On Ice Icons: The Evolution of NHL Hockey Jersey Manufacturers
August 19, 20232 min read
Hockey, with its blinding speed and bone-rattling hits, is a sport deeply entrenched in tradition. A significant part of this tradition is the iconic jerseys worn by NHL players. These jerseys have evolved over the years, and the manufacturers behind them have played a pivotal role in shaping the sport's history. In this blog post, we'll lace up our skates and take a journey through the history of hockey jersey manufacturers in the NHL.
Early Days: Wool and Simplicity
When the NHL was founded in 1917, the jerseys worn by players were a far cry from today's high-tech designs. These early jerseys were made of wool, which was heavy and absorbed sweat. Simplicity ruled the day, with teams sporting basic designs, usually featuring just the team's name or city on the front.
The Spalding Era: Pioneers in Sportswear
In the 1920s, A.G. Spalding & Bros., known for their involvement in baseball, made an entrance into the hockey jersey market. Spalding's jerseys, while still woolen, represented an upgrade in terms of quality and design. They introduced team logos and incorporated unique features that set them apart from other manufacturers.
The CCM Revolution: From Wool to Double-Knit
The 1960s brought a significant change to NHL jerseys with the entry of the Canadian company, CCM (formerly known as Canada Cycle and Motor Company). CCM introduced double-knit jerseys made of synthetic materials, which were lighter and more durable than wool. These jerseys also featured the team's logo on the front and player numbers on the sleeves, bringing a new level of professionalism to the sport.
The Air-Knit Era: A Breath of Fresh Air
In the late 1970s, CCM developed a new fabric called Air-Knit, which revolutionized hockey jersey manufacturing. Air-Knit jerseys were more breathable, making them more comfortable for players during intense on-ice battles. This innovation coincided with the emergence of NHL legends like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who would become synonymous with the CCM brand.
The Nike and Reebok Transition: A Modern Era
In the 1990s, Nike and Reebok became official NHL jersey providers, ushering in an era of modernization. Reebok introduced the "Edge" system, designed to improve the performance of NHL jerseys. This system reduced the weight of jerseys and enhanced player mobility.
Adidas Takes the Ice: A New Chapter
In 2017, Adidas took over as the official jersey provider for the NHL. Their introduction of the "Adizero" jersey marked a new era in hockey jersey design. These jerseys are lighter and feature cutting-edge materials, engineered for player comfort and performance. The "Adizero" jersey has become the modern face of NHL hockey.
The history of NHL hockey jersey manufacturers reflects the sport's evolution, from humble beginnings to today's high-tech designs. These jerseys are not just uniforms; they are symbols of team pride and tradition. As the NHL continues to grow and adapt, so too will the jerseys that have become an integral part of its identity. Whether made of wool, double-knit, or the latest high-performance fabric, NHL jerseys will continue to inspire fans and players alike for generations to come.
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