DU’s Hockey Uniforms Grow in Appeal Over Time

Photo: Courtesy University of Denver Athletics

We wrote about North Dakota’s hockey uniform changes earlier this week. But what about DU’s hockey uniform evolution?

In large measure, much of DU’s hockey uniform concept dates from the early years of the DU hockey program in the early 1950s, when the Pioneers introduced home and away jerseys in both crimson and white with crimson pants, with the school/city name “Denver” placed in arching letters across the chest. Those jerseys also had a large red, white and gold elbow striping on the sleeve and shins with a later matching stripe around the bottom of the jersey, which was added in the 1960s. Those cornerstone design elements, with some periodic typestyle and color evolutions, are still on the jerseys today and are crucial parts of the DNA of Denver’s hockey look and tradition.

DU’s uniform DNA dates from the 1950s, with the school/city name on the chest, basic color scheme and the matching elbow and sock striping.
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Today’s DU uniform has basic elements that date to the 1950s, including the colors, the city name on the chest and the sleeve stripes. 

We’ve also seen DU go back even further into yesteryear with the very popular 2016 golden-hued jerseys which were introduced at Coors Field for the outdoor game against Colorado College for the “Beat-Down on Blake.” These uniforms were inspired by the thin sleeve stripes of DU’s very first hockey jersey from 1949-50.

DU’s 2016 Battle on Blake Jersey featured throwback sleeve stripes inspired by DU’s 1949-50 Jerseys.

That said, Denver has also been known to stray from these uniform history basics from time to time, often with horrible results. Who can forget when Denver wore these dreadful Nike Swift hockey sweaters in before shelving this ugly kit?

There have been many other changes by DU’s various manufacturers and administrators over time. An earlier article published by LetsGoDU covered various hits and misses by DU over the years.

One of the biggest misses was the hated “Red Tailed Hawk” – often derisively referred to as the ‘jelly donut,’ which was featured in a failed gold jersey (below photo at top left). The hawk also appeared as a shoulder patch from 1999 until 2007-2008 (as seen on the upper four jerseys in the photo below), when the current interlocking “DU” shoulder patch replaced the fowl.

A fan’s collection of DU jerseys include a few notable failures, including the mid 2000s gold jerseys with a script Denver (bottom left), and one with the large red tailed hawk (upper left).

Other misses include the “ketchup and mustard’ color scheme which started in the 1970s and bled into the early 90s (as seen on the jerseys in the mid photo above), and the additional failure of a mid-2000s “Script Denver.” in Gold third-jersey, likely dropped when DU failed to win a game whenever they wore it (above photo, bottom left).

Some still pine for a comeback of the jerseys featuring Denver Boone from the early 1970s to the early 1980s (a version of which is in the above jersey photo at bottom right), which were also featured in the “ketchup and mustard” color era, but that seems unlikely now given the university’s recent antipathy towards Boone.

As for changes, we like the current uniforms and colors the way they are but would like to see another attempt at alternate gold sweater — uh, kind of like Boston College (below). Not trying to stalk the Eagles, but a better gold jersey would be a nice option for both on-the-ice and consumer merchandising.


DU has also held on to the American flag patch on the upper chest since the 9/11 tragedy in 2001. At the time, many schools adopted a U.S. flag patch as a statement of patriotism at a difficult time in the nation’s history, but most of them have since dropped it, presumably due to the clutter factor. This especially obvious when most D-I uniforms now also must include a league patch, captain’s letters and NCAA tournament patches when those teams make it to the dance. While the flag patch is patriotic and somewhat unique for DU, it does make for a pretty cluttered upper chest area (as seen on the very first photo in the article).

So what do other people think about the Denver uniform?

Hockey by Design places Michigan Tech and Maine one and two with DU in 32nd place from a design/aesthetic standpoint. That site states: “Some might say, ‘there’s nothing to these!’ and that may be so, but the overall cleanliness and collegiate look of the Pios’ uniforms are very strong.” Student Union Sports ranked the best uniforms by-conference. For the NCHC, it was Denver, St. Cloud and Minnesota-Duluth stating, “The Pioneers have stayed true to one of the best uniforms in college hockey.”  Barstool Sports ranked the Top 10 college hockey jerseys last year and DU did not make the list.  The Stoolies ranked Maine, Minnesota and Boston College 1-2-3.

Maybe DU can take partial credit with BC?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “DU’s Hockey Uniforms Grow in Appeal Over Time”

  1. DU is long overdue to create an alternate jersey that will stand the test of time.. Let’s hope the program feels the same.

  2. I have my fingers crossed that we might get an alt jersey this season for the 70th anniversary. The one for the 60th was….ok. Would like to see something new for sure.

    Also, I really liked the Battle on Blake jerseys. Hence i bought the one pictured! 🙂

  3. DU is long overdue to create an alternate jersey that will stand the test of time. Let’s hope the program leadership feels the same.

  4. There is power in the simplicity of tradition. There is a reason that iconic jerseys don’t change much – the Montreal Canadiens basic jersey is over 100 years old – ditto the New York Yankees’ pinstripes, the LA Dodgers (which date back to the Brooklyn Dodgers) and the Boston Red Sox. There are also iconic mid-20th century jerseys such as the Dallas Cowboys, so 50-70 years of use is likely also to develop a sense a tradition. I think DU has almost 70 years of basic visual equities in the current look, with a more modernized “arched Denver”, which was developed a little over 10 years ago, around the same time the interlocking DU shoulder patches were added.

    If it were up to me, I’d get rid of the American flag patch to make things simpler, but keep the basic crimson and while uniforms as they are – iconic.

    As for a third gold jersey, I’d like to see DU enlarge the interlocking “DU” letters in red as a center of the jersey logo and add the University’s shield logo, which was developed in 2013, as the shoulder patches. Harvard and some other ivies also use their university shields on the shoulders, and it looks great.

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