A throwback jersey is a jersey from a team’s past, brought forward into the present day. Fans love them, and unsurprisingly, so do merchandise sellers. They’re often a callback to a team’s most classic look or their most visually-striking retro aesthetic.
Despite being a callback to the old, throwback jerseys (a.k.a. sweaters) in hockey are a relatively modern tradition, dating from the NHL’s 75th anniversary game in the 1991-92 season. They originally were only for the Original Six teams, but eventually spread through the organization, and now any team can wear a throwback sweater with a V patch (for Vintage).
Curious about some of the NHL’s most eye-catching jerseys? Here are some of the best throwback sweaters out there:
Teams are traded to cities all the time, and they often change names. The Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995. But the Nordiques’ bright blue jerseys made a big impression on the ice. In a throwback context, the Nordiques’ iconic logo (sometimes termed “an igloo holding a hockey stick”) becomes extra-clever — is it a lower-case N for Nordiques, or a stylized capital A for Avalanche?
The Red Wings have consistently had some of the best designs for their sweaters. Their red and white pops, and fans and design experts alike rate their red, winged, racing wheel one of the NHL’s best logos. The Red Wings’ design is so strong that they don’t wear throwbacks very often. But as a fan, your retro fashion sense is sure to turn heads.
Like the Avalanche, the Carolina Hurricanes were the Whalers for many years — first in New England from 1972 to 1979, before they finally settled down in Hartford, Connecticut until 1997. The Whalers’ designs were bold and simple: dark blues and greens with white stripes and a W surmounted by a diving whale tail. (Although, to be fair, if you squint it looks like a handlebar mustache.) People on the street may not catch the throwback, but you’ll know you’ve spied a hockey fan if you get a grin.
The NHL’s New Jersey Devils were previously the Colorado Rockies (from 1976 to 1982). But now, the MLB’s Colorado Rockies are the Colorado Rockies (and have been since 1993). If that gives you a headache, rest assured: all you need to know is that the NHL’s Rockies’ sweater design — a blue mountain’s outline, marked with a red C, and brilliant red and yellow stripes — was instantly recognizable on the ice, and will be just as iconic when you wear it.
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