The night before every Michigan hockey game, the coaching staff tells equipment manager Ian Hume which sweaters the team will wear on the ice.
On the road, the Wolverines are required to wear their navy jerseys, per Big Ten rules, but at home, they can either wear their white block M sweaters or their maize “script” uniforms, a redesign of their 1996 and 1998 championships jersey.
Whichever sweaters the players don on any given night, there is decades of history behind each one.
The Wolverines, who have an NCAA-best nine national titles, have some of the most iconic jerseys in college hockey.
“If you look at jerseys throughout college hockey, there are a lot of people who have kind of copied us,” Hume said inside his office at Yost Ice Arena. “We are on TV so much, we have Canadian colleges whose jerseys are almost identical to ours.”
So what is behind the designs of Michigan’s hockey sweaters since its inaugural season in 1922-23? Hume, who is in his 29th year as the equipment manager, said the university used to have more input in designing the team’s sweaters, but since the days of large sponsorship deals, those companies now have a large influence in what the Wolverines wear each season.
“When we signed with Nike originally, then Adidas, and now Nike again, those companies have a say in what we wear,” Hume said. “They will do design boards and send them in and say this is what we are thinking about for next year. We can then tweak it a little bit. I will consult with the coaches and they will say, ‘Yay or nay.’ We will get a little bit of input from the players but not a ton because of too many cooks in the kitchen.
“Now for next year, there will be no change. Nike wants us to keep the same jersey for two years, which, we usually tweak them a little bit every year, whether it be change the block M on the front to script.”
However, for any special events, like outdoor game the Wolverines played Jan. 5 at Notre Dame Stadium, Michigan can design the sweater itself.
“I will look at other outdoor game jerseys like in the NHL and see the stuff they have done for special games,” Hume said. “I’ll see if we can incorporate it and change it a little bit.
“This year, we kind of copied Toronto’s jersey they wore against Washington (in the 2018 Stadium Series outdoor game), and we tweaked it so it will fit us.”
Overall, Michigan’s jersey designs have evolved and changed over time, but Hume said the block M logo continues to be the most iconic. However, he has a different favorite.
“Everybody really likes the block M,” he said. “Personally, I like the ones that have ‘Michigan’ and the vertical arch and the number on the front.”
With that said, below are the many different sweaters the Wolverines have worn throughout their history, beginning with their current jerseys and dating back to 1922.