Seven years ago I created a graphic which received a fair amount of attention depicting the uniform worn for each Stanley Cup-clinching victory since the dawn of the NHL in 1917-18. Since then I’ve been updating that graphic every year on the night the Cup was awarded.
Well that night has come once again as the Tampa Bay Lightning won the 2021 Stanley Cup tonight, their second in a row, their second in nine months! A child conceived the night they won their last Cup could’ve been born the night they won their next! What a feat, and congrats to the Bolts! It’s the third Stanley Cup in their franchise’s relatively short history which pushes them up to 11th all-time, now tied with the New Jersey Devils and just one behind the nearly 100-year-old New York Rangers.
Tampa Bay winning the Cup at home breaks a couple of weird uniform-related Stanley Cup streaks. First of all, they’re the first team to clinch the Stanley Cup while wearing a blue jersey since the 1990 Edmonton Oilers did so 31 years ago! Sticking with blue champs, the Lightning are also now the third predominantly overall blue team in a row to win a Stanley Cup, which on the surface doesn’t seem so unusual until you realize that prior to the 2019 Blues, you had to go all the way back to the 1994 New York Rangers to see a blue team win it all. Both droughts are incredible considering just how many teams in the NHL are blue.
The other streak broken by the Bolts in 2021 was one which saw Cup winners wearing white (and winning while on the road), this streak ran for five consecutive championships. Before Tampa Bay this season, the last team to win the cup at home (and therefore while not wearing white) was the 2015 Blackhawks, who did so while beating the Lightning, fun stuff.
Alright, now to the big graphic…
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To see a much larger version of this graphic, click here, again if sharing please share this article rather the image itself.
Now, I must warn you… below are some nerdy facts and stats. It’s quite possible I’m the only one who’d find these at all interesting. But it’s my site so I get to post about it.
First it should be noted that the above graphic and the stats below *are not* a quick and easy way to find out if a home team or a road team won the Cup over the course of the league’s history. Teams have gone through periods where they wore dark at home, then white at home, then dark at home, and really anything pre-1960 is like today’s NBA, teams just wore whatever, whenever (but at least they only had two uniforms at the most)
As you may have noticed in the graphic, the first Stanley Cup Final patch was worn during the 1989 final between the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens when both teams wore the patch on their shoulder. In 1990 it was moved to the front where it has remained ever since. The New York Rangers, due to the position of their jersey wordmark, instead wear the patch on the shoulder — they’ve done this twice, once in 1994 and again in 2014.
The last club to win a cup while wearing a special patch other than the Cup Finals was the 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins who were wearing both the NHL’s 100th anniversary patch as well as their own 50th anniversary patch as they raised the cup. Other team-specific patch winners include the 1998 Detroit Red Wings (VK & SM “Believe” patch) 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins (25th anniversary + the “Badger Bob” memorial patch), the 1980 New York Islanders (1980 Olympics), the 1976 Montreal Canadiens (Olympics, again), and then the Detroit Red Wings in 1952 (City of Detroit 250th) and 1943 (patches in recognition of World War II). All of these patches are shown on the main graphic above.
Three Stanley Cups were won by teams wearing an alternate jersey: the 1932 Toronto Maple Leafs were forced to wear their plain white “clash” jersey as their opponent, the New York Rangers only wore a blue shirt at the time; in 1967 the Leafs again won the Cup while wearing a special uniform in commemoration Canada’s centennial year (they adopted them full-time for 1968 and 1969); and the 1999 Dallas Stars won the cup wearing their green-and-black star shaped alternate uniform in Buffalo, like the Leafs the team adopted these jerseys full-time for the following season.
I mentioned this earlier but before this year the last five Stanley Cups had been presented to teams wearing a white uniform. Prior to the ’21 Lightning, the last team to wear anything else while winning the cup was the 2015 Chicago Blackhawks who wore red at home when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to the Blackhawks it’s a series of black and white jerseys for eight years until the red-clad Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
No NHL team has ever won the Stanley cup while wearing a jersey with a yellow base – the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Calgary Flames were close as they all won at least one Cup while wearing a jersey with yellow striping. The 2017 Stanley Cup Final pitted two teams which wore yellow against one-another, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators, the Preds actually wore a yellow base uniform for home games, but the Pens prevailed (while wearing white) to win their second straight Cup.
I also mentioned this earlier but it’s still just so bizarre to me — despite the fairly high amount of teams which wear it as their primary dark colour, no team had won the cup while wearing a blue jersey from 1991-2020! Before this year’s Lightning, the 1990 Edmonton Oilers were the last to do so. Going back further, it’s then the 1982 New York Islanders and then all the way back to the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs. So before this year, that was just three (now four!) to have hoisted the Cup while wearing a blue jersey in the last 54 years!
About those Oilers… their star of the 1980s, Wayne Gretzky, won four Stanley Cups in his career all with the Oilers — never in road colours. The Oilers only road cup win came in 1990 which was two years after his trade to the Los Angeles Kings. Going the other way, his counterpart Mario Lemieux has won five Cups (two as a player, three as an owner) and all of them came on the road — winning as a player in 1991 (at Minnesota) and 1992 (at Chicago), and then as an owner in 2009 (at Detroit), 2016 (at San Jose), and 2017 (at Nashville); both of Lemieux’s wins as a player were in a dark jersey, all of them as an owner while the players were wearing a light jersey.
Let’s just keep sticking with the Oilers, they dominated the second-half of the 1980s while the New York Islanders took care of the first half. What do these two have in common? They’re the only clubs in the league to wear blue and orange, creating this bizarre stat — of the eleven cups presented between 1980 and 1990, *nine* of them (81%) went to teams wearing blue and orange; of the 91 cups presented between 1918-1979, and 1991-2021 ZERO went to a team wearing those same colours. The ’80s was the clearly the time for blue and orange.
Most Stanley Cups won by Team/Jersey Colour (last win)
Canadiens reds: 17 (1986)
Maple Leafs white: 7 (1962)
Canadiens white: 6 (1993)
Red Wings white: 6 (2008)
Red Wings red: 5 (1998)
Maple Leafs blue: 4 (1967)
Senators barberpole: 4 (1927)
Oilers white: 4 (1988)
Bruins white: 4 (2011)
Most Stanley Cups won Per Colour Overall (last win)
White: 44 (2020)
Red: 26 (2015)
Blue: 12 (2021)
Black: 10 (2014)
Barberpole: 4 (1927)
Burgundy: 3 (1996)
Green: 2 (1999)
Orange: 1 (1975)
That’s it for another season of NHL Hockey, congrats to the Lightning. And if you can come up with some other weird and whacky Stanley Cup uniform stats, please share in the comments! I’d love to see them.