The prominent use of orange in the team’s uniform had its origins in an unexpected place. Bill Putnam, who was part of the Flyers’ original ownership group that came to be headed by Ed Snider, was a proud University of Texas alumnus, and the combined use of a shade of orange and white was a personal homage to the Longhorns. It was also a way to differentiate the new franchise from pre-existing teams such as the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings that prominently used red.
“The hot colors are always more attractive from a marketing standpoint,” explained Putnam, who passed away in 2002, in Full Spectrum.
Most of the periodic changes in the Flyers uniform through the years have been subtle ones: a change in the sleeves here and striping added or removed there as well as league-wide changes in the tapering and fit of the jersey.
Small black memorial numbers (number 4 for Barry Ashbee in 1977-78, number 31 for Pelle Lindbergh in 1985-86) were added to the shoulder panels to honor fallen teammates in the season following their untimely deaths. In the 2016 playoffs, the Flyers honored the memory of Ed Snider with a uniform patch bearing his initials (EMS).
The Flyers’ shade of orange has also varied at times. For example, the Broad Street Bullies era teams sported a burnt orange shade that was closer to red than the lighter gradations of the color that later jerseys sported.
The following is a timeline of the history of major changes to the Flyers’ uniform and the adoption of special third jerseys:
Original uniforms (1967-68 to 1969-70): The Flyers’ original predominantly orange home jersey had a black and white neckline, white sleeves with a black band near the wrists, black numbers on sleeves, a thick horizontal white stripe near the waist line and a white number on the back. No NHL team, including the Flyers, had players’ names on the back on either the home or road sweaters. The predominantly white road jerseys essentially inverted the home color scheme, with orange and black sleeves, white numbers on the sleeves, orange numbers on the back and orange striping.
Slight variation on original jerseys (1970-71 to 1971-72): The Flyers jersey itself remained the same as the original in this time period but black outlines were added to the numbering in order to make the numerals stand out a little more.
Player names added, wider numbers (1972-73 to 1977-78): The Flyers first started to feature player names on the back of the home – but not road – jerseys for the 1972-73 season. In 1973-74, the road jerseys irregularly started to feature players’ names; most notably during the playoffs. Upon initial introduction, the road jerseys featured a white nameplate upon which the letters of each player’s surname were stitched. Later, an orange nameplate was substituted, in order to blend in with the primary color of the jersey. Less noticeably, the numbers on the jersey sleeves became wider in this era, which resulted in double-digit numerals running off the white/orange sleeves.
Widening of the sleeves (1978-79 to 1980-81): The Flyers sleeve stripes were widened in order to keep the sleeve numerals entirely inside the white/orange area. The rest of the jersey, including the horizontal stripe remained essentially unchanged.
Cooperall pants with vertical striping, no horizontal stripe on jersey (1981-82): The Flyers became the first NHL team to adopt long pants rather than traditional short pants with long socks. The primary reason for its adoption was that the padding was lighter and the design itself was said to be more aerodynamic. The Cooperall pants the Flyers wore in 1981-82 featured a white-outlined orange vertical stripe running down the outseam.
Additionally, the traditional horizontal stripe just above the base of the jersey was eliminated.
Solid black Cooperalls, horizontal jersey stripe (1982-83): In the second and final season of the Flyers use of Cooperall pants, the vertical stripe on the pants was eliminated in favor of solid black throughout the long pants and a Flyers’ logo added near the ankles. With the elimination of the vertical stripe on the pants, a horizontal stripe variation – now a solid black base at the bottom of the jerseys – returned and a second small horizontal black stripe was added to a portion of the base of the sleeves. The NHL’s Hartford Whalers also adopted Cooperalls during this season.
Traditional hockey pants return, dual sock stripes (1983-84): The National Hockey League formally required a return to traditional short pants for the 1983-84 season. Opposing teams’ coaches and goaltenders complained to the NHL that the Flyers’ solid black pants made it harder to track the puck. Additionally, there were alleged safety concerns for when players were knocked to the ice: long-pants clad players might slide faster into the boards or being more likely to careen into other players. With the return of short pants came the return of traditional hockey socks. The Flyers featured horizontal orange and black stripes on their predominantly white home socks and horizontal white and black stripes on the predominantly orange socks worn on the road.
Sock stripes change, jersey font (1984-85 to 1996-97): With only very slight variations, the Flyers’ uniform look, including the shading of orange and the fonts of the lettering and numbering – would more or less remain constant from 1984-95 through 1996-97. The sock pattern – a thick orange horizontal stripe with narrower black horizontal stripes above and below it on the home white sock and a thick white horizontal stripe with narrower black horizontal stripes above and below it on the orange road socks would remain virtually unchanged for a quarter of a century.
Black third jersey added (1997-98 to 2000-01): On November 28, 1997, the Flyers debuted their first “third jersey”, a predominantly black jersey that featured white sleeves, thin orange striping and orange outlining of jersey numbers and names.
Orange jersey temporarily “retired” (2001-02): The Flyers went back to using just two jerseys for the 2001-02 season. The black jersey, which had proven to be popular and trendy at the time, became the full-time road jersey. The orange road jersey went into a temporary “retirement” status, while the white home jerseys remained.
Orange third jersey with modified logo (2002-03 to 2006-07): On November 29, 2002, the Flyers reintroduced a third jersey concept. The new jersey brought back orange as the predominant color (along with mostly white sleeves and white and black striping) and, more controversially, featured a modification of the classic with a metallicized silvery lining added.
Reebok Edge jerseys, design and sleeve changes (2007-08): The NHL’s league-wide introduction of Reebok Edge jerseys brought about a more tapered look to the traditionally blousy jerseys. For the Flyers, the orange jersey and modified logo were discontinued. While the unaltered traditional logo returned full time and the familiar lettering and numbering fonts remained unchanged, the jersey sleeves on the home black and road white changed along the bottom portion to gradated angular orange and black (home) and white and black (road) panels moving down from the elbows to wrists.
Classic orange jersey returns along with black and white versions (2008-09 to 2009-10): As a third jersey, the look of the classic 1973-74 jersey, including a white horizontal stripe and white name plates even on the predominately orange sweater, returned in 2008-09. The only prominent difference, apart from orange being the home rather than road jersey as it was in 1973-74, was that its shade of orange was of the lighter variation that had become familiar over the years rather than the darker burnt orange variation of the older time period. In 2009-10, the classic orange jersey look became the primary home jersey. The black jersey became the third jersey alternate.
Classic look on both orange and white jerseys, black jerseys eliminated (2010-11 to 2013-14): After 2009-10, the black jersey was no longer used either as a primary or third jersey. Additionally, the white jerseys returned in 2009-10 to using the classic sleeve design to mirror the orange sweaters.
2010 Winter Classic jersey (January 1, 2010): For the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston, the visiting Flyers began to sport a black nameplate on their retro-looking white jerseys.
2012 Winter Classic jersey (January 2, 2012): For the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, the Flyers sported a different shade of orange jersey with a black panel across the shoulders, black numbering, an old-fashioned lace-up neckline (never previously featured on a Flyers’ jersey but once a common element of hockey sweaters), horizontal light tan striping on the sleeves and near the waist with thinner black accenting horizontal striping. The color scheme of the socks matched the jersey. There was also a vertical orange stripe added to the black pants with a small Flyers logo on the bottom right side of the black front panel.
Classic look plus “Winter Classic” style third jersey for day games (2014-15 to 2015-16): The Flyers classic look orange and white jerseys remained as the club’s primary jerseys for the 2014-15 and 2015-2016 campaigns. However, the team also re-introduced the wildly popular 2012 Winter Classic look (minus the Winter Classic patch featured for that one game) as a third jersey. The third jersey was used for all day games.
50th Anniversary jersey (2016-17): In commemoration of the Flyers’ 50th Anniversary season, the team introduced a special jersey to commemorate nearly a half century of Flyers history, tradition and pride in playing for a crest and organization that have stood the test of time. It features the club’s trademark orange and black, complemented by the addition of gold.
The club opted to integrate gold into the uniform, as well as in the Flyers campaign this season, as a nod to 50 years – what is often referred to as the ‘golden anniversary.’ Gold also serves as a symbol for the high standard and great achievements of the Flyers organization in its first 50 years.
Gold accents featured in the anniversary jersey include gold numbers on the back and sleeves, a three-color name plate, a gold-outlined crest on the front, and gold captain ‘C’ and alternate captain’s ‘A’ patches, as well as additional gold accents on the pants and gloves. The jersey also features “Est. 1967” on the inside neckline, as well as newly-designed socks.