The 1939 Trail Smoke Eaters jersey is featured prominently on the cover of the current issue of The Hockey News (THN) as part of their Top 100 jerseys of all time, unfortunately, you can’t buy one in Trail.
The iconic orange and black wool sweater with black shoulders and black stripes bordering the crest of two Cominco stacks billowing smoke is one of three jerseys on the front page of THN’s “The Jersey Issue.” On the left is the Chicago Blackhawks 20’s era sweater and, front-and-centre, the San Jose Sharks’ 1991 expansion-team circa jersey.
“Putting together this list was very fun and a bit daunting, since jerseys are such a beloved part of hockey,” Ryan Kennedy, the THN author of the Top 100 Jersey list, said in an email to the Times. “From the start, I didn’t want to get boxed in by history, so my criterion included boldness, uniqueness, overall aesthetic and timelessness – does it still look good today?”
The Smoke Eaters jersey came in at number eight on the list, while the Sharks jersey took top spot, the Blackhawks second, with Team Sweden in third.
The legendary ‘39 Smoke Eaters logo was also recognized by THN as one of the best ever in a 2009 publication with a description of the Smokies incredible run at the World Championship in Switzerland in 1939. Kennedy says the team as much as the jersey and logo design still create an impact today.
“I also surveyed a group of graphic designers with little to no hockey knowledge, just to make sure I didn’t miss any blindspots. So even though the Chicagos and Montreals got their due, teams such as Trail and San Jose were also top picks since they met the criterion (and really stuck in my head).”
The NHL signed a seven-year deal with Adidas earlier this month, an agreement that has the potential to transform the League’s look. As a result, THN jumped on the jersey theme and, along with the Top-100, the magazine features articles highlighting “The History of Sweaters,” “Theme-night Jerseys,” and further insight into the Adidas deal.
“Hockey fans are definitely passionate about their jerseys and I think it’s because a good one can last for decades or even longer,” said Kennedy. “Plus, with full sleeves, it’s the best canvas for a designer in all of pro sports.”
Interest in the Jersey Issue has been growing in Greater Trail since its release last week, unfortunately, hard copies of the THN special issue are unavailable at local locations.
Crockett’s and other area stores regularly carry THN, but special publications like the Jersey Issue often don’t find their way into smaller markets.
Nevertheless, the inclusion of a Smoke Eater jersey among the Top 10 hockey sweaters ever worn, anywhere, is another nod to the Silver City’s tremendous hockey tradition, one that continues to be recognized world wide.
Hockey fans can order a copy of the Jersey Issue or an online version by going to thn.com/mag.
THN Top 10 Jerseys:
1. San Jose Sharks (circa 1991-92)
2. Chicago Blackhawks (current)
3. Team Sweden (current)
4. Montreal Canadiens (current)
5. Seattle Thunderbirds (current)
6. Detroit Red Wings (current)
7. Toronto Maple Leafs (1958-59)
8. Trail Smoke Eaters (1937-38)
9. Quebec Nordiques (1980-81)
10. Windsor Spitfires (1987-88)