With 21 seasons of competition in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks have the luxury of being able to tinker with their 'look' moreso than some of the traditional franchises. The club has worn 16 different jersey designs over that span, with some alterations being as simple as adding shoulder patches to the original Mighty Ducks uniforms for the 1996-97 season, or as sweeping as the complete rebrand for 2006-07. With alternate jersey design number six and the 17th look in franchise history coming this season, let's take a walk down memory lane and look at the Ducks history of alternate uniforms.
Wild Wing (1995-96)
For much of the 90's the NHL was content with teams having just two uniforms, a white home and a colored away. In 91-92 the league celebrated its 75th anniversary and allowed the Original Six teams to wear a classic uniform for select games, but it wouldn't be until the 95-96 season when the third jersey program officially was put under way.
The Ducks were one of five teams to participate, as well as the Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vancouver Canucks, all to varying success. The Canucks red and black, Bruins 'Winnie The Pooh', and Penguins alternate survived the season, with the Penguins eventually making the jersey their full time road look in 97-98 through 2002-03. The Wild Wing and Burger King jerseys were mothballed, but each has gone on to achieve cult status among the franchises fan bases, and the one game between the teams in said alternates was replayed as the '#JerseyClassic' before the Stadium Series meeting.
Nike Home & Away (1997-2000)
After the turfing of the Wild Wing jersey, the Mighty Ducks took another crack at alternates after Nike took over the team's jersey contract in the 96-97 season. The result was the first ever home and away alternate jersey set that debuted in 97-98, downplaying the eggplant in the color scheme and loading up on jade. The jade away alternates lasted a pair of seasons, while the white home alternate stuck around through the 99-00 season when Pro Player became Anaheim's uniform manufacturer. CCM and Koho became the league-wide jersey providers in the 01-02 season, and the Mighty Ducks once again went without an alternate.
While the Ducks were the first team to introduce both home and away alternate uniforms, the New York Rangers seemed to be considering something similar with their Statue of Liberty thirds. Debuted in 96-97 as a modernized navy-based alternate, in 98-99 the Blue Shirts switched it up and wore a white version. The following season it was back to the navy blue base for Lady Liberty, which remained the Rangers alternate until Reebok took over the league jersey contract in 07-08.
Eggplant & Black (2003-06)
Introduced before the 03-04 season when the league switched from white to colored jerseys at home, the Mighty Ducks went a much more traditional route in adopting a black alternate. There has been plenty of research on the psychological impacts of wearing black, with many studies suggesting it makes teams both look and feel tougher. Perhaps it's not coincidence then that Anaheim gradually improved over the two seasons they wore the black alternates, wearing them in the playoffs for their Western Conference Final run in 05-06. It also paved the way for the new color pallet introduced in 06-07 as part of the franchise rebrand.
The NHL's third jersey program has long had a history of teams going with black alternates, as at various times the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning have done so. Chicago was the first to introduce one back in 96-97.
Reebok Third (2010-14)
After skating with a updated twist on the club's classic jersey design with the new colors from the Stanley Cup winning 06-07 season through the 09-10 season without an alternate, the Reebok third debuted in the 10-11 season with more emphasis on orange. The design took features from several of the Reebok templates, with side panel striping and the thin orange stripe around the shoulders taken from the socks. Anaheim wore it as their home uniform in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, and again in 2014, making way for it to serve as the base inspiration for the Ducks current look.
Stadium Series (2014)
Technically not a true third jersey as it was worn only once, with the Ducks shutting out the Kings at Dodger Stadium on January 26, none the less it remains a popular look in Anaheim. Though the design featured minimalistic, modern looking striping on the arms that was similar to the Islanders Yankee Stadium and Blackhawks Soldier Field jerseys, the overwhelming orange made it stand out in a way that few of the one-off event jerseys have.
EDIT: The Ducks reported new alternate jersey for 2015-16 has leaked. Be sure to check it out!
All photos by Getty Images, used with license through SB Nation.