A TIMELINE of JERSEYS
Since the Predators Inaugural game in October of 1998, the Predators have employed a number of looks, including three major primary design schemes and two alternate/third looks. The following timeline, while not exhaustive, will give you a detailed look at how the jerseys have evolved from then until today, using high-quality photos of these jerseys that were worn on the the ice. This timeline may grow and become more detailed over time, so keep coming back from time to time as it does!
The sweaters donned by the Nashville Predators in year one set the standard for what the team would wear for a total of nine years until the first major redesign in 2007. Unique features of the very first year's jerseys include the number '98 in the arena-themed shoulder patches in addition to being the only season in which Bauer was the manufacturer for the Preds. The switch was made to CCM the following season, and the league as a whole followed suit shortly thereafter.
The inaugural season saw a lot of variation in customization as well, and many of the sweaters from this era will appear a bit less uniform than more modern ones. For example, this jersey's Inaugural sibling has a dark blue 'A'. Some variation in number and letter height is present from one jersey to the next.
Preseason editions of these jerseys, because of the high turnover rate of players on an expansion team, also feature removable velcro nameplates, making this generation of jerseys highly unique and highly collectible. Unfortunately, advanced verification systems were not available until 2003, so many Inaugurals are hard to find and even harder to match to specific games and events.
Navy 'Away' Inaugural Jersey
After the manufacturer switch following the Inaugural season, the basic design of the Inaugural jersey remained the same, with the exception of the removal of the '98 designation from the shoulder patches. The partnership with CCM/Koho remained intact until the end of the 2003-2004 season, and jerseys from 1999 to 2004 varied in how branding was presented. This early Greg Johnson CCM jersey carries the tag on the hem, whereas later years saw CCM and Koho jerseys place their branding on the back of the jersey's neck area. Regardless, very few changes were made to the aesthetics in the first six years of the franchise's existence.
It was in these jerseys, beginning with the road whites at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI that the Predators made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the conclusion of the 2003-2004 season. That appearance would mark the only time the Predators wore this style jersey in the postseason, though it was only the beginning of the first great era of hockey for the team.
For more information on the complete set, both home and away, you can check out the unofficial NHL Uniform Database HERE
Original Set in White
The 'Mustard Cat' Third
Love it or hate it (and if you ask around, there are many people on both sides of the fence), the Preds debuted their first offering to the world of alternate jerseys with this lovely Grey-Poupon colored beauty at the beginning of the 2001-2002 season. It features a heavier and thicker material than the Air-Knit standard home and away jerseys of the era, a squared neck, and for the first time the smilodon/sabre-toothed tiger skull patches on the shoulders.
There is speculation that these patches may have been chosen as part of a more comprehensive "bone and fang" theme, as detailed by the recent discovery of this likely prototype. Nevertheless, the on-ice product is still appreciated as one of the most unique jerseys to hit the ice in recent memory.
From 2001 to 2004, the affectionately dubbed "Mustard Cat" was manufactured by KOHO, and following the lockout of 2004-2005 when the NHL switched suppliers, the remaining two years of the Mustard Cat saw Reebok logos adorning the back of the jersey's neck.
Koho version of the 'Mustard Cat' with 5th year anniversary patch (2002-03)
The Late/Reebok Original
Following the lockout season of 2004-2005, a few changes were made to the look of the jerseys the Predators wore on the ice. First, a change of suppliers saw Reebok taking over the manufacturing of NHL jerseys league-wide. Reebok Vector-patches became the norm on the back of the neck area for each team in the NHL.
Perhaps the more noticeable feature to change, however, was a change in the shoulder patches, hearkening back to the narrative from which the Predators' name originated - the discovery of sabre-toothed tiger fossils during construction in downtown Nashville. Though the majority of the jersey remained pretty much the same from the Inaugural design, this small refresh that drew from design elements of the 'Mustard Cat' third helped identify these jerseys with perhaps the first, albeit short, golden era in Predators hockey, seeing the likes of Hall of Famers Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg donning these sweaters and setting the franchise season standings points record which remained until the 2017-2018 season.
For more details about the full uniforms of this era, check out the renderings of the unofficial NHL Uniform database HERE.
The "Vector" Edge
2007 saw the first major, sweeping changes to Nashville's uniforms, ushered in partly by necessity, due to Reebok's introduction of the Reebok Edge, which was a fairly dramatic leap forward in jersey technology at the time. Edge jerseys were lighter and were supposed to be less absorbent, though early versions of the Edge (1.0) were disliked by many players because the sweat simply went other places - gloves, pants, etc.
The redesigned jerseys were also slimmer, sleeker, and less boxy than the jerseys of the 90's and 2000's. For the Predators' jerseys in particular, the silver material across the shoulders and forearms had an elastic quality not present in their prior versions that allowed them to fit snugly over pads. Many game-worn sweaters from this era will exhibit very pronounced stretch marks from being pulled tightly over pads for hours at a time, giving this specific generation of jerseys a charm of their own for the subtle reminder that they were indeed part of the action.
Other Predators-specific design elements included the introduction of sublimated nameplates, rather than stitched-on letters, and sublimated 'faux-stitching' on the interior portions of numbers and captain patches.
Example with 10th Anniv. Patch --->
<--- Road Whites [courtesy Ashley Jones]
The Navy Alternate
The second, most recent, and quite possibly most well-received alternate jersey worn by the Predators was this subtle but classic navy and white jersey built on the Reebok Edge template.
Perhaps part of this jersey's mass appeal is the stripped down design, featuring clean horizontal lines on the sleeves and bottom hem, single layer white numbering minus the typical angular template synonymous with all other Predators jerseys, and a mostly two-toned presentation, though there are some very subtle hints of other colors throughout: the light blue outline and red eye of the crest, and a very low contrast yet also quite visually pleasing navy blue and black checkerboard pattern in three different locations (hem, sleeves, shoulder patches). This was also the first jersey the Predators wore featuring the more classic sweater-like laced collar.
In the world of jersey collecting, these jerseys have become quite the rarity (replica, authentic, and game-worn) because of their popularity, short window of use, and particularly with game-worn jerseys, because there was generally only one set made for the season. Collectors, for the most part are holding on to what they have, and as a result are making finding one of these on the open market a bit of a treasure hunt.
Many fans, following a long stretch without a new alternate jersey, have clamored for the return of the Navy Alternate. Will it happen? Likely not. The Predators have married themselves to gold, and likely will stay that way for the foreseeable future.
The "Wordmark" Edge
Unofficially coined the 'Wordmark' Edge because Reebok replaced the vector graphic on the neck with the simple Reebok wordmark beginning in 2011-2012, the Predators, too, made a redesign, but in dramatic fashion: a shift from navy blue as their primary color to a unique and instantly recognizable Predator Gold.
The crest and main logo received a facelift of sorts, as well, departing from the busy, 5-color crest that screamed 1990's to the simpler 3-color gold, white, and blue logo we know and love today.
2011-2012 also saw the advent of several modern Predators jersey features we've come to know and love, including the guitar-pick shaped shoulder patch paying homage to Nashville's rich musical history and to the Tennessee tri-star state flag. That wasn't the only nod to Nashville's musical heritage, however, as the inside collar features a unique piano-key design and the back numbers have six gold lines running through them, symbolizing the six strings of a guitar. The Predators were bold with their redesign, but for the most part - and pardon the pun - struck all the right chords.
This was also the last iteration of Reebok's Edge jerseys in the NHL, as the league moved suppliers once more to the (interestingly enough) Reebok-owned Adidas as their manufacturer for the 2017-2018 season. Still, these jerseys will be remembered fondly as the ones worn when the Predators made their first ever Stanley Cup Final.
Road Whites, with 2016 Nashville All Star Patch
The Adidas Generation
In 2017, Adidas became the manufacturer of all NHL jerseys, and with the change came another revision of the Predators' jerseys - though these changes were decidedly less drastic than the major shift that occurred at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season. The new look saw even more of the navy blue eliminated in favor of a cleaner look which also included the elimination of the jersey's white piping.
The away whites were perhaps a more significant departure from the prior iteration, featuring a gold colored shoulder yoke. Both designs are some of the cleanest and simplest ever worn by the Predators.
More subtle details of this generation include an addition of the '6-string' detail to the sleeve numbers in addition to the ones already on the back, a dimpled 'performance fabric' adorning the shoulders, and a shiny plastic NHL shield anchoring the collar.
In the years to come, what does Adidas have in store for Nashville? We've seen two unique designs (Winter Classic, Retro Reverse). Now will there be a permanent alternate jersey on the horizon? One thing's for certain: The Nashville Predators now have some the most unique and recognizable jerseys in the league, and that's not a bad thing at all!
Adidas Road Whites: [courtesy Ryan Dunlap]
The "Dixie Classic" Alt
2019-2020 Season Only
In 2019, it was announced that for the very first time the Nashville Predators would play in the New Years' Day spectacle - the NHL Winter Classic, hosted in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX. As with most of the jerseys worn in the Winter Classic, this jersey is a throwback to a different era of Nashville Hockey, paying homage to the very first professional hockey team in Nashville, the Dixie Flyers (1962-71).
This Dixie Classic Alt (not the 'official' name, but my own) was the first to feature Script as the main crest, and a retro-styled Saber Toothed Tiger head was designed as the primary graphic logo and added to the left shoulder as a patch. Some unique touches include the very first layered letters in franchise history and numbers that were not "Kiss Cut" but instead merely placed on top of one another and sewn. Patches, letters, and numbers were also given a very retro feel - using felt as the main material. Together, they give the customization what one might call a Letterman touch.
This style was primarily designed for the Winter Classic, but was not limited to merely that one game on January 1, 2020. There was another set of these released later in the 2019-2020 season, albeit what makes the January 1 jerseys unique to the Winter Classic is the right shoulder patch which only appeared on those worn for the Classic.
It does appear that this style is a one-season only design, which will add to its appeal and difficulty to find in the days ahead. If you've got one, hold on to it. It could very well be the next 'Navy Alternate' in appeal and rarity.
The "Retro Reverse" Alt
For the 2021 pandemic-shortened season, Adidas and the NHL revealed some striking new takes on old designs. The Nashville Predators went back in time to pay homage to the original jerseys used from 1998 to 2007, but instead of using the navy blue color scheme, opted for the 'reversed' gold that now is synonymous with the franchise.
The organization was touting the Retro Reverse jersey as a 'Throwback to '98' which is true in some ways, but in other ways not so much. By all accounts, it shares the same overall look as the jerseys did for the first 9 years of the franchise. The silver shoulders were reincorporated and definitely evoke that nostalgic feeling of the infant days of the team. But some details, such as the shoulder patch, were taken from the Mustard Third jersey worn from 2001-2007 and the Reebok Home and Away Jerseys from 2005-2007. In addition the number font, while similar, is not the same as the original font used by the Predators, resembling an old All-Star Game font. This difference is most noticeable on the number '2' which did not originally have a serif.
Overall, despite these small inconsistencies, they have tremendous amounts of character and hit a lot of the right nostalgic notes for a fanbase who has been looking for something to break up the uninspired simplicity of the standard Adidas home and away jerseys. It is our understanding that like the Winter Classic Alternates, these are a 'one-season and done' offering and are sure to become a highly sought after collector piece in the days ahead. What's next? Rumors are swirling a more permanent alternate jersey may be just around the corner for 2021-2022...
Photos Courtesy of Jason Harrison/OneHundredPercentNoLie.com