For hockey fans across the northern hemisphere, it’s been a long, hot, iceless summer. You trimmed your mullet and got choked up watching Super Mario highlights on YouTube. You laughed at the Senators and fell in love with Gritty. You almost sent an old lady into the glass in the dairy aisle last week. But you survived. You made it. Hockey is here, and after a brief hiatus, third jerseys along with it. So leave the "analysis" to Melrose and Milbury, and join us as we rank the polyester parade of new Adidas alternates that are just waiting to get bloodied.
15. Winnipeg Jets
Listen, we’re sure plenty of kind, talented people worked on these 90s-inspired Jets throwbacks, but there’s just too much dead space and the blue is a little too...Jolly Rancher? There’s always next year, which seems to be the Winnipeg mantra at the moment.
14. Colorado Avalanche
While the “C” crest is a winner, the rest of this Avs alternate is a bit of a mess, combining circles, rectangles, and triangles into a trigonometry migraine. The random Colorado state flag on the left shoulder and the slightly-too-dark color palate only make matters worse.
13. New York Islanders
The Islanders are responsible for some of the worst jerseys in the history of American sports (remember the great fisherman experiment?), but thankfully this 2013 Stadium Series riff is more meh than monstrous. Brownie points scored for the subtle Long Island silhouette on the collar, even if the Isles call Brooklyn home these days.
12. Washington Capitals
In the pantheon of D.C. throwbacks, there are the Washington Bullets and then there's everyone else. This is everyone else, and also a bit of a scattershot, with haphazard star placement and an awkward “t” motif keeping it firmly outside the top 10. Something tells us Ovi designed this thing after another Stanley Cup stand...
11. St. Louis Blues
See: The Jets, only with more yellow snow.
10. Philadelphia Flyers
The first in a trio of back-in-black alternates this season, the Flyers new third is solid, if unspectacular, and mostly destined for a Halloween night run-out every other year for the rest of eternity. But given all the goodwill Gritty has earned the Flyers in the past couple of days, they could have slapped a Penguins logo on this thing and gotten away with it.
9. Columbus Blue Jackets
Not sure if this one is actually good, or just seems like it in contrast to the Jackets’ butt-ugly regular strip, but either way, it mostly works. The splashes of sky blue pop nicely and the cannon crest should definitely replace whatever the hell this is on a full-time basis. Or just switch to scarlet, gray, and a pot leaf and call it a day.
8. Vancouver Canucks
While technically a historic jersey reserved for special occasions—as opposed to a regular third—the ‘Nucks' "Flying Skate" throwback celebrates the franchise's schizophrenic design history with one of the cooler retro looks of the season. Plus, this one is the winner of a Canucks fan vote, so even if the final product ends up looking like a Team Iceland jersey, they have no one to blame but themselves (and Roberto Luongo).
7. Edmonton Oilers
If you’re a purist, you’re going to get your Gretzky knickers in a knot over these royal blue thirds that the Oilers plan to use as their occasional home sweaters this season. Everyone else, just shrug and move on.
6. San Jose Sharks
Black is the, um, new black this season, but nowhere is it as intimidating (or flat-out sexy) as on the Sharks new “Stealth” thirds. These might turn to mud on TV, but for now the radioactive teal accents look great (and so does Erik Karlsson).
5. Anaheim Ducks
The knee-jerk reaction is that these long-awaited returns to the halcyon days of Paul Kariya should be much higher, but as we pointed out this summer, there are some fatal flaws here—including a glaring lack of purple—that hold it back from all-timer status. Also the Ducks have like 500 other alternates this year that are just as good, if not better. Just saying.
4. Calgary Flames
In a sea of blue, blue, blue this year, Calgary’s simple, fiery odes to their Championship era are a sight for sea-sick eyes. From the classic flaming “C” (sorry fire-breathing hell stallion, maybe next year) to the fat retro stripes, this one hits all the right notes...to “Eruption” probably.
3. Carolina Hurricanes
Another “well actually” here. Well actually, this isn’t the Hurricanes third sweater this year—that distinction belongs to these “Take Warning” trainwrecks—but it is their most noteworthy alternate, reviving the vibrant greens of the Hartford Whalers for a whole generation of hockey hipsters. Smartly, the Canes have opted for simplicity and authenticity and are going to sell like a million of these things because of it.
2. New Jersey Devils
I have no idea why the red-and-green Devils are so much better than the red-and-black Devils, but they just are. Maybe it’s the Puddy factor. Whatever the case may be, however, there’s no debating these festive home whites, even if they do remind you Christmas ‘91, when the dog knocked the Christmas tree into the punch bowl. Dad has never been the same since.
1. Arizona Coyotes
OK, these are gonna be a little controversial. They’re either dead last on your list or, like us, on top of the whole damn laundry pile. There is simply no in between. From the Puebla piping to the half-moon shoulder badge to that beloved one-eyed coyote, all the classic Kachina essentials are present and exquistely accounted for. The Coyotes may be hot trash this year (and every year, to be totally honest), but for every Saturday between now and April, they’ll make looking terrible look great.