The Pittsburgh Penguins have experienced a plethora of highs and lows since the tale of the club first began in 1967. The Penguins are a team of destiny. When they were down and ready to fold as a franchise, a superstar was there to save them. Mario Lemieux led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories in the early 1990’s after a miserable decade in the 1980’s. Same scenario played out in the early 2000’s when the franchise was playing terrible on the ice plus it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Sidney Crosby came into the league in 2005 to lead the Penguins to 10 consecutive years making the playoffs and that includes two Stanley Cup championships branded to the history books.
Now that the Penguins are fifty years young and counting, here lies the history of the Penguins expressed through the form of their outdoor sweaters:
Pittsburgh Penguins 2008 Winter Classic
Worn on January 1st, 2008 in Ralph Wilson Stadium – Orchard Park, New York
Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic
Worn on January 1st, 2011 in Heinz Field – Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Although most Winter Classic jerseys are supposed to replicate the jerseys worn in each team’s past, this particular sweater features different aspects multiple past jerseys from the Penguins franchise. While the jersey may look like a classic, the overall design is actually brand new but it’s still based from the team’s history – not a common theme for most Winter Classic jerseys.
We once again go back to the late 1960’s for the inspiration of the design for this sweater. This jersey is a lot like the 2008 Winter Classic but vice-versa. The body of the sweater is navy blue which was used prominently by the Pens in the 1970’s. The bold, baby blue striping on the waist and wrist portions is a standout that was inspired by the very first Penguins jerseys with the diagonal “Pittsburgh” lettering in the inaugural year of 1967. Those jerseys were only worn for just one season. The unique, baby blue striping of the jersey was widely criticized because it didn’t look like it matched with the rest of the jersey but it was part of team history so why blow that detail out of proportion.
The logo was an improvement from the 2008 Winter Classic as the circular base is now vintage white plus it’s coupled with retro-style “Pittsburgh Penguins” letters circling the penguin. That very same penguin logo that was used in 2008 now has a scarf and that detail was by far the best aspect about this jersey. The logo itself is also very large and it sticks out well to onlookers. The only criticism I have with this jersey is that the blue letters circling the penguins doesn’t standout, instead, it blends in to the navy blue body of the sweater a little too much. Overall, this is a nice jersey that has standout features but it was a little overdone.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2014 Stadium Series
Worn on March 1st, 2014 in Soldier Field – Chicago Illinois
2014 marks the first year of the Stadium Series outdoor games. Unlike the Winter Classic where historic elements are used for their main theme of the sweaters, the Stadium Series theme moves into a modern direction by trying out new designs and features that were never displayed before.
For this jersey, the Penguins unveiled a jersey that still uses the same logo and colours, but in an entirely different layout. The black shoulder yokes are a welcome detail as well as the mid-size black and gold stripes along the waist and elbows portions of the sweater.
The jersey features a chrome-treated Penguins logo design inspired from the chrome details of the NHL shield, a dynamic and modern look to conventional team identity.
The numbering on the back of the jerseys is enlarged and sleeve numbers are angled to improve visibility in outdoor venues. The font on them looks really good too.
Overall, this jersey looks better than their primary road whites they have used from 2007 to 2016 but the Pens really should of have tried to think ”outside-of-the-box” more with this one. The New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks and L.A. Kings took a chance on some brand new concepts that turned out to be huge winners in their Stadium Series games so that left fans wanting more so that was a slight disappointment.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2017 Stadium Series
Worn onFebruary 25, 2017 in Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
This is probably the most standout outdoor NHL jersey that has ever been unveiled. There are so many features this jersey has that makes it unique and there is no other like it. This jersey is mean’t to look industrial because Pittsburgh is also known as “Steel City.” The captaincy patches have the gold triangle around it and that golden triangle is normally behind the logo but instead they have it integrated with the “A” and “C” captaincy patches.
The most attention-grabbing feature is the giant patch on the left sleeve touting “City of Champions” in big silver letters. This is the largest secondary patch that was ever featured on a NHL jersey. Inside the patch there are four gold stars, marking the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championships, with crossed hockey sticks all inside a keystone shape — for the Keystone State.
The overall body of the jersey is representative of the first alternate jersey ever used in the NHL and that honour belonged to the Penguins. Those jerseys were worn between 1982 to 1985.