Over in Finland, the IIHF has gotten through the group stage in their World Championships, determining which of Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the US is hindered the least by the Stanley Cup playoffs and apathy, or if any of the other top countries can catch up. It’s a fun, underrated time, and it would make sense to check in on the Blue Jackets partaking to see how they’re doing.
Or we could talk about jerseys!
There’s 16 teams in the event, so we’re going to rank them, 16-1! Many of these teams are using their jerseys from the Olympics in February, often with the logo swapped out, but there’s several new ones, and I never got to rank the Olympics, so this should be fun!
#16 - Kazakhstan (1-0-0-6, 7th in Group A)
While the gold pattern is fun and charming, and it’s hard to put a double-blue scheme at the bottom position, someone has to finish last. The lack of arm striping is devastating, with the homes being particularly barren. In addition, the logo is too complex to make out, and the blue backing doesn’t really match the jersey nor the pants. The blue yoke and thin striping on the away doesn’t do enough to get it out of the basement.
#15 - United States of America (3-2-0-2, 4th in Group B, faces SUI in 1st Round)
The next three countries all have a very similar design, but unfortunately, Nick Blankenburg, Andrew Peeke, and Team USA come in at second worst. The two primary jerseys have a navy chest stripe, with a royal blue stripe on top and a red stripe below, with the USA Hockey logo across it. The away jersey looks fine, but on the home it completely blends into the medium blue background, making the uniform basically just a blue blob. The alternate jersey has slightly better contrast, but at the cost of a cheap wordmark replacing the great wordmark. And it still, for the most part, is just a blue blob.
#14 - Switzerland (6-1-0-0, 1st in Group A, faces USA in 1st Round)
Team USA’s first round opponents, Switzerland, follows them in the rankings with a uniform that’s basically the same thing, except without a bad third jersey. The away set is nice, but the home jersey is not. I’m a proponent of the double-red color scheme, I think it’s really underused in the sporting world, but having two very similar shades with no other striping to break it up is just a bad choice. The logo is also incredibly plain, which would be nice if the jerseys had anything else going on. At least the black equipment helps to break it up.
#13 - Finland (6-0-1-0, 1st in Group B, faces SVK in 1st Round)
The host nation comes next, again with a very similar set to the last two. A royal and navy diamond pattern serves as the chest stripe, which is literally the only thing separating them and Switzerland in the rankings. That and the chest stripe actually going all the way around, instead of just ending to leave a block for the numbers.
#12 - France (1-1-0-5, 6th in Group A)
Next up are the Frenchmen, featuring Alexandre Texier. Similar to the 2020 NHL All Star jerseys, France has a grey music staff running across the chest and arms, as well as flag-based striping on the socks, and a subtle navy blue yoke on the homes. And it just doesn’t do much for me. Similar to the homes of Finland, Switzerland, and America before them, the navy and dark royal just aren’t distinct enough to separate visually, while the music staff pattern gets lost from a distance and looks too busy up close. Fantastic logo, though.
#11 - Italy (0-0-1-6, 8th in Group A)
By far the most interesting design in the tournament, the Italians just miss out of the Top 10. The home jersey is stellar; flag-inspired chest stripe perfectly framing the “Italia” wordmark, and a blue background simple enough to let it stand out. And, something almost unheard of in international competition - shoulder patches! The road jersey, however, is more of a miss, mostly due to the weird shoulder cap things Nike insists upon using for some reason. If they were blue, I could get behind it. If it was a full yoke or non-existent, I definitely would. But having one be green and one be red, while that does reflect the flag, isn’t the best move when the stripes half an inch below them change colors halfway across the arm. Fix that, and you potentially have a Top 5 set. As is, you’re just outside the Top 10.
#10 - Slovakia (4-0-0-3, 4th in Group A, faces FIN in 1st Round)
One of the weirdest things about Nike’s jerseys, to me, if their refusal to put any type of hem stripe on their jerseys. Only two teams have one, and I’m pretty sure Canada only does because they are just refusing to wear their horrible Olympics set. And no team suffers more from this than Slovakia. The big white yoke with a thick red outline is synonymous with the nation, but there’s just nothing else. The homes become incredibly top heavy as a result, while the aways barely scrape by enough to make it top 10.
#9 - Great Britain (0-0-1-6, 8th in Group B)
I’ll be honest... I have no clue why these jerseys are this low. They’re great! Simple chest stripe, great color scheme, no stupid Nike frills. Just clean, classic hockey. And... I can’t get behind them. Sure the logo is a bit complex, and the jagged top stripe is kinda weird, but it feels like those shouldn’t be deal breakers? I don’t know. Sorry, Brits.
#8 - Denmark (4-0-0-3, 5th in Group A)
Denmark, with their clean red and white look, starts off the top half of the rankings. Similar to Slovakia, their main problem is that their jerseys are just too top heavy. With the massive size of the Nike yoke, and how high up they put the chest stripe so it’s flush with the arms, the jersey is just too empty between the stomach and knees. Yes, the striping is great, and plays well off the logo, but the layout is just too far off for me.
#7 - Germany (5-0-1-1, 2nd in Group A, faces CZE in 1st Round)
Again, Germany is in a similar boat to Denmark and Slovakia. This team needs some hem stripes. But beyond that, what is there to separate them from Slovakia? It’s basically the same layout. To be honest, Germany just looks menacing. The black, yellow, and red color scheme is unique and intimidating, the scaling pattern on the yokes is awesome, and their logo is literally an eagle flexing on his opponents. You can’t get much better than that. Again, some actual striping would be helpful, but it’s hard to make this team look bad.
#6 - Norway (1-1-0-5, 7th in Group B)
If you ask me there’s four obvious groups in these rankings. 16-12 are the really bad jerseys, 11-8 are decent, and now 7-4 are all pretty good! Norway was in the 7 spot, but I had them in the “decent” block for most of this article. The chest stripe frames the “Norge” wordmark nicely, the shoulder caps actually work on the homes, and the aways reflect the flag nicely. My only critique would be to flip the caps to red on the away, but beyond that there’s not too much to write home about.
And then I noticed the polar bear, and officially fell in love with the set. That’s the type of subtle design and personality a lot of these teams were lacking. I still think the away set could use more red, but the red jersey is honestly one of my favorite individual jerseys in the tournament. Enough to boost them up to 6th overall
#5 - Canada (5-0-0-2, 3rd in Group A, faces SWE in 1st Round)
Another thing I don’t understand about hockey design on the international stage is Canada’s obsession with black. As a trim color? Sure! Black equipment? Why not! But you should not have it as the main color in your striping on your primary set. That makes no sense to me. On the plus side, Nike gave all the black across the jerseys a carbon fiber effect, which does look cool, and I’m not sure it’d look as good on white or red. And they do have actual hem stripes. That alone is enough for a top-half finish. But, like... throw some more white on there! Please.
#4 - Czechia (4-0-1-2, 3rd in Group B, faces GER in 1st Round)
Czechia just misses the podium with a really unique set. Keeping the uniform mostly red and white, with blue trim, helmets, and gloves, is a look that feels like it should be bad but ends up working really well on-ice. Not to mention that their logo is easily the best in the tournament. But what puts it over the top for me is the faux-fur striping pattern on the socks and cuffs. It matches the logo perfectly, and is really noticeable and enjoyable without being too overly in your face. Not to mention their the only team in the tournament with cuff striping, somehow.
#3 - Latvia (2-1-0-4, 5th in Group B)
If you ask me, there’s only three teams in this tournament with truly great jerseys, and Latvia is one of them. While Elvis Merzlikins might have underperformed at Worlds, with an .862 sv% and a 4.26 GAA, his team looked great doing it. Latvia rocked the ultra-rare double-maroon color scheme, with a clean layout to bring it all together. I honestly have no complaints, this is a great looking jersey!
#2 - Austria (1-1-2-3, 6th in Group B)
Austria basically took Latvia’s set, turned up the saturation, and then made the best design choice in the tournament. That yoke treatment is awesome! It’s entirely unique to them, is only possible on the Nike template, and just looks amazing! I honestly believe Nike’s template is incredibly restrictive in the possible designs you can make on it, but Austria’s set proves that limitations can become brilliant features if they’re in the hands of a talented enough designer. I’m made somewhere around 2000 jersey concepts over the course of nearly six years (no, I don’t have a problem), and never once did a yoke treatment like this occur to me. A brilliant design, well deserving of the silver medal.
#1 - Sweden (5-1-1-0, 2nd in Group B, faces CAN in 1st Round)
I mean, was there any doubt? Sweden’s look is iconic, and even Nike knows not to mess with it. Funky shoulder caps? Couldn’t care less. Stupid, futuristic feather things down the arms? No thank you. Plastic collars, stars, or riveting? No need. It’s the best look in international hockey, and everyone knows it.
What do you think? How’d you rank the World Championship’s jerseys? Let us know in the comments. And thanks to the IIHF for posting a ton of high quality images that are all consistently 2000 pixels wide, I couldn’t write this article without them.