December 29, 2011
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On Jan. 2, 2012, the NHL will hold its fifth Winter Classic outdoor game, this time in Philadelphia between the Flyers and the Rangers. Which means we'll have our ninth and tenth Winter Classic jerseys making their debuts.
Most of them have been nostalgically awesome sweaters that helped make the game look even more unique and aesthetically pleasing. Others missed the mark.
Here are The 7 best NHL Winter Classic jerseys since the outdoor game gimmick began after the lockout.
For the purposes of this list, we're leaving out the Heritage Classic gear, even if it looked awesome.
7. New York Rangers (Citizens Bank Park 2012)
While we haven't seen it in action on the ice, this cream-colored sweater with the curved logo and the distinctive striping has the potential to look great outdoors. A weathered look for a team founded in 1926. Besides, Henrik Lundqvist digs it, and the man can dress.
6. Philadelphia Flyers (Citizens Bank Park 2012)
Looking back on the Fenway jerseys, they just come off really pedestrian. This sweater immediate evokes the Bullies and the great traditions of the franchise. Would we like a variant logo? Of course. But we also really dig the turnpike silhouettes for the captain and the alternates, too.
5. Boston Bruins (Fenway Park 2010)
We've played enough NHL video games to know that the Bruins have had their share of alternate jerseys throughout history. This one harkened back to Bobby Orr's rookie season and some years prior. It looked great on the ice, and was a departure from their usual duds. It can now be seen in many parts of Boston in its $20 knockoff incarnation.
4. Pittsburgh Penguins (Ralph Wilson Stadium, 2008)
Bringing back a sweater they last wore in 1980, the only improvement that could have been made to this blue and white classic would have been the Penguin-in-a-scarf logo that was about the only good thing from their 2011 sweater. Looked incredible during the snow globe that was the first Classic.
3. Detroit Red Wings (Wrigley Field, 2009)
With a beloved jersey design and classic logo, the Red Wings could have played it safe. Instead, they dramatically altered their style with a jersey inspired by their 1926-27 uniforms, featuring the classic Old English "D" in the center. Not immediately embraced by everyone, but time has been kind to it.
2. Buffalo Sabres (Ralph Wilson Stadium, 2008)
You have to consider the context with this one: The first Winter Classic was held while Buffalo was suffering through the scourge of the BuffaSlug. To have this traditional sweater return to the ice for the first time since 1996 was exhilarating; the Sabres looked like the Sabres again while wearing a white jersey.
1. Chicago Blackhawks (Wrigley Field, 2009)
It's almost unfair that franchise with arguably best looking sweater in the NHL (the Commit To The Indian in red) also has the best Winter Classic jersey. But the stripes, the colors, the retro logo and the whole kit — inspired by a 1936-37 uniform — made for a memorable alternate sweater that the Blackhawks used as a third jersey for two seasons. Now that's how you make a black jersey something more than a cliché in the NHL.
A brief word about the jerseys that didn't make the cut: The 2011 Penguins sweater just couldn't compare with the 2008 version; the light blue trumps the dark blue. The 2011 Washington Capitals jerseys was… well, a Washington Capitals jersey, and not even much of a unique departure given what the team wears today. And, as we said, the orange sweater for the Flyers in 2012 looks better than the white one from Fenway.