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The Canucks can’t win in alternate jerseys (except the skate)

The Canucks haven't had the best record in alternate jerseys like their Reverse Retro looks or, before that, their Millionaires jerseys.
Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat looks sharp in the team's black skate jersey.

The Vancouver Canucks have a rich history of jerseys, logos, and colours, which is a nice way of saying that the Canucks’ branding over the years has been a series of identity crises. 

The Canucks have had three major colour schemes in their history, each of which significantly clashes with the other. There is the royal blue and kelly green that they started with in the seventies and wear today. In 1978, the Canucks introduced a black, red, and yellow colour scheme that was used until 1997, when a navy blue, maroon, and silver colour scheme replaced it, lasting until 2007.

To go with the three clashing colour schemes, the Canucks have had three different logos — the stick-in-rink, flying skate, and orca — as well as the logo-less flying-V jerseys. It’s a very colourful history, leading to a hodge-podge of colours and logos in the stands at Rogers Arena. 

Currently, the Canucks have just two primary jerseys — their home blues and away whites — as they won’t be wearing their “heritage” third jerseys this season, which featured the retro stick-in-rink logo. 

In recent years, the Canucks have added several special event jerseys to the rotation. This year, that special event jersey is their Reverse Retro Johnny Canuck jersey — yet another logo, this time a throwback to the pre-NHL Canucks who played in the Western Hockey League.

The trouble is, the Canucks don’t have the best record in these special event jerseys. Well, they don’t have the best record with most of them. Let me explain.

Winless in Reverse Retro jerseys

On November 1, the Canucks faced the New Jersey Devils in their first game of the season with their Reverse Retro jerseys. It did not go well. The Devils ran the Canucks right out of the building, crushing the Canucks 5-2.

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Perhaps it’s the Reverse Retro theme itself that is the problem, because the Canucks lost all four games in the 2020-21 season where they wore their previous Reverse Retro jersey, derisively described as the “Sprite Can” jersey.

The Canucks wore the Sprite Can for just one homestand, from February 19 to 25. Not only did they lose all four games on the homestand, they were shut out twice. In total, they were out-scored 13-to-6 in those four games.

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If you’re not keeping track, that’s now zero wins in five games — an 0-4-1 record — while wearing a Reverse Retro jersey.

The bankrupt Millionaires

The Canucks had another nostalgic special event jersey before the Reverse Retro theme: the Vancouver Millionaires jerseys they wore as a throwback to the only team from Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup.

The Millionaires jerseys were worn on three occasions, first on March 16, 2013 against the Detroit Red Wings. It went poorly. After the Canucks opened the scoring, the Red Wings scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 win. 

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It was a sign of things to come for the Millionaires jersey.

The next time the Canucks wore the jersey was for the 2014 Heritage Classic, an “outdoor” game played against the Ottawa Senators under a closed roof at BC Place.

Not only did the Canucks lose that game 4-2, it also proved to be the last straw for Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, as John Tortorella alienated the soon-to-be Hall-of-Fame goaltender when he chose to start backup Eddie Lack in the marquee game. Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers two days later.

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That probably should have been the last time the Canucks wore their Millionaires jerseys but they brought them back one last time on March 26, 2015 against the Colorado Avalanche to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Millionaires’ Stanley Cup win in 1915.

The Canucks cemented the cursed status of the Millionaires jerseys — perhaps karmic punishment for the stolen valour of celebrating the Stanley Cup victory of another team — by losing 4-1 to the Avalanche.

Add the 0-3-0 record of the Millionaires jerseys to that of the Reverse Retro jerseys and the Canucks are 0-7-1 in those three special event jerseys.

It would seem that the Canucks should avoid alternate jerseys entirely. But that ignores everyone’s favourite special event jersey: the black skate.

The good luck black skate

The Canucks brought back the black skate jersey from the late eighties and early nineties for their 50th anniversary season in 2019-20. Originally intended to be worn for just three games that season, the jersey proved so popular that they added a fourth game that season, then wore it again for two games in the 2020-21 season.

The skate appeared to be a good luck charm, as the Canucks were undefeated in regulation while wearing it during those two seasons.

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The Canucks compiled a 5-0-1 record across two seasons while wearing the black skate jersey, out-scoring their opponents 31-to-15. One of those wins, a 7-1 beatdown of the Calgary Flames, was the highlight of the 2020-21 season for the Canucks.

The Canucks brought the black skate jersey back again at the end of the 2021-22 season, wearing it for their final two home games of the season. They won both games, bringing them to a 7-0-1 record with the black skate jersey since 2019.

The Canucks’ dominance while wearing the black skate renewed calls for the team to switch back to the skate jerseys permanently. But there’s something else to consider.

The 2019-20 season wasn’t the first time the Canucks brought back the black skate. They actually wore it once during the 2015-16 season to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Rogers Arena.

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That game didn’t go quite as well, as the Toronto Maple Leafs ruined the retro night by beating the Canucks 5-2.

That means the Canucks are 7-1-1 while wearing the black skate jersey as a special event jersey. Still, that's a sight better than their 0-7-1 record with the Reverse Retro and Millionaires jerseys.

Don't forget the heritage jerseys 

If we keep going back even further, there’s one other special event jersey to consider: the 40th-Anniversary heritage jersey they wore for five games during the 2010-11 season.

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The Canucks went 3-1-1 in the heritage jersey, so it’s not true that the Canucks can’t win in any special event jersey aside from the black skate. But maybe it takes the best team in franchise history — the 2010-11 Canucks — in order to do so.

Perhaps there’s a compromise: the skate as the team’s main home and away jersey, with the heritage jersey as the official third jersey.