The hockey sweater, or hockey jersey as it is called today, has a rich history. The National Hockey league has its beginnings in the 1910’s. The league opened up with just four teams at the start: The Montreal Canadiens, the Montreal Wanderers, the Ottawa Senators, and the Toronto Arenas. Each of these teams adorned themselves with what they called hockey sweaters which helped not only to distinguish the players on the ice but also to provide insight into the communities the teams were coming from.
Sweaters originally had to be warm. Before large grand stand arenas and incredibly advanced ice technology, hockey was mostly played outdoors on ponds or other frozen water areas. The term hockey sweater comes from the material the original sweaters were made out of. Just like your run of the mill cozy sweater, hockey sweaters were knitted out of a wool cloth and dyed different colors and in different patterns. Patches were occasionally sewn on to the fronts of the sweater but that technique didn’t fully take hold until later.
As time went on and the National Hockey League developed and evolved, the hockey sweater changed. As the games moved indoors into more temperate climates it became prudent to lessen the weight and heat of the hockey sweater. Eventually sweaters started to be made out of a type of porous polyester that allowed the player’s skin to breath. Equipment over all lightened up and the technology changed. Hockey sweaters no longer carried the same characteristics of every day sweaters so the term was dropped in favor of the word “jersey.”
Hockey jerseys today are colorful banners for their respective teams. The symbols of regions and concepts adorn these works of art as the player dashes across the ice and play with the puck. They come in all shapes and sizes now, with countless types and styles. Some of them are shorter, resting on the hem on the hip, some of them are longer and need to be tucked in to one side of the pant or both.
Teams have a minimum of four different variations of their own hockey jerseys to choose from. For home games today most teams will have a dark jersey. For away games the teams will wear a lighter or white jersey. For special occasions it is common for teams to wear alternate jerseys that have completely different patterns, icons, and color schemes. Present day teams also might choose to wear what they call retro jerseys to pay homage to their veteran team mates of the past.