At the beginning of March, I had a pretty basic idea: Get 68 jerseys into a tournament, have our Twitter followers vote which one was best, and be extremely disappointed along the way. More or less, that’s exactly what happened.
Having a vested interest in a supposedly non-biased tournament you run is a really bad idea, and if there’s one thing I care way too much about, it’s hockey jersey design. So, let’s go through the results of the tournament, look at some of the big surprises and disappointments, as well as some individual matchups I was shocked went the way they did.
The Blue Jackets’ Alternate jersey ended up winning the tournament, and considering that this website is literally called “The Cannon,” that shouldn’t be a surprise. Our tagline is “For Blue Jackets Fans,” at least 90% of our followers are Jackets fans, and 51.9% of them were willing to ride that fandom all the way through the championship. But really, deep down, we all know there’s better jerseys. It’s fine if it’s your favorite jersey, but it doesn’t compare to the Flyers, or Rangers, or Whalers.
Two other “upsets that totally weren’t” were the Coyotes’ Kachina jersey and old-school Quebec Nordiques Home. These jerseys are so washed in nostalgia that it’s a shock to me that they only made the Elite Eight*. And I get it. I love what the Kachina is going for; an unconventional, Native-inspired aesthetic, tying into the history of the Phoenix area and appealing to non-hockey fans. But the color selection absolutely kills it. There’s zero contrast between the black, green, and maroon, making the whole thing look washed out from a distance. And the logo is way too busy for a jersey crest. There’s definitely good things there, but the execution is lacking. Same for the Nordiques. The combination of an igloo, hockey stick, and lowercase n is quite clever, and I love the fleur-de-lis on the hem and shoulders. But the logo, if you ask me, has not aged well, and there is literally no other striping on the jersey. It looks like a practice uniform. Again, totally get the nostalgia bias, and the color scheme is beautiful, but could be so much more.
Finally, how the hell did Tampa Bay’s Home jersey make the Sweet 16? I mean, points for the bolt on the pants, and for keeping it simple, but they’re blatantly copying the Leafs.
Not only did Tampa Bay make the Sweet 16, they took out Nashville’s 2011-17 Home to do it. How? Well, I know how, Raw Charge retweeted the tiebreaker vote first. But how’d it get there? Did people just assume that they were Nashville’s current set? Did my overt passive-aggressiveness give Tampa too many sympathy votes? I don’t get it.
I knew this tournament would be tough for Outdoor jerseys, but man, I was really rooting for the Red Wings’ 2016 Stadium Series design to make a run. The Capitals’ 2015 and Canadiens’ 2016 Winter Classics just ran into buzzsaws in the overpowered East, but I feel like that Detroit design is just criminally underrated. And I get the Pittsburgh hate, but the Penguins’ 2008 Winter Classic is just gorgeous.
It was a tough outing for Reverse Retros too, with all of them eliminated before the Sweet 16*. Calgary’s 2022 and Los Angeles’s 2022 editions probably had the most potential, Arizona’s 2020 version almost knocked off the Kachina, and Florida’s 2022 design somehow beat St. Louis’ Home jersey (which should probably also be on this list now that I think about it). I don’t know, I just would’ve wanted to see one of them make a run.
But easily the team to get snubbed the hardest was the Dallas Stars. That Home jersey is excellent, with a gorgeous shade of green, unique in all of pro sports, paired with a fine logo and classic striping. Out in the First Round. Their 2020 Winter Classic combined elements of Texas hockey history beautifully, with a simplistic design straight out of the ’60s. Out in Round 2. Huh.
Enough complaining! A couple things I was pleasantly surprised by. For one, the Final Four and Elite Eight were mostly pretty good, with a very solid lineup outside of the Kachina and Nordiques. I’d have put the Flyers Home or Rangers Away in the East, and campaign for the Sharks’ new redesign in the West, but it looks great besides that.
A couple (typically overrated) cult classics that I expected to make a run didn’t get far. Most notably the Minnesota North Stars and Dallas’ 1999 “Big Star” design, were both eliminated in the first round, while the Screagle Reverse Retro got out in the First Four. The Blues’ throwback Alternate joined them in the Round of 32.
And while it came at the expense of the Stars’ home, it was nice to see Arizona’s 2012 Home get a win. I had the perception that the general public hated that design, but they like it enough for a 14>3 upset. Seeing Calgary’s 2022 Reverse Retro get a win was nice for the same reason, even if they got derailed by the Oilers.
What’d you think of the March Madness All-Time Jersey Tourney? What were your snubs and dubs from the bracket?
*In the process of writing this article, I realized that the Kachina mounted a late comeback versus the Panthers’ 2022 Reverse Retro, and should’ve made the Sweet 16 instead. Whoops.