I like third jerseys. I like the idea of them.
On one hand, of course, they're little more than a cash grab, an opportunity for a team to hang another merchandise option in their store, something that might catch the eye of the casual shopper, or suck in the collectors who can't help themselves from buying every jersey a team makes available.
But on the other hand, they're an opportunity for teams to experiment with their look, to see if they can't find something else to either add to or improve upon the look of their franchise.
Occasionally, this goes horribly wrong. There are some truly terrible third jerseys in the NHL. The New York Islanders' third come to mind, which is unfortunate, because now I'm picturing it.
But when it works, it really works. There are some great third jerseys in the NHL. In fact, there are a few nice enough that, if I had my way, the teams would simply promote them into regular use.
Five, to be exact. And they are as follows:
Columbus Blue Jackets. I've never really cared for Columbus's regular get-up. I just don't like the way the red pants match up with the navy blue sweater.
That in mind, the thirds are right up my alley, because they discard the red from the uniform altogether. Instead, the accents come from a few well-placed deep blue and cream-coloured stripes that give the whole look a classier, more classic feel. The jersey on the left looks like a team that entered the league in the 90s. The jersey on the right looks like a team that's always been here.
I know some people aren't into the circular logo, since that was a sweater trend that's come and gone somewhat, and advocating a third jersey that doesn't sport a team's usual logo is a little abnormal. So fine, tinker with the crest, if you must. But the colour scheme and design of the third should be what Columbus's look is based around.
Minnesota Wild. Speaking of outdated sweaters, it's time for the Wild to retire the red-and-green look. Apart from the month of December, they simply look out of time. Plus, I hate to say it, but, as cool and innovative as Minnesota's logo is -- and it really, really is -- it doesn't stand out in any meaningful way. Maybe it's because it's buried in a circle. Maybe it's because I've never cared for the colour scheme. I'm not sure. But it's never really worked for me.
Like the Columbus's third, Minny's third just has a cleaner, more classic, less 90s look. I know some people find the Christmas tree jersey a little off-putting, but the all forest green look really works for me, especially in how it works with the move from white piping to cream.
I'm not 100% sold on the "Minnesota" script on the crest, though. It's a little funky and, frankly, I'd be fine if they lost all the little bits of red, both there and on the gloves. But again, the look of the jersey is just vastly superior to their regular duds. It's clear the organization knows it, too, otherwise they wouldn't have introduced Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the thirds. So just make it official already.
Calgary Flames. Just in case you thought from my first two choices that I simply hate the colour red, here's one where I think the red isn't prominent enough.
With the exception of the Albertan and Canadian flag patches, which may honour the Flames' heritage but don't honour the sweater's colour scheme or the eyes in any way, I don't hate the Flames' regular jersey. Or at least I didn't until they went retro with their thirds a few years back.
As soon as I saw the Flames in the red, yellow and white sweater, I realized how much I preferred the look without the black. As soon as you remove it from the picture, the yellow looks like it glows and the red looks more vibrant. On HDTV, the entire team just pops in these thirds and it's glorious. More please.
Vancouver Canucks. Now, I like both of these jerseys, which makes sense since they look pretty similar. Heck, from the back you can't even tell the difference.
But when the two sweaters are held up side-by-side from the front, it's hard not to notice how cluttered the home sweater is by comparison. I know there's some historical significance to the "Vancouver" in wrap text above the whale, but it really just makes the whole thing look busy.
I'm also not a huge fan of the orca logo. It's not terrible, and the Canucks did well to adapt it when they changed up the blues a few years back, but, to me, it's still looked photoshopped on ever since. The stick-in-rink, on the other hand, fits in a lot more seamlessly. Let's go with that.
St. Louis Blues. I'm probably going to catch a lot of flak for this one, since the Blues haven't changed their jerseys in quite awhile (apart from the slight updates that came with the changeover to Reebok Edge), but I really, really like their thirds. I like the uniformity of the design. I think the all-navy blue look goes better with the yellow piping, and I think the circular logo design really works with the colour scheme and with the note and the faded arch behind it.
The bright red thumbs down probably isn't fair in this case, since I don't dislike the Blues' regular look at all. I just prefer the alternate and I'd be completely okay if they decided to promote it from alternate to regular use.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney
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