The evolution of the Calgary Flames jersey

Sep 28 2016, 5:51 am

A blast from the past once again for the Calgary Flames, as they are returning to their retro jerseys as alternates for the 2016-17 NHL season.

Last worn during the 2012-13 season, the retro uniforms were benched in favour of a new script-style uniform, which have been used the last few years.

Calgary will wear the red and yellow sweaters 12 times during the upcoming season, including their home opener on October 14 against the Edmonton Oilers.

Let’s take a look back through the years of the Flames jersey worn by names like Lanny McDonald, Theo Fleury, Jarome Iginla, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Johnny Gaudreau.

Simple beginnings

Keeping the Flames moniker following the team’s relocation to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980, the Flames kept basically the same jersey style from their previous home in Georgia.

The blueprint for the current Flames third jerseys, the 1980’s dark sweater featured a crimson backdrop highlighted by yellow and white striping on the arms and base. A similar design was kept for the home white jerseys as the Flames crest and shoulders were turned red, while yellow and red was used for the striping.

An instant hit with Calgary fans, the original Flames jerseys saw legends like Lanny McDonald, Hakan Loob, Mike Vernon, Dougie Gilmour, Al MacInnis, and Joe Nieuwendyk don the flaming ‘C’.

Most famous of all, this jersey was worn when Calgary captured their only Stanley Cup in franchise history against the Montreal Canadiens in 1989.

Calgary kept their original look for another four seasons, before making the transition to a truly 90’s jersey.

The stripe

Introducing a brand new jersey for the first time since the franchise’s move to Calgary, the Flames took a major risk in 1994 with some unorthodox piping along the bottom of the sweater.

Although the Flames kept red and white as their main jersey colours, black was added to the colour scheme on both the home and away versions.

Striping was red, white, and black on the home sweaters and white, yellow, and black on the road, but the most apparent change was the direction of the stripes. Horizontal stripes were kept at the base, but diagonal striping was added from the right side towards the centre of the jersey, along with diagonal stripes on the sleeves.

This was an experimental time for the Flames, as they changed their lettering font, pant design, and introduced a black outline around the home logo, which is still used today.

Aside from Theo Fleury’s record breaking numbers in 90’s, the Flames didn’t have much to celebrate with the diagonal stripe and eventually retired the look in 2000.

Year of the horse

Now it’s time to inject a little controversy.

The most divisive of all of Calgary’s jerseys, the ‘Flaming Horse’ was both panned and praised when it entered the league during the 1998-99 season as an alternate jersey.

Celebrating the ‘Year of the Horse,’ the sweater featured an angry mustang with fire flaring from its nostrils, placed on a black background with red and yellow triangular striping. The familiar Flames logo was relegated to the shoulders in Calgary’s first change in logo in 18 years.

Two years after it was introduced, the black jersey was promoted to Calgary’s full-time road jersey when the diagonal sweaters were retired by the team.

Discovering the game in the early-to-mid 2000’s, selfishly these jerseys will have a sentimental place in my heart, but it’s understandable why they didn’t catch on with most Flames fans.

Relegated back to a third jersey in 2003, the Flames kept the infamous horse head for another three years.

Return to red

When the NHL decided to rebrand in 2003 and designate dark jerseys for home games, the Flames took this as an opportunity to transition back to red as their main colour.

Keeping the triangle striping from the ‘Flaming Horse’ incarnation, Calgary changed their logo from white to black on their home jerseys, which allowed the familiar flaming ‘C’ to pop on the red background.

The horse head was used as a jersey patch on the shoulders, while the home jersey incorporated old-school laces into the neckline. The white road sweater was actually created for the organization three years prior, and saw little change when the red home jersey was implemented.

Maybe the cleanest of Calgary’s many jerseys, the 2003-2007 era sweaters were worn during the Flames’ memorable Stanley Cup Finals run during the 2003-04 campaign.

Forever linked with Flames greats like Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, these jerseys have stood the test of time for the fans who continue to wear them.

Provincial pride

Much like their decision to return to a red uniform, the most recent major jersey change for the Flames came as a result of an NHL decision.

Partnering with Reebok ahead of the 2007-08 season, all teams began to wear sweaters designed with the new Edge uniform system. Many teams, including the Flames, elected to take this opportunity to redesign their look.

Although Calgary kept the same colour layout from the previous design, the team decided to maneuver the bottom piping around the new aerodynamic jersey layout. Striping in general on the new jerseys became less angular, and laces were also added to the road white uniforms.

Arguably the most drastic change came on the shoulder patches, as the team abandoned the horse for Canadian flags on the left shoulder and Albertan flags on the right.

This remains Calgary’s current home and away design, and has become the Flames’ highest-selling sweater in team history.

A baseball script third jersey was also adorned by the Flames between 2013 and 2016, but has since been put on the back burner in favour of the retro throwbacks.

Although it’s still to be seen whether the Flames will be able to win with the old-school jerseys, most fans seem grateful for the nostalgic return.