The man with an amazing Andre the Giant impression, Greg Wyshynski, and his crew over at Yahoo's Puck Daddy unveiled the first of their "Best and Worst of the Decade" session with the best and worst jerseys. It was a tough task, as I don't think there has been more changes in jersey style, design, and fabrics as it has been in the past 10 years. Yet, I have to disagree with the Montreal Canadiens' barber-pole jerseys as the worst in the last decade. I'm not going to say it's the best, but hardly the worst; especially considering the Predators' mustards were not included, nor were the Coyotes' green jerseys-- though I liked the greens for a small time. Lest we forget the Canucks' gradient thirds or Penguins robo-penguin, either.
But, like I said-- plenty of jerseys in the past 10 years, and I don't even Wysh for not tapping on all of the jerseys that have been thrown out to the public for the decade.
However, if you want to talk about the whole retro movement when it comes to the culture of sports-- fact of the matter is that nothing says more retro than the barber-pole jersey when it comes to hockey. For the most part, the barber-pole was the template at the time. Most of the original teams used a form of the barber-pole design, with the original Ottawa Senators using them in the inaugural season of the NHL in 1917-18, with the Hamilton Tigers adding to it in 1920-21. In 1925-26, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Wanderers developed a form of the barber-pole, with moderations here and there-- whether it be just on the sleeps or thicker lines and broken up patterns. By the 1927-28 season, the Senators, Bruins, Montreal Maroons, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Cougars, and Toronto Maple Leafs had a variation of the barber-pole in their motif. Not as wild as the New York Americans, who were basically wearing the United States flag as a jersey.
Through the 20s and 30s, the jersey style stayed in tact, with many teams trying it out and many keeping it for quite a while. However, but the 1938-39 season, the Chicago Blackhawks were pretty much the last to have a barber-pole jersey in the traditional sense of the style. The Hawks then retired their barber-pole at the end of the 1954-55 season. The style had laided dormant for many years, until the NHL's 75th anniversary, when the Hawks, Bruins, Red Wings and All-Star jerseys all had a retro barber-pole design to them, even if the ASG ones only had them in the arms. Even in the junior ranks, the Ottawa 67's used the barber-pole for numerous amount of years in the OHL, as did the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the QMJHL.
While most of the retros are brought back because of how hideously classic they are (Canucks' flying V, Pens' baby blues, Flyers' mismatched nameplates, Cooperalls), I believe the barber-poles are more tradition than tacky. They bring the game back to a simpler time when you didn't need the flash and dash to sell jerseys, you just needed the team colors and maybe a logo. Most the time, the logos were only letters and it couldn't be simpler than that. I know that many have called for the Ottawa Senators to change their third jersey look to incorporate the shoulder patch logo in a mini-barber-pole design. We all know Pascal Leclaire is into the barber-pole, as his pads definitely say.
If you haven't already-- check out NHLUniforms.com, where I got all the hotlinks and historical rundown from it all. Great site for jersey and logo freaks.