National Hockey League
In the National Hockey League, each team has its own distinctive jersey design (hockey tradition usually refers to jerseys as "sweaters," since hockey players actually wore sweaters on the ice until the 1960s). Prior to 1995 (save a few isolated instances), each team only had two jerseys — one for home use, and one for the road. One jersey was dominantly white (or in a few instances, a light color), and the other dominantly a dark color. The white jersey was originally the road jersey with the dark jersey being home, but this was reversed from 1971 to 2003.
With the introduction of the third jersey, teams were allowed to use a completely new style for their jersey, (and in some cases, corresponding alternate socks, helmets and other uniform elements). Every team in the league except the Detroit Red Wings and the New Jersey Devils have introduced a third jersey at one point since the program began. However, Detroit used a "throwback" jersey for the 2009 Winter Classic (which was used again against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 11, 2009) and New Jersey used "throwback" Green and Red Jerseys against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 17, 2010. Including a replica helmet worn by goaltender Martin Brodeur that was made to look like the original helmet he wore in his first game with NJ back in 1992. Montreal introduced several "throwbacks" in 2009 to celebrate their centennial season. Following the NHL's lead, the National Basketball Association and National Football League also use third jerseys. The National Hockey League suspended the Third Jersey Program after the 2006–07 season because of logistics problems involving the new Rbk Edge style NHL jerseys, which were unveiled at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game. An exception was made during the 2007–08 season for the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, where the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres wore throwback uniforms for the game. After the one-year absence, third jerseys returned to the league for 2008–09.
Once a team has been granted permission by the league to use their new design, they will request and be allowed ten to fifteen games during the season in which they may use their third jersey. They may continue to use the third jersey in subsequent years as well. This alternate design allowed the team's appearance to flirt with radical designs which have occasionally gone on to become the new looks for some of the participating teams, though they can also be quite garish. An infamous example is a third jersey planned to be used by the St. Louis Blues: an over-the-top mix of trumpets, musical notes and staffs, it was rejected by then-coach/GM Mike Keenan, who reportedly banned the jersey from use. Sales of third jerseys to fans have also provided significant additional income for cash-strapped NHL teams.
Several teams have had multiple designs of their third jersey.
- 1955–1956: Boston Bruins (remained until end of 1956–1957 season; brought back for 1959–1960 season and stayed until end of 1964–1965 season)
- 1966–1967: Toronto Maple Leafs (inspired by Canada's Centennial celebrations in 1967, the Leafs had a completely different uniform set for that year's Stanley Cup playoffs, which culminated with a Stanley Cup victory. The modified Leafs uniform featured a new Maple Leaf emblem, replacing the traditional maple leaf, with a design imitating the leaf found on Canada's new Maple Leaf Flag introduced in 1965. This uniform was adopted by the team the following season - 1967–68, and remained until a completely new uniform design was unveiled for the 1970–71 season. )
- 1981–1982: Pittsburgh Penguins (remained until 1984–1985 season)
- 1991–1992: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens , New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs (all as throwback/vintage jerseys)
- 1993–94: Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings (one game, wearing the 1992 throwback/vintage jerseys)
- 1995–96: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Boston Bruins (through 2005–06), Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins (through 1996–97; would eventually become their regular road shirt), Vancouver Canucks (through 1996–97)
- 1996–97: Chicago Blackhawks (used through 2006–07), New York Islanders (third and fourth jerseys with classic logo), New York Rangers (through 2006–07), Tampa Bay Lightning (through 1998–99), Toronto Maple Leafs (one game - throwback/vintage jerseys)
- 1997–98: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (through 1999–2000), Dallas Stars (through 1998–99; became road shirt afterward), Ottawa Senators (through 1998–99; became road shirt afterward), Philadelphia Flyers (through 2000–01; became road shirt afterward), St. Louis Blues (became home shirt the following season), San Jose Sharks (became road shirt the following season), Washington Capitals (through 1999–2000; became road shirt afterward)
- 1998–99: Calgary Flames (through 1999–2000; became road jersey through 2003; third shirt again 2003–07), Florida Panthers (through 2002–03; became new home jersey, replaced by former road jersey), New York Rangers (white shirt replaced blue third for one season), Phoenix Coyotes (through 2002–03), Toronto Maple Leafs (through 2006–07)
- 1999–2000: Los Angeles Kings (still used; logos switched in 2002–03)
- 2000–01: Buffalo Sabres (through 2005–06), Ottawa Senators (through 2006–07), Pittsburgh Penguins (through 2001–02; became home uniform after one season)
- 2001–02: Colorado Avalanche (through 2006–07), Edmonton Oilers (designed by Todd McFarlane; through 2006–07), Nashville Predators (through 2006–07), San Jose Sharks (through 2006–07), Vancouver Canucks (through 2005–06)
- 2002–03: New York Islanders (through 2006–07), Philadelphia Flyers (orange with 3D version of logo, through 2006–07)
- 2003–04: Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (through 2005–06), Atlanta Thrashers (would become home shirt), Boston Bruins (c.1970 - vintage program) Columbus Blue Jackets (became home jersey in 2007–08), Dallas Stars (used through 2005–06), Edmonton Oilers (c.1988 - vintage program), Florida Panthers (former road shirt, through 2006–07), Los Angeles Kings (c.1987 - vintage program), Minnesota Wild (became home jersey in 2007–08); Montreal Canadiens (c.1946 and c.1960 versions - vintage program - 1946 version used through 2006–07), New York Rangers (c.1978 - vintage program), St. Louis Blues (c.1979 - vintage program) Vancouver Canucks (c.1976 - vintage program; worn as fourth in 2005–06, in use as third through 2006–07)
- 2006–07: Boston Bruins (1960s throwback), Buffalo Sabres (c.1980 blue throwback, a white variant was used as a fourth in 2002–03 and was used for the AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic)
- 2007–08: During the NHL playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced they would wear sweaters similar in design to the ones worn during their 1967 Stanley Cup run, but this did not occur because the Maple Leafs failed to reach a playoff spot during the regular season.
- 2008–09: On September 10, 2008, the Carolina Hurricanes unveiled a new predominantly black third jersey featuring a flag design reminiscent of the maritime advisory flag system. The following teams announced the use of third jerseys for the 2008–09 NHL season: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks (a vintage jersey for the 2009 NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field), Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings (for the 2009 Winter Classic), Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks. To commemorate its 100th season, Montreal Canadiens wear vintage jerseys from seasons 1912–1913, 1915–1916 and 1945–1946 during selected home games against Original Six teams.
- 2009–10: Montreal Canadiens announce in Fall 2008 they will wear vintage jerseys from seasons 1909–1910 and 1910–1911 during selected home games against Original Six teams to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the team. In addition, the Bruins and Flyers will wear vintage jerseys for their game as part of the 2010 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1; new third jerseys for the 2009-10 NHL season will be worn by the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild and the Nashville Predators. The Chicago Blackhawks have also announced and unvield a new 3rd jersey which is a variation of the winter classic jersey used in the game at Noon on January 1, 2009.