When the Hockey Sweater Became Dark and Light
A Journey into Hockey
Fashion now plays a large role in Hockey.
In addition, the dark and light sweaters (jerseys), there "third jerseys", as will as those described as heritage, retro or commemorative. There are even uniform tops to honor those battling cancer and veterans of the armed services.
Most of us take it for granted that there were always dark and light unis.
In fact, it was not until the 1927-28 that the first second sweater for a team was instituted.
Until that time uniforms were uniformly basic. Since most players also played football in the summertime, they simply borrowed these pants for hockey games, then added a turtleneck sweater to stay warm along with some knee high socks. With only a combined total of fourteen players involved there was little need for decidedly differing uniforms, it was easy for players to know who played for who.
It was the Toronto Maple Leafs who added the first white uniform as a second to their dark blues.
In the 1933-34 season the New York Americans followed suit, and were joined by Detroit and Chicago the year after.
The change resulted as teams began to play each other, who often wore the same uniform color. For example, in 1933 the Detroit Red Wings choose the colour of their new uniforms the same as the Montreal Canadiens. When the teams first met in Montreal, in order to tell them apart, the Wings were forced to wear white covers- like in a modern gym class - covering the Wings numbers. From incidents like this began the debate about the colours used by teams during games.
It was the advent of television that ultimately solidified the change, making the the use of contrasting uniforms mandatory. The reason was due to the increasing number of motion picture newsreels being made of the action (which would soon become black and white television), that the NHL required each team should wear contrasting colours to make it easier for viewers to distinguish the teams during the black and white broadcasts.
You can still find some old You Tube videos in which both teams are wearing darks.
That soon changed.