Worst to First Jerseys: St Louis Blues
This installment of the Worst to First Jerseys features the St Louis Blues, and part of this series is hosting the full posts on a blog of the team that’s being featured. The full version of this post is on the blog St Louis Game Time. You can check it out by clicking here. And much thanks to St Louis Game Time 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 Blues:
Since entering the league in 1967, St Louis has been one of the few teams to keep a team logo consistent for 40+ years, with some few minor tweaks here and there. And the current logo is the best rendition of it yet, ranking as the fourth best logo in the league. It’s deceivingly simple and deceivingly complex at the same time, with great movement and a classic timeless look to it. But unfortunately, this post is not about their logos over the years, but their jerseys. And most of their jerseys don’t have even close to the classic and refined look that their logo has.
Here’s how this works: I’ll count down, from worst to first, all the jerseys the Blues 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 Blues, there’s 6 different jerseys/eras. And we’ll start with the worst one:
(Dis)Honourable Mention: Proposed 1996 Third Jerseys
Before we get to the actual 6 jerseys the Blues wore, we’ll start with one that was never worn. Luckily these jerseys that were designed, produced and ready-to-wear never made it onto the ice, in one of the few things that Mike Keenan did right after his stint with the NY Rangers. He forbid the players to wears these jerseys on the day they were supposed to, making sure that these jerseys were never seen in an actual game. Because they were never worn, they’re not included in this countdown of the Blues’ jerseys. If they were worn, you can be guaranteed that they would be in 7th place. They are everything that was wrong with mid- to late-’90s design in the NHL. Could you imagine having seen Gretzky wear this? I shudder thinking about it.
There’s absolutely no explanation need as to why they’re so bad. If you need an explanation, then I truly feel sorry for you.
Anyway, on with the show!
6. 1995–1998 Home & Away Jerseys
Ha! Was there really any doubt of what would be last on this list? Of the multitude of things wrong with the jersey, the most obvious one is the numbers on the back, forcibly warped into odd and uncomfortable positions like a half-assed contortionist. It’s not as bad as it could be in the image to the left, using Hull’s #16, because the 1 is the easier number to manipulate in that smallest amount of space. But then look at Gretzky’s #99. The first 9 just looks stupid, with odd angles and uneven outlining that is mismatched with the other 9 that’s right beside it. Whichever designer thought this would be a good idea was hopefully fired soon afterwards.
The other obvious issue is the unconventional striping on the jersey. The Blues stole a page from the original Mighty Ducks’ jersey design using the exact same angles but just reversed to slant the opposite way. Anaheim had the good sense to just let the numbers on the back overlap the design, whereas I guess the Blues just wanted to try something different? St Louis also expanded on this relatively new use of striping patterns by creating four very thin stripes as a pattern, before turning to thicker stripes and then a solid band of colour. I get the allusion: the thin stripes are meant to be reminiscent of guitar stings to play on them being the “Blues” and the name of the team being based on an old blues-jazz song. That’s no reason for a bad design though.
To see alternative options, Nashville does a great job with their guitar pick alternate logo, and the guitar strings through their numbers. Simple, classy and subtle, which is the opposite of this jersey’s approach: garish, aggressive and badly-designed for a jersey.
This jersey has the same issues that come up with Anaheim’s jersey with the same slants (which I talked about in their Worst To First post). It gets very busy very quickly, with the stripes climbing too far up on the jersey and completely taking over. Hockey is unique among the major North American sports in that its the only one where their jersey prominently displays the team logo. It’s part of what makes hockey jerseys so great. But these jerseys make the Blues logo (which is fantastic by the way) an afterthought, or at least, not the main feature of the jersey. That alone is worth a bottom ranking on this list.
Other issues: there’s too many colours happening. These are the only Blues jerseys to (prominently) bring red into the mix, which makes the jersey look like raw sugar (not very refined). Also, the slanted numbers on the sleeves. The recent Stadium Series introduced that on their jerseys, and even 18 years later, it still doesn’t work. It’s like raw flour (unenriched).
Over-thought and over-designed, these jerseys are a good example of late-’90s design in the NHL, which I like to call the Dark Ages of NHL design: when bad typography, stupid logos the worst examples of the third jersey program existed. A lot of teams went through strange designs during this time. St Louis is no exception.
Jersey Recommendation: #14 Courtnall. Geoff Courtnall played for the Blues almost exclusively while these jerseys were being used, so it’s a good fit that way. He was serviceable and filled a need, which is all these jerseys should as well. Get it in the road blues. Because Blues. Get it?
You can read the entire post on St Louis Game Time by clicking here.
Now available at the HbD Store!
Also, in celebration of this post, there’s a brand new poster available at the Hockey By Design store, in the vintage posters series. You can buy this poster buy clicking here. Also, if you know of a famous Sharks’ goal call that can be turned into a poster like these ones, let us know in the comments below.