On Tuesday, the 2019-2020 NHLPA Player Poll ranked the Chicago Blackhawks’ jersey the best in the NHL. The Hawks won by a wide margin of 28.25%, beating the Vegas Golden Knights and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who tied for second place with 6.83%; and the New York Rangers, who ranked third with 6.38%.
The Blackhawks’ jersey has continuously been ranked the best in past polls — not only in the NHL but in all of sports. The lore arguably occurred in the 1955-56 season, when the iconic Indian-head logo was enlarged and simplified. The circle and full team-name were removed for the first time in the franchise’s history, solely placing the Indian-head front and center. Other than slight variations of the facial features, the general logo, color-scheme and overall formula of the jersey (collars notwithstanding) would remain the same from 1955 until this very day.
It was no surprise to see two other original six franchises in the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers in the NHLPA Player Poll, but Vegas?
Many fans seem to love this jersey for reasons that quite honestly are elusive. Vegas’ crest is incredibly bland and is more reminiscent of a video game icon/avatar than anything else. Sometimes simplicity is good, but it can also backfire, as in the case of the Anaheim Ducks’ atrocious “flying frisbee” crests. With little inspiration or skill, both logos look like they could be drawn by an average high school art student. As far Vegas’ color scheme, it’s obvious the selection was heavily influenced by the popularity of Team North America’s World Cup of Hockey 2016 uniforms, which were released the year before Vegas’ inaugural season.
What separates the Blackhawks’ crest from others is both its overall simplicity, yet its complexity in detail. From the individual feathers, to the tomahawk design, to the striking facial features — every detail is accounted for, and each detail produces a beautiful symmetry that flows within the entire crest. Everything is perfectly balanced, including the color scheme, which is vibrant (unlike Vegas’ boring dark-gray scheme) and remarkably vast. If there is a “pop” factor when it comes to jerseys, nothing comes close to the Blackhawks’ sweater.
Of course, the Blackhawks’ logo has been open to criticism in recent years — not so much artistically, but politically and culturally. For a logo that has remained practically unchanged since 1955, perhaps it should be expected, especially in today’s politically correct climate. Some believe it is culturally inappropriate to use the Indian-head crest, likening its use to that of the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians. Washington’s logo, however, represents the term “redskin,” which in itself is considered a racial slur; and Cleveland’s logo was in the style of a fictional satirical caricature.
Today’s Blackhawks’ crest falls under neither category. It is not an offensive stereotype of a particular race; it is a representation of honor, reverence and courage. Not only is the crest and team-name a tribute to founder Maj. Frederic McLaughlin’s WWI army unit (the 86th Infantry, or “Black Hawk” Division), they are both eponymous to an actual historical figure in the state of Illinois in Chief Black Hawk (after whom McLaughlin’s army division was named)– not a generalized caricature.
“Best Jersey” was the only category in the NHLPA Poll in which the Blackhawks were represented.