Ted Black, the President of the Buffalo Sabres, recently announced on WGR550 that this season will be the last for the Sabres third jersey. The jersey has been controversial since it was unveiled back on November 24, 2013. You can hear all of Ted Black’s comments from his appearance on WGR5550 by clicking here.
The Sabres third jersey features a smattering of Buffalo’s colors which include navy blue and gold as the sweater’s primary colors as well as white and silver. While Buffalo’s logo remained the same, the color scheme is very unusual and the design has been criticized by many in hockey circles. Some fans voiced their displeasure with the third jersey last season and they will get their wish when it is retired at the conclusion of this season.
Happy trails to the Sabres third jersey. What a run.
— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdon) March 12, 2015
The sweater features a gold front surrounding the logo with ‘Buffalo’ printed above the logo. The back of the jersey is navy blue with some gold on the sides. The navy blue extends to the shoulders and down the arms to the elbows. From there to the wrists the jersey is silver. The numbering on the back of the jersey is in silver while the player’s name appears in gold.
Buffalo’s alternate jersey was worn by many former Sabres during the rebuild including Steve Ott, Ville Leino, Chris Stewart, and Ryan Miller. The retiring of this jersey will also be symbolic of the end of the rebuild. The club looks to ascend next season from their current position in the NHL basement.
A Look Back at Third Jersey History in Buffalo
The Sabres have had quite the recent history when it comes to changing their uniforms. You can check out the history of the Buffalo Sabres’ sweaters and those of all other NHL clubs by visiting NHLUniforms.com.
Changes to the Sabres’ uniforms began to take place after the club moved from their original home, the Memorial Auditorium. The Sabres played at the Aud from their inaugural season in 1970 through the 1995-1996 season. There were some jersey alterations along the way but, on the whole, the logo and the color scheme of the Sabres’ jerseys remained largely the same.
When the club moved into the newly built Marine Midland Arena (now the First Niagara Center) for the 1996-1997 season, the club changed their primary colors from blue, gold and white to black, red and white. The primary logo became the Buffalo head or the ‘goat head’ as many fans called it. Within a few years, the Sabres added a third jersey in the year 2000. This was a red jersey with a new logo that featured crossed sabres. The primary black and white jerseys and the red third jersey remained with the club through the 2005-2006 season.
The 2006-2007 season saw the club change their colors to navy blue, gold, and white. This was a successful season that saw co-captains Chris Drury and Daniel Briere lead the team to win the President’s Trophy. However, it also marked the inaugural season of the charging Buffalo that quickly became known as the ‘slug’ logo.
The ‘slug’ jerseys weren’t very popular so the club brought back their original logo in another third jersey. Then in 2008, the Sabres introduced an updated version of their original jersey in their new navy color that was used as another third jersey. The ‘slug’ jerseys were retired at the end of the 2009-2010 season.
The 2010-2011 season was the Sabres’ 40th anniversary as members of the NHL. The Sabres unveiled updated home and away sweaters that featured an updated original logo as well as another third jersey. This third jersey had ‘Buffalo’ printed on the front as well as a smaller original logo and it stayed with the club through their 40th anniversary season.
[See Also: Buffalo Sabres Jersey History by John Ginder]
Turning the Page on the Third Jersey and (Hopefully) the Rebuild
The Buffalo Sabres introduced their current third jersey last season. There were some who liked it but the majority voiced their dislike of the Sabres’ new sweater. My colleague at THW, Andrew Bensch, wrote about the NHL’s worst uniforms earlier this season. In his article, Bensch called the Sabres’ third jersey “by far the worst in the entire league” and he is not alone in this viewpoint.
[See: The NHL’s Ugly Sweater Christmas Party by Andrew Bensch]
The color scheme with the Sabres’ alternate jersey is like no other in the NHL. The jersey is gold in the front and navy blue in the back. There is also a mix of gold names and silver numbering. The barrage of color usage in the third jersey design has brought it many critics among Sabres fans and other hockey fans throughout the NHL.
Guy wins new third Sabres jersey in scoreboard trivia contest, crowd boos.
— Bill Hoppe (@BillHoppeNHL) November 28, 2013
The multi-color alternate jersey was introduced in the thick of the Sabres’ rebuild. The past two seasons have positioned the Sabres for future success but they have been very tolling for fans. The club hovered near the NHL basement most of last season finishing in 30th place and they are on pace for similar results this season. This has allowed Buffalo to accrue an impressive stock of young prospects but it has made for some difficult nights at the First Niagara Center.
Retiring the third jersey at the end of the season will close the chapter on these difficult seasons. Indeed, the past two seasons are ones that Sabres fans want to leave behind in a hurry. Many fans are pulling for the Sabres to lose as many games as possible this season to land either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Rooting for losses is a difficult place to be in as a fan.
The retiring of the controversial gold/navy blue third jersey is symbolic of the club moving away from these difficult rebuilding years. With an offseason of major changes in the wings, Evander Kane poised to make his Sabres’ debut in October, and some more prospects in the fold, the Sabres should be much more competitive next season. Ideally, the franchise’s fortunes will take a turn next season in what should be a new beginning for the Sabres as the club looks to return to form as a playoff contender in the coming years.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW