When the NHL emerged from its last work stoppage back in 2005, Reebok took over as the league’s official jersey manufacturer. Back then, the NHL looked much different: the Sabres sported red and black, the Flames wore a horse, the Stars wore a bull, the Oilers had a greasy cog, the Caps had not yet turned red, the Kings were purple, and the Ducks still looked like their Disney counterparts. The league has bigger problems to deal with in negotiations this week – pensions, contract length, CBA length – so it is doubtful that we’ll see major jersey changes any time soon. But just in case, here are the top five Bruins uniforms of all-time.
The Bruins wore this uniform throughout the World War II era, which saw the team defeat the Red Wings to capture the Stanley Cup in 1940 and gradually worsen over the next few years. Throughout its existence, the club has flirted with the all-yellow sweater, most recently appearing in the 2010 Winter Classic. The baseball script is a nice touch as well, reminiscent of the Minnesota Wild’s current thirds.
Some of the Bruins’ most dominant years were spent in these sweaters, with President’s Trophies in 1982-83 and 1989-90 and two Stanley Cup Finals appearances against an Oilers in 1987-88 and 1989-90. Featuring both black and yellow spoked B’s, Neely and Bourque donned this uniform as they became household names in Boston.
The Bruins’ current uniform combines elements of past designs for a sleek new look. For the first time, the “B” is serifed, and like the 1995-2006 design, it is a combination of both the black and yellow logos. The shoulder patches as well as the thirds are a tribute to the 1929 Stanley Cup team. There has already been plenty of iconic imagery featuring this uniform from the 2011-2012 championship run, from Tim Thomas’ endless highlight reel of saves to Chara hoisting the Cup nearly eight feet above the ice, ending the 39-year drought.
When grocery store tycoon Charles Adams founded the Bruins in 1924, he picked brown and yellow for the team’s colors – the same as his grocery chain, First National Stores. The 1929 Bruins wore these bad boys when they defeated the Rangers to capture the first of the franchise’s six Stanley Cups. It would be the last time the Bruins wore brown. Classy and old-timey with its bumble-bee sleeves, this uniform helped define the franchise in its infancy.
The influence of the Big Bad Bruins of the late 60’s and early 70’s on the growth of hockey in New England was tremendous, from the rejuvenation of the franchise, to the construction of new rinks and establishment of new leagues, to the rapid improvement of college hockey talent as a result of a generation raised on Orr, Sanderson, and Esposito on TV38. It was Orr who wore the black sweater when he scored “the Goal” against the Blues in the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals. Boston became a hockey town in these years, and this uniform helped establish a lasting identity of excellence.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Pooh BearAs far as I’ve encountered, 1995-2006’s “Pooh Bear” jersey is polarizing amongst fans – it’s either cult-like adoration or visceral hatred. Introduced as part of the kit that coincided with the team’s inaugural season in the Fleet Center, these gems/abominations featured zigzags around the waist, the team name in all caps on the shoulders, and a big bear head in the center.
All images by Andrew M. Greenstein of the Unofficial NHL Uniform Database. Check out his amazing work here.
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