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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

So You Want To Do Some NHL Jersey / Sweater / Uniform Research...

Greetings NHL fans!

This entire blog is called “Heritage Uniforms and Jerseys – a celebration of historic NFL, MLB, NHL, NCAA football and CFL uniforms and stadiums/ballparks/arenas”, and when it comes to NHL uniforms and jerseys (aka sweaters), it seems to me that people have one of three primary reasons for visiting this site - all of which are at least somehow related to doing research:

1. Someone is trying to find out what a particular team’s jersey/uniform looked like in a particular year or era. This might go something like “I loved the Bruins in the early 70’s, what did their uniform look like?”

2. Someone is trying to find out what year a particular jersey/sweater is from. This might be someone who has found, or bought, or is thinking of buying a particular NHL team jersey (authentic or reproduction) and they want to know what year it’s from and in the case of reproduction jerseys, how accurate the reproduction is.

3. Someone is simply a huge fan of a particular NHL team and they’d like to see how the uniform, particularly the jersey, has evolved over the history of the franchise.

As fun as this site is, I’m not sure it’s the best for answering the questions above – by all means I encourage everyone who wiggles their way to this site to view our “Menu of Previous Blog Postings” and have a look at the entries related to their NHL team - but I also wanted to share a number of “go-to” sites that you should be aware of.

Source of info #1: A great online resource

For NHL uniforms from 1917-18 to the present, the definitive online uniform history site is

This site is the result of a huge effort done by Andrew M. Greenstein, and shows the home and away uniforms of every NHL team since the league began in 1917-18. It also shows 3rd and alternative jerseys, and also does a very good job of identifying if a patch was worn in a particular season.

Hats off to Andrew - he has done a great job and continues to maintain the site right up to the present day. A true labor of love.

PS If you love the World Hockey Association (WHA), the NHL's rival league that ran for seven seasons from 1972-73 to 1978-79, Andrew has also compiled an online database of their uniforms as well - check it out. Great stuff Andrew!

Source of info #2: A nice effort

There is another site - Cool Hockey - that has done a good little job of doing a jersey history on a team by team basis. The drawback to this site is that it doesn't show every season and every uniform, but it does offer a nice team summary using photographs as opposed to artist's renderings and it might be somewhat useful in your research efforts.

Please note: Cool Hockey is primarily an online store that sells current and reproduction NHL jerseys. But it's the "History" portion of their website that relates to jersey research.

Source of info #3: Did someone say Patches?

There is a great site - NHL Patches - put together by Klaus Stadler that has done a terrific job of trying to show every "special occasion" patch worn by every NHL team. I'm not sure there's a definitive definition of what constitutes a "patch", but I generally think of them as an embroidered emblem, generally 3"-5" in diameter, and generally sewn onto the jersey in the shoulder, chest or arm area of the jersey.

This great little site allows you to search by NHL team (to see a history of every patch worn by that team) as well as by season (to see a list of all patches worn by all teams in a particular season).

What I especially love about Klaus' effort is that wherever possible, he shows you the actual patch (or a reproduction of the patch) and a game action photo of a player wearing a jersey with that patch.

Remember that patches are generally only worn for a single season or sometimes just a portion of a season, so if you are trying to identify a jersey and it has a patch, your work is almost done for you.

Source of info #4: Pre-NHL and early NHL uniforms

You may have read a blog posting I wrote several years ago about how I became transfixed with hockey history. If not, you might be interested in having a quick look

The very short version of the story is that in the 1960's the NHL commissioned a man by the name of Charles Coleman to research and write a history of the Stanley Cup, the end result of which were three amazing volumes of hockey history.

Within the pages of these amazing and fairly rare books, Mr. Coleman did some admittedly amateur-ish sketches of what some of the pre-NHL and early NHL jerseys looked like.

Source of info #5: A Daily Gusher of Info

If you love sports uniforms and great attention to detail, then you need to be aware of Uniwatch.

Every day since May 2006 - and I do mean EVERY DAY - Uniwatch has featured a daily blog posting about sports uniforms. They aren’t always about NHL jerseys and uniforms, but as one of the premier sports leagues in North America, and the league with the best and most colorful jerseys, it certainly gets a lot of coverage over the course of a month. Uniwatch is the brainchild of Brooklyn NY based Paul Lukas  (more info here about Paul),  and if you read Uniwatch on a regular or semi-regular basis you’ll end up feeling like you know Paul – his likes and dislikes including meat, colors (especially the color purple) and things found in old desks.

Source of info #6: Auctions

Every so often people contact me because they have come into possession of a vintage jersey (or ballcap or pants) and they are trying to determine if it’s authentic, when it may have been worn and/or what it might be worth – either for the purpose of selling, general curiosity or for insurance purposes. This is very hard for me to answer and I am not an expert in this field, so let me share where I’d turn if I was trying to get to the bottom of a great vintage jersey.

A. Lelands

Lelands is based in Long Island NY and one of the most respected Sports Auction Houses in the world. They have handled such landmark collections as The Mickey Mantle Auction of the Greer Johnson Collection ($1.3M), The Harry M. Stevens Auction ($1.8M), the famed Boston Garden Auction ($2M total sales) and a personal favorite of mine, the Jim Craig 1980 Miracle On Ice Collection. Every year Lelands sells $10+ million worth of vintage sports memorabilia and cards. That may or may not make them the biggest, but they are certainly one of the best.

The founder and owner of Lelands is Josh Leland Evans. He is a child of the antiques business though his parents Maxine and Stuart Evans, he started dealing in 1969 when he was eight years old. I like the fact that Mr. Evans comes from an antiques background and that he’s been in the sports memorabilia business for decades. If I had a great vintage NHL or pre-NHL jersey (or other piece of hockey equipment) and I was trying to get a handle on what it’s worth or if it’s the genuine article, one of my first stops would be Lelands.

Email Josh: 
130 Knickerbocker Ave, Suite E
Bohemia, NY 11716
Phone1: 631-244-0077
Phone2: 631-244-3604

B. An up and comer is:
Goldin Auctions
160 E. Ninth Ave, Suite C
Runnemede, NJ 08078
Attn: Ken Goldin
Ph: 856-767-8550 

C. Some other auction sites that deal, among things, with NHL jerseys are:

Classic Auctions - Montreal

Grey Flannel Auctions - Scottsdale, AZ

Heritage Auctions - Six US offices

Huggins and Scott - Maryland

Hunt Auctions - Exton, PA

MeiGray Group - New Jersey

Some of these companies, particularly Grey Flannel Auctions, keep catalogues and online records of the prices realized in previous sales. This can be a very valuable resource for gauging the approximate value of vintage NHL jerseys if put up for auction.

D. If you are fairly certain that you know what you own, a much simpler route for finding out what it’s worth is good old Ebay. You could search Ebay’s archives of items that have been sold or posted for sale over the years, or you could actually put your item up for sale. One idea would be to put your item up for sale with a quite high reserve price – that way you wouldn’t risk selling it for a price lower than you expected it was worth, while at the same time learning what a going price seems to be. To me it’s an incredibly efficient way of determining the current value, and very hard to argue with the result even if you might be somewhat unpleasantly surprised.

Source of info #7: Official NHL Jersey Supplier History

Sometimes it’s helpful/useful for people to know who the “official” manufacturer of NHL jerseys was in a given year/era in terms of being able to determine what season their jersey is from. When i comes to the NHL, the folks at Wikipedia have done a nice first pass at just such an effort, and it can be found here. Amazingly, as of the writing of this blog posting, no-one seems to have done the same thing for the NFL, MLB or NBA. Any takers?

Source of info #8: Logos

- Sometimes the key to identifying an NHL jersey is to know what logo was in use in a particular season. An amazing source of information in this regard is Chris Creamer's Sports Logos - the NHL section of this incredible site can be found here.

Sports Logos has been painstakingly researched and maintained since 1997 by Chris Creamer, who is from the Greater Toronto (Canada) area. It is a remarkable effort and does a great job showing each NHL team’s primary, secondary/alternative logos and does a great job identifying the years various logos were used. Chris’ site also has some information on NHL uniform history, but I would suggest that the above mentioned sources (especially #1) would be the better places to go to for jersey and uniform info.

I also find it amazing how Chris has been able to get the cooperation of most of the leagues, the NHL included – that is not an easy task and it is a testament to his hard work and dedication to doing a great, encyclopedic job. As Chris says right on his site “This site is maintained for research and historical purposes only, do not abuse it.”

The aforementioned Paul Lucas (see #5 above) wrote a nice profile piece on Chris in 2013 – find it here.

Source of info #9: And one for good measure

There is an amazing book published in 2012-ish under the Hockey Hall Of Fame Banner and put together by Steve Milton that is a spectacular compendium of jersey photos - NHL jerseys and other jerseys. It may not be the best resource for identifying what year your jersey is from, but it's too good a book not to be mentioned here.

Many thanks for reading and please offer any feedback either in the Comments section below or directly to me at .

Thanks and happy researching!


PS For fans of specific teams, here are some extra uniform history resources dedicated to your team:

Montreal Canadiens

Pittsburgh Penguins

Toronto Maple Leafs

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Thank you for taking the time to add a comment - all input is welcome, especially the constructive kind! All the best - Scott