The 2019 NHL playoffs are remarkable for a few reasons…
- All the top-seeded teams were knocked out in the first round.
- The Jets ‘white out’ party became the ‘we’re out’ party sooner than we all hoped.
- Two teams declared they were using a third jersey at home throughout the playoffs: Calgary and Carolina.
Calgary was a first-round disappointment for Canada but Carolina did have an impressive run. The Hurricanes were eliminated in the third round after defeating the defending Stanley Cup champs in the first round.
But this is a first for the NHL. Third jerseys in their current form first appeared in the 1995-96 season (teams like Pittsburgh had ‘Sunday’ jerseys used back in the early 80’s but that doesn’t count) and have never been used during the playoffs until now.
I always thought that it was because of the old time hockey people in charge of these teams took the playoffs seriously and the 3rd jersey was a fun, gimmicky departure from the true team identity. There is no place for fun and gimmicky in the playoffs.
Then, in 2016 the Penguins changed everything! Technically, they didn’t wear a traditional third jersey, they wore a ‘retro’ jersey at home. It was the same jersey Mario wore when he hoisted the cup 25 years earlier. But wearing the third jersey during a playoff run was a departure from the norm – and they won the cup!
The Pens went to the retro jersey as their primary the next season and repeated as champs.
Today more teams are playing with the idea of using the 3rd as a more serious uniform. The Flames wore the jersey they won wearing in 89…didn’t help.
The Hurricanes used their totally new jersey with a totally new crest these playoffs doing something completely different. Didn’t make the finals but they did well.