Best & Worst NHL All-Star Game Logos
The NHL All-Star weekend is approaching, an annual event with a long history of questionable design choices. We have seen some nicer sweaters throughout the years too (although this year, not so much), but the All-Star game is often viewed as the league’s opportunity to push the boundaries and take some risks design-wise, and some of those risks pay off more than others.
The All-Star logos have been no different, mostly reflective of the host city’s brand and the design trends of the decade. Let’s save the best for last and break down the worst and best All-Star Game logos of all time.
THE WORST ALL-STAR GAME LOGOS
#4: 1997, San Jose
Ah, the 90s. How could we make a “worst” design list without talking about everyone’s least favorite decade in hockey aesthetics? Now let’s start with the one positive of this logo. I do like the idea of using the shark fin as the top point of the star. The execution of said idea though? Not so much…
The main problem I have with this logo is the typography. Part of the blame falls on the Sharks for *gasp* including this font in their actual branding, but as a result, the whole design just looks amateur. The star looks distorted, the sun rays give off a major clip art vibe, and the font choice just contributes to the overall cheapness of the design.
#3: 1980, Detroit
With a long history of unappealing logos to choose from, you might be wondering how the 1980 one wound up in the bottom four. At first glance, I’d say you’re probably right. Is this logo kind of boring? Yes. Is it particularly compelling or forward thinking (even by 1980 standards)? Not really, but what drives me bananas about the design for the 32nd All-Star game in Detroit is that ALL OF THE LOGOS ARE CROOKED!
Ok, not all of them, but the Boston, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Buffalo and Chicago logos are all off kilter. Now if the designer was going for a wraparound look where all of the logos rotated around the center circle, maybe I could see the justification, but this appears more to be an attempt to squeeze them all in rather than a decisive design decision, and it ultimately just looks sloppy.
#2: 1994, New York
“Shield” your eyes, (pun intended) brand standard sticklers! Whoever decided that the Statue of Liberty should infiltrate the NHL shield would probably be fired in 21st century corporate America. Wacky ’90s typography aside, there’s not much to like about this logo. The shape of it? Not terrible. But Lady Liberty looks like she was drawn with the default settings on Illustrator live trace, and well, slicing and dicing the league’s logo is just pretty hard to look past.
#1: 1984, New Jersey
Wow, where do I begin? Keeping in mind that this was created in 1984, the 36th All-Star Game logo looks like a project in MS Paint gone bad. Only slightly outdoing its predecessor by a small margin, (hello, rainbow gradients) this neon explosion boasts everything from bad typeface combinations and neon colors (and more gradients!!) to neon stars falling from the sky like confetti at a kid’s birthday party.
The only nice piece of this logo is the alternate shield that’s placed in the middle of the glowing Meadowlands Arena, which on its own is quite nice, but it just doesn’t fit at all with any other piece of this design. Let’s move on and leave this puppy in the 80s where it belongs…
THE BEST ALL-STAR GAME LOGOS
#4: 1988, St. Louis
The 1988 All-Star Game in St. Louis brought us this Nordiques-esque logo that’s clean, smart and simple. While the typography underneath is a little, well, 80s, to be considered for the “best” by modern design standards, the integration of the star, hockey stick and arch into one smooth mark is pretty seamless and nicely done.
#3: 2000, Toronto
The punny-ness of interspersing “2000” with the letters of “Toronto” puts this logo a little bit over the edge for me, but the graphic layered leaf-on-star design is still quite nice. Not unlike the layered leaf concepts we’ve seen popping up for Toronto’s upcoming rebrand, this design does a nice job of fitting Toronto’s logo together with the Canadian maple leaf and 5-pointed star.
I would have preferred to see this concept without the gray swoosh on the right to keep the focus more on the star and leaves, but overall, it’s a nice commemorative logo for the 50th edition of the event.
#2: 1986, Hartford
The hockey stick-laden star shield, first used in the 1970s, became a central design element for All-Star Game logos through most of the 80s. The shield itself is straightforward and clean, something that other ASG logos seemed to have struggled with. While the overall design itself isn’t much to write home about, there’s something satisfying about the simplicity and symmetry of the circle-enclosed shield. Plus, let’s not forget the stellar jerseys worn that year too…
#1: 2016, Nashville
Paying homage to Nashville’s country and musical roots, Fanbrandz designers drew inspiration from the city’s rich heritage and distinct typography to create one of the best All-Star game logos we’ve ever seen. From the Fanbrandz product page:
“Every detail of the mark, from the guitar inlines down to the three-starred puck, was inspired by the rich culture and history of Nashville and its music scene.
We also spent time at the legendary Hatch Show Print press, where for over half a century, they have designed and printed beautiful music posters announcing great talent around town. Their style is distinctive and adds to the rich visual vernacular of this city, and inspired much of the theme art that will live alongside the Nashville All-Star identity.”
Everything here from the typography and the guitar pick-inspired shape to the hockey sticks motif in the middle and the puck embellished with stars from the Tennessee flag is spot on. In recent years, we’ve seen the All-Star branding get more detailed and elaborate, but while more isn’t always more, (see #4 – #2) the minimal color palette and font selections here balance out the level of detail and work perfectly together.
Related: Top 5: Best Designs of 2015