When the New York Islanders stepped onto the ice for warm-ups before their game against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night, there was an unexpected surprise for fans. The Islanders were wearing their "road" white jerseys for the first time at UBS Arena and they looked fantastic.
Well, why did this happen? Well, apparently, we have the Boston Bruins to thank for it. Per Newsday beat reporter Andrew Gross, Boston wore white when they played Detroit on Saturday, and the Red Wings preferred not to travel with both sets of sweaters for a quick two-game trip. The Isles obliged.
The home white, dark road color scheme switched during the 2003-04 season and has remained that way now for nearly 20 years. Of course, the main catalyst was money, with the idea that the team would wear their alternate jerseys at home in front of their fans, leading to more sales.
You have to think that strategy is perceived to be working as new alternates keep coming out for Stadium Series games and Winter Classics while Reverse Retros and other concepts continue to get the most loyal hockey fans to keep purchasing new apparel their team wears on home ice.
While Islanders wore white jerseys at home since the start of the franchise in 1972, it wasn't always that way across the NHL. In fact, it wasn't until the mid-1950s when teams were mandated to rotate two different color schemes for their jerseys, and it was the home team wearing the colored ones which worked out quite well for fans watching their hometown team on black and white televisions.
The switch to home times wearing white began in 1970 and continued for more than three decades.
When you close your eyes and think about the Islanders winning Stanley Cups at the Nassau Coliseum, it's with those sparkling home whites. If you're a bit older and attended the "white-out" games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002, you know how cool of a setting that was for a playoff series. It was a great surprise to see them wearing their "home" whites once again. Here's to road equipment managers making that happen a little more often.