On Nov. 16, the NHL unveiled a new collection of jerseys called Reverse Retro, marking the first time in League history that all 31 teams have participated in a League-wide alternate jersey program. Each team worked closely with Adidas, the official uniform provider for the NHL, to design a custom jersey that brings together the nostalgia of moments in each team’s history with something new according to Dan Near, the senior director of hockey at Adidas.
The idea for the new jerseys first developed in March of 2019, according to Near. Since then, the teams and Adidas have been going back and forth with prototypes. Adidas presented each NHL team with mood boards, outlining possible conceptual directions for their franchise, Near told The Athletic. “Some teams provided a ton of additional direction, and some teams said ‘That’s exactly what we want,’” he said.
The NHL plans to have each team wear the Adidas Reverse Retro ADIZERO Authentic jersey in multiple games during the 2020-21 NHL season. Most of the jerseys feature takes on an old logo or color scheme, while some refer to a previous location of the franchise or bring back a fun character or legendary player from the team’s history.
For example, the Florida Panthers are wearing the logo from 1996, when they reached the Stanley Cup Finals. The Boston Bruins are sporting their logo from 1988, that both former stars Ray Bourque and Cam Neely, while the Pittsburgh Penguins’ jerseys feature a logo that hockey legend Mario Lemieux wore when he won his sixth scoring title.
The Los Angeles Kings not only took an old logo, which Wayne Gretzky wore in 1989, but also used the franchise’s classic purple and gold color scheme.
Other teams took their classic color schemes and adapted them to their current uniform. The San Jose Sharks took the colors from the 1998 season, while the St. Louis Blues emphasized the red from the 1995 seasons and the Vancouver Canucks took the gradient from their 2001 season. The Minnesota Wild updated their logo with classic colors as well, but they chose the original colors from the North Stars, a franchise that moved to Dallas in 1993.
Some of the jerseys also made a reference to cities in which they were previously based. For example, the Colorado Avalanche updated the Quebec Nordiques jersey. The Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995 to become the Avalanche. Avalanche center, Nazem Kadri, tweeted out a fire emoji in reaction to the jersey. The Carolina Hurricanes, who moved to North Carolina in 1997, paid homage to Hartford, Conn. by using the logo and colors of the Hartford Whalers.
While some teams looked to other locations’ jerseys as inspiration, the Arizona Coyotes looked back at their logo from 1999, the kachina. They changed the color scheme around it, but kept the logo. “I think they did a great job with doing these retro jerseys,” said Derek Stepan, a current center on the Coyotes. “I just think it’s something unique and different. It’s not just our standard colors.”
The Anaheim Ducks put the 1995 logo of their mascot Wild Wing on the front of the jersey. The Calgary Flames also went with a bold uniform by bringing back “Ol‘ Blasty” from 1998, the beloved team jersey that features a horse breathing fire from its nose. Upon the release of the jerseys, Mathew Tkachuk, a current left wing on the Flames, wrote on Twitter, “So awesome.”
While some teams made bold moves, others stuck to the familiar, not changing anything major about their jerseys. The New York Islanders, for example, opting to stick to the blue, orange and white color scheme that has represented the team for nearly 50 years. Whether teams took a risk or played it safe, it is clear that the NHL is paying tribute to the history of their franchises. “The Reverse Retro program is a celebration of the hockey jersey’s confluence of nostalgia, style and broad appeal,” said NHL Chief Brand Officer and Senior Executive Vice President Brian Jennings.