Fans who enjoy jersey design and the unique looks teams can sport on a nightly basis won’t be thrilled to learn that the NHL will reportedly be doing away with alternate jerseys for next season.
That’s right. No more third jerseys will be in the mix next season, as Reebok waves goodbye to the NHL after 10 years as the league’s jersey designer and gives way for Adidas to come in and pick up where their subsidiary left off.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo, the league’s 30 teams — and soon to be 31 when the Vegas Golden Knights officially join the fray in 2017-18 — have been informed that in order to make “the initial implementation of new sweaters easier” teams will be allowed to only rock either a home or road sweater for the entire campaign. That’s a great number of alternates that will be retired at the end of the 2016-17.
The uniform database for this season at NHLUniforms.com shows the league is split almost entirely down the middle, with 17 teams rocking an alternate sweater and the remaining 13 without one for the current campaign. Most of the ‘Original Six’ is included in the group without alternates, with the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers being the only two with a regular alternate as part of their game-day attire. Also included in the no-alternate category is the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.
It’s an especially tough break for several of the league’s teams who’ve just recently introduced their alternates, too. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Bruins, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals have introduced new alternates. Some of those — like the Ducks’ orange ‘Mighty Ducks’ throwback, Flames’ white ‘C’ and Capitals’ retro-style jersey — have become instant favorites.
That the league is leaving every team without an alternate is somewhat puzzling given that it’s a potential revenue stream that is being taken off the table, but before teams or fans go blaming the league or Adidas, it’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time alternates have been taken away.
During the 2006-07 season, there were 17 teams that had an alternate jersey in their repertoire, but that season the NHL was starting to prepare for the switch from CCM jerseys to the Reebok EDGE jersey system that has been the standard over the past decade. Come 2007-08, all of those alternates had been nixed, with each team down to just a road and home sweater. That said, some of the alternate designs that had been much beloved in the years leading up to the change made their way to the new look.
For instance, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ star and flag logo that they currently wear was the team’s alternate before the Reebok EDGE system took hold. The red and green Minnesota Wild jersey was also the alternate pre-2007-08. Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks took the blue and green color scheme from their ‘Stick and Rink’ alternate in 2006-07 and transposed it onto their home and road uniforms when the new style came into existence in 2007-08.
It's already been reported by SportsLogos.net's Chris Creamer that the Oilers will be adopting their orange alternate as their home jerseys for the upcoming campaign, and that could make way for other beloved alternates, such as the beautiful green and cream jersey worn by the Wild and old-school Flames look, to make the jump to every-game outfit come 2017-18. Maybe we even see the awesome retro Senators logo replace the current Spartan design.
And for jersey fans let down by the lack of alternates, there may be something else to get their juices flowing next season. Several jerseys are sure to get tweaks as Adidas takes over, but there were three teams who got major overhauls when Reebok replaced CCM: the Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. There’s potential for a similar scenario with the switch to Adidas in 2017-18.
If that’s not enough, though, those jersey lovers can almost take it to the bank that teams will have alternates again come 2018-19. After all, there was again 17 teams with a third jersey by the time the 2008-09 season rolled around, just one season after not a single team had an alternate in the rotation.
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