They play hockey in a college football town. Just four of their first 17 seasons were winning ones. They’ve been to the playoffs just three times — winning only three games, against 12 losses.
But the Columbus Blue Jackets — a 21st-century NHL franchise with a 19th-century name — have done at least one thing with the best of them since debuting in the 2000-01 season: They’ve gone through jerseys like Guy Fieri (another famous Columbusite) goes through bowling shirts.
About That Name …
Blue Jackets were one of 14,000 names submitted in a fan contest to name the Columbus franchise awarded in 1997 along with expansion teams in Nashville, Atlanta and St. Paul. It was chosen as a nod to Ohio’s rich Civil War history — the state produced more Union Army soldiers than any other state, and many of the blue coats worn by the North’s soldiers were manufactured in Columbus.
Of course, the coats didn’t lend themselves to adaptation as jerseys — brass buttons on ice? Capes? At least the team colors were a no-brainer. Blue, of course, and red and white to further drive home the patriotic theme.
The original Blue Jackets logo was a star-studded red ribbon forming the letters “C” and “B,” with a hockey stick in the center both representing the spine of the “B” and a “J.” Nitpickers might note that the logo doesn’t so much read “CBJ” as “CJB,” but with 13 stars representing the original 13 colonies, and a bigger star at the butt end of the stick denoting Columbus’ status as the state capitol, it’s a pretty thoughtful image.
Stinger, the team’s mascot, was depicted on a shoulder patch. Both the blue home jersey and the road whites had a red waist stripe and collar, and a blue stripe extending through the shoulder yoke from cuff to star-spangled cuff.
Changes, at first subtle, have been nearly constant ever since. Here’s a rundown:
2001-03: The number fonts become narrower, and the names on the back shrink.
2003-07: Stinger is retired, replaced with an alternate logo on the shoulders of the home and road jerseys. That alternate logo — the pennant-shaped Ohio state flag wrapped around a star — becomes the focal crest on a third jersey, which also features a lace-up collar and three large stars on each sleeve.
2007-10: With Reebok taking over as the league’s jersey supplier, the alternate logo takes over as the chest centerpiece. The CBJ logo is relegated to the shoulders. Wrist-to-wrist piping gets narrower, and two of the three sleeve stars are eliminated.
2010-15: A third jersey debuts a new color combination — two shades of blue, a bit of cream and a dash of silver — plus a new logo. The logo features a cannon in a circle, with “Columbus Blue Jackets” arching over the top and a star centered between the cannon’s wheels.
2015-17: The third jersey’s crest replaces the CBJ logo on the sleeves of the primary jerseys.
2017-18: Adidas, in its first year as the league’s supplier, scales back to two jerseys, eliminating the alternate. Number and letter fonts change, and the shoulder striping is straighter.
Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.