As the St. Louis Blues opened the new Centene Community Ice Center this morning, the defending Stanley Cup champions gave fans a first look at a new commemorative sweater they’ll wear during the 2019-20 season. And it’s a familiar one to hockey fans who grew up in the ’90s.
The Blues are bringing back their 1994 uniform for three games. Our first look will come November 21 against the Calgary Flames—who also just unveiled a throwback yesterday for the Heritage Classic. But these two jerseys never crossed paths in the ’90s. The same year the Blues introduced this sweater, the Flames added black trim to theirs.
The other two throwback games for the Blues will be late in the season, February 27 against the Islanders and March 31 against the Red Wings. Speaking of the Isles, while teams are bringing back somewhat gaudy ’90s jerseys, maybe there’s room to get the fisherman back in the mix for a couple of games.
The standout feature of this Blues jersey back in its day was the diagonal waist stripe. Technically, the Mighty Ducks had beaten them to the punch by a year, but what St. Louis did differently was let the numbers shapes follow the diagonal line. That has been carried over to the Adizero edition. It’s such an odd feature and requires extra work on the part of the equipment crew to customize. But it does make the jersey unique and stays true to the original.
We definitely have a ’90s theme going with new Adidas sweaters lately. The Blues are the third just this year after Vancouver and Los Angeles. And if you want to count Calgary’s Heritage Classic jersey, which was used in the early ’90s, that’s four. Anaheim will bring back the Mighty Ducks crest on their third jersey and the Coyotes brought back the Kachina design last year. As a ’90s kid myself, it’s a fun trend to watch.
That being said, I’m still trying to understand the commemorative nature of this jersey. The Blues weren’t particularly successful during the brief era in which they wore it. Sure, they made the playoffs, but never got past the second round. Wayne Gretzky wore it for 31 games, including playoffs, after a deadline deal in 1996. And then there were the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Grant Fuhr, and Brett Hull, among others. But still, why bring it back now?
It always stood out to me as a being a miss in terms of St. Louis Blues branding. A bit of red trim was added to the uniforms a decade earlier, but it became much more prominent with this set. Admittedly, it seemed like an odd choice for a team named the Blues. The truth is, their primary uniforms today are perfect and would rank high on my list if I ever made such a list.
But it’s three games so I can’t complain. I do enjoy seeing old jerseys brought back from time to time. But as I said twice yesterday with regard to Winnipeg and Calgary, I just hope it doesn’t overwhelm the NHL. I mean what sort of retro jersey designs will teams have available to them in the 2040s if they don’t have anything new to offer in the 2010s?
Last thing. When I was researching Blues jersey history after their announcement last week that a new sweater was on the way, I came across a photo of the original unveiling of this jersey back in 1994 featuring Brendan Shanahan and Curtis Joseph and just had to share it again.
So what do you think of this throwback jersey and the NHL’s current ’90s kick?