Which former NHL jersey designs should make a comeback?

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The Ottawa Senators have had very little to cheer about in the past few years. Whether it be ownership quibbles, the departure of the team’s best defenseman in franchise history, off-ice drama or on-ice disasters, the Ottawa fanbase wants – and needs – a fresh start.

Sens fans will finally be able to cross an item off their wish list that’s lingered there for nearly 15 years: a design refresh. According to The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian, the Senators are set to bring back the team’s vintage 2D logo for 2020-21, with many believing a return to the team’s iconic inaugural uniforms could be on its way too. Fans wanted them and, at long last, they’re getting them.

For a fanbase on edge, that’s a good start. The Senators had one of the best jersey designs in the pre-Reebok Edge era, and the new Adidas jersey style would compliment the colors and original design quite well. In doing so, the Senators would join the likes of St. Louis, Colorado, Calgary, Arizona and Washington by successfully bringing back a classic uniform in recent years.

Nostalgia sells. There’s a reason the Hartford Whalers jersey has been so popular when the Carolina Hurricanes have chosen to wear them. With different jersey manufacturers taking over in the past decade and a half, teams have changed their looks to coincide with the different uniform styles. As a result, some slick, clean designs have been retired – even if fans truly loved them.

So which teams should consider bringing back a former sweater in the near future? Here’s a look at five that need to come back sooner rather than later:

Toronto Maple Leafs – 2006 alternate

The Maple Leafs have had a handful of different jersey designs over time but have more or less stuck with close variations on what we see today. For a club that’s been around for over a century, there’s enough history available for the team to bring back a new third uniform every year for the next half-decade and still have some options leftover – including this rarity.

The Leafs used this jersey for all but one season in the 2000s, and it was widely viewed as one of the NHL’s best alternate jerseys. It served as a throwback to the team’s home jerseys of the 1960s, when Toronto won its last four Stanley Cup championships. Once the Leafs switched to a new uniform, the club never won the Cup again. Coincidence? Perhaps. And with the team set to remain contenders over the next few years, it might be time to pay homage to a fan-favorite that’s simple, but snazzy.

Montreal Canadiens – 2006 alternate

For a team with such a storied history, the Canadiens haven’t had many alternates over the years. Perfectly understandable since the classic style we see today has remained a staple of the franchise’s history. This trend won’t change anytime soon. While the current red home sweater – which originally served as an away uniform – has remained rather unchanged since 1946, the Canadiens sometimes wore a white version of that same uniform at home between February, 1945 and November, 1946. A short-lived alternate, it wasn’t used in an official capacity again until the club re-introduced it as part of the NHL’s vintage jersey series in 06-07, then once more for a pair of one-offs in 2009 and 2016.

The Canadiens have only officially had one full-season third jersey in their history, so is it time for that to change? This uniform would be familiar to fans while seamlessly fitting in with the team’s aesthetic. Dare we say it’s even better than the home sweater? Either way, it’s a classic. It looks great and holds history as a rare third uniform for the NHL’s oldest club. It’s time to bring it back for more than just a one-off.

Buffalo Sabres – buffalo head

When the Sabres introduced the infamous “Buffaslug”, fans were instantly looking to change to something else â€“ anything else. Thus, the Sabres brought back the altered version of their classic Day 1 uniform we see today – clean with a great logo. No problems there.

After moving from the team’s original home at the Aud to the current rink at KeyBank Arena in 1996, the Sabres ushered in a fresh look. Gone were the iconic gold and blue uniforms of the past and in was the black, red and white threads. At the time, it was sleek, modern and eye-catching, but not everyone was fond of the new logo. The Buffaslug’s implementation in 2006-07 was not well received and the team eventually returned to its roots, with the jerseys from the new era swiftly left behind. It wouldn’t match the team’s current aesthetic, but it would be nice to see the club acknowledge its existence at some point.

New York Rangers – Lady Liberty

The Rangers’ diagonal wordmark is a classic that has spawned copycats in various minor pro and junior leagues across the globe. It’s simple yet bold with an appealing color scheme. Hopefully, the team never deviates from the design and it continues to be one of the league’s best uniforms.

But if you’re noticing a pattern, it’s that Original Six teams seem to dislike third jerseys. The Rangers haven’t had one since the league switched to Adidas in 2017, leaving behind a legacy that saw the team use an alternate for nearly 20 years. For most of that time, it used this version of the Lady Liberty jersey in either blue or white. It’s the only uniform in the team’s near 100-year history that paid tribute to an iconic figure in one of the world’s most famous cities and can still be spotted in abundance at Madison Square Garden each night. It’s often viewed as one of the best jerseys from the 1990s, an era where teams tried and often failed to create anything of substance in the attire department.

Washington Capitals – black Capitol jersey

When Alex Ovechkin made his mark as one of the NHL’s best young players in 2005-06, the Capitals had something to cheer about for the first time in over a decade. They had a star prospect to replace Jaromir Jagr and a renewed hope for a prosperous future. 

One of the main things missing from the early days? The beautiful black Capitol uniform with an eye-catching logo that featured two sticks, two stars, a puck, and the top of the White House covered by the Capitals wordmark. It wasn’t as iconic as the red, white and blue uniforms the team has been known for since Day 1, but it still represented an important piece of the franchise’s history. Plus, it was the only uniform to feature the White House – a unique element no other team could claim as their own. Black home jerseys may be a thing of the past for most teams, but very few ever struggled in the aesthetic department. It would be great to see an updated Adidas design in the NHL today, with the Caps paying homage to the rebirth of the franchise when it was most needed.

Which jersey would you like to see make a comeback?