On October 8, 1993 the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim played the first game in franchise history, losing 7-2 at home against the Detroit Red Wings. Two months prior to that, on August 3, my younger sister was born about a 30-minute drive or a two hour commute up the 57 freeway. It has yet to be determined who will be a greater source of joy, pride, anger, and embarrassment in my life. And, much like my younger sister, the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have gone through some major style changes over the last 26 years. While there have been some definite hits, there have also been a few misses.
Before we get to which jersey it is, I would like to spend a small moment on which jersey it is not. it is absolutely and unequivocally NOT the Mighty Ducks first third jersey. It is not the “Breakout” jersey. The breakout jersey is actually quite good and if you people had any culture you would know this. To paraphrase Justin Timberlake pretending to be the guy who created Napster who actually stole the idea from Seth Green, “a jersey isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A jersey ON your jersey”.
Look at that! Is it a little cartoonish? Sure. But its a THIRD JERSEY PEOPLE! Let’s let our hair down. Let’s take our heels off. Let’s have a little fun.
Wait a minute. Oh no. I’m sorry, I have just received a call from 200 Hockey Men and I have been informed we are not actually allowed to have fun. Thus, this jersey is, in fact, quite bad. Such is life.
However, the ACTUAL worst jersey in the history of the Anaheim Ducks is not an Anaheim Ducks jersey at all. It was a Mighty Ducks of Anaheim jersey. The truly worst Anaheim Ducks jersey of all time is actually both versions of the team’s second ever third jersey. Yes you read that correctly, there was apparently a time where you could have two third jerseys. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim quickly ditched the “Breakout” alternates, despite a winning record, in favor of a home and away set of, well, these.
Now it should be noted, I had one of these jerseys when I was a very small child. And it was awesome. I loved it because it was a Mighty Ducks jersey and I liked the Mighty Ducks. It also had 27 on the back for my birthday, and, most importantly, it was a gift from my uncle. I would very much like to say that, in the event my uncle is reading this: Jimmy, it was the 90’s and it wasn’t your fault. Disney did a lot of weird stuff in the 90’s and this was among the least transgressive.
That said, these jerseys suck in hindsight. I’m not really sure what the whole point of these jerseys was other than to make the team look like a bunch of beer leaguers who got lost on their way to a Gretzky indoor rink. In a shocking momemnt of clarvoyance, the team was able to design a jersey that would induce a “T-Pose”. I assume the Duck’s lack of success in the years where this was an option is directly related to them being entirely too into Fortnite nearly two decades before the game was created.
Yet, it seems fair to say that their crimes against High Fashion are the least of their offenses. No the thing that truly makes these Anaheim’s worst jerseys is that they were a harbinger of things to come. As mentioned before, they had both home and away versions, making them less third jersys and more an entirely new set of MDA uniforms, and for this I cannot forgive them. As soon as these saw the light of day, it was only a matter of time until the franchise moved away from their classics from their first season.
Those jerseys were perfect. They were simple, distinctive, and bold. The combination of plum and teal with silver and white as accent colors was a breath of fresh air for a league where almost everyone wore black, blue, or red. The Mighty Ducks logo is far more menacing than it has any right to be (even if it was relatively cartoonish), especially considering the only reference up to that point was the jersey from the Mighty Ducks movie. And while I love to see the occasional Conway 96 walking the halls of the Honda Center, the logo on those jerseys was not great to say the least.
The coat of arms as it were with the mask over the crossed sticks was far more refined and hostile. A terrific sports logo. The jersey themselves had a rather minimalist design with only the logo and some slight diagonal lines at the bottom of the torso and sleeves. In fact, it won an ESPY for “Most Fashionable” in 1997, having outsold every other jersey combined that year.
No, you aren’t dreaming. There was actually a time where ESPN acknowledged both hockey and Anaheim as a real thing. And while it may be unfair to say the demise of both those facts rests solely on the plum and jade striped shoulders of those terrible Mighty Ducks jerseys, the words “reasonable” and “fan” have never gone together for a reason.
No, the worst jerseys in the history of the Anaheim Ducks are the striped monstrosities that brought an end to an era of Ducks excellence.