Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 4 - What to Put on Your Jersey

Day 4 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp brings us to our next "drill", what to put on your newly purchased jersey?

Obviously if you have just purchased a jersey that already has a name and number on it, you have little left to decide, but if you have acquired a blank jersey and want to have it customized with a player's name and number, you have quite a number of options, and there are several excellent resources to help you with your decision making process, and for us, this is where the fun of collecting really begins - researching the options available for a blank jersey.

It should be noted that while fans may choose to put their own name and number on a jersey to avoid the issue of choosing a player who will eventually no longer be on the team, sometimes sooner rather than later and sometimes under acrimonious circumstances, doing so will reduce the resale value of the jersey down the line to practically nothing and is something a collector usually avoids, as they are generally of the mindset that they are creating a "historical documentation" of a jersey worn on the ice.

The first thing to determine is when your particular jersey was worn. As long as it's an NHL jersey, there is no better place than The Hockey Uniform Database, formerly known as NHLUniforms.com. Here you will find every jersey worn by every NHL team, dating back to the league's founding in 1917.

You can view all the various club's jerseys from any given season or an overview of each jersey style worn by any certain team by clicking on the dates on the right or the icons on the left. For serious collectors, we recommend clicking through the various seasons and looking at your favorite club year by year. It's more work, but you will be rewarded with more detail, such as any additional patch worn on a club's jersey each season and any changes in manufacturer, as there was a number of them in the later 90's when Starter, Nike and ProPlayer joined CCM and took turns making the same style for several clubs. One thing to keep in mind is that each season the two Stanley Cup finalists since 1989 has worn a special patch on their jerseys, which will not be indicated here.

The basic white Mighty Ducks of Anaheim jersey was made by first CCM, then Nike, followed by ProPlayer before a return to CCM, only with the manufacturer logo now moved from the lower hem to up by the collar, and finally by Reebok! We must admit to being somewhat lax on the brand of jersey used on many of our replica jerseys as long as the style was the same, while others differentiate minor changes in branding style on the lower back from year to year on their authentic jerseys even though the manufacturer is the same.

Once you have narrowed your jersey style down to a time period of use acceptable to you, the next step is to figure out who wore that style. For that information we turn to HockeyDB.com, the Internet Hockey Database. There you can look up either player or team statistical histories, including all players for any given team in a given season. Search by team, and once you get to that team's information page, say the Detroit Red Wings for example, scroll down and you will come to the Red Wings record for each season of their existence, including a note on how far they made it in the playoffs. This is a quick way to make note of any Stanley Cup Finals appearances that you may want to consider commemorating. Click on any season on the left hand side, opening it in a new window, and you will get that year's Red Wings roster, the more current ones with roster numbers. Make note of any players you might be interested in having added to your jersey and repeat the process for each subsequent year your jersey was used.

EuroHockey.net is also helpful if you are looking for player info outside of North America, as is the "Past Tournaments" area of the history section of the International Ice Hockey Federation's website if your jersey is a national team jersey from a World Championship or Olympics since 2000.

We always add a patch to our jerseys whenever possible, so by going year by year through our jersey's lifespan on The Hockey Uniform Database helps us determine if any patches were worn on our jersey. If a patch can be added to our jersey, it helps to narrow down the number of years we have to sort through when trying to decide which players are eligible to be put on our jersey. NHLPatches.info is also an amazing resource for patch information.

At this point you should have a pretty good idea what season, patch and player options you have to pick from. Player choices are a very personal thing, and there are many reasons to choose who you want to permanently commit to your jersey. Some choose with an eye toward future resale value and only pick star players. Others choose their own favorite player, which are also often star players, but can also be players who scored a famous goal for a team, such as Stephane Matteau of the Rangers, a player they have met in person or any number of other reasons, such as a Conn Smythe, Hart, Art Ross or Vezina trophy winner, a team's leading scorer, someone who played for your local minor league team, a player with an unusual or very long name or the fact he wears your favorite number.

We also tend to favor team captain's or assistant captains in order to add the "C" or "A" to our jerseys. Every team's page on Wikipedia chronicles the history of their captains, but there are times when the captain is hurt and another player will wear the "C" during their absence. Finding out what your player options are for the "A" is an inexact science that requires some creativity and luck.

For occasional use of the "C" or wearers of the "A", we turn to GettyImages.com, starting with the editorial sport section. It does take some experience to learn how to do effective searching on Getty Images, and older pictures are often not labelled very accurately, especially with the correct date or even year, but there's more than enough on file here to answer your average question. Start by searching for the team you are interested in. Once you see you have an overwhelming more than 1000 pages of results, look for the search box in the upper left and select "search within", check that button and enter the year you are interested in, say 1999, and click "search". This will narrow it down to seven reasonable pages.

From there you can hover your cursor over the thumbnails to see them a bit larger, or click on them to open in a larger size. Hopefully among those photos you will find what you are looking for. For the 1999-00 season, we suggest one search for 1999 and another for 2000. You will soon learn the higher the number of the page, the older the photos are. Look for the dates the photos were taken to identify which season they are from. For example. page 7 of our search will likely be from 1998-99 and the 1999-00 season may not start until page 4.

Two other good sources for pictures of jerseys are Spirit of the Game, a dealer in game worn hockey jerseys who has numerous pictures of jerseys, mainly from 1970 to 2004. Many collectors use photo hosting sites such as Flickr.com and Photobucket.com as well.

Another option is to do a Google Image search for a player you suspect was an assistant, but those results will not be identified by year often, if at all. Hockey cards can also be of value in a search like this.

Armed with these resources, which are all in the right hand column of this page in the "Our Favorite Hockey Links" section, you should be able to educate yourself to what era your jersey is from, what your patch options may be, who played on the club during that time period and who may be eligible for a "C" or an "A".

At this point the rest is up to you to make the final decision on who you want to immortalize on your jersey and why. While some choices may be viewed as better than others, there are really no wrong answers, as long as you don't end up pictured in Puck Daddy's Jersey Fouls, that is!



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