When did the NHL change home jerseys to dark?

Jul, 19 2023

The History of NHL Home Jerseys

As a hockey fan, you've probably noticed that the home teams in the NHL usually sport dark jerseys. But it hasn't always been this way. In fact, the NHL has had a colorful history when it comes to team uniforms, and the dark home jerseys we're familiar with today are a relatively recent development. Let's go back in time and explore the evolution of these jerseys.

The Original Six Era

During the Original Six era, which spanned from 1942 to 1967, NHL teams wore white jerseys when playing at home, while the away teams wore the darker colored jerseys. This was the standard practice, and it was done to create a clear distinction between the two teams on the ice. It seems strange today, but back then, it was just the way things were done.

The Expansion and the Color Swap

The NHL began to expand in the late 1960s, adding six new teams to the league. With this expansion came a change in the jersey protocol. Starting in the 1970-71 season, the NHL swapped the colors, with the home teams now wearing the dark jerseys and the away teams wearing white. This decision was made to add more variety to the games, as fans would now see a mix of white and colored jerseys in their home arena.

The Return to White at Home

However, this change didn't last long. In 1975, the NHL decided to revert back to the old system, with the home teams wearing white and the away teams wearing dark jerseys. The league felt that this arrangement allowed for better television visibility. With the advent of color television, the white jerseys stood out more against the ice, making the games easier to watch for viewers at home.

The 2003 Switch to Dark at Home

Fast forward to the turn of the millennium, and the NHL once again decided to change things up. In the 2003-04 season, the league switched back to having the home teams wear the dark jerseys. This decision was made in an effort to boost merchandise sales. The idea was that fans would be more likely to buy and wear the colored jerseys, which are often considered more visually appealing than the white ones.

The Impact of the Change

The switch to dark home jerseys has indeed had an impact on merchandise sales, with many fans preferring to buy the colored jerseys. However, this change has also sparked some controversy. Some fans argue that the dark jerseys are harder to see on TV, while others miss the tradition of seeing their team in white at home games.

Exception to the Rule

While the dark home jerseys are now the standard in the NHL, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the Dallas Stars have often chosen to wear their white jerseys at home, a decision that is allowed by the NHL as long as the visiting team agrees to it. This just goes to show that while the league has its guidelines, there is still some flexibility when it comes to team uniforms.

The Future of NHL Jerseys

Looking ahead, it's unclear whether the NHL will stick with the dark home jerseys or switch things up again in the future. What's clear is that the league isn't afraid to make changes when it comes to team uniforms. Whether it's for practical reasons, like improving television visibility, or for commercial reasons, like boosting merchandise sales, the NHL is always willing to experiment with its jerseys.


So, there you have it: a brief history of the NHL's home jerseys. From the white jerseys of the Original Six era to the dark jerseys of today, it's been a colorful journey indeed. And who knows? Maybe in a few years' time, we'll see another change in the NHL's jersey protocol. But for now, we'll just have to enjoy the dark home jerseys and the variety they bring to our beloved game of hockey.