Tonight the Carolina Hurricanes will visit the Anaheim Ducks with both teams suiting up in their dark home uniforms, Carolina in red and Anaheim in black. As far as I can tell, it’ll be the first time an NHL *regular season* *indoor* game will be played with none of the teams wearing a light-coloured uniform in almost nineteen years (last time: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens on January 2, 2000).
The event tonight was initiated by the Carolina Hurricanes but required league approval before it could go ahead. The Hurricanes had already tested the dark-vs-dark idea a few times in the last two preseasons.
“Typically, if you are having a reverse jersey night, the agreement is just between the two team GMs. With this being an exception to the current league rule of dark versus white jersey, it required the league to do camera testing and ultimately sign off on it.” Mike Forman, the Hurricanes Vice President of Marketing and Brand Strategy, told SportsLogos.Net.
“We really like how the dark colours pop off the white ice. You see how it’s become more and more prevalent in the NBA with their jersey restructuring and it makes sense for other teams/leagues to at least explore this concept.”
Off and running! pic.twitter.com/NfEcyINJPP
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) September 18, 2018
Carolina wore their head-to-toe reds against the Tampa Bay Lightning in their head-to-toe blues during the pre-season in 2017 and again in 2018; they also tried it against the Nashville Predators who wear yellow helmets and jerseys as their “dark” set this past September.
Being able to wear your home uniforms on the road is challenging enough, the Hurricanes already had approval from the league to wear their reds away from Raleigh four times in 2018-19, those four games previously announced back in October but the team wanted to see if there were any more opportunities they could work them in.
“Most of the legwork here was done by Brian Tatum, our Assistant GM, who has been in contact with his counterparts across the league throughout the summer and into the fall,” Forman added. “The biggest challenge, in general, is either planning just for some of the one-game trips or getting the buy-in from each home team on a multi-game trip, like this California trip, as we weren’t going to carry two sets of uniforms, equipment and gear on the road with space limitations.”
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) September 26, 2018
The ‘Canes were able to get all three teams they were visiting on their current road trip through California to agree to let them wear their home reds, and so they did. Carolina wore red in Los Angeles against the Kings last Sunday and then again in San Jose on Wednesday. They’ll also wear darks on the road at Montreal on December 13, Philadelphia on January 3, Florida on March 21, and Dallas on February 23, their black alternates on the road back on October 22 at Detroit, and their green Hartford Whalers throwbacks at Boston on March 5. But none of those games will also be with the home side wearing their dark uniforms, just tonight.
All-dark games were the norm for the first four decades of NHL hockey, the New York Rangers didn’t even have a white uniform at all until the 1950s. A confusing uniform matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks in 1930 got the league to start thinking that team’s add a clash kit, the Maple Leafs were the first responded with a blank white top with a single blue version of their original logo on the chest, no stripes anywhere on the design, alas the first “home-and-road” uniform set was born.
The all-dark matchups continued where possible between teams wearing contrasting colours into the 1950s. A handful of clubs (such as the Kings, Seals, Canucks, and Penguins) wore yellow in place of their white uniform over various periods of time in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. We saw a few more all-dark matchups in recognition of the NHL’s 75th anniversary in 1991-92, there was the aforementioned Habs vs. Rangers game back in 2000, and more recently a couple of outdoor battles, the Leafs and Wings in 2014 and the Penguins and Flyers in 2017.
“I’d be surprised if this doesn’t become more commonplace throughout the league within the coming years”, Forman said. “As long as the dark jerseys contrast, which has become easier now with the reintroduction of third jerseys so many teams have a couple of dark jerseys to choose from, it’s been pretty clear in our preseason games versus Tampa Bay and Nashville that the dark colours pop off the ice and look great both in person as well as on TV.”
We certainly agree. Here’s hoping we see more teams step up like the Hurricanes in the coming years to initiate these beautiful, colourful uniform matchups.