Alex Tuch is barely old enough to recall when NHL teams wore their white uniforms at home, while 32-year-old Ryan Reaves has vivid memories of the era.
Despite their nine-year age gap, the Golden Knights forwards share similar feelings about when teams should wear white.
”Home is dark. Away is white,” Tuch said. “There’s a couple games they might throw in when you’re wearing the white at home and stuff like that. That’s fine. But I like the dark at home. I do. It’s your more prominent colors, I feel like, throughout the entire league.”
The Knights saw two of the league’s Original Six white jerseys — Chicago and Toronto — on their recently completed homestand, and will take the ice Monday at Dallas wearing their road whites.
But it wasn’t always like that for the NHL.
In 1951, the league mandated that teams wear “basic white uniforms” at home and “basic colored uniforms” on the road to help provide a contrast for black-and-white television viewers. That policy was reversed in 1954 and again in 1970, when the tradition of wearing home whites was established.
But with the influx of alternative third jerseys that often featured dark colors, the NHL changed course in 2003 and required visiting teams to wear white.
“It took a couple years to get used to, for sure,” Reaves said. “It was weird seeing it the first year.”
One drawback to the change is fans inside the arena see the same uniform combination (home wearing dark, visiting team in white) rather than an array of colors over the course of the season.
For example, the Blackhawks’ beloved red jersey and the Maple Leafs’ classic all-blue setup did not appear last week at T-Mobile Arena. Neither did the Montreal Canadiens’ famous “bleu-blanc-rouge” uniform featuring red jerseys and socks with blue pants and helmets.
“Those are historic jerseys. Like, Chicago. Been around forever. The Rangers,” Knights right wing Mark Stone said. “Those jerseys, when I was a kid, were always the coolest. But I always think the darker ones usually look sharper.
“Most teams in this league, the sharper of the two are the darks. I think your fans deserve to see the nicer ones. We’ve got two awesome jerseys. The way it works with our gloves and our helmets, it looks pretty sharp regardless.”
The NFL and NBA allow the home team to choose whether it will wear white or dark jerseys and the road team is required to wearing a contrasting color. Major League Baseball teams traditionally wear white jerseys at home.
In the American Hockey League, teams primarily wear home whites. It’s the same for major-junior teams that are part of the Canadian Hockey League, along with NCAA hockey.
Defenseman Nate Schmidt played three seasons at Minnesota and preferred the Golden Gophers’ maroon road uniform.
“I like color, so I usually like (NHL) home jerseys,” Schmidt said. “But the classy whites at home? Honestly, again I like our white jerseys a lot. I love the white gloves.”
The Knights’ road look with white gloves quickly became a favorite across the league, though the majority of the players asked said they prefer the steel gray home jerseys.
And it’s not just a generational preference. Coach Gerard Gallant played 11 seasons for Detroit and Tampa Bay from 1984 to 1995 when teams wore home whites but likes seeing the dark jerseys at home.
“When I look back, I like the Red Wings’ red one, I like the Blackhawks’ dark jersey,” Gallant said. “I like it the way it is now, to be honest.
“I like our darker uniforms a little better. For me. But they’re both nice. If they rotated them once in a while it wouldn’t bother me.”