Friday, September 17, 2010

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 1 - What to Collect

Welcome to Hockey Jersey Training Camp! We are going to cover a number of topics over the course of HJTC in an effort to aid the collector of jerseys, both veteran and rookie.

Our first "drill" will focus on what to collect.

Many fans just buy a jersey or two from their hometown team and call it a day until the player whose name is on the back of their jersey leaves the team, especially under less than friendly circumstances. They are then faced with the choice of wearing a newly outdated jersey, buying a new jersey or simply going to the games with a team sweatshirt.

The true jersey collector does have to worry about such things, as they have any number of jerseys to fall back on in the event a star player leaves their team.

Many collectors simply buy what catches their eye, regardless of what team it's from, or at least to some degree, as some passionate fans cannot overcome their hatred of their favorite team's rival to ever own one from the enemy. Other collectors develop a theme to their collections, and that's what we are going to focus on today.

The most common theme is to buy jerseys from your favorite team, be it an NHL club, or their local minor league affiliate,l junior or college team. For example, some collectors will only purchase Avalanche jerseys. Others Avalanche fans will branch out to include such things as jerseys of Avalanche players from appearances in All-Star games and various international tournaments, such as a Joe Sakic 2000 All-Star jersey or a Peter Forsberg Sweden National Team jersey, in both an effort to wear something a little different from the masses and demonstrating the increased depth of their hockey knowledge, like this amazing Colorado Avalanche collection. One way to add interest to the single team approach is to add jerseys with additional anniversary, all-star or memorial patches a club may have worn.

Other fans will focus their collection not on a single team, but a single player, with Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemeiux being prime examples, as both players not only wore a number of NHL jerseys, with Gretzky having played for four different teams, while Lemeiux wore no less than eight different Penguins styles, 11 different All-Star jerseys and skated for Canada in five international tournaments.

Other star players often lend themselves to this approach, such as Sakic, Teemu Selanne or Jaromir Jagr to name a few, with the multiple options for NHL, All-Star and International jerseys they have worn during their careers. Sydney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin lend themselves to this approach for those of you just getting started in collecting given the opportunity you will have to buy their jerseys when they are current, rather than trying to find discontinued styles that are long out of production from older players, although you better get started, as Ovechkin has already played for Moscow Dynamo, who changed jerseys every one of his four seasons there, the Washington Capitals, who have already changed jersey styles during his five seasons with the club, in three NHL All-Star games and the Russian National Team nine of the last ten years!

Some fans in smaller locales have been known to collect the NHL jerseys of former players on their local minor league team who have gone on to play at the highest level. This can lead to some unusual and off-beat player choices, as obvious star players are passed over for journeymen types with short careers due to their local connections to the collector.

Other player oriented themes are Hall of Fame players, black players, rookie jerseys and goalie collections.

Getting away from the focus on individual players, some try to collect at least one jersey from each NHL club, defunct clubs, All-Star Game jerseys, each year's Stanley Cup champion or even each year's Conn Smythe winner. One other theme is to collect jerseys from a particular season, our favorite of which is the 1991-92 NHL season, which saw the Original 6 teams all wearing Turn Back the Clock jerseys and all players wearing the attractive NHL 75th Anniversary logo that season.

Adding the unique jerseys worn each year in the now annual Winter Classic is also a good way to add some unique jerseys to one's collection without a huge financial outlay each season, although it appears that there will now be a pair of outdoor games each season going forward to generate more specialty jerseys for you to pursue.

There is also a subset of collectors who focus on the rare, unusual and unloved jersey styles, such as the short-lived alternate jerseys like the Mighty Ducks "Wild Wing" or Los Angeles Kings "Burger King" jerseys. The New York Islanders Fisherman era sweaters and the Tampa Bay Lightning "Stormy Weather" alternates are also quite popular with fans of what we like to call the "Curious, Weird and Ugly" jerseys. Of those, the Kings alternate is the perfect storm of collectability, being scarce due to it's short life, desirable due to it's unattractiveness and the added competition to own one from those who focus on Gretzky jerseys.

Still other themes consist of either the jerseys of your home country, such as the various Team Canada or Team USA jerseys, and one ambitious collector has taken the opposite approach by attempting to collect jerseys from as many different national teams as possible, which can be quite a challenge given the over 50 full member countries in the International Ice Hockey Federation, which include lesser-known hockey playing nations as Australia, North Korea, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa!

There's also jerseys from your favorite minor, junior or college teams that can be the basis of a collection.

Once you decide if your collecting is going to have a loose or rigid theme, then there is the aspect of buying only authentic jerseys, the kind with fightstraps which are the same as those worn by players on the ice, or if replica jerseys fit your taste and budget, as throughout the 1990's replica jerseys were made to a very high standard by CCM, Nike, ProPlayer and Starter.

And so far we have not even mentioned the aspect of focusing on game worn jerseys, which is a whole culture in and of itself, as collectors try to track down the actual jerseys worn by the players on the ice during the games. As with anything, there are options in game worn collecting to fit most every budget, as lesser known players or even pre-season jerseys can sometimes be had for prices occasionally below a retail authentic.

Pick one concept or multiple themes if you wish, but be careful to not pick them all, or you just might find yourself writing a daily blog about your collection!

Have an unusual theme for your collection not mentioned here? Please post it in the comments below, as we'd like to hear what interesting ideas others have come up with.

Our video section today features some collectors who have chosen to share their collections on youtube.


  1. Great post TSG. My approach has been to add jerseys based on how good they look. A big fan, for instance, I prefer the simple designs of a few Canadian Hockey League teams. My recent Seattle Thunderbirds piece is by far my favorite, and I a die-hard Boston Bruins fan.

  2. My "theme" was only collecting NHL jerseys from the years between 1990 and 2000. I first just bought a couple that I liked. Then eventually started only getting those that were being phased out, whether the team was moving (Winnipeg Jets) or changing logos (Buffalo Sabres from original look to black, red, and white buffalo head). Eventually it led keeping my collection between the stated years. I mostly liked this because of the placement of the manufacturer's logo on the right rear lower hem next to the NHL logo.

  3. Great post, as always.

    I would love, love to add a TBTC Ranger jersey to my collection. Damn things are elusive. Luckily the throwback/alternate the Blueshirts are wearing this season are close ...

  4. And once again - very nice post! I have over 40 game worns (National teams, Russian league, KHL) and still deciding over an exact theme of the collection. Yesterday got a new one from SKA St. Petersburg 09-10 season autographed. When I don't know much about the team - I'm getting either #23 of the rooster (the # my elder son started to play under) or just the longest name on the back. In that case I get more sewn on letters for the same price... Kidding, but sometimes that principle can coincide in a really interesting way. For instance, Langenbrunner and Niedermayer meet the "longest name" requirement both being the captains for the Olympics!
    And of course, fight strap is a must!

  5. Nice article. A good part of my collection is Western Conference teams, with an emphasis on Northwest Division teams.

  6. You forgot to warn people about getting into game worn jersey collecting! Its very expensive, but an addicting hobby that has many passionate members (I am learning, and so is my limited budget :( )!

  7. Thanks for all the responses. Yes, game worn collecting is an entirely different hobby with a lot more knowledge and research required to avoid being taken due to the obvious increased expense involved.

    We have several different themes to the ThirdStringGoalie collection. We like to say we collect collections!

  8. Great post! Loved reading through this and happy I stumbled upon it. Looking forward to reading more of your for me, not sure how interesting of a collection mine is (if you can even call it that), but I collect authentic Anaheim Ducks jerseys for every year they win the Cup, haha. So obviously I only have one so far, my prized Selanne home jersey from '07! Hoping to add to it though! Again, great post, throughly enjoyed reading it!


  9. Thanks for the compliment and welcome aboard. Selanne is one of our all-time favorites and we have several jerseys of his in our collection.


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