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Volume 21 No. 1
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NHL teams take a casual approach to alternate jerseys; 11 clubs don’t even use them

The NHL has had alternate jerseys since 1991, but a third of the league chooses to outfit its teams in only two uniforms.

Eleven teams do not have a third jersey, more than any other league in pro sports. The reason teams ranging from Chicago to Philadelphia and Florida to Nashville choose not to have a third jersey varies.

For Chicago and Philadelphia, it’s about emphasizing tradition and preferring to have two uniforms that reflect a historic logo. For Florida and Nashville, it was because the team’s new owners changed their primary colors to red and gold, respectively, in 2011 and didn’t want the emphasis on the new color diluted by a third uniform.

“We wanted to start a tradition, and for us, introducing a third jersey would hurt those efforts,” said Predators President Sean Henry.

Since a third of the league doesn’t have an alternate jersey, they follow league protocol and wear their colored uniform at home and white on the road. The teams that do have a third uniform must wear it a minimum of 12 games a season for at least three years.

Among the teams that do have an alternate jersey, the way they determine when they wear it varies. Many franchises like the Boston Bruins choose to wear their alternate, throwback jerseys for a Friday night game branded as “Black Friday.” Other than that, President Cam Neely looks at the schedule and makes a recommendation for wearing it nine more times at home. He runs those suggestions past the marketing, ticket sales and retail departments. Then they finalize the selections for the season, and when the black “B” logo jersey is worn, the mascot, game-day handouts and video-board content feature it.

The Pittsburgh Penguins take a similarly casual approach for when they wear their powder blue alternate jersey.

The decision is made by the marketing department and approved by general manager Ray Shero. Co-owner Mario Lemieux has never gotten involved.

“There’s not necessarily any rhyme or reason to when we wear it,” Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said. “Marketing comes up with suggestions and takes it to Ray Shero for approval.”