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For those about to rank: uniform matchups for October 2021

Where do the Blue Jackets’ eight games of October rank on an aesthetic basis? Our resident jersey guru breaks it down in a new monthly series.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Hello, and welcome to For Those About to Rank, the only article series where hockey uniforms are ranked worst to first. This is definitely an original idea I came up with and not blatantly stolen from the fine folks at Hockey By Design and their Worst to First series. No siree. Completely different. How? Cause this one only talks about the Blue Jackets and their opponents. Sure, the CBJ may have looked like a dumpster fire vs the Red Wings and Hurricanes, but did they at least look good cosmetically? Let’s find out.

But first, let’s talk about what makes a good jersey matchup. I’ve talked about what makes a good jersey several times before: Logos, striping, color balance, innovation, etc. It’s also no secret that I’m not a fan of Columbus’ primary set. If you want more detail, check out my old FanPost ranking the league’s jerseys. But when it comes to jersey matchups, a couple more factors come into play. Now the jerseys need to work off of each other as well, and it isn’t just limited to having the best possible jerseys square off. Using Wednesday’s game against Colorado as an example, the Blue Jackets’ look of navy blue with red accents clashed with Colorado’s steel blue and burgundy base, as both used similar color schemes that don’t actually match, which is pretty offputting. However, having both teams use a full-length yoke does tie the designs together in a way. It’s a bit of a balancing act. So you need matchups with common colors and stylistic similarities, while also having actually good designs. We have eight games to rank, starting with the Home Opener.

#8 - Coyotes Away at Blue Jackets Home (October 14, 8-2 Win)

Hey, remember that list of three things these matchups need? This first one was a complete strike out. You have Arizona’s incredibly overrated and over-complicated Kachina jerseys facing off against our simplistic and modern homes. The Kachina pattern itself is great, no doubt about it, but having it in a pointed V on the arms, barely standing out from the black lower fill is not the move. And despite having no less than four dark colors featured prominently on their jerseys, none of the Coyotes’ black, dark green, brick red, or purple (shoulder patch) mesh well with the Union Blue of Columbus. In fact, each team’s respective shades of red are about as bad of a clash as you can get. Oof. Shoutout for not having any helmet ads, though.

#7 - Islanders Away at Blue Jackets Home (October 21, 3-2 OT Win)

I went back and forth on my rankings of these next two matchups, changing the order twice while writing this post. And I had originally ranked the overtime game vs the New York Islanders as high as third, but the more I look at it, the more I hate it. It’s navy and red versus royal and orange, so it also comes oh so close to matching while being off just enough to ruin it. Stylistically, you have the Islanders timeless look everyone forgets is barely a decade old up against our overly simple pajama party of a jersey, which isn’t great. The only reason this stays above water is because the Islanders’ uniform refuses to look bad. I’d swap the orange and blue in the striping but other than that it’s as good of a jersey as you can get. It just does not play off our home jersey whatsoever.

#6 - Kraken Away at Blue Jackets Home (October 16, 2-1 OT Win)

This is another matchup I had high hopes for that just isn’t as good as advertised. You’d think that a pair of navy-based teams facing off would look great, right? The Kraken even have that tiny red stripe to tie in with our pants. It should work! I just can’t get behind it. Again, you have our terrible home set with some glorified piping dragging down a classically inspired road set. The Kraken’s triple-blue looks awesome, and their logo looks amazing (even if it needs to be shrunk down a bit). But this matchup’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness; there’s too much navy blue, and our red pants and Seattle’s icy blue stripes aren’t enough to save it. Hell, the Kraken even use midnight blue, which is a shade darker than navy. For a game played on white ice, it becomes monochromatic, which is just too much to overcome.

#5 - Stars Away at Blue Jackets Home (October 25, 4-1 Win)

For me, there’s a big jump from the sixth seed to the fifth. This game slapped aesthetically. The Stars’ victory green yokes play off the Jackets’ red pants wonderfully thanks to the glory of complementary colors. Dallas also has a fantastic yet simple striping pattern, and the CBJ home is simple enough to let them be the Stars (get it?). It just somehow works. But... our homes are so bad. They take an outdated design element, the full-length yoke, make that the only design element, and also the same color as the base. Like, how have we not replaced these yet? There’s a reason the four games featuring this jersey are the bottom four games on this list, and for this one at least, it is definitely not the fault of the visitors.

#4 - Blue Jackets Away at Red Wings Home (October 19, 4-1 Loss)

The CBJ’s road set makes its debut on the countdown against the Detroit Red Wings and their timeless look of head-to-ankle red with white stripes. Perfection, aside from the helmet ads. The Jackets counter with their aforementioned road uniform, with the red pants and piping tying in nicely with their hosts. That’s about all, though. There’s a definitely stylistic clash, with the modern-leaning look of Columbus being a stark comparison to the classic vibes of an Original 6 icon. The Wings can only drag this one up so far.

#3 - Hurricanes Away at Blue Jackets Alternate (October 23, 5-1 Loss)

NHLI via Getty Images

A cool thing about ranking jersey matchups; if two jerseys are both great (or at least good) design-wise and similar in style, they can have completely different color schemes and still work together flawlessly. Think Maple Leafs-Red Wings or Wild-Blackhawks. This is the Walmart version of that. You have our incredible fauxback alternates, with double blue, silver, and vintage white, up against Carolina’s red-heavy away set. There are, however, some issues, but for once they’re mostly on the visitors to NWA. The simplicity of the Canes’ away does clash a tad with the five-stripe look of the cannon jerseys, but the main issue is with their jersey crest. Nicknames should never be put on a front of an NHL jersey. Bolts? Bad. Caps? Bad. Sens? Bad. And Canes, on a full-time, 41-games-a-season away? Very bad. But if you want to put “Carolina” or “Hurricanes” on the front, you need to have your actual primary logo somewhere on your uniform, even if it’s not that good of a primary logo. And this uniform does not do that. The shoulder patches feature the logo from their alternate, the helmet logos are replaced by Lenovo ads, and the pants are completely blank. That keeps this game out of the top two.

#2 - Blue Jackets Away at Devils Home (October 31, 4-3 SO Win)

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Going into this ranking, there were three spots I knew for certain: Coyotes-Blue Jackets would be last, Blue Jackets-Rangers would be first (spoilers), and Blue Jackets-Devils would be seventh. The Devils’ home is probably the worst non-CBJ jersey involved, and the Jackets’ away set won’t be able to pull the weight in any matchup. So, easy seventh. Obviously, that’s not what happened. This game is simply a perfect storm, cosmetically, for the two teams involved. The color schemes are practically identical. They’re both modern takes on classic designs with questionable results, and even both have dark shoulder yokes. It just works, in the most perfect bumbling of a fashion possible. In terms of having at least one good jersey, this game comes the furthest from it, but the synergy between the two is too overpowering to knock it down any further.

#1 - Blue Jackets Away at Rangers Home (October 29, 4-0 Loss)

In a similar fashion, the CBJ’s game from two days earlier vs the Rangers takes the top spot for having basically the same color scheme. You have two tones of blue; the royal blue of the Rangers vs the navy of Columbus. Both teams wear red pants. Even the sock stripes are similar thin-thick-thin patterns! And it’s almost impossible to drag down a top-5 jersey in the league, no matter what the other uniform is. Man, I’d kill for the Jackets to have a jersey as good as the Rangers’.

That’s all I got for this month, which made a nice little introduction into the series. Why do I say that? Because November will have 12 matchups, December will have 14, and January gets 16 plus the All Star Game! Should be fun! Check out Hockey by Design’s Worst to First series if you want to geek out over more jersey rankings, and let me know in the comments how completely wrong I am about all of this.