As you may have heard, Friday marks “Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day” for Hockey Weekend Across America. It’s a fun and easy way to take part in the weekend and indirectly promote the game of hockey where ever you wear your jersey.
The hockey jersey is easily the greatest piece of fabric in all of sports. Is it really even an argument? You can’t tell me the Chicago Blackhawks logo isn’t the best in all of sports or that the Spoked-B or Winged Wheel are right up there. There’s something classy about a hockey jersey.
The fact of the matter is, no other sport features its primary logo on a uniform as prominently as hockey does. The jersey is one of the great symbols of the team-first culture that endears hockey to so many fans. In what other sport is the jersey held in similar regard to the American or Canadian flag? Don’t step on the crest, logo out on the locker stall, don’t ever let that jersey hit the floor.
Jerseys and logos have changed over the years, but many have stayed the same. The logo on the front connects Jonathan Toews to Bobby Hull, Zdeno Chara to Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky to Taylor Hall, Mike Bossy to John Tavares and Pavel Datsyuk to Gordie Howe. Players come and go, but the jersey remains. The memories remain.
Thankfully, a lot of NHL teams are going back to their classic logos and looks. Curse you 1990s for making people think they had to “modernize“. Perhaps the most egregious of all jerseys is to the left (thankfully, it was only a third jersey).
You can’t blame NHL teams for experimenting (though the “Wild Wing” Ducks jersey is still unfathomable). Hockey fans love buying hockey jerseys. It’s just a fact. Why shouldn’t we? There’s no better way to show team pride, or love of the game than wearing a jersey. I hope more teams continue to realize that building tradition with one logo tends to work and people will keep buying those jerseys and T-shirts and hats. Pardon me while I dismount from my soap box, I’m a bit of a tradition freak.
Even though the jerseys and logos do occasionally change, our allegiances don’t. Hockey fans are a loyal breed. Since we are a loyal breed, we must wear our team’s colors. While the hockey jersey doesn’t necessarily make the best fashion statement with a pair of jeans and sneakers, putting it on instantly connects us with our favorite players and our fondest memories.
I’m willing to bet you remember the first hockey jersey you ever put on. It might have been your youth team’s jersey or your favorite pro club. No matter what, you never forget the first time you pulled a hockey jersey over your head.
My first jersey was a blue Edmonton Oilers jersey my dad bought from the Homewood-Flossmoor Ice Arena in the early 90s. No name or number on the back. I’ll never forget it and it is still in a closet in my parents house. I still have no idea why I wanted an Oilers jersey, but I definitely remember pulling that blue beauty out of the closet, throwing it on and heading to the basement for some wrist shots against a wall (sorry, mom and dad). That jersey is part of my childhood.
I’ll never forget the first time I put a jersey on with my own name on the back, either. As an 11-year-old kid, that’s one of the cooler moments in your youth hockey career. “Hey, that’s my name on the back, over my own number!”
The hockey jersey is so much more than a piece of clothing. It’s part of our game, it’s part of our history, it’s simply part of us.
I had initially planned to share a few more stories about my personal experience with hockey jerseys. However, when I posed a few jersey-related questions on Twitter, I realized that reading your thoughts was way more fun. As I learned through reading people’s answers on Twitter, hockey jerseys have such different meanings to people. So, let’s hear what hockey jerseys mean to you.
What was the first jersey you ever owned? If you could have any jersey in the world, what would it be? What’s your favorite jersey of all time? What was your first youth hockey number? I mean, we can go on and on. Whatever you feel about the hockey jersey, I want to hear it.
The biggest reason I started this blog was to help inform fellow hockey fans, but also to stoke conversation and encourage interaction. So I want to hear from you. Make sure to leave your answers in the comments. It’s a fun topic, so chime in!
Don’t forget to wear your favorite jersey tomorrow and show your hockey pride. Coming up on Friday, I’ll celebrate my hockey hero and share some more HWAA-related links.