Friday, November 25, 2011
In honor of the official kickoff to the Christmas shopping season and the madness known as "Black Friday", today we take a look at the first black jersey worn in the National Hockey League.
The Chicago Black Hawks entered the NHL in time for the 1926-27 season wearing a white jersey adorned with multiple black stripes in the art deco style of the times.
The majority of the team's players came from the Portland Rosebuds of the defunct Western Hockey League. The club was named after their owner Frederic McLaughlin's army unit, of which he had been a commander, the 333rd Machine Gun Battalion of the 86th Infantry, nicknamed the "Black Hawk Division". It was McLaughlin's wife Irene who designed the team's Indian head logo.
Despite leading the league in goals scored with 115, they also allowed the most goals with 116 and finished under .500 with a 19-22-3 record. They would qualify for the playoffs, but fell to the Boston Bruins 6-1 and tied them 4-4 in Game 2 to lose the total goals series 10-5.
For their second season, the club would debut brand new sweaters, which were a complete color reversal of their inaugural sweaters, now black with a multitude of white stripes. This sweater was the first black sweater in NHL history.
While the sweaters colors were reversed from year one, the crest was not and remained white on black. In all honesty, it too probably could have had it's colors reversed as well for greater contrast and legibility.
Today's featured jersey, a 1927-28 Chicago Black Hawks Teddy Graham jersey, shows the higher placement of the crest for the 1927-28 season, which overlapped the lower two chest stripes.
For 1928-29 and subsequent seasons, the crest was lowered below the striping and the collar would change from black to white as shown below in this photo or Art Somers from the 1929-30 season.
The Black Hawks would wear these sweaters for seven seasons and win their first Stanley Cup wearing them in 1934.
They would begin the next 1934-35 season wearing them, but midway through the schedule they would debut a new, short-lived set of black sweaters with a wide white chest stripe with red trim which would only be worn for the remainder of that season only.
As most teams only had a single style of sweater through the 1930's worn for all games regardless of home or road, no other team would introduce another black jersey until the 1948-49 season when light and dark "home" and "road" jerseys had by then become the accepted practice, which allowed the Boston Bruins to introduce their first black sweater, knowing Chicago would now be able to wear their white sweaters to differentiate themselves from the Bruins.