Hockey is America’s biggest little sport. In the post-lockout era, hockey games are harder to find on TV and the average American probably couldn’t name five current players without the aid of ESPN. But for true hockey fans, the sport is as enthralling as ever and it still is far and away the best professional sport to watch live. Though, most professional leagues are now as polished as a freshly minted trophy, but hockey still feels endearingly ragtag in a way, though much of that is disappearing by the season. Yes, part of this stems from the sport’s lack of true mainstream superstars (in comparison to the NBA or NFL), and the aggressive, often manic gameplay, and of course the fights. But, a large part of it has to do with the jerseys. Tune into a hockey game today and you’ll see many of the same (or close enough to the same) jerseys that players have worn for decades.
Hockey jerseys maintain a certain old school eccentricity that other sports shed years ago. They aren’t bogged down by sleek graphics, or glitzy technologies, they’re just these boxy, brash pullovers that are closer to a sweater than a high-tech uniform. It all stems from the Original Six, the legendary first set of teams that made up the NHL back in the 1920’s. The Boston Bruins, the Chicago Black Hawks, the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. These six teams shaped hockey, not just in gameplay, but in style as well. It’s with good reason that these teams have largely kept the same jerseys since their inception – they remain the best set of uniforms in all of professional sports.
Comments on “An Ode to the Original Six.”
Possibly the best game to watch live. Not a bad game to play, either…just not at my age (65).
I loved the photos–where did they come from?
@Steve my dad is 64 and still plays hockey twice weekly ;)
Great article Jake. Hockey’s lack of popularity in America continues to baffle us here in Canada (where it’s a national obsession). For anyone interested, great hockey jerseys go well beyond the NHL, and Ebbetts Field Flannels has even done some reproductions of some really great ones. Worth looking into.
The wind in the trees , showers of ice shavings, the crack of puck against stick, the funny noise the puck makes as it scoots across black ice, a bonfire burning on shore. All hail the NHL and its superb Stanley Cup.
But for those lucky enough to grow up playing pond hockey – that is the game.
Great article and even better photos. Thanks.
PS In hockey they are called sweaters. Not jerseys.
Great article on a great sport!
Great lyrics and song by Tom Cochrane, that will resonate with every small-town person from Saskatchewan to Minnesota to Quebec:
Not many ways out of this cold northern town
You work in the mill and get laid in the ground
If you’re gonna jump it will be with the game
Real fast and tough is the only clear lane to the big league…
All the right moves when he turned eighteen
Scholarship and school on a big u.s. team
Out with his girl near Lake Mcclean
Hit a truck doing seventy in the wrong lane
To the big league…
Sometimes at night I can hear the ice crack
It sounds like thunder and it rips through my back
Sometimes in the morning I still hear the sound
Ice meets metal…
“can’t you drive me down to the big league?”
(At least it happened to Tim Horton at the end of his career.)
To bad about the Leafs pics………
Go Habs Go
The “original six” is a marketing conceit popularized by the NHL. It’s not historically accurate.
But never let the truth get in the way of a good story I suppose, per Mark Twain.
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