Discover the creative process behind NHL flags

When you watch an NHL game, there’s no mistaking which teams are battling for glory on the ice. The NHL flags, hung proudly above each team’s bench, make it clear which side you’re on. These flags, which have become a staple in NHL arenas, represent more than just a team’s logo. They represent a rich history and design process that has evolved over time. In this article, we take a behind-the-scenes look at the design and creation process of NHL team flags. From the historical roots of these flags to the techniques used to create them, this article will explore the intricate details of a seemingly simple banner.

History of NHL Flags

History Of Nhl Flags
NHL Flags have a rich history that stretches back to the league’s founding in 1917. The early flags of the NHL featured simple designs that consisted mostly of team names and basic geometric shapes. However, with the advent of television, flags became an important way for teams to communicate their identity to a wider audience. The evolution of NHL flags can be divided into three eras: the Original Six, the Expansion Era, and the Modern Era. The Original Six flags were characterized by simple designs and a limited color palette, while the Expansion Era saw teams incorporating more complex logos and vibrant colors into their flags. Today, NHL flags are celebrated as unique symbols of regional heritage and team identity. To learn more about the history of NHL flags, check out our article on NHL team flags evolution.

The Evolution of NHL flags

The Evolution of NHL Flags

The NHL flag designs have undergone significant changes since its inception. In the early years, NHL flags were plain and simple with only the team name and the city displayed. As the league grew and expanded, so did the design of their respective flags.

As the NHL entered into the 1960s, the league introduced a new design aesthetic that would change the face of hockey forever. In 1967, the enigmatic ‘Original Six’ flag designs were introduced, featuring advanced graphical techniques in the form of logos and mascots. These teams included the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

During the 1970s, a wave of expansion hit the NHL, leading to the inclusion of new teams like Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Rockies, and Winnipeg Jets. The expansion also provided an opportunity for teams to revamp their logos and flags to be more modern in design and appealed to fans.

The 1990s saw the creation of more elaborate and stylish flag designs aimed at capturing the essence of each team. The Dallas Stars implemented a banner flag, while the Anaheim Ducks utilized their team mascot in their design. These designs allowed teams to create a unique identity and stand out amongst their competitors.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards incorporating regional heritage to symbolize the team’s connection to the location and its fans. For example, Carolina Hurricanes’ flag features a hurricane as a tribute to the impressive resilience of the people of Carolina in the face of such natural disasters.

The evolution of NHL flags showcases the league’s commitment to innovation and its awareness of the importance of respective team’s history and identity. The flag designs reflect not only the changing times but also the cultural and geographical context of each NHL team.

Internal Link: Top 10 NHL Team Flags

Behind the Original Six

During the NHL’s early days, hockey was a seasonal sport, and most teams operated in Canada. While there were more than six teams at that time, the Original Six teams are the ones that stood the test of time and helped shape the early NHL. The Original Six teams are the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Each of these teams has its unique story behind its flag design. For example, the Boston Bruins’ flag features a brown bear holding a hockey stick in his paw, referring to a bear that was once owned by team investor Charles Adams. The Chicago Blackhawks’ flag features a Native American head that is an apparent reference to the team’s name, which was inspired by a renowned Sauk Indian leader, Black Hawk.

The Detroit Red Wings’ flag features a winged wheel, which is a nod to Detroit’s auto industry, commonly known as the Motor City. The Motor City name became so famous due to its automotive industry that the Red Wings decided to incorporate the symbolism into their flag design.

The Montreal Canadiens’ flag is symbolic of the team’s name of Les Canadiens, and the city’s French heritage, with the letter “C” representing Club de hockey Canadien. The design is also particularly essential to the team’s French-Canadian fanbase.

The New York Rangers’ flag features a patriotic shield, which is symbolic of the team’s name. The Rangers’ name isn’t related to the profession of a park ranger. Instead, they are named to honor the U.S. Army’s 65th Infantry Regiment, which was known as the “Borinqueneers.”

Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ flag features a maple leaf, which is Canada’s national symbol. The team’s original owner, Conn Smythe, was inspired by a military regiment he served in known as the Maple Leaf Regiment.

It is fascinating to see how the Original Six teams’ flag designs came to be and what each element represents. These flags have become iconic and timeless symbols of the NHL’s early days that still hold great significance today.

Flags of the Expansion Era

During the NHL’s expansion era in the 1960s and 1970s, several new teams were introduced to the league and with them came a new wave of flag designs. In contrast to the simplicity of the Original Six flags, many of the expansion team flags featured more complex and intricate designs.

The California Seals introduced a green and gold flag that prominently featured the team’s seal mascot. The green and gold color scheme was a nod to the state’s flag, which also features those colors. This flag design was short-lived, however, as the team moved to Cleveland just two years later.

The St. Louis Blues flag incorporated a musical note along with the team’s name, as a tribute to the city’s rich musical heritage. The note was also meant to represent the team’s goal of achieving perfect harmony on the ice. The blue and yellow color scheme of the Blues flag was a nod to the blue note tradition in music.

The Buffalo Sabres flag featured a charging buffalo with crossed sabres, a reference to the team’s name. The navy blue and gold color scheme was inspired by the team’s original owner, Seymour Knox III, who was also the chairman of Marine Midland Bank.

The Vancouver Canucks flag included a stylized illustration of Johnny Canuck, a fictional lumberjack character who had become a symbol of the city. The flag also featured a hockey stick and a rink, with blue and green as the primary colors to reflect the natural landscape of Vancouver.

The Atlanta Flames had a flag design that included a flaming letter “A” inside a circle, surrounded by red and yellow flames. The team’s name was a nod to the city’s historical association with the Civil War, and the red and yellow colors were representative of the warmth of the southern United States.

Finally, the New York Islanders featured a flag with the team’s logo, a stylized “NY” in blue and orange with a white hockey stick. The team’s colors were inspired by the state flag of New York, which prominently features those colors.

The expansion team flags of the NHL were diverse and creative, often incorporating elements of local culture and history while still showcasing the team’s identity. Their designs were an essential part of the league’s growth and evolution.

Design Elements of NHL Flags

The design elements of NHL flags play a significant role in representing the identity of each team. The color schemes vary significantly across the teams, ranging from the vibrant blue, yellow, and white of the Pittsburgh Penguins, to the stark black, white, and orange of the Chicago Blackhawks. Incorporating team logos and mascots into the flag design is a common element, with the Montreal Canadiens’ classic “C” logo being a prime example. Additionally, many teams incorporate symbols of regional heritage into their flags, such as the Calgary Flames’ incorporation of the Canadian maple leaf and the Texas State flag in the Dallas Stars’ flag. Some teams have even introduced unique features into their flags, like the New York Islanders’ wave design or the Minnesota Wild’s nod to a traditional Native American headdress. The intricate thought process that goes into the design of each NHL team’s flag has had a significant impact on the league’s visual identity.

Color Schemes Across Teams

A team’s color scheme is one of the most important elements of its identity, and the NHL is no exception. Each team’s colors are carefully chosen to convey a unique message and look, while also being easily recognizable to fans.

For example, the Detroit Red Wings use a color scheme of red and white to represent their team name and logo, while the Nashville Predators’ use a yellow and blue color scheme to represent their hometown and regional heritage. Some teams, like the Vegas Golden Knights and the Carolina Hurricanes, have even incorporated metallic and iridescent elements into their color schemes, giving their flags a unique and eye-catching look.

In addition to representing a team’s identity and region, color schemes can also play a role in creating a cohesive and appealing overall design. For example, the Ottawa Senators use a black, red, and gold color scheme that beautifully weaves together their team name, logo, and regional heritage. Similarly, the Montreal Canadiens’ iconic red, white, and blue color scheme creates a bold and unmistakable look that has become synonymous with the franchise.

Ultimately, the use of color in NHL flag design is an important element that helps to convey a team’s identity and message. Want to learn more about NHL team logos and their meanings? Check out our guide.

Incorporating Team Logos and Mascots

One important aspect of NHL flags is the incorporation of team logos and mascots. These symbols often serve as the centerpiece of the flag, representing the team’s brand and identity on a larger scale. Teams put a lot of thought into the design and placement of these logos and mascots on their flags, ensuring they are eye-catching and identifiable from a distance.

Logo Placement: Most NHL flags feature team logos prominently in the center. Some teams, however, choose to place their logos off-center or in the corner to create a unique look. The placement of the logo can sometimes reflect regional or cultural traditions. For example, the Winnipeg Jets’ flag features their logo in the center of a stylized maple leaf, paying homage to Canada’s national symbol.

Mascot Representation: Many NHL teams also incorporate their mascots into their flags, making for a fun and playful design. The Philadelphia Flyers’ flag, for example, features their mascot, Gritty, in a prominent position. Other teams, like the Chicago Blackhawks, incorporate Native American imagery into their logos and flags, in a nod to their tribal heritage.

Color Coordination: Teams take great care in coordinating their flag designs with their team colors to create a cohesive look. For example, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ flag prominently displays their black and gold color scheme, while the Nashville Predators’ flag features their bright yellow and navy blue colors.

Incorporating team logos and mascots is an essential element in the design of NHL flags, representing a team’s brand identity and distinguishing it from other teams in the league.

Internal Link: The Significance of NHL Team Colors in Flags

Symbols of Regional Heritage

NHL team flags often incorporate symbols of regional heritage, giving fans something to rally around during games and fostering a deeper connection to the team. For example, the Montreal Canadiens team flag features the cross of the Order of Saint Catherine which is part of the flag of the city of Montreal. This cross is also present in the team logo and symbolizes the French heritage of the city. Another example is the Vancouver Canucks flag that features a killer whale, a symbol of the Pacific Northwest region where the team is based. The orca whale is an important part of the cultural heritage of the area’s native Coast Salish people.

Team Symbol Meaning
Seattle Kraken Octopus The octopus is a nod to the sea monster from the mythology of the Pacific Northwest.
Chicago Blackhawks Head of Native American The symbol nods to the Native American culture of the region.
Dallas Stars Star The lone star in the logo is a nod to the flag of Texas
Florida Panthers Florida Panther A nod to the endangered state animal.

Other NHL team flags incorporate local landmarks or features, such as the Edmonton Oilers flag which features the silhouette of an oil rig, an important part of the region’s economy. These symbols of regional heritage and local pride are an important part of the design of NHL team flags.

Unique Flag Features

One of the things that makes NHL flags unique are the different features that set them apart from other flags. Here are some of the most interesting and distinctive features:

Team Nicknames and Mottoes Some NHL teams incorporate their nicknames and mottoes into their flags, such as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s “Bolts” and the Nashville Predators’ “Smashville”.
Retired Jersey Numbers Some NHL flags feature the retired jersey numbers of their team’s most iconic players, such as the Montreal Canadiens’ flag with the number “9” to honor the legendary Maurice “Rocket” Richard.
Championship Banners Many NHL teams include their championship banners on their flags, showcasing their team’s achievements and history.
Regional Symbols Some NHL teams include symbols that represent their region or city on their flags, such as the Calgary Flames’ “C” logo that stands for “Cowtown”.
Animal Mascots Several NHL teams incorporate their animal mascots into their flags, such as the Detroit Red Wings’ winged wheel and the Vancouver Canucks’ orca whale.
Stadium Silhouettes Some NHL flags feature the outline of their team’s home stadium, such as the Chicago Blackhawks’ United Center and the Vegas Golden Knights’ T-Mobile Arena.

These unique features not only make NHL flags stand out from other flags, but also help tell the story of each team’s history, culture, and identity.

The Making of NHL Flags

The making of NHL flags is a complex and detailed process that involves a number of steps and techniques. It all begins with sketches and designs that are created by a team of skilled artists and graphic designers, who work to develop a unique and visually appealing design for each team’s flag. Once the design is finalized, the flag is typically created using a process known as screen printing, which involves transferring the design onto a piece of fabric using a special ink. Other techniques that may be used in the creation of NHL flags include embroidery, applique, and digital printing. One of the biggest challenges of creating NHL flags is ensuring that they are durable and able to withstand the rigors of time and weather, as they will be flown outdoors in all kinds of conditions. Despite these challenges, the end result is a beautiful and inspiring symbol of each team’s legacy and history.

From Sketches to Finished Products

The design process of creating NHL team flags starts with sketches and ideas. The most important factor in the design process is to represent the team’s brand and identity. Once the design team has a concept, it moves to the drawing board to create sketches.

The materials for the flags are chosen carefully, ensuring that they are of good quality and can withstand different weather conditions. When it comes to the production stage, the final design is printed on the chosen fabric.

Embroidery is a common technique used on many NHL team flags. Embroidery adds an extra layer of depth, texture, and durability to the flag’s design. For instance, Boston Bruins’ flag features the team’s logo with embroidery on the bear’s outline.

In some instances, the flag’s design may feature several colors and intricate details, requiring the use of a dye sublimation process. The dye sublimation process involves transferring the design onto paper and then onto the flag material through heat. This process allows for greater detail and color depth than traditional flag-making methods.

The final phase of making NHL flags involves adding finishing touches like grommets or ropes, which allow the flag to be flown on a pole. Finally, before the flags get shipped to their respective teams, they undergo quality control to ensure that they are up to standard with the design specifications and that they meet NHL requirements.

The design and creation process for NHL flags require great skill and care for every detail. Whether it’s through embroidery or dye-sublimation, the final products are high-quality flags that represent each team’s heritage and fan base.

Techniques of Flag Making

When it comes to making NHL flags, there are several techniques involved. The most common technique is screen printing, where a stencil of the design is created and then ink is pushed through the stencil onto the fabric. This creates a crisp and vibrant image on the flag.
Another technique used is appliqué, which involves sewing different colored pieces of fabric onto the flag to create the design. This technique can add texture and dimension to the flag.
Embroidery is also used for NHL flags, especially for adding details such as lettering or small logos. This technique involves sewing thread onto the fabric to create the design.
Digital printing is a newer technique that uses a large format printer to print the design directly onto the flag. This technique allows for more complex and detailed designs, but may not be as durable as screen printing or embroidery.
Regardless of the technique used, precision and attention to detail are crucial in producing a high-quality NHL flag.

Challenges of Creating NHL Flags

Creating NHL flags is not an easy task, and it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is to make the flag look visually appealing while also representing the team’s identity and history. This can be especially difficult for newer teams that do not have a rich history or strong identity.

Another challenge is incorporating all necessary design elements while still maintaining clarity and simplicity on the flag. There is limited space available on a flag, and it is essential to ensure that the design does not become cluttered or confusing.

The process of making the flag also presents challenges. The flag-making techniques used must be suitable for outdoor use and able to withstand various weather conditions, such as wind and rain. Additionally, it must be cost-effective to produce in large quantities, as many NHL teams distribute their flags to fans.

Trademark issues and restrictions can also pose challenges. Teams need to ensure that their flag designs do not infringe on any other team’s logos or designs. This can be a complicated process as many designs and logos are similar, and trademark laws can be complex.

Creating NHL flags is a complex process and requires a lot of attention and detail. It presents various challenges, including ensuring the flag is visually appealing, incorporating necessary design elements, making it durable and cost-effective, and complying with trademark laws and restrictions. Despite these challenges, NHL flags remain a cherished symbol of team pride and history for fans.


As we’ve explored the behind-the-scenes look at the design and creation process of NHL team flags, it’s clear that there is much more to these symbols than what meets the eye. The history of NHL flags has evolved through the eras, with each team incorporating unique design elements to represent their individual brand and regional heritage. From the Original Six to the Expansion Era and beyond, the NHL flags have stood the test of time and continue to evolve today.

Design elements play a significant role in the creation of these flags, with colors, logos, and mascots reflecting the identity of each team. Symbols of local heritage and unique features add depth and meaning to each flag. While the process of making NHL flags can be challenging, the techniques used bring these designs to life. From sketches to finished products, there is a meticulous process involved to ensure that every detail is considered.

In conclusion, NHL flags represent much more than just a symbol of fandom. They are a testament to the rich history and unique identity that each team possesses. Through the careful consideration of design elements and techniques of flag making, the creation of these flags requires skill and dedication. As NHL fans, we can appreciate the beauty and complexity of these flags and the teams they represent.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind NHL flags?

The first NHL flags were introduced in the Original Six era in the 1940s. Since then, flags have evolved to represent the expansion of the NHL and the diversity of each franchise.

What are some design elements found on NHL flags?

Some design elements commonly found on NHL flags include team colors, logos and mascots, regional heritage, and unique features that represent the city each team plays in.

How are color schemes chosen for NHL flags?

Color schemes for NHL flags are often chosen based on the team name, location, or other factors. Many teams also incorporate their home jersey colors into their flag design to create a cohesive branding strategy.

What are some symbols of regional heritage found on NHL flags?

Some symbols of regional heritage found on NHL flags include mountains, lakes, stars, and other natural features that are unique to the area each team represents.

What techniques are used to make NHL flags?

The most common technique used to make NHL flags is screen printing, which involves transferring the design onto the flag using a stencil and ink. Other techniques such as dye sublimation and applique can also be used to create more intricate designs.

What challenges are faced when creating NHL flags?

One of the biggest challenges when creating NHL flags is ensuring that each flag accurately represents the team it represents while also remaining unique and visually appealing. Tight deadlines and production limitations can also be obstacles in the flag-making process.

What are some unique features found on NHL flags?

Some unique features found on NHL flags include iconic landmarks, traditional regional symbols, and team-specific designs that reflect the history and culture of the respective franchise.

What role do flags play in NHL games?

Flags are often used in NHL games to create a sense of team spirit and to display the unique elements of each franchise. Fans can purchase team flags and wave them during games to show support for their favorite team.

How long does it typically take to make an NHL flag?

The amount of time it takes to create an NHL flag can vary depending on the complexity of the design and the production process. However, most flags can be created within a few days to a week.

Can fans purchase team flags?

Yes, fans can purchase team flags from official NHL merchandise stores or online retailers. Many fans wave team flags during games as a way to show their support and team spirit.


Leave a Comment