Skip to main content

The greatest sweaters in NHL history

by Barry Melrose
Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 season. 

When it comes to jerseys, I'm a traditionalist. I hate third jerseys. I love the history of our sport, I love the tradition of our sport, and you'll see that in my favorite sweaters. Today's jerseys are too busy. They're scared to be simple. Maybe that's what the kids want: the bells and whistles and all the stuff going on. People think different means more, but if you look at the jerseys I've picked you'll see they're very simple. I still think that makes the greatest jersey. Just look at the Green Bay Packers of the NFL. To me the simple jerseys are the best by far.

Here are the five greatest sweaters in NHL history:

5. Buffalo Sabres

I love the Buffalo Sabres jerseys, but I'm talking about the "French Connection" Buffalo Sabres of the early 70s. Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert -- the jerseys that Buffalo had when it came into the NHL. I just love the colors, and I love the striped socks, which are very similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs' striped socks. It was a different color than the old original six though. Very similar, but the colors popped and were sort of innovative for the time.

4. Boston Bruins

These are the Bobby Orr Boston Bruins of the 60s and 70s. They had the socks that were striped right from the bottom to the top, very simple, and I loved the black and yellow. When I played for the Cincinnati Stingers in the WHA, we basically had the same jerseys as the Boston Bruins. They were simple, the colors popped, and they had the yellow circle spoked "B" on their chest. Just a great jersey. I think I might love it so much because you used to see Bobby Orr skating around in it scoring all those goals and making all those great plays. Just a great look.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

I played in Toronto in the late 70s and early 80s when they switched to the jerseys with lines down the shoulders. Awful. I waited my whole life to play for Toronto and I never got to wear the traditional Toronto jerseys from the 1960s, which I think are the third greatest sweater of all time. I was excited about playing for the Leafs. They were my team forever and I always dreamed of wearing the old jerseys from when they won three straight Stanley Cups with Dave Keon. The jerseys are so simple, the blue and the white, the simple small Maple Leaf embroidered on the front. It's just great. They're sort of going back to them now, but it was always a mistake to switch it in the late 1970s. Philly brought the shoulder colors all the way down and a lot of teams started doing it. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

2. Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings have maybe the greatest crest in sports: The Winged Wheel. It's so simple, but it's just perfect. The wing symbolizes the speed of hockey. The wheel is Detroit, the car capital of the world. The embroidery on the red and white jersey, so simple on the front. A couple of red stripes here and there. Just a great jersey. The colors are good, but the crest is always what I thought set that uniform apart from everybody else. The Wings haven't even made minor changes in decades and there's a reason why. It'd be sacrilegious. That crest is so perfect. Other teams if you look at the TV quick you can't necessarily tell who it is, but if you just glance at the TV and you see the Red and white, you know it's the Detroit Red Wings.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

This is the greatest jersey in sports. No doubt about it. The colors are awesome, and even the third jersey I like the most is the black Blackhawks from a few years ago, but I still love the red. I love the color and everything about it: the great crest, the crossed tomahawks. It's just so eye-popping. The socks are great. The black pants are great, and you can still see Bobby Hull flying up the wing. It's just a great jersey -- the greatest jersey in sports, hands down.
View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.