This is not the first Oilers uniform ranking you have ever read, and it will certainly not be the last.
But with the Oilers teasing the design for their new “reverse retro” set, what better time than for a self-proclaimed jersey nerd to chip in with his humble opinion.
I’m going to count down, in order, all twelve designs that the Oilers have employed, starting with the duds and working down to the classics. If one design had nine variations, I’m only counting it once, choosing what I consider to be the best rendition. Oh, and no WHA jerseys.
Feel free to scream at me through your screen.
(Note: big thanks to Chris Creamer’s sportslogos.net for providing the images. By far the best sports uniform database on the internet.)
12. Reebok Edge Home
Pyjamas. They look like pyjamas.
By far the worst of the worst – and not just because the team sucked. The bright minds behind this monstrosity not only ditched the classic design elements that remained constant throughout the franchise’s history, but it appears they ran out of time when designing this thing. WHAT KIND OF JERSEY HAS STRIPING THAT DOESNT GO AROUND THE WHOLE SLEEVE?!
11. Reebok Edge Away
Same issues as its sister uniform, I just think the striping looks slightly better on a white background.
10. Adizero Home
The final of what I consider to be bad jerseys, but one simple fix would elevate it to one of the best Oilers uniforms. I really like the concept of combining the late ’90s/early 2000s navy blue with the classic orange. The problem is that they used the wrong shade of orange. This is much too light and not at all what was featured on the shoulders of Gretzky and Messier. Picture this sweater but with the orange we saw on the “Orange Crush” jerseys in the 2017 Playoffs. I’ll take six, please.
9. Smyth Era Away
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. The blue and orange had served Edmonton well, but with the turn of the century (as well as a period of transition for the team) looming the Oilers’ look needed an update. Copper and navy were here to stay. If there was one thing that I’d say the Oilers need to bring back, it’s the rigger shoulder patch. It’s less of a logo and more of a testament to the blue collar mindset of people in Northern Alberta. So let’s get on that, please.
If there is one flaw of this design, is that there’s too much white. I like when my away jerseys have some kind of colour happening on the shoulders…
8. One-Season Wonder Away
…like this. Exact same jersey, more colour. Shame it only lasted the one season.
7. Smyth Era Home
These two jerseys scream nostalgia for me. When I first started watching hockey and following the Oilers, they were dressed in these uniforms. But they’re nice to look at, too. They keep the triple stripes from the team’s original uniforms but play with the colours to make the jersey appear more modern and, in my opinion, more oil-themed. While the original sweaters are pretty, I feel that the colours on these sets are a better fit for a team named the “Oilers.”
6. Adizero Friday Night Alternate
This is how you design a third jersey. Slightly adjust the colours and play around with the design. Make small tweaks until you have what seems to be a brand new jersey, while still seeming familiar. While the team’s new colours don’t really work on the primary home jersey, the combination is drastically improved just by flipping them. Plus, this jersey looks much better on the ice in hockey rink lighting then in any image on the internet.
5. Todd McFarlane Alternate
Controversial, I know. But this sweater has a few things going for it. First, trying something totally new in sports fashion usually explodes in a firey ball of crap, so kudos to Mr. McFarlane for designing something that objectively, on its own, doesnt completely suck. Second, the symbolism in this jersey is AWESOME. The logo is an oil drop (on the nose), but also a gear (more subtle representation of the oil & gas industry), and it has five bolts, one for each Stanley Cup the club has brought home.
Really the reason I love this jersey so much is because it was the first I owned, and I wore that thing everywhere.
4. Original Away
All I’ll say is that there is a reason the Oilers brought this design back from the dead. Not only did they win five Stanley Cups in these beauties, but the orange and blue sweaters were considered a classic set in the National Hockey League, up there with the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Kings. They were a part of hockey history.
3. Orange Crush Alternate
When a team breaks a decade-long playoff drought, fans are going to have fond memories. For me, this jersey is symbolic of a new chapter for the team. Breaking away not only from the Decade of Darkness, but even separating themselves from the dynasty years. For the first time since the eighties, the Oilers had two superstars in the same lineup, and they were in totally different jerseys. Jerseys that look impeccable, I might add.
The Oilers would have been fine if they stuck with this shade of orange, but instead they ruined a good thing and we’re stuck with the yellowish-orange disasters we have now.
2. Adizero Away
I don’t have a sentimental reason for putting this jersey ahead of the original whites, I just think the navy blue pops (in a good way). There’s so little orange that the shade really doesn’t affect the look of the sweater.
1. Original Home
Do you think I’m an idiot? Of course this jersey finishes first. When you think of Gretzky, Messier, Kuuri, Coffey, Fuhr, McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins, nine times out of ten you picture them in this jersey. The colours and striping are just so Oilers. This jersey is the franchise.
Since you stuck around this long, here’s a little tidbit of trivia as a reward. Due to Wayne Gretzky’s famous jersey tuck, the manufacturer’s logo on NHL jerseys was moved in 1981 from the back right corner to the back left corner so that it could be seen on the league’s brightest star. The tags were later moved back, but 99’s sweaters featured tags on both corners.
I know that you, dear reader, probably think I’m out of my mind for ranking the uniforms as I did, so let me know: what is your all-time favourite and least favourite Oilers sweater?