HWAA: Top 10 USA Hockey Jerseys of All Time

In honor of Hockey Weekend Across America’s Wear Your Favorite Hockey Jersey Day, I decided to put together a little list for you. The U.S. National Team jerseys USA Hockey has trotted out over the years have been mostly good. So I figured, why not rank the 10 best?

USA Hockey has gone through many designs over the years, particularly in the last 20, and has a wide-ranging catalog to choose from. So, after the jump, a look at the 10 best USA Hockey jerseys of all time, and a brief look at a few of the worst.

The Bad and the Ugly

1976 Canada Cup

This one is in the so bad it’s good pile. As ugly as it is and as ridiculous as it looks, you gotta love the eagle. The stars on the shoulders and the stripes at the bottom make it a busy mess, and it’s glorious.

As bad as this one is, it pales in comparison to the blue jersey from 1976. It’s too ugly to post, so I’ll just link it here and hope the internet doesn’t blow up.

1994 Junior Goodwill Games

Man, it’s a good thing those rag-tag kids from Minnesota and the rest of the country got it together in time to beat Iceland. I mean, there’s a reason their play picked up after switching over to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim threads.

Despite protests from coach Wolf Stansson about the jersey switch, it was perfectly legal, because the Junior Goodwill Games are not real.

Either way, the U star S star A is brutal. The jersey numbers on the torso, off-centered? Come on. The gigantic star for no good reason? Please. And the greatest error of them all… sponsorship down the sleeves. Hey, hey, hey, this isn’t the Elitserien here.

They did America a big favor by switching to the Ducks home whites for the final scenes period.

We’re Team USA and we’re goin’ all the way. Yup.

Now for the real deal…

THE TOP TEN

10. 1998 Olympics

This jersey was on the cusp of making it into the ugly pile, but because of its historical significance, it begrudgingly makes the list. Cammi Granato made this jersey famous in Nagano, Japan, when she and her 1998 U.S. Olympic Women’s Hockey Team took the first gold medal in Olympic Women’s Hockey. It was the last gold medal won by the United States in Olympic hockey.

Without the historical significance, it’s a rather forgettable jersey. The USA encased in a blue circle never really did it for me and the grey at the bottom is pretty unnecessary. Still, you gotta respect a jersey that brought home Olympic gold.

Video: U.S. Women celebrate Olympic gold

9. 1996 World Cup of Hockey

Just like its 1998 counterpart, the World Cup Jersey would have made it to the ugly pile had it not carried so much significance. The 1996 World Cup was a huge deal for people of my generation.

This jersey was worn by the greatest collection of talent ever assembled by USA Hockey. Like 1980 before it, the 1996 World Cup inspired a generation of young hockey players and put the United States on the map as an elite hockey country.

The waving red at the bottom was pretty hideous, and still is. The blue jerseys are probably worse. But hey, if it was good enough for Chris Chelios, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Pat LaFontaine, it’s good enough for me.

Video: Game 3 of the 1996 World Cup of Hockey condensed into 15 glorious minutes

8. 2006 Olympics

I’ve never particularly cared for the Nike Swift jersey, but it was a USA Hockey staple beginning at the 2006 Olympics and going until the 2008 World Championships.

The U.S. didn’t have any success in these jerseys either. Aesthetically, it’s not a bad jersey. It’s relatively simple, with a somewhat small USA logo. I’ve always felt if you can avoid stripes going up the sides, you should. Either way, it’s not as ugly as the previous two.

Video: 2007 World Junior Championship Shootout — USA vs. Canada — Warning: USA loses. Sad face.

7. 2004 World Junior Championship

USA Hockey wore these jerseys from about 2001 through the end of 2004. A variation of this jersey was also worn by the U.S. Olympic Team in 2002 that won silver in Salt Lake City.

This jersey, particularly the blues, always looked pretty solid. The USA logo on the jersey is huge, which I love, since I think it’s one of the better logos in international sport.

The U.S. won its first World Junior Championship in 2004, with a roster chalked full of future USA stars like Zach Parise, Ryan Kesler and Ryan Suter. It was another significant event in USA Hockey history, as it proved the Americans were developing talent from the younger levels right on through. This win set the wheels in motion for the boom in American talent in the NHL right now.

Video: The game-winning goal from 2004 is hilarious. Marc-Andre Fleury went to clear a puck from the slot and ended up shooting it right off of Brayden Coburn and into his own net. Patrick O’Sullivan’s celebration has always cracked me up. Down to one knee and a fistpump after an own goal. Gotta love it.

6. 2005 World Championships

This jersey was only around for about a year, but it is one of my favorites. U.S. Teams wore this in 2005 and 2006 World Championship events, and its almost impossible to find pictures of it.

I really liked the shoulder stripes and the ties, as well as the horizontal stripes on the trim. This jersey came at a time right before USA went to the Swift design at No. 8. I wish they would have held onto this one instead.

The U.S. National Under-18 Team won back-to-back gold medals in 2005 and 2006 wearing this style of jersey. Just a very classic, clean look.

5. 2010 Olympics

When the International Olympic Committee informed its federations that the federation logo could not appear on jerseys, Nike came up with this excellent design as an alternative.

The USA script on the front is simple and classy. Where the jersey gets mucked up a little bit is in the tatooing on the sleeves, which you can see pretty clearly in the photo. I did like “Home of the brave” sewn into the cuffs, though. That was a nice touch.

The U.S. Men’s Olympic Team lost the gold-medal game in this jersey, the most watched hockey game since the Miracle on Ice, but it will always have a fond place in my heart for just how amazing that game was. The last-minute goal by Parise will go down as one of the all-time great USA Hockey moments.

Video: One of the all-time great USA Hockey moments.

4. 1932 Olympics

Man, the old days were cool. Here’s a look at the 1932 Olympic sweaters. Yes, sweaters.

The simplicity of the old days just gives such an incredible look. The simple crest with the Olympic rings and the stripes is pretty cool.

The 2004 World Cup of Hockey Team wore throwback 1932 jerseys, but nothing beats the original.

The 1932 team took the Silver medal at the first Olympic Games in Lake Placid. The rink, in which the 1932 Olympic hockey tournament took place still stands. It is now connected to the same building in which the Miracle on Ice occurred.

3. 2010 World Junior Championship

Of the modern jerseys, this is where USA Hockey got it absolutely right. Both the white and blue versions of this jersey are simply excellent.

The U.S. had planned to wear these jerseys at the 2010 Olympics as well, until the IOC made them take the logo off.

I’ve always liked the simple striping on the jersey, the stars below the numbers on the sleeves and the prominantly featured USA logo.

The U.S. won its second World Junior Championship gold medal in the whites, while both the U.S. National Under-17 and Under-18 Teams wore blue while winning the World U17 Hockey Challenge and World Under-18 Championship respectively. 2010 was the first year the U.S. had ever swept the three major U20 events, and they did it in these jerseys.

Video: John Carlson scores in overtime to beat Canada and give the U.S. the 2010 WJC gold medal.

2. 1980 Olympics

This jersey is not necessarily the most pleasant looking jersey in the grand scheme of things, but it’s beautiful.

The jersey kind of mirrored the team, when you think about it. This rag-tag bunch of kids going up against the best team in the world.

The jersey is so simple. The block USA across the chest, the stars on the shoulders, the blue-backed name plate. No frills. Nothing overly special, and yet this piece of fabric was part of the most significant event in the history of sport.

No matter what kind of jersey USA Hockey comes up with next, they’ll never make another one as important as this.

Video: The greatest moment in American sports history.

1. 1960 Olympics

This jersey may be 50 years old, but no other attempt has ever come close to capturing the beauty and elegance of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team jersey.

In my opinion, it is the greatest white jersey in hockey history, and nothing comes close. So often, white jerseys are a little boring, but this one invokes an awfully powerful feeling.

The U.S. captured its first gold medal in 1960 in Squaw Valley, Calif. The games were played outdoors, and this U.S. squad, a bunch of guys who would go back to normal jobs for the most part, beat the mighty Soviets. It was the first Miracle. The Americans were actually wearing their equally beautiful blue jerseys in the championship game against the USSR.

The 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey Team wore the whites in the preliminary round game against Canada, a 5-3 win. The NTDP adopted the 1960 whites as their home threads for this season. The 2011 World Junior Team wore them in Buffalo with a patch that included a Sabres logo as a nod to the hosts. Anytime this jersey gets worn, the U.S. is the best dressed team on the ice.

The diagonal USA, the blue shoulders, the red and blue stripes and the iconic patch, which sits just above the player’s heart. It will never be touched. Just a gorgeous jersey.

Video: Bill Christian scores the game-winning goal against the Soviets.

The U.S. has had some great jerseys along the way. The great thing about national team jerseys is that they are pretty short lived. Most times we only get to see them in short tournaments. So often, the jersey becomes a symbol of that team. A way to easily identify a historic moment or a big win. Just looking at the pictures brought back so many memories of watching some of these events as they happened.

The national pride evoked in international tournaments is unlike anything else in sports. There’s more to it than gold medals and world championships.

Almost every player will give you this stock quote when asked what it means to represent his or her country: “It’s just an honor to be able to wear the USA across my chest.”

Cliche, maybe, but accurate. National pride is a big part of what has helped U.S. teams find success.

How else do you explain the miracles of 1960 and 1980, or the landmark victories in 1996 and 1998? There’s always a little magic in international hockey, and the jerseys remind us of that.

Enjoy Hockey Weekend Across America, everyone!

Many of the photos you see came from Third String Goalie, a fantastic blog about hockey jerseys and a treasure trove of photos! Great stuff, be sure to check it out.

About Chris Peters

Editor of The United States of Hockey. Contributor to CBSSports.com, USA Hockey Magazine and more. Former USA Hockey PR guy. Current Iowan.
This entry was posted in Hockey Weekend Across America, U.S. National Teams, USA Hockey, World Junior Championship, World U18 Championship. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to HWAA: Top 10 USA Hockey Jerseys of All Time

  1. I was thinking I liked the 2010 Olympic version best, that was until I noticed the cuffs. Are those flames? Aside from that I like it, however not as well as 1960 – good call.

  2. mvanbron says:

    Phenomenal. I was stoked just to see the list of awesome jerseys and you hit us with an incredible bunch of clips. I’m saving the ’96 WC Final for later in my work day. Thank you!

  3. Great article on Team USA hockey jersey history. Have to say the 1980 one his our favourite!

  4. Mike says:

    I always liked the “Ribbon S” USA logo the best.

  5. Chuck says:

    Nice article Chris, you covered all the bases and supplied great info regarding all the jerseys and the stories behind them. With that being said, as you stated at the end of your blog, anytime a player can don the USA jersey it’s a great feat!

    Well done!

  6. Kelly says:

    First time I’ve noticed this, but the 1960 jersey is basically a NY Rangers jersey.

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