This installment of the Worst to First Jerseys features the Toronto Maple Leafs, and part of the series is hosting the full posts on the blog of the team that’s being featured. The full version of this post is on the blog Leafs Nation. You can check it out by clicking here. And much thanks to Jonathan Willis from Leafs Nation for hosting this post.
Do you want your team featured? I’ll be contacting blogs for each team throughout the year, so keep a look out for it. Or, let me know which blog I should be contacting for your favourite team. For now, here’s a preview of my post about the Leafs:
I started this series with the Vancouver Canucks, who in just 40 years have produced 8 very distinct jersey designs. Now, with the Maple Leafs, here’s a team that in 85 years (since renaming themselves the Leafs from the St. Pats in 1927) have essentially had one jersey design with slight modifications over the years. It makes things slightly more difficult in ranking the Leafs’ jerseys – or even in clearly defining different jersey designs that they’ve had – but I’ll have a go at it anyway, because there’s definitely still some winners and losers here.
Here’s how this works: I’ll count down, from worst to first, all the jerseys the Leafs have ever worn. Homes and aways will be lumped into the same category (so, more of a jersey “era”) and I won’t worry about small changes (like slightly changed positions of piping for example). Third jerseys will stand on their own. And I’m focusing on the jerseys only, not the entire uniform. The jersey images are compliments of the fine people over at nhluniforms.com. For the Leafs, there’s 7 different jerseys/eras. And we’ll start with the worst one:
7. 1927–34 Home and Away Jerseys
First, the stripes on the road blues. There’s overkill. Then there’s overkill. Then there’s Overkill. And then there’s the stripe pattern on this jersey. Granted, I’m talking about a jersey whose aesthetic is rooted in a society that really seemed to like stripes on their hockey jerseys (something the Bruins, the Blackhawks, the Detroit Cougars and the NY Americans can attest to) and not necessarily reflective of today’s style. And I confess I have no idea as to the production and design restrictions for hockey jerseys of the area, so that could definitely be coming into play as well. But still, this is a bit much.
(I know I’m using the term “jersey” in a case where the term “sweater” is more apt, but I’m sticking to jersey for the sake of consistency.)
I’m usually a big fan of historic aesthetics and how they defined a certain era in hockey. In this jersey’s case though, it’s the constant variety between the width and the pattern of the stripes, which just doesn’t work when being repeated how it is. If you’re going to use these many stripes, you need some sort of consistency to it, like the Senators or the Montreal Maroons had.
The other strange thing about these jerseys is how incredibly different the home whites are from road blues, being the complete opposites of each other aesthetically. Again, maybe there was a practical reason for this, but it completely throws out any sort of modern-day idea of branding. Sort of like Apple (who usually goes for very minimal aesthetics) product designing the website for the latest iPhone based on your old Angelfire website from the mid-90s. At least the Leafs made sure both jerseys are only blue and white.
That being said, I actually like the extreme minimalism of the home white jerseys. Back in the ’20s, it may have been an issue of cost and production to leave it like that, but in today’s sports-design world, such a design would be seriously ballsy. Maybe something for the
2013 2014 Winter Classic? Maybe not. But even though I like the simplicity of it, it’s little more than a logo on a white sweater and by today’s design aesthetics, are more like pajama tops than a hockey jersey.
The wacky leaf logo is, I would assume, a product of a design era more than anything, and critiquing the logo isn’t the main focus of this post. It’s the jersey. But still, that’s one strange-looking leaf.
Jersey Recommendation: #6. The number of Irvine “Ace” Bailey, one of only 2 numbers officially retired by the Leafs and, quite frankly, the only name I recognize on the Leafs’ roster during this era. Oh, and did I mention he’s also in the Hall of Fame?
You can read the entire post on Leafs Nation by clicking here.