The Vancouver Canucks have had some iconic jerseys over the years, and this season they have chosen to revisit some iconic kits of their history. This article will take a look at five of my favourite jerseys of the Canucks’ 50-year history, and why I think they are worthy of being among the best jerseys the Canucks have ever had.
5. The West Coast Express Away
Immediately starting this list off on a controversial note, the Canucks away jersey from 1997 to 2007 represented a long period of transition for the franchise. Worn most famously by Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund, and infamously Mark Messier, the orca represented the most exciting era of Canucks hockey.
Although the home jerseys of this era were never quite as popular, the away jersey was a clean look that many fans think of when they remember the West Coast Express. The iconic photo above was on the bedroom walls of the kids who grew up in this era and is easily identifiable with the West Coast Express.
4. The Latest Orca
Although the blue, green, and white, Orca jerseys of the last 13 years were excellent, there was something wrong with them that not a lot of people could put their finger on. When the Canucks removed the self-declarative ‘Vancouver’ from the front of the jersey, it immediately looked a lot cleaner. It represented a transition to simplicity in graphic design which has been flowing since the early 2010s. It also has come to represent a smoothness in which the Canucks played on the ice this season.
The sharp colours and simplicity of the 50th-anniversary jersey are what puts them at fourth on the list. Some fans may believe that the ‘Vancouver’ should’ve stayed on the front, but this to me is the best iteration of the Orca.
3. The Original
It is not just nostalgia that puts the original Canucks jerseys this high on the list; it’s mostly their impact on the franchise. The original stick and rink jersey was the first use of the blue, green and white which are still used today. Although they only made the playoffs twice while wearing these jerseys, there are many iconic moments and players associated with these primary colours.
The Canucks like to often throw it back to these jerseys, with their 40th-anniversary jerseys and alternates this year paying homage to the original look. These jerseys are just so iconic to the legacy of the Canucks, that they had to make it to third on this list.
2. The Flying Skate
One of the most popular jerseys the Canucks brought back for their 50th-anniversary season is what is commonly dubbed ‘The Flying Skate’ (from ‘Vote now: Should the Canucks make the Flying Skate throwbacks their full-time look?,’ The Province, 12/07/2019). The skate, which made its debut during the 1985-86 season, is most associated with Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Pavel Bure. What may have been the most exciting era for the Canucks, the jersey represented the play seen on the ice. This play could be described as a mixture of classic hard-hitting style, and the flashiness of the Russian Rocket or an iconic Kirk McLean pad-save.
The longest-tenured jersey, being used between 1985 to 1997, the Flying Skate is iconic in Canucks lore. The red, yellow and black was carried over from previous jerseys but the emblem in the middle represented the first time a logo was on the jersey since the originals. For many fans, this was the perfect jersey as it was phenomenally designed and represented an era of Canucks dominance on the ice as well.
1. Vancouver Millionaires
This selection is going to be controversial, and I can already feel it in the Hockey Force. How could a jersey designed just for a Stadium Series be the top Canucks jersey? Well, for me it’s simple and not even close.
The Millionaires jersey seen below had an impact that extended beyond hockey. Designed for the Heritage Classic against Ottawa in 2014, this jersey became universally liked (from ‘Canucks to play “NHL Stadium Series” at BC Place against…Ottawa?,’ The Province, 04/17/2013). A homage to the initial Vancouver Millionaires hockey team, the maroon and white made an elegant throwback to what many consider the origins of hockey in Vancouver.
The pop culture impact of this jersey also extended beyond the ice, making the Canucks ‘cool’ in the mid-2010s. The Millionaires gear was everywhere in Metro Vancouver and is still sold in almost every large mall across the province to this day.
Which Ones Are on Your List?
If there’s one thing that I want you to take from this article, it is that the Canucks have had many iconic threads over the years. These jerseys are not only commercial pieces of art but represent eras and the players who wore them. Nonetheless, enough from me, what are some of the most iconic jerseys in Canucks history for you?
Did you like the polarising Canucks gradient jersey of the 2000s? What about the simple yet striking ‘Flying-V’? Respond in the comments below, and I would love to start a conversation!
Aidan is a current Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies student at Carleton University, who always had a passion for sports. Aidan is also a Para-ice Hockey player, former arena announcer, and Hockey Canada licenced coach.