Third Jerseys in the Playoffs

The 2019 NHL playoffs are remarkable for a few reasons…

  1. All the top-seeded teams were knocked out in the first round.
  2. The Jets ‘white out’ party became the ‘we’re out’ party sooner than we all hoped.
  3. 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. 

4 Comments on “Third Jerseys in the Playoffs”

  1. Great article; I think we’ll see more throwbacks and thirds in the playoffs moving forward. But I think there’s been more 3rd appearances than noted above. Dallas won the 1999 Stanley cup wearing a third; the one modeled after the all-star game (which I think they hosted previously). San Jose has recently worn their black jerseys in the playoffs more years than not. In 2014 Anaheim used their third; subsequently became their primary the next year. And also the last time the Oilers were in the playoffs (coincidentally against Anaheim) they opted to wear the orange jersey over the primary blue. Again it became their primary the following season. Too bad the throwback for the 30 year anniversary didn’t work for the 2019 Flames 🙁

  2. Nice post, but I can recall at least one instance of a team wearing their Thirds for the playoffs prior to the Penguins black retros in 2016. The one that came to mind for me was the Anaheim Ducks wearing their black script 3rds for all 3 rounds they were alive in the 2006 playoffs (they lost to Edmonton in the WCF that season).

    Here’s a link to Getty of some pics from May 2006 that show them wearing the 3rds vs the Oilers:

  3. Great idea for the NHL… sell Playoff jerseys… allow teams to have a playoff jersey, or at least whatever jersey they would like at home… but the revenue stream for a playoff jersey would be a good idea

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