Team USA Olympic Hockey Jersey History 1920-2010

Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET on USAHockey.com, the 2014 U.S. Olympic jersey will be unveiled. It will join a long line of jerseys that have been part of some of the greatest moments in American hockey history.

There have been plenty of hits and misses, and we won’t know much about where the 2014 jersey will land until it is unveiled Tuesday. However, it looks like we probably got a peek at what to expect based on this crest being on pretty much every single thing American players were wearing Monday at camp, including the practice jerseys.

If this is the jersey, it will be the first time in a long time the U.S. goes with a shield or crest versus a word mark since the 1940s.

[Update: See the new jersey here]

You may recall that in 2010, the IOC banned federations’ national teams from wearing the corporate logo of said federations. Therefore, USA Hockey’s trademark “Waving S” logo can’t be used on the jerseys as it was in Olympics from 1988 to 2006. So before the new jerseys joins the ranks to be judged against the rest, here’s a look at what it will be compared to for the rest of time.

1920 Olympics – Antwerp, Belgium

Hockey made its Olympic debut in the 1920 Summer Games. Yes, ice hockey used to be part of the summer Olympics. You can read more about that in this feature by USA Hockey Magazine’s Justin Felisko here.

The roster included Frank “Moose” Goheen, who is a Hockey Hall of Famer. Team USA took silver that year. Here they are in their blue jerseys:

USA1920Jersey There’s that crest. It’s a pretty plain sweater, but look at those bright breezers and tiny goalie pads. Pretty cool to get a look at the very first Olympic team and the jersey that started it all.

1924 Olympics — Chamonix, France

The jerseys didn’t deviate much in 1924 from 1920, though this was the first winter Olympics. Team USA once again took silver. Among those on the roster, Clarence “Taffy” Abel and Herb Drury, who each played a bit in the NHL. Abel was one of the first known U.S. regulars in the NHL. Lake Superior State University’s hockey team’s facility is named after the U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer.

The goaltender was Alphonse Lacroix, who had a cup of coffee in the old NHL as the emergency replacement of Georges Vezina for the Montreal Canadiens after the all-time great fell ill with tuberculous.

USA1924Jersey

Love the hats. (Photo via hockeygods.com)

1928 Olympics — St. Moritz, Switzerland

Team USA did not compete in the 1928 Winter Olympics.

1932 Olympics — Lake Placid, N.Y.

You may not know that Lake Placid hosted two Winter Olympics. Not bad for a tiny town in upstate New York. The U.S. was back in action on home turf and once again claimed silver. Canada won its fourth straight gold.

This jersey also featured the typical USA crest, but these jerseys deviated a bit with red and white arm stripes on the blue jerseys.

USA1932Team

This uni is one of my favorites of all time, actually (Photo via stateofhockeymn.webs.com). They are so incredibly simple and unfortunately this black and white photo doesn’t really do them justice. Here’s a look at the real deal in technicolor.

USA1932Original

These jerseys were eventually worn as throwbacks in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, with a slight alteration. Instead of the Olympic Rings topping the shield, it says USA as seen here.

1936 Olympics — Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

In 1936, the U.S. was on the medal stand again, this time winning the bronze. Oddly enough, it was Great Britain who stopped Canada’s reign as Olympic champions. Weird, right? As you may have noticed by the year and location, this was also an event under a cloud in Nazi Germany. This would be the last Winter Games for eight years, as World War II forced the Games to stall for two cycles.

USA1936Team

Here is Team USA, looking awfully happy to be sitting so close together. Again, there’s the crest, though this jersey featured some shoulder stripping and more pronounced stripes on the arms. (Photo via Wikipedia, Credit New York Times)

1948 Olympics — St. Moritz, Switzerland

So this one is really complicated and actually it’s something I had never heard about until researching this post. The U.S. was actually disqualified from the 1948 Winter Games, because two different organizations sent national teams. Weird, right? I thought so, too.

It’s actually quite a fascinating tale. You can read a truncated version of the happenings here. Long story, short, the Amateur Hockey Association was allowed to ice its team over the AAU squad that also showed up. The AHA team had some professionals on the roster, which didn’t sit well with the IOC. Though the U.S. technically finished fourth, the official IOC standings have the team listed as disqualified.

Here’s a link to the jerseys the AHA team wore. Very similar to the standard Olympic jerseys of years past, but a chunkier shield and less colorful striping on the arms. If you didn’t know, the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States is now known as USA Hockey.

1952 Olympics — Oslo, Norway

Once again the U.S. took the silver at the Olympics. This team came awfully close to gold, but tied Canada 3-3 in the final game to fall just two points short of the top prize. This team featured future legendary college coach Len Ceglarski, who spent many years at Clarkson and later Boston College.

USA1952Team

This was the first time the USA word mark appeared prominently on the jersey. Though small and off-center it shared the jersey with the AHAUS crest. You can see the beginnings of those iconic 1960 Olympic jerseys starting to form here. (Photo via Harrison Speedometer)

1956 Olympics — Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

This was perhaps one of the most important Olympic Games in history for this was the dawning of the Soviet hockey super power. Though underdogs then, the USSR took the gold for the first time at this Olympics. Once again, it was the Americans on the short end.

With a team featuring many of the great American stars of the era, led by John Mayasich, Willard Ikola, John Matchefts, Gordon Christian, Dick Meredith and Bill Cleary, the U.S. lost to the Soviets in the final round to finish second. Team USA was also led by legendary head coach John Mariucci (seen in the top right of this photo).

USA1956Olympics

Here, AHAUS figured it out. The big USA diagonally across the jersey makes no mistake of who is playing. The AHAUS patch is small, but still an important part of the jersey in the upper left shoulder. Great unis. (Photo via Vintage Minnesota Hockey)

1960 Olympics — Squaw Valley, Calif.

The Miracle before the Miracle. This was simply one of the most significant events in American hockey history. After 40 years of Olympic participation, Team USA finally broke through and won the gold medal, this time on home ice.

The team was led by head coach Jack Riley and had a host of American-born stars, many from the previous team. Jack McCartan had a virtuoso performance in net for the U.S., proving to be the key difference in winning gold. Also part of the team was John Mayasich, Bill and Roger Christian, Bill and Bob Cleary, Jack Kirrane and Dick Meredith. Many of these guys never stepped foot in the NHL, yet are still revered by American hockey history buffs.

USA1960

Here’s a good look at both the white and the blue jerseys. Also, you might note the fellow second from the left in the front row. That’s Herb Brooks. This is the photo made famous in “Miracle” in a scene where Brooks, played by Kurt Russell, looks longingly at the photo representing his missed opportunity.

Here’s another look at the jerseys a little more up close, as modeled by Bill and Bob Cleary (photo via GoCrimson.com)

USAClearys

Team USA wore replica throwbacks of these during the 2010 Winter Olympics and even beat Canada in the prelims while wearing them. In my opinion, these were the best a U.S. team has ever worn. Here’s one more look (via legendaryauctions.com)

USAJohnsonJersey

And if you’ve never seen the documentary about this team…. you should. It’s called Forgotten Miracle. Have a look at the trailer.

1964 Olympics — Innsbruck, Austria

In the long shadow of the 1960 team, this U.S. outfit failed to medal and placed fifth while the Soviet Union claimed their second gold. It would be the first in a run of four consecutive Olympics with gold. That run was ended by a bunch of college kids in Lake Placid.

The 1964 team included a few holdovers from the 1960 squad included Herb Brooks this, who eventually got to live his Olympic dream, albeit with a less successful side. This U.S. outfit finished fifth with a 2-5-0 record.

There are some conflicting photos out there as to which jersey is actually the 1964 jersey, but based on my limited research, it’s essentially the same as those from 1960.

1968 Olympics — Grenoble, France

Once again, the U.S. team failed to medal, this time co-captained by Herb Brooks. It was a disappointing sixth-place finish in Grenoble as the Soviets went on to win gold again.

USA1964

Here starts the more horizontal USA word mark and the scrapping of the shoulder crest. The jersey’s shoulders and striping is quite similar to the ones from 1960. (Photo via stateofhockeymn.webs.com)

Here’s a more up-close look from classicauctions.com:

USA1968upclose

Really like the numbering on these.

1972 Olympics — Sapporo, Japan

One of the lesser known American clubs, the 1972 team was quite a good one. It got Team USA back on the podium in the hockey tournament as the Americans claimed a surprise silver.

Among the big names on Team USA’s roster in Sapporo, Mark Howe, who was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Robbie Ftorek and Henry Boucha were another pair of players that enjoyed solid NHL careers.

The team was immortalized in the book “Striking Silver.” You can learn more about that here.

USA1972

Not a lot seemed to change between these jerseys and those from 1968.

1976 Olympics — Innsbruck, Austria

Unfortunately the 1976 club couldn’t keep the momentum rolling forward, as it finished fifth in Innsbruck. The team included future 1980 Olympian Buzz Schneider.

I couldn’t seem to find a verifiable photo of the 1976 Olympic jerseys, so I’ll keep working on that and update if I can.

Updated: A friend sent me this picture, which I believe are the jerseys they wore throughout the Olympics. Badger Bob Johnson is in the red jacket on the far left.

As you can see, these are a lot closer to what the team wore in the 1980. I really like the striping on these and the bold USA on the front.

USA1976OLY

That same friend also sent this and I just had to include it because it’s my favorite obscure jersey in hockey. These were most definitely worn during the 1976 Canada Cup, and I believe the guys in the picture below are also the 1976 Olympic Team. I’m trying to get more background on this though. Until then, enjoy! From what I gathered, this team below is the 1976 Canada Cup team, so the jerseys above are your 1976 Olympic jerseys. The Canada Cup team featured many players from the Olympic team as well.

USA1976

The Eagle and USA crest is so great, while the red stars on white shoulder pads and barber pole socks are just… wow. These things are infamous and I used to hate them, but I’ve grown to love them, not in an aesthetic sense though. They’re just so great because they existed at all and people wore them in competition. I love the 1970s. What an era for hockey.

1980 Olympics –Lake Placid, N.Y.

This team needs no introduction. You already know the story. Twenty years after Team USA claimed its first Olympic gold, a group of U.S. college players shocked the world in beating the Soviet Union and Finland consecutively to win gold, ending the USSR’s run of four straight titles.

What I love about this iconic team is also the jerseys. Team USA was wearing white when it beat the Soviets, in their traditional red, which seems fitting for the time. The U.S. jerseys are also very simple, with a gigantic USA across the front.

USA1980Celebration

The blue shoulders and white stars are a nice accent and really until looking at them more carefully, the most underrated part of the jersey is the blue under white for the name bars. Just a slick look. I like the whites a lot better than the blues, so I’m glad all the most memorable photos from this tournament are in the whites.

Here’s a closer look at the whites via sportscollectorsdaily.com.

USAPavelich

1984 Olympics — Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

Four years after the greatest victory in American sports history, the 1984 U.S. Olympic team finished a disappointing and shocking seventh. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been as big a surprise since this U.S. team was so young.

Among those on the roster, a 22-year-old Chris Chelios, if you can believe he was ever that young. The team also had the famed “Diaper Line” of Dave Jensen, Eddie Olczyk and the great Pat LaFontaine. Also part of the squad, Al Iafrate. So this was quite the cast of characters, and a lot of guys that went on to great NHL careers.

USA1984

The 1984 jerseys brought about the return of the diagonal USA, and the home whites brought in a lot more red. The blue jerseys are a little bit better I think. (Photo via Vintage Minnesota Hockey)

Here’s a look at the blue jerseys in action as Eddie Olczyk scores in a pre-Olympic Tour game against the Washington Capitals.

1988 Olympics — Calgary, Alberta

The U.S. got the same result in 1988 as it did in 1984 with a seventh-place finish as the Soviet Union once again claimed gold. This team featured a lot more familiar names to modern-day hockey fans.

Among the notable NHL stars who dotted the 1988 roster, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Tony Granato, Craig Janney and Eric Weinrich.

Also on the team, 2014 Olympics assistant coach Peter Laviolette and USA Hockey’s senior director Jim Johannson, who is also on the Olympic staff.

USA1988

This was the debut of the Waving S logo at the Olympics. It would be used until 2006 as the primary logo. I’ve always liked it as I think it incorporates all the national colors appropriately and implements that flag feel to it.

Here’s a look at the white jerseys in action against the USSR…

1992 Olympics — Albertville, France

This was a pretty darn good hockey team. After going through the preliminary round 4-0-1, Team USA made it all the way to the semis. There they met the Unified Team, made up of the countries from the now-defunct Soviet Union. Tied 2-2 heading into the third, some questionable officiating put the Unified Team on consecutive power plays. They scored three times to take a 5-2 win. Team USA then lost to Czechoslovakia 6-1 in the bronze medal game.

The team featured many future NHLers including the likes of Keith Tkachuk, Scott Young, Scott Gordon, Sean McEachern, Sean Hill, Bret Hedican and plenty more. However, one of the biggest bright spots for Team USA was its starting goalie, Ray LeBlanc. He had one of the shortest NHL careers ever, but boy was he good in Albertville.

There wasn’t much difference between jerseys in 1988 and 1992, but here’s a fun photo via the fantastic Third String Goalie blog, a great resource for jersey fiends.

Also, the 1992 team was part of one of my favorite obscure hockey things ever…

1994 Olympics — Lillehammer, Norway

There was only a two-year break as the IOC decided to hold the Winter and Summer Olympics in alternating cycles so that they were not held in the same year. That meant the Winter Olympics got pushed up.

Team USA finished a disappointing eighth in Lillehammer as Sweden won its first gold in dramatic fashion over Canada — a shootout featuring Peter Forsberg’s signature goal.

Among the Americans on this roster, Brian Rolston, Garth Snow, Todd Marchant, Mike Dunham. Peter Laviolette also made his second Olympic appearance on the club, which was coached by the late great Tim Taylor.

For the USA jerseys Reebok had the rights to the Olympic threads for all teams, so there were some differences from the previous two jerseys including giant Reebok logo on both shoulders and some giant cube-like numbers (which I hate).

Here’s Brian Rolston scoring a goal against Sweden and Forsberg getting roughed up to give you a good look at Team USA’s blues.

1998 Olympics — Nagano, Japan

Nagano marked the first time NHL players were allowed to participate in the Olympics. Women’s hockey also made its debut in 1998, which was great for women’s hockey worldwide, but particularly in the USA.

The men had an utterly forgettable and embarrassing tournament, finishing sixth just two years after winning the World Cup of Hockey. The women meanwhile won gold.

This was also a pretty forgettable year as far as jerseys go as well. These Nike unis were pretty darn ugly, with a lot going on.

USA1998

Well, the USA crest inside the circle is just unnecessary. You can’t see it in the picture, but the grey under the arms is very holey mesh. The grey is just a weird fit at all. I actually did like the numbers on this one, though. (Photo via nextimpulsesports.com)

This women’s team is still the last to win Olympic gold for the U.S. and featured greats like Cammi Granato and Karen Bye, as well as a 18-year-old Angela Ruggiero. Photo via IIHF.

2002 Olympics — Salt Lake City, Utah

With redemption on their minds and home ice to defend, the U.S. men had a much, much better showing than in Nagano. Unfortunately for both the men and the women, it would end in silver.

It’s been somewhat forgotten, but the 2002 Olympic tournament was extremely exciting. That U.S. team was a lot of fun to watch, both were, really.

The men’s team also represented the last breath of that greatest generation of players like Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios, John LeClair, Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Phil Housley and so many more.

Jeremy Roenick (R) of theUSA moves the puck before

These jerseys weren’t the best either, since I prefer the more traditional horizontal striping as opposed to what’s going on here, but I do like the big USA crest and the dark blues were pretty solid. Photo of Jeremy Roenick via Whatifsports.com.

USA2002Women

The whites were even better, for my money. Again, the lack of horizontal stripes kind of hurts, but that USA logo really pops on this jersey. Photo of Natalie Darwitz via gophersports.com.

2006 Olympics — Turin, Italy

This was another rather forgettable Olympics for the men and was as well for the women, who were stunned by Sweden to get relegated to playing for bronze, which they won. The men, however, with a fairly weak roster, tied for the worst finish by a U.S. team in any Olympics — eighth.

The previous Olympics was the signalling of the end of an era, while 2006 was trying desperately to cling to the past. Mike Modano, Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, Chris Chelios, Keith Tkachuk and Brian Rolston were all part of that greatest generation, but were also all past their prime years.

This was also the dawn of the Nike Swift jersey, as displayed by Bret Hedican (via vanityfair.com).

2006USA These jerseys once again do a good job of making the U.S. logo a prominent feature and the blue jerseys are far better than the whites, but there’s not a lot else to like. The vertical striping on the arms and the sides of the jersey were certainly unique and on the cutting edge, but hockey is a more traditional sport. These ended up looking more like practice jerseys.

I don’t think I hate these as much as I know some people do, but this is one of the bigger misses in Olympic jersey history.

2010 Olympics — Vancouver B.C.

That brings us back to the most recent Olympics. Again, a solid showing by both U.S. teams, but again, both achieved silver, falling just short on Canadian ice. That said, I don’t know if any Olympic games did more for hockey in the country as these with the exception of 1960 and 1980. Men’s hockey was among the most watched event of the entire games and set modern-day ratings records.

These Olympics marked the end of the Waving S on Team USA jerseys. Forced to discard the brand in favor of something simpler, the U.S. did a really nice job with these jerseys, as did Nike.

OLYMPICS: Mens Hockey Final-USA vs Canada

Photo via USATSI. The blue jerseys I thought were the best of the two. They have the simple USA across the front with the stars on the shoulders. There’s more intricate tattooing on the jersey that is hard to see from afar and the words “Home of the Free, Land of the Brave” can be found inside the cuffs.

For what they did with these jerseys on relatively short notice, you have to give credit to all parties. From the numbers, to the striping to the wordmark, all hit well.

The U.S. also wore the 1960 throwback jerseys which were just terrific, of course (Photo via ReviewSTL).

USA20101960

These are also the jerseys I seem to see fans wearing the most from these Olympics. They didn’t really deviate much from the original design, which again, is in my opinion the best they’ve ever had.

So where will USA’s 2014 jersey rank among these? We’ll find out at 11:30 a.m. ET.

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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.
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11 Responses to Team USA Olympic Hockey Jersey History 1920-2010

  1. the font on the USA for the 76 jerseys is awesome. I want to see that come back some day. You’re wrong about the nagano jerseys, that is a good looking jersey. Of the more modern era jerseys, the swift jerseys are awful.

  2. Pete H. says:

    This page seems to contain a possibility for the missing ’76 Olympic jerseys. Steve Jensen DID play on the ’76 Olympic team, so it’s plausibly the right one.

    http://www.heartlandhockey.com/lessons.htm

    Of course, Steve Jensen played on the traveling team for two years before those Games, and also played for the ’76 Canada Cup team (whose jersey is more widely circulated and which looks pretty darn similar to that, albeit with a different color eagle), so it’s definitely possible that the linked jersey was just worn during the Olympic tune-ups or as a Canada Cup alternate, etc.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Great work here, Chris.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chris,throwback jerseys as well as current styles and the 2014 Jersey (to release Thursday the 29th!) can be found retail at https://shopusahockey.com

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