Saturday, December 11, 2010

Third String Goalie Holiday Shopping Guide - Avoiding Knockoff Jerseys

With the holiday shopping season in full swing we just wanted to remind everyone what a great gift a hockey jersey would be for the fan on your list this year, but also educate you in what to look for when buying a jersey so you do not end up unwittingly purchasing a fake jersey.

We recommend this article from the Ottawa Citizen about knockoff jerseys and how they are affecting the retailers of genuine goods. There is also a video which deals with the issue, which can be viewed here: Knock-off jerseys knock down profits.


We would also like to take the opportunity to re-run a post from our Hockey Jersey Training Camp series, reprinted here with kind permission of Tyler at NHLDigest.com.

Tyler begins:

As embarrassing as it is, over the past while several friends (and myself), have been duped into buying knock-off RBK Edge NHL jerseys.

Sometimes these jerseys can be easy to spot, but there are several companies that are making very good quality knock-off jerseys (typically manufactured in China or Korea).

After being bamboozled myself, I thought I’d go to some professionals for some tips and then write about it so you don’t make the same mistake that I did.

5 Things To Look For First:

  1. Does the web site look professional?When it comes to online shopping, your first impressions are important. If the site doesn’t look professionally designed, has poorly written content, or has a checkout process that is less than simple…be cautious.
  2. Does the site offer multiple methods to contact the company?A reputable website will always provide a full physical address on its contact page, as well as Telephone (toll-free is even better), and often live chat. In addition, they also may offer product reviews and site performance ratings to provide feedback from past satisfied customers. If all the site provides is a simple contact form or an email address, then it is likely that they don’t want you to find them too easily – for a reason!
  3. What types of shipping methods are used? If they don’t use one of the major North American courier companies such as UPS, FedEx, Purolator or US or Canada Post, then it is likely that your package is coming from very far away – if it comes at all.
  4. Where is the company based? If you do find a physical address (or other evidence) that the company is based offshore (especially Asia), then it is pretty much a sure bet that the jersey you are getting is a knock-off. All Reebok Authentic jerseys are manufactured in Canada, so there is no reason that a company in China would be selling Canadian-made authentic jerseys!
  5. Is the price too good to be true?If the listed price is significantly below the typical retail price, that should be an obvious warning flag. An Authentic Edge Jersey with real pro customization like will usually go for $350-$400USD, so if you see a seller advertising the same product for anywhere from $75 to $200USD, you can be sure you aren’t getting the real McCoy!
  6. Inspecting The Jersey for Authenticity

    The following are some key things about the jersey’s construction to look for. As mentioned, it’s been some time since the introduction of the RBK Edge jersey, and many fakes are now very close to being identical to the authentic so be very thorough in your investigation!

    1. The very first thing to note is the coloring of the jersey. Many knock-offs are good with the main colors of Black and White. However, you may be able to notice marked differences in Blues and Reds upon comparison to authentic jerseys.
    2. Check the logos and numbers for the correct detail. Again, the knock-offs are getting better at the detailing, but some NHL team logos have detail that can be hard to duplicate. Pay particular attention to the sizing and spacing of the letters and numbers on the jerseys. The letter and spacing are likely to be larger or smaller than the authentic version.
    3. Patches and stitching are also very important to compare. Compare the location of the stitching around the armpits and back of the neck to make sure the construction is authentic. In addition, the NHL and RBK trademarks on authentic jerseys are actually patches and not embroidery. This is one good comparison to make when shopping for a jersey on E-bay.
  7. I have used the fake Flames jersey that I bought on eBay, and compare it to my real authentic Flames jersey. Below are a few things that you can look for to determine whether the jersey you have on hand is in fact a real one. Now, in this experiment I am only using the "fake authentic" jersey that I bought on eBay to compare to a real one, and I am not certain whether this applies to replica ones (cause I don't collect replica jerseys). There are obviously quite a number of different manufacturers out there that manufacture fake jerseys. One jersey cannot speak for all of them, and with the popularity of Internet and communication, these manufacturers have "updated" the way their fake edge are designed and structured.
1) The Reebok logo and the NHL shield patch NHL Shield trademark

real:
NHL 1 real
NHL 2 real

fake:
NHL 1 fake
NHL 2 fake

Reebok trademark

Real:
Reebok Logo 1 real
Reebok Logo 2 real

Fake:
Reebok Logo 1 fake
Reebok Logo 2 fake

For all authentic, real Edge jerseys, the Reebok and the NHL shield trademarks are patches, which means they both need to be sewn onto a jersey. On my fake jersey, both trademarks are directly embroidered onto the jersey.
Also pay attention to how the Center Ice tag is sewn on to both jerseys. On the real jersey, it was only sewn on the entire top across, and only the corner of the bottom, whereas on the fake one the Center Ice tag was completely sewn on (the Reebok logo was surrounded by stitching completely). If the logos on your jersey are directly embroidered, then I’m sorry, your jersey is a fake.

2) Neck tags (sz 52 is the real Edge, sz 54 is the fake one)

Size tag comparison
Reebok tag comparison

Surprisingly, both the size tag and the Reebok Center Ice tag are similar. But there are still a couple of things that could be found
a) The red stripe of the Canada flag are more wide compare to the real one, and the red maple leaf on the fake doesn't really look like a maple leaf. The gaps between letters on the real one is a bit wider compare to the fake
c) The Reebok Center Ice tags are almost identical, and the only difference you can tell is the "I" of the word "CENTER ICE" below the NHL logo (note that the bottom neck tag is from the real jersey)

3) Reebok stripe

Real:

Reebok stripe real

Fake:

Reebok stripe fake

For real authentic jersey the Reebok stripe located above the Center Ice tag has the bigger Gray "RBK" wording behind, where there was none on my fake one. Now, as of Aug 22, 2009, I have spotted a few fakes on eBay that starting to have the bigger Gray "RBK" wording behind, so using this guideline to judge your jersey may not work anymore.

4) Twill and customization

Real:

Twill real

Fake:

Twill fake

The tackle twill on the real jersey is completely different than that of a fake. The twill that the real one uses, and the ones that we most collectors uses to customize our jerseys, are came from Stahls'. The surfaces are virtually flat and smooth, and very light (aside from the glacier and dazzle twill). But on the fake one the twill are not flat and smooth at all, and are very hard and heavy for some reason.

Further, for some unknown reason there are backing papers behind the logo and the numbers. I do recall a couple of my early 90’s jerseys are customized this way. But this style of customization are seldom used. (TSG note: If you turn a legitimate jersey inside out, you will see only the zig-zag stitching, but fakes use a paper backing inside the jersey to prevent the fabric from tearing or otherwise getting holes in it while it is being sewn, similar to what is used on a sweatshirt with an embroidered design on it)

Paper backing on fake twill

5) Fight strap (the one on the left is real)

Fight Strap comparison 1
Fight Strap comparison 2
Fight Strap comparison 3

Last but not least is the fight strap. Now, many fans, “rookie” collectors always have a mindset that a jersey with fight strap is authentic, or at least make it an authentic jersey, or even make it as a jersey that players worn on the ice. Well, an experience collector can tell you right away that “A JERSEY HAVING A FIGHT STRAP DOES NOT MAKE IT AUTHENTIC, AND DOES NOT MAKE IT TO BE THE SAME JERSEY THAT PLAYERS WORN ON THE ICE”! You could add a fight strap to a replica jersey easily, but that doesn’t mean the fight strap all of a sudden makes it an authentic jersey, or someone like to phrase it as “same jersey that players worn on the ice.”
Few notes on the fight strap:
a) All CCM, Reebok, or even Nike, you can only stretch the fight strap horizontally, not vertically. This is obviously to prevent the jersey from being pulled over one’s head during a fight. The fight strap on my fake jersey is very poorly constructed.The piece that attached the fight strap onto the jersey is tackle twill, and 99% of the time is the same colour as the jersey. It is sewn on with zig-zag stitching, with a cross stitching inside a small rectangle stitching, and a large rectangle sewn on around the twill using zig-zag stitching as well.

I just hope this information could help all fans and collectors. If you have additional information, please share it with all of us. Thanks in advance.

Happy collecting folks!!

*********************

Thanks again to Tyler for letting us reprint his excellent look at the detail differences between real and fake Reebok Edge jerseys. While there have been fake jerseys made of pre-Reebok jerseys, the proliferation of them, particularly on ebay and craigslist, really exploded with the arrival of Reebok as the sole NHL jersey supplier.

Points we'd like to further emphasize that apply to non-Reebok fakes are the use of shiny, wavy twill for the numbers when compared to the perfectly flat, less glossy twill used on legitimate jerseys. Quite often the fonts used for the numbers are too fat and the outlines too thin, if the font is even correct at all.

As for the online shops that spring up and disappear overnight only to spring up again with a new, similar name, it's pretty simple. If they do not provide a street address in the US or Canada, stay away from it. Read their "About us" or "Contact" pages and look for bad grammar and misspellings. Those are a dead giveaway that you are not dealing with a professional organization that uses English as their primary language of communication.

Also, if you are in contact with a "friend of a friend" or someone posting on Craigslist who "can get you any jersey you want in whatever size you need for $40" or see your local team's jersey for sale hanging on the wall of your local pub/tavern/bar or favorite barbershop for under $100, save yourself the money and embarrassment and realize if it's too good to be true, it is too good to be true, because it's not a true jersey, it's a fake jersey.

Guaranteed.

If you are looking to buy someone a jersey this Christmas, we recommend the business featured here in the right side column of this website where you can trust the jersey you will be receiving will be made to the highest standards with quality materials and won't disintegrate the first time it's washed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

1931-32 Montreal Maroons Hooley Smith Jersey

In 1923-24 the NHL consisted of just four member clubs, the Hamilton Tigers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto St. Patricks. The league expanded by two when the Boston Bruins, the first club based in the United States, and the Montreal Maroons were admitted to the league for the 1924-25 season, the NHL's eighth in their history.

The Maroons were based out of the brand new Montreal Forum, which was built specifically for the Maroons, only to have the Canadiens take the honors of playing the first game in the new arena when their home, the Mount Royal Arena, which did not have the capability to produce artificial ice, was unable to host their game against the St. Patricks due to poor ice conditions.

The Maroons first game was played on December 1, 1924, a 2-1 loss to their fellow expansion brothers, the Bruins. After two more games, another loss followed by the first win in club history, 3-1 over Ottawa, the Maroons faced off against the Canadiens, who just happened to be the defending Stanley Cup champions, for the first time ever on this date in 1924.

The established Canadiens were led by three men that season, Bill Boucher (31 points), second year pro Howie Morenz (34 points) and team scoring leader Aurel Joliat, who led the Canadiens with 29 goals and 40 points. Those three men dominated team scoring that season with a remarkable 79.5% of their total, 105 out of the team's 132 points.

In their game against the Maroons, Joliat scored four of the Canadians five goals, while Georges Vezina got his 9th career shutout in their 5-0 victory.

The Maroons would gain a tie with the Canadiens 17 days later, a 1-1 affair with overtime did not settle. January 14th saw them battle to another 1-1 overtime draw. The remainder of their meetings that season went the way of the Canadiens when they repeated their 5-0 win again on January 31st, shut the Maroons out for the third time in a 1-0 win on February 18th and took their third in a row 3-1 on March 7th.

The 1925-25 Montreal Maroons

After finishing fifth in their first season, ahead of only Boston, the Maroons fielded a much stronger club during their second season of 1925-26, climbing up to second place overall in the now seven team NHL. Their first ever victory over the Canadiens did not take long to arrive, as they downed the Canadiens 3-2 in their first meeting of the new season. The Maroons dominated the inter-city rivalry that season, taking five of six from The Habs, including a pair of shutouts.

The improved play of the Maroons heightened the rivalry between the two clubs, which was already fueled by the fact the Maroons were the club of choice for Montreal's English speaking population, while Les Canadiens were the darlings of Montreal's francophone supporters.

Following the regular season, the Maroons defeated the third place Pittsburgh Pirates 6 goals to 4 in their playoff series to advance to the league championship, where the Maroons upset the established Senators in a closely fought pair of games. The first contest in the two-game, total-goals series was a 1-1 draw, setting up a winner-take-all second game, which went the Maroons way 1-0.

With the NHL championship in hand, the Maroons advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals versus the Victoria Cougars. Nels Stewart led the Maroons with six goals in four games as the Maroons shut out the Cougars by identical 3-0 scores in the first two games of the best-of-five series. The Cougars took a narrow 3-2 win to stay alive, only to have the Maroons close out the series with another shutout by goaltender Clint Benedict, this one a 2-0 victory to claim the prestigious Stanley Cup in only their second season.

1926montrealmaroons Pictures, Images and Photos
The 1925-26 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons - note Benedict in the back wearing his trademark ballcap and one of the previous season's jerseys

The Canadiens would move into the much more modern Forum the following season and would share the arena with the Maroons until 1938. The two clubs would also meet in the playoffs for the only that season when they met in the quarterfinals. They tied 1-1 in Game 1 of the two-game, total-goals series. The second game saw regulation end scoreless, and the Canadiens advanced with an overtime goal to take the series 2 goals to 1 and add another chapter in the growing rivalry of the two clubs who shared not only a city, but now an arena as well, even though they divided their fanbase along linguistic lines.

The Maroons would play for 14 seasons and qualify for the playoffs in ten of those seasons. Following their Stanley Cup in 1926 it would be another nine seasons before they would claim their second and final one in 1935. During the Maroons 14 seasons in the NHL, both the Maroons and Canadiens each won a pair of Stanley Cups, with the Canadiens coming back-to-back in 1930 and 1931.

1935-36 Montreal Maroons
The 1934-35 Stanley Cup champion Montreal Maroons

The Canadiens would not only win the all-time series between the two clubs 40-35-17, but add insult to injury by taking over as sole occupants of the arena originally built for the Maroons when the Maroons folded due to a lack of support during the Great Depression of the 1930's, which hit Canada particularly hard.

The one time the two clubs would come together would be in the Maroons final season, on November 2, 1937 when members of both Montreal teams paired up to take on a team made of All-Stars from the other six NHL clubs in a benefit game for the benefit of Morenz's family following his premature death in March of that year.

Maroons and Canadiens Morenz benefit game
The Maroons and Canadiens team up for the Howie Morenz benefit game

Today's featured jersey is a 1931-32 Montreal Maroons Hooley Smith jersey. While Smith was a member of the Senators when the Maroons and Canadiens played their first game against each other, he was sold to the Maroons in time for the 1927-28 season and played for the club until the 1935-36 season, nine in all. He was named team captain in 1932 and remained so until he left the club in 1936. While with the Maroons Smith scored 130 goals and 151 assists for 281 points, making him the Maroons all-time franchise scoring leader, 14 points more than Jimmy Ward in 108 less games.

Smith won a Stanley Cup with the Maroons in 1936 to go with the one he won with Ottawa in 1927. Additionally, Smith also won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics while playing for Canada.

With the Maroons decline underway, Smith was sold to the Bruins, who later sold him to the New York Americans. He would play 17 NHL seasons in all, scoring exactly 200 goals on his way tot totaling 425 points. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

The Maroons jerseys underwent several changes in their 14 years. Their first jerseys had the the name "Montreal" across the chest in simple block letters. They replaced that with the large "M" crest for year two, in which they won the Stanley Cup. Those jerseys featured four white stripes down the arms and two around the waist.

In 1929 styles had changed and their jerseys now had nine thinner stripes running down the arms and the waist stripes were increased to three. After two seasons they switched to the "Northwestern" stripe pattern (a thick center stripe flanked by two thinner stripes) for the rest of their history with the only change being to the font used for the "M" in 1935. During that era teams almost exclusively wore one style of jersey, so the Maroons never wore a white version of their famous maroon sweaters.

Hooley Smith Maroons 31-32

Today's video is a look at the evolution of hockey in Canada, which features the Maroons Clint Benedict, the first man to wear a goalie mask in an NHL game.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Third String Goalie Holiday Shopping Guide - Hockey Books

If you are looking for a holiday gift for the hockey fan in on your list, there are any number of terrific hockey books out there and today we have a number of recommendations to share.

One of the things we enjoy the most is the way hockey and culture differs throughout the world. Several books that come to mind are "King of Russia", the story of Dave King, the first Canadian to coach a Russian hockey club team. Along that same line is "From Behind the Red Line", Tod Harjte's fascinating story as the first North American player in Russia, which occurred just as the Soviet Union had dissolved. Laura Sullivan's "Away Games" takes a trip across Europe during the NHL lockout of 2004-05, visiting seven countries to document the experiences of NHL players overseas.


Another topic of interest to us is the early history of hockey, of which there are many choices. "Putting a Roof on Winter" is an excellent chronicle of hockey's rise from the beginning, while "Deceptions and Doublecross: How the NHL Conquered Hockey" tells the story of the formation of the world's most important league in 1917.


There are certainly biographies too numerous to mention, but some of the most notable are "Gordie - A Hockey Legend", "Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey", the recent "Eddie Shore and that Old Time Hockey". Other players are Patrick Roy, Jean Beliveau, Bob Probert, the always entertaining Phil Esposito, Mark Messier and of course Bobby Orr.


There have even been entire books written about single games. "When the Lights Went Out" details the infamous brawl between Canada and the Soviet Union at the World Junior Championships in 1987. "The Greatest Game" documents the memorable contest between the Montreal Canadiens and the Soviet Red Army on New Year's Eve in 1975.


The 1980 US Olympic hockey team's "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union at Lake Placid has spawned a number of titles, the best of which are "The Boys of Winter" documents the how the team came together and won, and "Herb Brooks: The Inside Story of a Hockey Mastermind" is a truly inside look into the story of Brooks written by his personal friend and newspaper reporter John Gilbert. Along the same lines, but lesser known, is "Striking Silver", the story of the 1972 US Olympic Team, who placed a stunning second in Sapporo, Japan.


For Canadian readers, the equivalent to the "Miracle on Ice" has to be the 1972 Summit Series, the memorable eight game series that captivated a nation as it played out, cumulating with Paul Henderon's iconic goal in Game 8. "Cold War" recounts the events of the series, as does "Face-off at the Summit", goaltender Ken Dryden's diary of his participation in the series. Another diary kept during the Summit Series is "Hockey Showdown", by Team Canada head coach Harry Sinden.


Speaking of Ken Dryden, he has also authored other hockey books, including the seminal "The Game" and it's follow up, "Home Game".


There are of course books dedicated to individual clubs, including the Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres as well as the rich histories of the Original 6 clubs.



The World Hockey Association has also spawned some books to chronicle the outrageous tales and legendary characters of the short-lived rival to the NHL. Probably best known is "The Rebel League". "Red, White & Blues" documents Wayne Gretzky's first professional club, the Indianapolis Racers. For those interested in statistics, "The World Hockey Association Fact Book" is a must have for WHA fans.


The Hockey Hall of Fame has also published a number of fine books, including the beautifully photographed "Hockey Hall of Fame Legends", "Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Goalies" and the "Official Guide to Players in the Hockey Hall of Fame".


There are finally the books that cover the history of hockey and the NHL. Our recommended favorites in that category include "Hockey": A People's History" about what the game means to Canada, "The Official Illustrated NHL History" and the newly released "Sports Illustrated - The Hockey Book". Fans of international hockey will want to pick up "World of Hockey", published on the occasion of the International Ice Hockey Federation's 100th anniversary. "Lord Stanley's Cup" documents the history of hockey's most sought after trophy. Looking for one book that simply has everything? "Total Hockey" is just that. At six pounds, if it's not in Total Hockey, it's not worth knowing.


In all honesty, we've only just scratched the surface of all the numerous hockey books available, but these are some of our favorites for you to consider for the hockey fan on your gift list.

 

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