overall.

San Jose Sharks

One of the few all-new jerseys released for the new season, the San Jose Sharks Stealth jersey is certainly an eye-opener. Similar to Carolina’s new alternate, the concept is essentially black paired with a contrasting colour, as well as subtle, blacked-out details. In the Sharks’ case, the contrast stems from the teal arm striping and collar, as well as the crest and shoulder patches which have been reduced to the two aforementioned tones.

👍 Thumbs Up: This is a cool looking jersey. I wouldn’t call it traditional by any means, but the team does a great job creating a sleek, modern look without jamming-in features. Also, while some may consider the circuitry-detailing between the arm stripes a little gimmicky, it does represent the Silicon Valley where the Sharks play which is a nice touch.

👎 Thumbs Down: I mentioned this in the Hurricane’s section as well, but I’m personally not a huge fan of the Tron look, although the thinner stripes work better here than they do with CAR. I do think the Sharks should have opted for blacked-out shoulder patches, though, which would have reduced noise outside of the logo and main stripes. Right now they are a little distracting, but it’s not a huge deal.

St. Louis Blues

Retro is definitely the way to go with the Adidas alternates, and who can blame the Blues for going with their Winter Classic uniforms? Inspired by those of their inaugural-season, the jersey features classic white and yellow striping overlaid on a unique light blue base. At the centre of it all is the St. Louis Blues note, recoloured to match the torso underneath.

👍 Thumbs Up: The jerseys are aesthetically stunning. The light blue stands out from the crowd and the striping balances out the jersey perfectly while remaining clean. As a side note, I’m so glad the team did not go with the awful Adidas ribbed collar we saw on the Rangers’ outdoor jerseys.

👎 Thumbs Down: The most disappointing thing is the missing ribbed crew-neck collar and felt crest that we saw on the Winter Classic version. This pretty likely to be a Adidas limitation, and I expect flexibility to improve as time goes on as it did with Reebok.

Washington Capitals

Washington bring back yet another Reebok-era alternate: their red inaugural throwbacks. This classic design features crisp white shoulders, blue and white hem striping, and a whole lot of stars. Seriously, there are a total of 14 stars – 4 on each sleeve and six on the torso. Still, the team is called the Capitals so I guess it fits. All-in-all it’s not a wonderful design, but it is a great throwback.

👍 Thumbs Up: The Capitals were able to stay faithful to their original jerseys (regardless of the beyond-dismal record accrued by the team wearing them). The all-white collar was a great choice, especially because it would have been so easy to trim it with red. The design manages to stay clean despite all the aforementioned stars, and the bold colours create a timeless look.

👎 Thumbs Down: The jersey itself I really have no issues with. However, I do wish that Washington (or any of the other eight teams using throwbacks as their third) would do something new. 

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets decided to go clean for their first foray into third-jersey territory. Unveiled is an all-new design featuring tried-and-true hockey design elements over an aviator-blue base. Thick, white horizontal striping is flanked by thin black stripes both on its sleeves as well as along the hem. The crest is interesting; what may seem like a new “Jets” wordmark is really an evolution, taking elements from the team’s previous logos.

👍 Thumbs Up: The Jets were able to come up with a design which ties into its heritage while still remaining unique, which is certainly commendable. Its striping is very traditional (and based on their original jerseys) but also clean enough to fit into the modern NHL. The new wordmark is well thought out, adding a bit of flair to an otherwise plain jersey. Overall, I am glad the designers opted to keep things simple instead of utilizing all of Adizero’s bells and whistles.

👎 Thumbs Down: There’s really not much I dislike about this jersey at all. I love the simplicity and think it has potential to become a classic despite initial reactions. If I really had to change something, I would probably go for a more solid crest. The fancy script with all its thick, thin, and curvy lines contrast starkly with the bold striping. I wonder what it would look like with a modernized version of the old Jets logo.

Of course, these are just my opinions, and I’m typically a stickler for traditional sweater conventions if you couldn’t tell already. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

…more to come as jerseys are unveiled!

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Derek Woo

Like many other recent post-secondary graduates, I am still trying to figure out what the heck to do with this business degree. All I know is that I love taking in the world around me and putting the my feelings into words. Life is crazy, and there's always a story to tell.

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