Why Is There A Lack of Green And Purple in The NHL?

Benjamin Kenyon

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A Lack of Green And Purple in The NHL

The NHL, known for its thrilling on-ice action and passionate fan base, boasts a rich tapestry of team identities, each defined by its distinctive colors and logos. 

Yet, amid the sea of reds, blues, and blacks, you may have noticed a conspicuous absence of green and purple.

In this exploration, we delve into the intriguing world of NHL team colors and uncover the reasons, Why is there a lack of green and purple in the NHL?

While the league welcomes diversity in talent and fan traditions, its color palette has remained steeped in tradition. The historical roots, practical considerations, and marketing dynamics have conspired to keep green and purple on the periphery of NHL branding.

Join us on this colorful journey through hockey history to understand why green and purple, despite their vibrancy, remain elusive in the National Hockey League. So, stay focused. 

A Lack of Green And Purple in The NHL

The Evolution of NHL Team Colors

The National Hockey League (NHL) has a rich history, and the colors and logos of its teams have evolved over the years. Here’s a brief overview of the evolution of NHL team colors:

Early Years (1917-1920s)

  • When the NHL was founded in 1917, many teams used simple, basic colors for their uniforms. Some of the original team colors included red, white, and blue, which were common choices for early NHL teams.
  • The Montreal Canadiens, for example, adopted their iconic red, white, and blue color scheme during this period.

Expansion and the Original Six (1940s-1960s)

The NHL expanded over the years, but for a significant portion of its history, it consisted of the “Original Six” teams: the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers.

These teams established their signature color schemes during this time:

  • Montreal Canadiens: Red, white, and blue.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs: Blue and white.
  • Boston Bruins: Black and gold.
  • Detroit Red Wings: Red and white.
  • Chicago Blackhawks: Red, white, and black.
  • New York Rangers: Red, white, and blue.

Expansion Era (1967)

  • In 1967, the NHL underwent a significant expansion, doubling the number of teams. This expansion led to the creation of new color schemes and team logos.
  • The St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, and other teams introduced unique colors and logos during this era.

The 1970s and Beyond

  • As the NHL continued to expand in the 1970s and beyond, teams like the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, and Washington Capitals introduced distinctive color schemes and logos.
  • The 1990s saw the addition of the Florida Panthers and the Anaheim Ducks (formerly the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), both of which had unique color palettes and logos.

Rebranding and Modernization

  • Many NHL teams have gone through rebranding efforts to modernize their logos and color schemes. These changes often reflect trends in graphic design and marketing.
  • The Colorado Avalanche, for example, changed their colors from the original Quebec Nordiques’ blue, white, and red to a more contemporary burgundy, blue, and silver scheme when they relocated in 1995.
  • The Tampa Bay Lightning underwent a significant redesign in the early 2000s, switching to a black, blue, and silver color scheme and introducing a new logo.

Outdoor Games and Alternate Jerseys

The NHL has embraced outdoor games and alternate jerseys, which have allowed teams to experiment with different color combinations and designs. These jerseys often pay homage to the team’s history or regional identity.

The evolution of NHL team colors reflects the league’s growth and changes over the years.

The Dominance of Red, Blue, and Black Color in NHL

The dominance of red, blue, and black colors in the NHL can be attributed to several factors, including tradition, aesthetics, and the symbolism associated with these colors. 

Here’s an exploration of why these colors are prevalent in NHL team branding:

Tradition and History

  • Many of the original NHL teams adopted red, blue, and black as part of their color schemes when the league was established in 1917. These colors were readily available and symbolized strong, traditional sports values.
  • Teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers, which are among the oldest and most iconic in the league, have maintained their traditional colors over the years.

Classic and Timeless Aesthetics

  • Red, blue, and black are considered classic and timeless colors that are visually appealing. They convey a sense of tradition, stability, and professionalism.
  • These colors are versatile and can be combined in various ways to create visually striking and balanced team uniforms and logos.

Symbolism and Identity

  • Red is often associated with energy, passion, and determination. It can represent the intensity and competitiveness of the sport.
  • Blue is linked to qualities like trust, loyalty, and strength. It can symbolize the team’s commitment to its fan base and the city it represents.
  • Black, while less common, is associated with power, sophistication, and a sense of mystery. Teams that incorporate black into their color schemes often do so to create a more modern or aggressive identity.

Team Nicknames and Logos

  • The choice of team nicknames and logos can influence the color selection. For example, the “Red Wings” in Detroit naturally led to the use of red in their branding.
  • Teams with bird-related nicknames like the Blackhawks and the Penguins often incorporate black feathers or wings into their logos, which naturally lends itself to the use of black in their color schemes.

Marketing and Merchandise

Red, blue, and black are popular colors in sports merchandise and apparel. Fans are more likely to buy jerseys, hats, and other merchandise in team colors they find appealing and wearable.

Visual Contrast and Visibility

These colors offer strong visual contrast, which is essential for television broadcasts and fan engagement. Players and fans can easily identify teams on the ice when they wear these colors.

While red, blue, and black are dominant colors in the NHL, there are exceptions, and many teams have unique and distinctive color schemes that set them apart. 

The diversity of colors and designs across NHL teams adds to the league’s visual appeal and allows each franchise to establish its own identity within the broader context of the sport.

The Importance of the Tradition of NHL Colors in History

Tradition of NHL Colors in History

The tradition of NHL colors holds significant importance in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) for several reasons:

Historical Continuity

The NHL’s roots date back to 1917, making it one of the oldest professional hockey leagues in the world. The tradition of team colors links the league’s past to its present, creating a sense of historical continuity. 

Fans can connect with the rich heritage of the league through these colors, as they often date back to the very founding of their respective teams.

Fan Loyalty

Team colors and logos play a vital role in fan loyalty and identification. Generations of fans have grown up supporting teams with specific color schemes, creating a deep emotional attachment to these colors. 

Fans proudly wear team jerseys and merchandise, displaying their allegiance. This loyalty transcends generations, as families pass down the tradition of supporting a particular team to their children and grandchildren.

Sense of Identity

Team colors are a core component of a team’s identity. They symbolize a team’s geographic location, history, and cultural significance. 

For example, the Montreal Canadiens’ red, white, and blue represent their French-Canadian heritage, while the Boston Bruins’ black and gold reflect the city’s strong association with colonial history. These colors help teams forge a unique identity within the league.

Rivalries and Traditions

The tradition of specific team colors fuels intense rivalries within the NHL. For instance, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blue and white is often pitted against the Montreal Canadiens’ red, white, and blue in one of the league’s most storied rivalries. 

These rivalries have deep historical roots and contribute to the excitement and drama of the sport.

Recognition and Branding

Team colors are a crucial aspect of branding and recognition, not just for fans but also for the broader public. These colors are associated with a team’s success, history, and accomplishments. 

When people see the Chicago Blackhawks’ red, white, and black, they immediately recognize the team, even if they are not avid hockey fans.

Nostalgia and Sentiment

NHL teams have made subtle changes to their uniforms and logos over the years, but they generally maintain the core team colors. 

This consistency allows fans to experience a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality when they see their team’s colors. It connects them to their own personal history and memories associated with the team.

Legacy and Tradition

Many NHL teams have a rich tradition of success and championship history while wearing their iconic colors. These traditions, often linked to specific colors, add to the aura and prestige of the franchise. 

For example, the Detroit Red Wings’ red and white are synonymous with a long history of excellence in the sport.

The tradition of NHL colors is an integral part of the league’s history and culture. It fosters fan loyalty, helps define team identities, and creates a connection between the past and present.

Why Is There A Lack of Green And Purple in The NHL?

The lack of green and purple in the NHL can be attributed to several historical, cultural, and practical reasons:

Tradition and Established Team Colors

Many NHL teams have a long and storied history, dating back to the league’s early years. 

As a result, these teams have well-established color schemes that have become integral to their identity. Changing team colors can be a significant departure from tradition, and teams are often hesitant to make such changes.

Practical Considerations

Some colors may not be practical for use in team uniforms or logos. For example, certain shades of green and purple may not provide sufficient contrast for television broadcasts or may not look visually appealing when combined with other colors. 

Teams want their logos and uniforms to be easily recognizable and aesthetically pleasing.


NHL teams rely on merchandise sales, and team colors play a significant role in the marketability of products such as jerseys, hats, and other fan apparel. 

Teams are more likely to choose colors that resonate with their fan base and have proven to be popular in terms of merchandise sales.

Regional and Cultural Factors

Some colors have regional or cultural associations that may not align with a team’s identity or location. 

For example, green is often associated with the Boston Celtics in the NBA, and purple is associated with the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL. Using these colors might create confusion or conflict with other sports teams in the same region.

NHL Expansion and Team Creation

When new NHL teams are added through expansion or relocation, they often choose colors that are distinct from existing teams. This can limit the available color options, making it less likely for green and purple to be chosen.

Historical Precedent

The historical lack of green and purple in the NHL may also discourage new teams from adopting these colors. Teams may be more inclined to follow the precedent set by existing teams rather than introducing new and unconventional colors.

Fan Preferences

Fan preferences and market research play a role in determining team colors. Teams may conduct surveys and focus groups to gauge fan reactions to potential color changes. 

If green and purple are not favored by a significant portion of the fan base, teams are less likely to adopt them.

While green and purple are relatively rare in NHL team colors, it’s important to note that the league has seen occasional exceptions. 

For example, the Arizona Coyotes have incorporated a shade of green into their color scheme, and the Colorado Avalanche briefly used purple as part of their identity when they first relocated from Quebec.

Developments in NHL Team Colors

The NHL has seen some developments in team colors and branding in recent years. While the core color schemes of most teams have remained relatively consistent, there have been some notable changes and updates:

Vegas Golden Knights (2017)

The Vegas Golden Knights, as an expansion team, introduced a new color scheme to the league. 

They adopted metallic gold, black, and gray as their primary colors. This modern and unique color palette represents the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas.

Calgary Flames (2020)

The Calgary Flames unveiled a new third jersey in 2020, featuring a primarily black design with red and white accents. This marked a departure from their traditional red, yellow, and white color scheme.

San Jose Sharks (2021)

The San Jose Sharks introduced a new third jersey in 2021, featuring a stealthy all-black design with teal and orange accents. This design was well-received by fans and brought a fresh look to the team’s branding.

Seattle Kraken (2021)

The Seattle Kraken, as another expansion team, introduced a striking color scheme of navy blue, light blue, and white. 

This maritime-themed palette reflects the team’s connection to the Pacific Northwest and the waters of the Puget Sound.

Reverse Retro Jerseys (2020)

The NHL introduced the “Reverse Retro” series of jerseys in 2020, which featured alternate color schemes that harkened back to iconic moments in each team’s history. 

These jerseys allowed teams to experiment with color combinations not typically associated with their current branding.

Outdoor Games and Special Events

The NHL regularly hosts outdoor games and special events that give teams the opportunity to wear unique and visually striking jerseys. These jerseys often pay homage to the team’s history, city, or regional identity.

Alternate Jerseys

Many NHL teams have introduced alternate jerseys over the years, offering variations of their traditional colors and designs. These alternate jerseys provide a fresh look for teams and generate excitement among fans.

Anniversary Celebrations

NHL teams often mark significant anniversaries by introducing special jerseys and merchandise. These items may incorporate unique color schemes or design elements to commemorate the team’s history.

Environmental Initiatives

Some NHL teams have embraced environmentally friendly initiatives by introducing jerseys made from sustainable materials. 

These jerseys may feature alternative color palettes or designs to highlight the team’s commitment to sustainability.

Collaborations and Partnerships

NHL teams occasionally collaborate with fashion designers, artists, and brands to create limited-edition jerseys and merchandise. These collaborations can lead to innovative and unique color combinations.

While the core color schemes of most NHL teams remain rooted in tradition, these developments demonstrate the league’s willingness to adapt its branding to engage fans and stay relevant in the ever-evolving world of sports and fashion.


Why are green and purple uncommon in NHL team colors?

Green and purple are less prevalent in the NHL due to tradition and practicality. Established teams have long-standing color identities, and some shades of green and purple may not provide adequate visibility or contrast. Teams often prioritize fan preferences and marketability when choosing colors.

Have any NHL teams used green or purple in the past?

Yes, there have been exceptions. The Colorado Avalanche briefly used purple when relocating from Quebec, and the Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars) featured green in their color scheme. However, such instances are relatively rare in the NHL’s history.

Could we see more green or purple in NHL team colors in the future?

It’s possible but unlikely to be widespread. New expansion teams might introduce unique colors, and occasional updates or alternate jerseys could incorporate green or purple. However, established teams are unlikely to make drastic changes due to their strong historical ties.

What factors influence NHL teams’ decisions regarding team colors?

NHL teams consider factors such as tradition, fan loyalty, practicality for uniforms and merchandise, marketability, regional associations, and historical precedent when choosing team colors. These elements play a vital role in shaping a team’s visual identity.

Are there any NHL teams that use green or purple in their branding today?

There were no NHL teams using green or purple as primary colors in their branding. However, the league occasionally introduces special jerseys or events where teams can showcase alternative colors, offering fans a glimpse of different color palettes.

Wrapping Up

In the realm of NHL team colors, tradition often reigns supreme. The scarcity of green and purple, though curious, underscores the enduring power of history, fan loyalty, and branding in the world of sports. 

While the occasional glimpse of these hues in special jerseys or expansion teams reminds us of their potential, the classic reds, blues, and blacks that have graced the ice for generations continue to define the NHL’s vibrant and storied identity. 

The league’s commitment to honoring its past while embracing the future ensures that even if green and purple remain on the fringes, the colorful journey of the NHL is far from over. Thank you for your cordial support. 

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Benjamin Kenyon

With over eight years of experience in higher education, I bring a diverse skill set to the Head Men's Ice Hockey Coach role. My background spans collegiate hockey coaching, recruiting, compliance, budget management, game operations, public and media relations, marketing strategies, content development, social media management, press release distribution, broadcasting, video production, non-linear editing, sports photography, interpersonal communications, sports writing, interviewing, sports analytics, and statistics. My educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Sports Management, further enhancing my qualifications for this position. I am proficient in various software and platforms, including Adobe Creative Suite, social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn), and academic management systems (Salesforce, CAMS, Workday, Banner). My extensive experience and technical proficiency make me a well-rounded candidate for leading the men's ice hockey program.

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