The Calgary Flames have been blessed with not only one the best logos in the NHL, but a vast history of both phenomenal and questionable jerseys.
The team has been rocking the “Retro” look for the past two seasons and frankly it feels like the organization’s jersey game has been peaking. Add in the 2020–21 season’s Blasty revelation and the last few years have been just an embarrassment of riches for fans of the team.
The best and worst Flames jerseys
That being said, it hasn’t always been glitter and gold. There are some absolute lemons in the inventory of the Flames sweaters. So before the super secret, totally not leaked, third jerseys and Reverse Retro 2.0 jerseys are announced, let’s take a look at the best and worst jerseys the Flames organization has sported since moving to Calgary.
Let’s establish a few rules for rankings. Some jerseys—although having slight alterations—will be grouped together for simplicity sake. No need to separately mention somewhat identical jerseys as either the best, or the worst. Further, warm up jerseys are not considered either. Only in-game jerseys will be looked at.
Lastly, we’ll alternate between the good and the bad, but leave rankings between the worst ones and the best ones for you to decide. So leave some comments or share your thoughts on which one’s the worst of the worst, and the best of the best.
Worst: 2013–16 Alternate Jersey
This is going to come as an absolute no brainer to start off the list. The 2013–16 alternate was just a complete departure from everything that we know and love about a Flames sweater. First off, the cursive writing on the front completely dwarfs the well known logo hiding beneath the lettering. This is the one and only Flames jersey that has writing on the front, rather than the logo, and that’s just a mistake.
Additionally, although we at The Win Column originally had used the shoulder patch logo as an inspiration for our original logo, it just was a completely different design compared to what fans were used to.
It’s no surprise that the jersey only lasted a few seasons as it was not one that was highly worn—or even purchased—by fans. You simply do not see these in the arena at all, and if someone does wear one, it doesn’t stand out enough to be noticed. Combined with the fact that players had openly trashed the kit, it was not a highlight for the Flames.
Best: 2003–06 “Black C” / 2000–03 Chevron
Call it nostalgia, call it one of the best runs in franchise history, but there is no doubt that the “Black C” jerseys with the chevron bottom and sleeves is a top tier jersey in Flames history.
First off, the simplicity of the design is fantastic. There are no wasted design elements and the logo in a black popped off of the red background. Additionally, with the NHL shifting to the “dark” colours being the standard home jerseys, it was just perfect timing to have these added to the rotation in time for the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoff run.
Add in the Blasty shoulder patches and there is just something about this design that puts it near the top of the list. It’s a jersey that is closely tied to the Jarome Iginla era, it’s hard not to imagine his nameplate and number on the back of these when you see one.
Worst: Reebok Piping
This jersey took everything cool about the Chevron jerseys, and completely ruined them.
First off, the Canadian and Alberta flags as the shoulder patches were a significant downgrade. The Flames are neither the only team in Canada nor Alberta, so it’s a weird usage of flags as an identity. Additionally, the unnecessary black lining along the sleeves and under the arms added a design element that just made no sense.
The jersey was just far too busy. Although it was a staple for many years, looking back does not bode as well. It’s one of those jerseys that you get cause no other options were available for existing roster players at that time.
Call me crazy, but the black jerseys popping out among the C of Red is sleek, or well beyond sleek even.
Initially met with an immense amount of distaste, Blasty has made a significant comeback in recent years. The original design, which eventually became the full time road set for the team during 2000–03 after being the alternate from 1998–2000, focused on a simple design with red chevrons on the edges of the jerseys. It also included the original red C logo as the should patches, which paired well with the design. This, in my opinion, is the best variant.
The 2020 Reverse Retro which removed the red edges, and opted for just chevron lines, was a welcome return with a twist. That being said, the shoulder patch changes to the white C didn’t fit as well with the entire design and the overwhelming amount of black may have been too much of a good thing.
The leaked 2022 alternate jerseys, which once again incorporate Blasty, look to keep the 2020 design but add in some flame decals onto the arms. If we had to rank the set of three, it would go original, 2022, and then 2020. All in all, three excellent jerseys.
Worst: 2010 Heritage Classic
This may be sacrilegious, but at this point in time these jerseys just do not stack up well against the rest.
The additional stripes, the off red/burgundy red colouring, and the smaller white C just somehow don’t work as well as it used to. I have flip flopped on these jerseys the last few years, but looking at the overall repertoire of jerseys in the Flames lineup, it just doesn’t land on the positive side.
Maybe in a few years if the team can revamp this style it may work better, but for now it just doesn’t. That said, among all Heritage Classic Jerseys, the Flames fared much better than other teams.
Best: The Original / Full Retro
The rules set our at the start of this ranking mainly applied to this set. All iterations across the history of the organization are slightly similar, but far superior to every single jersey worn on the ice. The large C logo, the mix of white, red, and yellow, the simplicity, all of those factors make these jerseys one of the best in league history.
The team won a Stanley Cup in these kits, they made a return as an alternate, and stole the show at the 2019 Heritage Classic.
These are the G.O.A.T. Flames jerseys.
Worst: 2017–22 Adidas
When Adidas announced they would be taking over the NHL jersey contract, expectations were high.
What they delivered was far less than those expectations.
Taking the piping jerseys and simply just removing that was a step in the right direction, but other than that very limited changes were made. The siding of the jersey added in some weird angles, and the unitalicized lettering made for a bit of a jarring experience.
Plus, the team had the prime opportunity to add back in the Blasty shoulder pads but opted to retain the flags.
Not the absolute worst on the list, but far from a positive entry.
Best: The Pedestals
There is just something about the 90s that makes this jersey work so well. The shouldering and the aforementioned pedestal made this for such a unique entry.
There is no doubt that this isn’t the “best” jersey of all time, but the colour combination and lettering make this just one of the most memorable in franchise history.
That being said…
Worst: 2022 Reverse Retro
Look, I know the Flames’ Reverse Retro jersey hasn’t been announced yet, but early leaks point towards a re-imagining of the pedestal jerseys into a black variation. I don’t know if that works as well as the original.
Sure the whole “Reverse Retro” trend aims to take a unique spin on an existing design, but can two black jerseys exist in the same rotation? Blasty might steal the show both on the ice and among the crowd. Collectors will want to add the Reverse Retro to complete their set, but most fans are looking for new jerseys with “Huberdeau” or “Kadri” on the back. If a black jersey is in their sights, wouldn’t a Blasty make more sense?
We will reserve judgment for when it’s worn on the ice, but this could end up being the biggest faux pas in franchise history.
A storied history of Flames jerseys
There is no doubt everyone will have their favourites, and non-favourites among the list, let us know in the comments what you agree (or disagree) with, or on social media @wincolumnCGY.
Photo by Lukian Demchuk
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