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SBNation Jersey series: Boston’s nearly forgotten first sweater.

Boston’s journey in sweater design begins in as simple a look as you can imagine that was quickly abandoned.

Way back in the halcyon days of the NHL, the Bruins made their debut, in a blustery December evening in 1924. It didn’t go great.

In a 30 game season, the Bruins in their first ever shot at glory won a grand total of 6 games over the course of five months, usually by a single goal, and the only game they actually got a convincing win was a 2-0 shutout in March against a Hamilton team playing under protest (they felt like they got stiffed for playing the previous year’s playoff games for free.) that folded at the end of the season.

It’s for probably this exact reason that the team tends to ignore this year in their history, in spite of it literally birthing the team, and birthing it’s first ever sweater. A simple one; with the colors of brown, with gold elbow stripes that came from the grocery chain that B’s owner Charles Adams owned, and the name coming from a public contest that Adams’ secretary, Bessie Moss, suggested be changed from “Bear” to “Bruin”. It’s a great story! But the team around it was...not great. Not that a uniform as simple as the one the B’s wore in their first year really earned much praise as opposed to later ones.

This particularly damaged number was owned by George “Shorty” Webbing, who would finish this year with 5 points as a defender.

Hell, in official merchandise the team basically never bothered to bring it up if they could:

Granted, there are a bunch of sweaters that got excised from this, but the very first ones seem like kind of a big deal, and they don’t even show up on this!

That said, it helps that the league at the time actually had some pretty unique looks that meant the team didn’t need to worry too hard about standing out, since just being an American hockey team with such a stark simple look made it easy to tell who was who. It helps that at the time, there were only six teams...just not the ones you’re thinking of.

Tiny Thompson looking a bit like Count Oorlock in this might’ve helped build his legacy.

The Habs, Leafs, and the B’s are the only survivors of this unusual time of transition for the league. The OG Sens, the Habs dead little brother the Maroons, and the Hamilton Tigers were not long for this world, and all three would be gone before the 1930’s would hit. And each had a look that was almost impossible to mistake for Boston’s:

Yes I did try to find the weirdest looking dudes on each team.

Seriously. This was not a year to mix up any of the teams. If anything, the Bruins are particularly interesting because they’re among the most restrained. This was a time for stripes! Acknowledging you have an identity with a big sweater patch in front! The big dick energy of having a globe on your sweater and calling yourself a world champion on the sweater like a wrestling belt!

...if anything, I feel like we should start bringing that back.

Regardless, Boston meanwhile, knew that they had a logo, a name, and nothing else. They would build their legacy in the coming years, but this was their template. Their beginning spot. Their first try...and then they just discarded it immediately, choosing to move on to a much stripier sweater, akin to a marriage between the Sens and the now-dead Hamilton team. And the original? Fades into the background.

The B’s would spend the next few decades trying all sorts of new and interesting looks, and many more iconic looks took over the popular consciousness of this team. As a result, this period of time spent a good portion of time completely forgotten...except in 2016, as the Bruins dug deep into their history to create a look for the Winter Classic inspired by this period of time...but still missing that brown that used to define Bruins hockey for the better part of their first decade.

But it would not last. The Bruins would once again go back to the Winter Classic, and move on to picking newer sweater designs from years gone by, and at least from my experience from being in the stands, more people seem to enjoy wearing than this one. Maybe the miserable experience at that 2016 Classic tainted it, maybe the design was too simple, maybe the Notre Dame classic outshone it, no one can say for sure. Even I have to admit that, if it were up to me, I think I’d have preferred to think of the 1928-29 sweater as one more indicative of what the olde tyme hockeye game looked like in Boston rather than this, and I’d seriously prefer to bring that back as opposed to this. It’s a cute start, but it’s hardly something that inspires the good ol’ days of hockey’s toddlerhood in the city.

But I admit, there’s a charm to that old sweater. It’s that simplicity of a design, that interesting block letter and bear that looks...impressive, for what I can only assume is the attempt of someone having to sew up what a bear looks like despite only ever having seen it once in a book. That you can just barely see the current look in, like the sketch of a masterpiece painting, The blueprint of a classic car, or the alpha version of a video game. It’s a charming little number that, even if it doesn’t harken to a great start, deserves a little more love.

Certainly not big on that turtleneck collar, though. If they ever remake this look for another third, let’s keep that back in the 1920’s.