I occasionally watch hockey games, and sometimes, the home team wears the colored jersey, sometimes it is the away team. This rule seems to change from time to time, so as a casual viewer it is not easy to quickly understand who is home by looking jerseys.

Do leagues (in particular the NHL) have strict rules on this? Does the rule change sometimes? Why?


3 Answers 3


Before the 2003-2004 season, NHL teams usually wore their white jerseys at home and the colored jerseys on the road. Since 2003-2004, teams switched the two, and now wear colors at home and white on the road.

Of course, there are the occasional exceptions to this. For example, if team A wants to introduce a third jersey at a home game, they may ask visiting team B to wear their colors. If team B then has another road game before returning home, they may ask team C, who they play next, to switch jerseys as well so that they only have to bring one set of jerseys (in this case, their "home" or colored jersey) with them on the plane.

The reasoning is simple; if everyone follows the same rule, then teams on road trips only have to pack one type of jersey. (Which may not seem like much, but teams carry multiples of every players jersey in case of damage)

Also, if teams wear their colors at home, then the format for home games is always "my teams colors versus white." When they wore white at home, the format was "my teams white versus random color of visiting team."


I started watching Hockey around 1960. At that time the home team wore a colored jersey and the visiting team wore white. It was done for televised games. In those days tv was black and white. If both teams wore their colored jerseys it would've been much harder to distinguish which team had the puck at any time; especially since at that time there wasn't replays. At some point, prior to 2003, It was thought to have the away team wear their colors to have a variety of colors at all games, Rather than have the same color, of the Home team, at all home games. Then in 2003 they went back to the home team wearing their colors at home games. But In Toronto tonight, Boston wore their alternate jersey and Toronto wore their away jersey. Why, was and still is, a mystery to me.


In addition to these answers, The original "Tradition" Dating back to the beginning of the league Home teams wore colors, and the road wore White. This was until the 1970-71 Season when They switched it to white at home and color on the road. Then as part of the leagues 75th Anniversary Season in 1991-92 they flipped it back to Color at Home and White on the road for the whole year to homage to the early league. Then they switched to what you see today in 2003-2004

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