During their existance the Hartford Whalers changed the look of their jersey a number of times. The more "environmentally-aware" society of the late 1970's saw the end of the harpoon.
The introduction of the full length "Cooperalls" was met with bad reviews in the early 80's. Pucky the Whale patches even fell off the shoulders by the mid-1980's.
In the 1990's, merchandising became the top priority as hockey jerseys began to see a surge in sales in the United States. For the Hartford Whalers, the color green was seen as a problem from a marketing standpoint and before you knew it, green was a secondary color...
In the New England Whalers' inaugural season while in Boston, the team established the green and white colour scheme that they would wear for over twenty years.
New Name, new city, new logo, new colours. The move from Boston saw the Whalers change from the New England Whalers of the WHA to the Hartford Whalers of the NHL and gold trim was added to the jersey.
The jump to the NHL saw yet another uniform change. Pucky the whale which adorned the shoulder of the jersey since day one made the cut, but a less controversial harpoon-less crest became the Whalers' primary logo.
After 10 years of existance the Whalers added an additonal patch to their jersey and altered the striping slightly. CCM also began making a name for themselves as "the" jersey of the NHL and the Whalers jumped on the boat.
The 1982-83 season saw two teams in the NHL, Philadelphia and Hartford, switch to full length hockey pants. The fad was shortlived though and the following season, both teams were back to the regular length hockey pant.
Once again, the Whalers re-arranged the striping on the jersey and they also switched to a more durable mesh material. Pucky the whale was also removed from the shoulders of the jersey as the logo had become the laughing stock of the NHL.
The end of the decade saw more of the same as the Hartford Whalers again re-did the striping on the jersey and they also switched from the heavy mesh material to a thin air-knit material.
Here's a switch, new road jerseys on the drawing board...A blueprint for merchandising. This is not the best time of year to bad mouth the color green. And, really, we had no such intentions, anyway.
Just as hulking Boog Powell was accused of looking like a gigantic Bloody Mary when the Cleveland Indians took their short lived shot at all red baseball uniforms, it's really the size of the player that determines the perception. Dave Semenko looked like the Jolly Green Giant in the Whalers' road outfit.
No matter what color you dressed Dean Evason and Ray Ferraro in, they weren't going to look like Joel Otto and Mark Messier. And, besides Monsieur Aubut, people think your road blue uniforms with the fleur-de-lis make your Nordiques look like a lousy team.
How else can you explain that 11-75-11 road record in the past three years?
The Whalers have one of the worst home records in the NHL in the past three years. And those home jerseys will continue to be white.
But the rest is going to change. The Whalers sent their proposal to the NHL a few weeks back. And pending final color coordination between the NHL and the club hierarchy, the Whalers will have different color uniforms next season. There is no Board of Governors approval needed, Whalers vice president Rick Francis said.
The major change is that navy blue -- not green -- will be the dominant color for the road jerseys. Francis said he believes the pants for home games will be navy blue, too.
The real issue here is green -- as in dollar bill green. Green merchandise does not sell with fans. Black and blue do.
"Kelly green or Dartmouth green...it doesn't matter if you are a dynasty like the Celtics, not too many people look great in green," Francis said. "The Celtics' white jackets outsell their green jackets something like 25 to 1."
But at this rate isn't every team in sports going to be black or silver by the year 2000? San Jose Sharks, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Kings and Raiders are top sellers. Is the bottom line on uniform colors the bottom line at the souvenir shop?
"We came up with different color schemes that might be popular from a merchandising standpoint," Francis said. "Black was always at the top. It's a hot color.
"There are seven-eight teams that have base blue in the NHL. I haven't seen our full uniforms, home and away, all at once yet. But the navy blue we're going to is a color no other team has."
Equipment manager Skip Cunningham, who has been with the Whalers since day one, is coordinating the uniform change. Color and design are obviously matters of taste, but few people in the NHL would have a better handle on the equipment world.
Skip says the new uniform is going to look terrific. Evidently, they're going to look a little like Dallas Cowboys uniforms -- fitting, since Roger Staubach is on Gordon's advisory board.
"The uniform still has green striping," Francis said. "It also has brought in a silver-gray. When you lay silver-gray over navy blue, it's a very rich and classy combination. It's not the same as the Cowboys."
From our perspective, lanky Chicago goalie Ed Belfour, with the indian head crest in red and black road uniforms, is the most stylish player on ice. Those crossed tomahawks on his shoulders, the fierce hawk painted onto his goalie mask and the longish hair coming out the back all help, too.
In teal and blue with the "jaws" mask and shark logo, San Jose goalie Brian Hayward looks much better than his goals-against average.
At any rate, the new Whalers uniforms are sure to look better than those long green pants of a decade ago. They made the Whalers look like tourists in Atlantic City.
Francis said the last he heard from Cunningham the Whalers still were waiting to get a crest design back from a company in Attleboro, Mass. The club is looking at putting the nautical rope circle -- like in the original uniforms -- around the Whalers' logo. In light of some complaints, they have no intentions of bringing back the harpoon.
Francis' dad, Emile, got rid of the Gumby-looking Whale on the uniform shoulder six years ago. That was a good move. But NHL clubs are looking for secondary logos for the shoulders and other merchandising.
"I had one idea of a killer whale crashing through the ice," Francis said. "But at this point it might be too late to do anything on the game jerseys except for the shoulder or on other merchandise."
The crashing whale is a terrific idea for the center crest. Maybe use the current W-tale on the shoulder or within the crest, too. Anything to play up the mightiest of creatures and play down the slaughter of them.
"You want to be respectful of the club's tradition, but a uniform change is an opportunity to rebuild some loyalty and excitement," Francis said.
The Whalers' tradition is not so deep in decades and championships that a change from green to navy blue is a problem. If new uniforms are as good as advertised, it's a good move. But let's not forget the move from green to blue is a move to chase the green.
December 25, 1991
The 1992-93 season was the first with out the green road jersey. Blue was now the more prominent colour and the logo and striping were enhanced with silver highlights. As with all teams, the Whalers wore the 100th anniversary Stanley Cup patch on the right brest that season.
In the team's final seasons in Hartford, the CCM brand was no longer used in favor of the Connecticut based Starter Corporation. And the blue of the road jersey was darkened to the point that it almost appeared black in an attempt to mimic the merchandising success of the Los Angeles Kings' switch to black uniforms.