This is how I grew up watching hockey. The two men on the covers of their respective issues of Sports Illustrated were the dominant forces in the game, and they electrified fans where ever they went. But perhaps the most notable part of those pictures are the jerseys being worn by Gretzky and Lemieux. You see, home teams always wore white when I was growing up with hockey, and you didn't have the myriad of alternate jerseys we see today. Because of this, you instantly knew who the home team was based upon who was wearing wearing white and who wasn't. With that in mind, I turn the forum over to Uni Watch Blog's Phil Hecken and the highly-respected James Huening for a little fun.
Phil: Ah, memories. I grew up during the halcyon days of the NHL when the Flyers, Islanders and Canadiens (and later, the Oilers) were the kings of hockey. In fact, from 1972 through 1990, other than those four teams, only the Calgary Flames (in 1989) won a Stanley Cup. Despite my feigned disdain for the sport of hockey nowadays, the fact is I was a huge fan of the game growing up. An back then (and up until the 2003-04 season) everyone wore a white sweater at home.
My fondest memories of the white jersey, of course, came while I was following the New York Islanders, a team who played (and still plays) in the Nassau Coliseum, a scant few minutes from my home. Back then, before cable television reached my neighborhood, local games were subject to a “home blackout,” meaning, the only Islander games I could ever see, unless they were somehow on national TV, were road games. Thus, the white sweater took on an even greater prominence — it was special. I had to GO to a game to see my team wearing their home white jerseys. Back then, since I was actually good friends with the son of the team’s dentist, I did go to quite a few games (and of course, had the best seats in the house). All sports, except for the NFL, had the home team wearing white. Ya know, the good guys. And when I’d go to those games, all the teams who came into the Nassau Coliseum wore a different color uniform, and that was cool too.
Now…you go to a game (or watch one on TV) and the road team (for the most part) always wears white. Of course, the “dark at home” can be traced directly to the sales of the dreaded alternate jersey (and yes, I know that prior to prior to 1969-70 the home team wore dark — ever wonder why the Rangers were always called the “Blue Shirts”?). But when I grew up, the home white jersey was king.
So, when it was mentioned a few days ago in the comments that “such and such” is a better white jersey than “so and so’s”, it got me to thinking that we should put this all to a poll. There are quite a few of the white jerseys in the league that I prefer to the alternate or dark jersey wears — and I bet I’m not alone. But, how do they stack up against each other? And would anyone besides me like to see the NHL return to “white at home”?
Today I’m teamed up with Uni Watch Pollster, James Huening, who’s assisting me with today’s column. Here’s James with the setup:
James: Oh, yeah, white at home in the NHL... I think only the youngest readers here wouldn’t remember that.
For me, as a Blackhawks fan, it was a little bit different. For starters, there were no championships and the home blackouts had nothing to do with not having cable TV. They had everything to do with “Dollar” Bill Wirtz and his supposed promise to his father Arthur as he lay dying that home games would never be televised as long as he owned the team. So, if I was watching the Hawks on TV, they were on the road.
No white sweaters.
No Barton organ.
No anthem. (OK, that one was actually on TV, but I was at the game.)
Hell, no Stadium at all.
So, yes, it was a special treat to get to see them wearing white.
But I digress. We’re not just here to reminisce about the good ol’ days. We want to know what you think of the current crop of NHL road unis. You know, the ones with the white jerseys.
So please, take a few minutes to complete our survey. Here are some pictures you can use as reference material. They’re broken up into groups of six and organized alphabetically:
Phil: Thanks for the setup, James. Now, it’s up to you to decide. If you haven’t yet clicked on the poll, there is the survey and a few quick questions. Please let us know what YOU think of the jerseys, in a simple rating system (like we did with the NFL jerseys). We’ll be back with the results in a couple of weeks, so vote early (and often).
Get in on the voting action, people. It seems that there is less of an appreciation of the white jerseys in the league since the switch to dark at home, so this is a chance to take a good look at the white jerseys. Once the results are tabulated by Phil and James, I'll post them up here.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!