Last season, the NBA continued to do what the NBA has been doing best: daring to be an innovative and forward-thinking league. The NBA radically rethought the traditional light and dark home and away uniforms, instead opting to allow for the home team to select which jerseys they would wear on a nightly basis.
The true boldness of this move by the NBA could be found within the sheer number of jerseys each team could choose from – with each team having at least four different jerseys to choose from; a stark contrast to the NHL, where home colors and away whites are the norm, and in which only 15 of the league’s 31 clubs are currently sporting a third jersey.
Sure, the Hurricanes will don the Whalers’ green sweaters twice this season as a fourth jersey, but such instances remain few and far between.
As with most things, the NHL leaves us yearning for more. But it is the NHL, after all, and change will need to come gradually.
Instead of getting caught up in designing four new jerseys for every team in the NHL, we’d be better off starting small, and following in the NBA’s footsteps and simply ditching home and away uniforms. Instead, every team would have a primary jersey – most often worn at home – and a secondary jersey, to be worn when color conflicts occur, or on other occasions similar to the current usage of third jerseys.
Behold, the perfectly aesthetic National Hockey League:
Behold the NHL at its very best. Every team is utilizing its best jersey of all time as its primary uniform, and its second-best of a different color as its secondary (Chicago, who has yet to offer up an acceptable forward-thinking logo, has not been included).
The change would see 13 clubs revert back to white primary sweaters, making for meaningful and truly intimidating crowd whiteouts come playoff time. Meanwhile, two teams – Philadelphia and Carolina – ditch white jerseys altogether in favor of a light and dark contrast duo.
But How Will It Affect The Leafs?
The Leafs return to home whites for the first time 2002-03, and ditch the white leaf (at least until the league hypothetically moves to allow more jerseys within the rotation). Last year’s gorgeous AreTnas jersey makes a return as a secondary jersey (ideally with simply the “T” crest, but the thought here was to use pre-existing jerseys rather than concepts).
The change would mark the first time in the modern era that the Leafs would not have inverted jerseys of the same design at home and on the road. It would be a radical re-thinking of the club’s uniform set that would take some getting used to, but would lead to some gorgeous uniform matchups.
Case in point:
Divisional Rivalry Nights At Scotiabank Arena:
I mean, come on.
These hypotheticals would see the Leafs in white against Bruins, Sabres, and Senators throwback sweaters, while they would don their colors against the Habs and, most excitingly, against the Red Wings in a Color Rush-esque matchup.
How great would it be to see our boys in actual blue trekking across the country, particularly in amazing jersey matchups such as the Throwback Bowl in Ottawa, or more Color Rush fun out on the west coast?
And what’s not to love about the Habs opting for their blue secondaries at home, specifically to spite the Leafs and steal their colors right out from under them? A rivalry of passion and of fashion!
Do the thing, NHL. You know you want to.