On Thursday, Adidas, the NHL, and its teams all unveiled new “Reverse Retro” jerseys. Remixing classic throwbacks into new color schemes, the Reverse Retro program has made some of the wildest designs in NHL history, and some of the most beautiful. Which designs are which? We’ve got 32 new designs to talk about, so let’s dive in!
Boston, 1995-2006 Alternate: A little black heavy for my tastes, and I don’t have the same nostalgia for it as others. It’s a faithful recreation, but the logo still as derpy as the original, and having wordmarks as shoulder patches remains weird. Based on the reactions I’ve seen so far, I think it’s decently overrated.
Buffalo, 1996-2006 Home: I mean, it’s fine, and the yellow pops nicely, but it also seems like somethings missing. I think removing some of the logo detailing and combining the two bottom stripes really hurt it. As Hockey by Design one put it, “Less is not more, more is not more, just enough is more.” This exemplifies that. Also, I kinda want to see them use navy instead of royal here.
Detroit, 1927-28 Away: It’s alright, a classy yet fun design to bring back, but it’d be so much better if they used white stripes instead of black. It’s serviceable as is, but this seems like the wrong time for the first time for the Red Wings to use black, ever.
Florida, 1993-2007 Away: Holy cow, Florida! Powder blue is a criminally underused color in hockey, and combined with the red and yellow, turns into a great, vibrant representation of Miami, with the navy cuffs and hem holding it all together. This seems to have some split reaction so far, but I love it. Absolutely beautiful.
Montreal, 1917-Current Home: I think this design, more than any other, is hurt by expectations and rumors. When we heard “Powder Blue, Expos-inspired Habs Reverse Retro,” the design community was more than ready to put their money on the table. The money is now off the table. I think it’ll still be a fine, mid-tier jersey in the end, but it’s haunted by what could have been.
Ottawa, 1997-2007 Home:
Tampa Bay, 1996-99 Alternate: Objectively this is a 2 or so, but it’s fun as hell.
Toronto, 1958-67 Away: Objectively this is a 8 or so, but it’s boring as hell.
Arizona, 1998-2003 Alternate: Dessert colors for the desert jersey. It creates a wonderfully unique color scheme, and the black-maroon-burnt orange progression is beautiful. It’s easily the second best jersey in Coyotes history. Unfortunately, the best jersey was the purple one last time around.
Chicago, 1937-55 Home: Another jersey that’s been bashed on pretty widely that I think is decent. It’s a pretty good simplification of whatever Chicago was trying to do in the 40s, and using a red base is actually decent. It’s still on the lower end, but not the worst.
Colorado, 1995-2007 Away: An interesting hybrid of the Rockies of the 70s and the Avalanche of today. It looks decent, but that more shows off the strength of Colorado’s mountain template than the creativity of their design department. 6/10, which is better than their prior Reverse Retro. *ducks*
Dallas, 1993-99 Away: Aside from bringing back the Big Star jerseys, this is about as good as you can get. Real nice bevel effect on the central star. I’d maybe use white instead of silver, make the whole thing look a smidge less muted, but that’s about it.
Minnesota, 1978-88 North Stars’ Home: A perfect continuation of the 2020 Reverse Retro, now with consistent arm and hem stripes! I see some reviews docking points for being so similar to the 2020 version, but there’s no denying this design just looks great!
Nashville, 2001-07 Alternate: Another jersey hurt by what could’ve been. A navy version would’ve been great, but this is still a solid fix of the disastrous original.
St. Louis, 1966 Prototype: This one has been vastly overrated by most people, in my opinion. As a proud member of the Society of People Who Think that Name Should Mean Something (SPWTNSMS), the yellow base is questionable for a team called the Blues. The logo is clunky, the white stripes will not show up on a yellow base in game, and... I just am not a fan.
Winnipeg, 1990-96 Away: Is it a little boring? Yeah. Is it a classic look that’s fantastic with aviator blue as the main accent? Yes. Is the Goals for Kids patch still adorable? You bet your butt it is.
Carolina, 2019-Current Away: The Habs can get away with reversing a current jersey because they have almost nothing else to pull from. The
Hurricanes cannot. I get that anything from The Before Time seems like forever, but... really? I think people are overhating on it, but it’s thoroughly mid. 7.5/10 jersey, 5/10 Reverse Retro
Columbus, 2003-07 Alternate: I already have a full article on this one, but it ain’t pretty.
New Jersey, 1982-92 Away: I get the idea of combining the colors of the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies, the Devils’ two predecessor teams they relocated from, but it just sorta falls flat. The double-outline around the logo does not help, nor does the similarities to the Rangers’ scheme.
NY Islanders, 1995-97 Home: Yet another jersey hurt by expectations. As is, it’s fine, but change the bottom orange stripe to teal, and you got a real winner. The weird jumping on the sides from one height to another is also not great.
NY Rangers, 1996-2007 Alternate: It’s a great remix of the Lady Liberty jerseys that feels perfectly Rangers, but I feel like the equipment is going to make or break this one. If they just use their classic pants, it’ll be a 7, maybe an 8. But with navy pants? Could get some serious bonus points.
Philadelphia, 1967-82 Away: Out of the gate, this is easily the most overhated Reverse Retro. The Black sleeve look fierce on a white base, and the orange elements left have a great pop to them. Plus the wearing the ill-fated Cooperalls for warmups is iconic.
Pittsburgh, 1992-2002 Away: I mean, it’s fine, but what separates this from the other two black and yellow jerseys in their set? I guss it’s nice to see the Robopen back, and it’s a fine jersey, but it doesn’t stand out. 8/10 aside from the rest of the set, 6/10 with it. Also, screw Jeff Carter.
Washington, 1995-2000 Home: Another jersey that is way too high on the lists I’ve seen. The Screagle is a mid design with bad colors and a nice logo. I will not be taking questions at this time.
Anaheim, 1993-2006 Away: This is what the Reverse Retro is supposed to be. An absolutely beautiful hybrid of the Mighty Ducks jerseys and the Ducks’ current color scheme. I’d swap the beige and black, but no complaints beyond that!
Calgary, 1995-98 Away: Oh sweet Mary mother of Jesus and all things holy. This Flames jersey is red freaking hot. The red yoke plays off the black beautifully, the red-yellow-white progression reflects a natural flame perfectly, and the pedestal look is unique enough to be distinctively 90s without being garish. Dare I say that this is the best Flames jersey of all time? Like Honda Marysville, it’s closer than you think!
Edmonton, 2001-07 Alternate: I am thoroughly whelmed. Subbing out the grey trim for orange certainly helps, but there isn’t anything else really to write home about. Especially when they already have a navy third jersey.
Los Angeles, 1980-88 Away: If this was in last year’s batch, it’d be top of the class. When people are legitimately surprised that this jersey wasn’t already used, you know you’ve done a good job. But the fact we can compare it to the 2020 version, which I prefer, hurts it a tiny bit.
San Jose, 1974-76 Golden Seals: Everything in my soul wants me to hate the original Seals jerseys, but I can’t. And everything in my soul wants me to hate this Sharks version, but I can’t. And if they’re able to actually pull off the white skates...
Seattle, 1944-52 Ironmen: I get what they’re going for here, but... I just can’t get behind it. I think it’s the clash between old school and modern elements: Modern logo, with ice blue and ultra-navy colors, clashing with a retro template. Good idea, bad result.
Vancouver, 1962-70 WHL Canucks: Classy throwback with no major flaws that I can see, and the accuracy with the left number (on the upper shoulder instead of the arm) is nice. It’s hard to mess up a jersey with the Canucks’ color scheme, and this is also an immediate contender for the best jersey in their history.
Vegas, Excalibur and Stardust Hotels: With only six seasons and two templates of history to go off of, the Golden Knights took the fonts from the classic signage of the Excalibur Hotel for the diagonal text down the front, and the Stardust Hotel for the number font. It sure is an interesting take on the Reverse Retro concept, and it’s really cool! Plus, it glows!
Overall Thoughts, Top 5, and Bottom 5
Top 5: Calgary, Florida, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Arizona
Bottom 5: Ottawa, Seattle, Columbus, Detroit, Carolina
I think, on average, the 2022 series is about the same as the original series, but the 2020 version was more hit or miss. 2020 had a lot of great designs, but this year’s doesn’t have any complete duds like Dallas, Detroit, and Winnipeg were last time around. The good news is that, between the two, most teams have at least one jersey to be proud of. Except Columbus somehow.