Ice hockey started out a long time ago. It was called ice hurly because
people would fool around and play the game, hurly, on the ice. They would play with blades attached to shoes for skates. Their sticks would be tree branches.
For a long time ice hockey players had no safety equipment. Their jerseys were long sleeved shirts that had basic colors on them. Each team only had one jersey. Most players had the same color pants on. The basic colors were white, blue, red, green, and black. They had their number on the backs and an icon on the front.
The first United States hockey team in the NHL came in 1924. It was the
Boston Bruins. They wore plain brown and yellow jerseys. This first U.S. team probably had little safety gear. They eventually wore gloves and shin guards. The shin guards offered little protection and many players were known to stuff newspaper behind them for extra protection. The blades on hockey skates started out completely straight. A player started experimenting with curved blades. Soon most other hockey players had done the same.
Until the 1930s, The Toronto Maple Leafs were the only team with two uniform jerseys, a dark one and a white one. In 1951 the regulations stated that every team had to wear the white jersey for home games and the dark one for away games. That regulation changed through out the years until now where dark jerseys are home and white are away. At the end of the 1941-42 season, the Brooklyn Americans dropped out of the NHL. From then until the 1967-68 season, The NHL was down to six teams. These teams wore basic colors and were the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some of these teams uniforms remain similar to how they were way back then.
But, in the 1967-68 season, six more teams joined the NHL! The
California/Oakland Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues made the total number of teams in the NHL 12. They didn’t wear the basic colors and had new designs on their jerseys. These teams uniforms were very different and greatly contrasted the other six’s jerseys. In 1959 Jacques Plante had worn the first hockey mask. He was a goalie and soon other goalies had taken a liking to his idea. The last year goalies didn’t wear masks was in 1973.
The 1970s also had people start wearing helmets regularly. For the 1979-80 season anyone starting in the NHL had to wear a helmet. Players who had been in the NHL before weren’t required to, just urged to. In the 1970s 12 teams joined the NHL. Some teams experimented with putting the players’ last names above the number on the backs of their jerseys. By the 1977-78 season it was regulation to have them on home and away jerseys. In the 1980s, the Philadelphia Flyers tried wearing long pants. The Hartford Whalers tried them too. They figured they could go faster in the pants because they had less padding. They did go faster and because of that the players would crash into things. By the end of the 1982-83 season the long pants were illegal.By the 1990s most players were wearing helmets. The last player to go without a helmet was Craig MacTavish who retired after the 1996-97 season.
The uniforms we have today have come a long way from the beginning
uniforms. Every team has different colored jerseys and pants. They have a lot
of protective gear. They have curved blades and wooden sticks. Most teams today
have three or four differently styled jerseys, when teams used to have one.
Also the jerseys have brighter colors and more creative icons on them. That
is how ice hockey clothing has changed.