NHL Winter Classic Jerseys – Ranked

With the calendar flipping to the new year, hockey fans tuned in to the annual tradition of outdoor hockey with the Winter Classic. The 2023 iteration visited Boston and saw the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins duke it out beneath the Green Monster of Fenway Park. Besides seeing the players reconnect with their roots, playing the game outdoors, one of the most anticipated aspects of the Winter Classic is seeing what each team decides to do with their jerseys. With 14 games to pick from, here are my rankings of the Winter Classic jerseys from 2008 up to 2023.

28. Chicago Blackhawks – 2015

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2015, between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Capitals won the game 3-2.

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It is important to note, there is nothing inherently wrong with this jersey. In fact, according to some people, the Blackhawks have the best uniform in the NHL, a fact they lean into with this jersey. The issue is that it does not stray from their regular setup. There is nothing about seeing the team in this that says it is a special occasion. If you flipped through the TV channels and stopped on a clip of this game momentarily, you wouldn’t immediately know if it was just a regular Wednesday in October or the Winter Classic. This feels like a poor effort for a team that could have made such a strong statement.

27. Chicago Blackhawks – 2017

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2017, between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. The Blues won 4-1.

Everything I said above holds true here. In fact, this jersey could have been the same one the team wore in Washington two years before. It is an uninspiring piece that a team still laden with superstars deserved better than. I know the white Blackhawks jersey is iconic, but there had to have been some way to mix it up, even if it was just adding some of the colors from the crest into the striping on the jersey rather than sticking with the typical red and black. 

26. Philadelphia Flyers – 2010

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2010, between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. The Bruins won 2-1 in OT.

You’re probably noticing a trend by this point. I do not like jerseys that play it conservative and look ready to be swapped out for any other regular season game. The Flyers have an interesting combination of history and whacky jersey choices that should have allowed the team to get creative with their appearance for this game. Instead, they opted for one that is strikingly similar to what they wear regularly. This is not so much an issue with the jersey, as an issue with the lack of thinking outside the box to seize the moment.

25. Detroit Red Wings – 2009

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2009, between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. The Red Wings won 6-4.

This jersey was tough for me to vote this low, as I am usually a sucker for the “Stylized D”. This time, it feels boring. I think adding one more color to break up the white and red could have helped, possibly a black band of piping above the red center stripe could have elevated this jersey for me. Also, the candy cane socks are a miss in my book, another item working against it climbing any higher.

24. Minnesota Wild – 2022

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2022, between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN. The Blues won 6-4.

Kirill Kaprizov Minnesota Wild Winter Classic
Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild Winter Classic (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

The State of Hockey’s first Winter Classic was the perfect encapsulation of Minnesota, sub-zero and setting records for the coldest outdoor game the NHL hosted. In this thread, the Wild attempted to cram as much Minnesota into their jersey as they could and ended up overdoing the situation. The basic premise, a dark green base with red and white accents works well for me, even utilizing “MPLS” and “St. Paul” on the jersey in a nod to the Twin Cities is fine in theory. The problem arises from the weird striping under the NHL shield and above the center crest alongside the writing inside the state outline. If a few ideas had been said no to, this could have been an excellent creation, instead, it is a bit Frankenstein-ish with too many competing items coming together.

23. New York Rangers – 2012

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2012, between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. The Rangers won 3-2.

Veteran Mike Rupp came up big for the Rangers in the Winter Classic (Tom Turk/THW)

The Rangers opted away from their traditional diagonal lettering for their team crest on the front of this jersey (good!) but still managed to miss the mark in some key areas. Their biggest mistake was choosing to embrace “heritage white” aka off-white. This trend has been common in Major League Baseball for years with teams choosing a cream-colored jersey as an alternate. It works on those jerseys because the color still is so much lighter than the corresponding dirt and grass. On the ice, it fails to hit, looking especially off given the ultra-white background of the ice and boards. This color doomed what could have otherwise been an intriguing setup for an Original Six franchise.

22. St. Louis Blues – 2022

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2022, between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN. The Blues won 6-4.

Ryan O'Reilly St. Louis Blues Winter Classic
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues Winter Classic (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

Heritage white round two, this time not from an Original Six team. The Blues opted for their cream jerseys just as their baseball counterparts, the St. Louis Cardinals have done. Again, cream works when it contrasts with dirt and grass, it doesn’t work nearly as well when it is compared to a white background. The blue and gold accents St. Louis incorporated helped damped some of the blow, but once again, a bad base setup hurt the overall jersey more than anything else could make up for.

21. Buffalo Sabres – 2008

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2008, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, NY. The Penguins won 2-1 in a shootout.

At the time, this jersey would have likely been higher. It returned the Sabres to their traditional leaping Buffalo logo with the crossed swords, a marked improvement from the Buffaslug. It is a clean, standard set-up, one that was so successful it became the team’s permanent jersey following its unveiling. The problem now though is looking back and seeing what the jersey could have been. The blue and gold color combo works, but the recent turn by the Sabres to an even lighter shade of blue makes this jersey better. History has lowered what was an otherwise popular jersey in my eyes.

20. Pittsburgh Penguins – 2023

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2023, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. The Bruins won 2-1.

Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 2023 Winter Classic
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins 2023 Winter Classic (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Heritage white strikes again. When this jersey was announced I had exceedingly low expectations for it. I will say, once I saw it on players in action, it did grow on me, but still not enough. Although the Penguins did a great job of tying in their city’s baseball roots, even adopting a uniform from their hockey era as the Pirates, it missed the mark. Given how creative some of the other Penguins jerseys have been for previous Winter Classics, this one never seemed to reach the same high bar this team has set.

19. Chicago Blackhawks – 2019

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2019, between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. The Bruins won 4-2.

Tuukka Rask
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – JANUARY 01: Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks attempts a shot past Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in the second period during the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium on January 01, 2019 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Chicago certainly broke from tradition for this jersey. It was not a recreation of either of their two previous Winter Classic strips where the team pulled out their extra road jerseys after seemingly forgetting they had a marquee event to attend. This all-black combination was an interesting nod to the team’s past but pulled away from what was one of the strengths of their uniform. Removing all color, from a logo that is associated with multiple colors, had a negative effect. I will give them credit for taking a chance, but next time, I would advise adding some color somewhere, either as an outline of numbers, striping, or anything else.

18. Toronto Maple Leafs – 2014

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2014, between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI. The Maple Leafs won 3-2 in a shootout.

Jonathan Bernier
Jonathan Bernier had a good first season with Toronto and could be pushed to play harder by James Reimer when the two square off in a fight for starting duties. (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

The Maple Leafs had the honor of participating in what many would claim to be the most visually appealing Winter Classic. Pairing with the Red Wings, both teams opted for colored jerseys, Toronto in this blue setup, and Detroit in red. The color contrast worked incredibly well, and it is only fitting this game saw the highest attendance to ever watch an NHL game at The Big House on Michigan’s campus. While nobody would ever ask the team to stray from their traditional logos and colors, the Maple Leafs did fine to create a special jersey for the occasion, but nothing more than that. The extra stripes on the sleeves made for an interesting visual, but they also seemed too busy. This jersey is not awful, and certainly not the worst Toronto has fielded in an outdoor game, but it isn’t anything special either.

17. Boston Bruins – 2016

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2016, between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The Canadiens won 5-1.

The Bruins rode with their standard black and gold for this outdoor game. Choosing lettering and a logo from the 1925 season was their nod to the nostalgia crowd, and while the yellow bands above and below the arm sleeve numbers work incredibly well, the jersey itself is meh. Like Toronto one spot above, this jersey is fine but doesn’t really excite me, it just sort of exists there. That same description could be used for the entirety of the Bruins’ 2015-16 season for that matter.

16. Boston Bruins – 2023

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2023, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. The Bruins won 2-1.

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The other participant from this season’s event, the Bruins’ decided to revive their shoulder patch from the 70s. While this decision breaks from the Spoked B and the traditional Bruins’ look, something I should be in favor of, the setup in general fell a bit short for me. Adding the “Boston” mark above the bear seemed to make the front too busy. If this wordmark was gone, and the mustard striping, equipment, and socks remained, this would have been an excellent jersey, worthy of the top ten for me.

(This ranking is for the team as a whole, this jersey on David Pastrnak, with his stick and skates paying homage to the Green Monster, and his sunglasses pushes for a top-5 spot.)

15. Nashville Predators – 2020

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2020, between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, TX. The Stars won 4-2.

Full disclosure, this jersey has a soft spot in my heart as it was worn during my season working for the Predators. Now with that being said, it is also a quality jersey. The script “Nashville Predators” may be a bit busy, but I loved how it looked, especially against the navy background. The shoulder patch and matching full-bodied predator that made their way into other merchandise from the game may have been more intimidating and could have been a different direction to go, but all in all the thick center stripe is always going to be a hit with me and this jersey is no different.

14. Philadelphia Flyers – 2012

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2012, between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. The Rangers won 3-2.

The Flyers did much better with this jersey. Sticking with the orange as a base helped it immensely. The decision to stick with a cream stripe rather than an entire cream jersey like the Rangers opted for, also made this jersey pop. A minor detail that could be lost in the shuffle, but one that I love, is the Pennsylvania Keystone behind the captain’s C. It is a nice touch that really helps separate this from any other version of a Flyers’ jersey, or any other regular NHL jersey for that matter.

13. Dallas Stars – 2020

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2020, between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, TX. The Stars won 4-2.

The Stars have gone through a lot of jerseys for such a young team. As such, seeing what the team would choose for their Winter Classic led to plenty of speculation. The decision to adopt the old-school Stars logo and colorway, combined with the faux-leather pants and equipment gave the team an especially authentic Texas look. The green the Stars went with seemed even brighter on the ice than in the pre-game media rounds, another factor working in the team’s favor. The fans even got an extra view of this uniform getting to watch Corey Perry return to the locker room under the stadium.

12. Washington Capitals – 2015

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2015, between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The Capitals won the game 3-2.

This Capitals jersey was a perfect unveiling for the District, as the team broke out the “W” with the Washington Monument outline created by the letter’s silhouette. The darker shade of red with the navy blue was another touch that really stood out for this jersey. The white striping could have been distracting, but I think it was a strong addition to the set. The three stars above the W were another nice touch to the District’s flag. This jersey was just busy enough and just whacky enough to stand out as a perfect one-off, just right for the Winter Classic.

11. Chicago Blackhawks – 2009

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2009, between the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL. The Red Wings won 6-4.

The best of the Blackhawks Winter Classic jerseys, this Blackhawks strip is the perfect blend of throwback with modern touches. Moving to a black base from their typical home red was also a brilliant move. The decision to use a circular logo with “Chicago Blackhawks” written out, provided enough of a wrinkle to make the jersey unique, while not being too different that it was almost unrecognizable. Pairing that with the tan center stripe, a move I am always in favor of, felt like the perfect blend for a team on the verge of starting a dynasty.

10. Detroit Red Wings – 2014

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2014, between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI. The Maple Leafs won 3-2 in a shootout.

The other half of the color game, the Detroit Red Wings kept their traditional Winged Wheel logo but accented it with subtle cream striping. The team’s decision to ditch the candy cane striping on the socks was a major improvement. That, coupled with the all-red, save for the few dashes of cream, made for a very appealing uniform as a viewer. Adding in the weather conditions with snow flurries really helped the red pop on TV, making these an easy choice for a top-ten pick.

9. Buffalo Sabres – 2018

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2018, between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in New York, NY. The Rangers won 3-2 in OT.

This jersey follows similar trends to the 2008 set but swaps the navy blue for the richer royal blue. That blue, combined with more yellow in the striping, specifically on the socks, really make this jersey pop for me. While some people have not liked the “NY” at the bottom of the Sabres crest, I like the extra addition, again as a piece that works for a Winter Classic jersey, but probably wouldn’t work on a full-time piece. Socks should not make or break a uniform, but the yellow in this really pops and are the item that set this over the top for me. If I have one gripe it is that the shoulders don’t have a single yellow stripe to break up the white and blue. Otherwise, I am a fan.

8. St. Louis Blues – 2017

This game was played on Jan. 2, 2017, between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. The Blues won 4-1.

The Blues’ first foray into the Winter Classic saw the revival of their expansion era lighter blue shade with the team’s typical gold accents. These colors were a huge hit and the jersey itself was so popular it returned to the rotation as an alternate setup for the team, a strong indication of the quality of the jersey. This ultimately nails the outdoor game jersey requirements and could even make the case for a full-time setup.

7. Washington Capitals – 2011

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2011, between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Capitals won 3-1.

Another classic jersey reincarnated for the Winter Classic, the Capitals’ white base with red and royal blue stars across the chest just screams Washington D.C. These jerseys, just like the Blues jerseys above, were so popular they made a rotation as an alternate option for the Capitals in their regular use. These are my favorite Capitals’ uniforms and are a huge improvement over the team’s current road jersey. These are primed to take over full-time duty and will justify the decision.

6. Boston Bruins – 2010

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2010, between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. The Bruins won 2-1 in OT.

The Bruins’ first Winter Classic matched the same venue as this year’s, Fenway Park. For this game Boston went to yellow jerseys, a break from tradition that was a massive success. Switching to an old-school font for the B and flipping the colors, everything about this jersey screams outdoor game. It is another jersey that perfectly captures the history and tradition of the Bruins, while also allowing for a unique spin to appeal to a new generation.

5. New York Rangers – 2018

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2018, between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Citi Field in New York, NY. The Rangers won 3-2 in OT.

Kevin Shattenkirk
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 01: Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the New York Rangers (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Rangers swung and missed on their first outdoor game but crushed their second chance. Going for the navy blue was enough of a change for the Blueshirts that it would make you stop and scope it out, but not different enough to take away from the team’s history. Keeping the diagonal lettering and the striping across the top the same as their home kit was another successful tie-in without the jersey feeling like a carbon copy. Like the Flyers jersey, my favorite part of this setup is the badge on the left chest. On players with a C or an A, that is all you would see, on everyone else, the white background would hold a NY on it. This jersey provided the perfect wrinkle for the Rangers and would have made a perfect alternate jersey if the team had chosen to utilize it.

4. Boston Bruins – 2019

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2019, between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, IN. The Bruins won 4-2.

Boston Bruins David Pastrnak NHL Winter Classic
Boston Bruins David Pastrnak celebrates after scoring his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first period of the NHL Winter Classic (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Bruins’ most recent Winter Classic setup, prior to 2023, was this road white piece. The thick striping and use of black and gold somehow made this feel like the perfect outdoor hockey sweater to be played at a college campus. It is bold and bright enough to stand out, and ties in a nod to history ditching the Spoked B for a simple Block B in a way that stands out. This Bruins jersey is great on its own but is certainly helped by the black-and-white set the Blackhawks wore opposite them. Given the lack of color elsewhere on the ice, the gold had an even more prominent role and looked even better.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins – 2011

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2011, between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Capitals won 3-1.

It is increasingly difficult to separate any team from Pittsburgh from the black and gold colorway shared across the city. The Penguins’ decision to trade in their black tops for a navy piece worked brilliantly. As you’ll read soon, the first version of a Penguins Winter Classic jersey chose a light blue base, which was referenced in the stripes, a nice nod to tradition without falling into a pattern of recycling what already worked. If this was not a city committed to keeping the color symmetry among each of their professional teams, the Penguins should absolutely consider switching to this kit full-time. Who doesn’t love a penguin prepared for the elements in a scarf? 

2. Montreal Canadiens – 2016

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2016, between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA. The Canadiens won 5-1.

The Montreal Canadiens have one of the most iconic jerseys in all of hockey, arguably in all of sports. The fact there has been so little change in this historic franchise, could have been cause for concern that they would fall into a problem similar to the 2010’s Blackhawks, utilizing a jersey nearly indistinguishable from their regular threads. Instead, they took a chance, utilizing the center stripe, with a brighter shade of blue that made the white seem like it almost glowed. Another accent item that stole the show for me was the globe on the sleeve. Representing the Habs logo from the 1920s when they sought to remind the world that they were champions, it is an excellent addition, one that works to remind the world today that at one point the Canadiens had in fact hoisted the Stanley Cup.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins – 2008

This game was played on Jan. 1, 2008, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, NY. The Penguins won 2-1 in a shootout.

2008 Winter Classic Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

These jerseys were designed for the inaugural event, and every team since has been seeking to emulate its success. The light blue works perfectly on its own, when paired with the snow globe atmosphere in Buffalo, nothing could beat it. Everything about this jersey is perfect, not a tweak to be made. Add in the drama of a shootout victory courtesy of the face of the NHL, Sidney Crosby, and this jersey is the undisputed winner. 

Winter Classic 2024

It will be interesting to see what next year’s participants, the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken will choose given their brief histories. Hopefully without decades of jerseys to pull from, the design team will get creative and add a splash of flair, rather than roll out a set with only minor tweaks (looking at you Chicago). The bright colors and distinct patterns are two key features in the jerseys I feel stand out the most. Given the Pacific Northwest may not be under piles of snow, these uniforms will play an extra role in creating the atmosphere that follows a Winter Classic.

Related: Winter Classic in Vegas? YES PLEASE

So, what did I miss? Who did I overlook? Was any team overvalued? Share your thoughts and comments below. If you feel so inclined, share your own ranking system and share this with your friends to spark up a conversation.

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