Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 7 - Where to Get Your Jersey Customized

Day 7 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp has our next "drill" dealing with the all-important question, Where to Get Your Jersey Customized?

Now that you have decided who to put on your jersey and obtained your patches, the next step is to decide who to trust with your jersey.

For us, having jerseys customized has been the most frustrating, annoying, difficult and least fun part of this hobby. Clearly buying jerseys already customized will save you many headaches and a lot of expense, but it will naturally limit you to mainly a narrow group of the obvious star players for the most part.

You will likely be able to get your 1994 New York Rangers jersey with Mark MessierBrian Leetch and Mike Richter, but for those of you who want Stephane MatteauAdam Graves or Esa Tikkanen - good luck finding one of those on demand when you feel urge to buy one, and that's the beauty of buying a blank jersey.

A blank jersey is an opportunity to control a lot more of the process, choose a player out of the ordinary and is the most fun, interesting and rewarding aspect of the hobby in addition to the "thrill of the hunt" when you are finally able to track down that incredibly obscure and hard to find Ukraine National Team jersey you've wanted for eight years.

The decision on where to send our jerseys begins with Exclusive Pro Sports, located in Rockford, Illinois. EPS does work for clients both large and small, and could easily dismiss the individual collector as too small for them to bother with, but their owner has made a commitment to always maintain doing work for the people who got them where they are today - the individual collector.

Due to the amount of work they do, they are not always the quickest to get your jersey completed, but when it does arrive, the accuracy and quality of the work are top rate. The more obscure a jersey is and the more off beat the request, the more likely we are to send it to EPS, as their ability to follow directions and pay attention to detail is unsurpassed.

Take a look at this jersey for example. It's unlikely anyone has this number font used by Adidas from the mid-1980's on file. Add in the fact Adidas used a fuzzy, heat sealed flocked, not felt, material for the lettering.

Russia CCCP 1987 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1987F.jpg
Russia CCCP 1987 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1987B.jpg

Compare that to the game worn Czechoslovakia jersey we sent them as an example, and you can see why we are so impressed with the quality of their work.

 photo Czechoslovakia1980sR2F.jpg
Czechoslovakia 1980's R #2 Jersey photo Czechoslovakia1980sR2B.jpg

One huge plus to dealing with EPS is their uncanny ability to produce the correct colors and material for nameplates. In the approximately 200 jerseys we have sent EPS, they have created nameplates for mesh jerseys from the late 1980's, airknit, ultrafil and dazzle cloth in a virtual rainbow of colors. Take a look at this jersey. They even created the unique "number plate" out of airknit to match the nameplate rather than the more easily obtained twill we were expecting them to use!

 photo MontrealCanadiens08-0912-13B-1.jpg

Other aspects that make EPS stand out are that they sell name and number kits so you can do your own sewing if you are able and their stripping and customizing service, where they can remove by hand old names and numbers from a jersey, clean off glue or stains from the previous lettering and re-cutomize your jersey to the new player of your choice, a service few if any others are willing to want to deal with.

Here are a couple of more examples of why we are devoted to EPS. Take a look at this Ukraine jersey. The light blue shade of this jersey is not a color of air-knit fabric you can buy, not even EPS. So what did they do? They custom dyed a piece of white jersey material to exactly match the body color of the jersey to create a nameplate. There's no one else out there with that kind of capability that we have ever heard of! Look at the quality of that work! The nameplate is of the same material as the body of the jersey, rather than something "close and good enough", the color match of the nameplate is absolutely dead on, again not "that's as close as we can get", and then it needed to be long enough to hold the 12 character name we chose, which was then sewn down as straight as an arrow! If there were an Academy Awards for jersey customizing, this effort would win hands down.

ukraine jersey photo: Ukraine 2002 jersey Ukraine2002F.jpg
ukraine jersey photo: Ukraine 2002 jersey Ukraine2002B.jpg

Here's a final example where EPS when above and beyond. This rare Jokerit Helsinki jersey arrived with nothing more than the team crest and Karjala sponsorship on the front. While we created the Carrols patch with our "Make Your Own Patches" method described on Day 6 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp, EPS did the rest, including not only making the drop shadowed number out of single piece of twill, but also reproducing the custom Karjaja sponsorship logo on the back of the jersey out of a heat sealed material to perfection with the exact font and dimensions.

Finland Jokerit Helsinki 1991-92 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki1991-92F-1.jpg
Finland Jokerit Helsinki 1991-92 jersey photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki1991-92B-1.jpg

The photos do not do justice to the quality and complexity of the work on the drop shadowed back and sleeve numbers either. Notice on the back how the teal and magenta show through the hollow drop shadow. What that meant for EPS was each of the many small segments of twill that created the drop shadow had to be sewn down on both sides, creating 2 to 3 times as much sewing work when compared to a standard number, which would only need to be sewn around the perimeter.

 photo FinlandJokeritHelsinki1991-92N.jpg

It this kind of simply awesome craftsmanship and attention to detail and ability to follow our instructions exactly with a keen eye for detail that has earned Exclusive Pro Sports our business time and time again.

We have also tried other customizers with good results as well. Gameday Sports Archives, located in Toronto, Ontario did some quality work for us and was willing to send approval pictures to us prior to sewing in case we had any tweaks we wanted to request. They do not carry the depth of material for nameplates as EPS, but do stock the basic colors in the correct fabric. While they do charge a bit extra for nameplates the same material as the jersey, that is offset in our case by the fact they will sew patches on that we provide at no additional cost.

They also were quite flexible and cooperative. Twice we changed our minds on what we wanted done to a jersey, once due to a player leaving a our local team while the jersey was in GSA's possession and once due to finding additional photos which showed a players first initial on his nameplate that we were unaware of when we sent the jersey in. In both cases the customization was redone and came out looking great. If we did not have to deal with sending packages across the Canadian border, we would use them more often, as their turnaround time was quite good, something that will score a lot of bonus points with us based on some of our horror stories of the past.

A newcomer to the customizing business is Vintage Minnesota Hockey. Started due to the same dissatisfaction with the quality of customizing we have faced, VMH will take on any challenge and is great to work with, as they are also willing to supply approval files of their artwork prior to cutting the twill, and the quality of their sewing is outstanding. As a smaller operation, they also do a very impressive job of finding material for nameplates, including once coming up with one EPS could not!

VMH also offers unique services such as adding fight straps to jerseys, name and number kits, embroidery options as well as their exclusive line of Minnesota related jerseys we documented on Day 2 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp. They've been on your side of the hobby and fully appreciate the attention to detail and accuracy you want and provide the customer service you only wish the others would.

We have to take a moment to endorse Tripe Threat Sports in Mokena, Illinois. They offer customizing of NHL jerseys as well. While we have only used them for a few hockey jerseys, we have regularly sent them all of our Chicago Cubs baseball jerseys and can vouch for the accuracy and quality of their work, as well as their turn around time.

IceJerseys.com not only sells jerseys, but will accept your jersey to be customized as well. Their work is hand sewn and they make a point of using fabric, not twill, nameplates. They also stand by their 100% satisfaction guarantee.

We have also heard recommendations for Jersey Express out of Buffalo, New York and their reputation in the collecting community is a positive one. We have purchased a customized jersey from them when the CCM Vintage Line first came out and were quite pleased with it.

SportsK.com, located in Michigan, is another name that has come up with positive feedback among collectors and is worth considering, as well as House O'Hockey in Pittsburgh, who are preferred by several Penguins fans when asked for their recommendation.

Another approach other collectors have taken is to research who does the actual game jerseys for the various teams around the country at the NHL, minor league and even college levels. We have actually gone this route a few times, but have honestly had mixed results, finding some to be dead-on accurate, and others surprisingly inaccurate and arrogant in their attitude toward the individual client. Perhaps with an NHL team for a client, they feel they don't need for or want single jersey orders, not realizing the passion of a jersey collector can amount to a significant number of orders over the long run, as the majority of collectors focus on their favorite team and would want to send their jerseys to the same place as the pros.

Feel free to add your recommendations or warnings about customizers in the comments section below.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 6 - How to Make Your Own Patches

Hockey Jersey Training Camp now reaches Day 6 and our "drill" today is on How to Make Your Own Patches.

One of the things we really like to collect here at Third String Goalie are international jerseys. Those worn in the annual IIHF World Championships can be distinguished by their sponsorship patches worn on the shoulders or upper arms, which give World Championship jerseys their distinctive look.

Bauhaus patch photo Canada2003WCF.jpg
Bauhaus patch photo Canada2003WCB.jpg

Unfortunately, there are no sources we know of to obtain the embroidered versions for our jerseys, so we decided to see if we could make our own, having printed a number of our own t-shirts in the past.

Using the picture resources available on Getty Images, and the International Ice Hockey Federation's website, as well as some publications we have in our personal library, it's possible to determine which company was featured on many teams jerseys from year to year.

Some nation's sponsor changes from year to year, while others keep the same one for for a number of consecutive years, but the style of patch may or may not remain the same, so it's important to do your research to determine which exact version is the correct one for the year you want to replicate.

Once you have decided on the company logo you wish to feature, the next step is to create the artwork needed to make your patch. For that, we rely on BrandsOfTheWorld.com. It appears that you now have to register for an account with them prior to downloading any logos. Once you are registered, simply type the name of the company whose logo you want to find in the search box and hopefully you will get just the logo you need for your patch. Common sponsors include Zepter, Skoda, Tissot and Warsteiner. For our purposes, let's focus first on Warsteiner Beer. Here's the patch in action on a Team Canada jersey in 1996.

1996 Warsteiner

Looking at the search results from BOTW, we can see (counting from the upper left) #2 and #7 are the closest to the logo used on the patch.

Warsteiner search results

Since we only need part of the logo, in this case it does not matter which of the two versions we choose. Once you have agreed to their terms of use and downloaded the logo, you can open it in either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop.

The actual patches vary in length and height, but in general are 8" wide and 3" in height. In photoshop we create a rectangle that size. Technically, we make the rectangle just slightly under 8" in order to fit the width of a 10" x 8" photoshop document. You will need to vary the height of your patch to replicate the dimensions of the original you are reproducing, as some are narrower in height.

We fill the rectangle with the appropriate background color we want our patch to be. We then open the logo file in Illustrator and "ungroup" the various elements and throw away what is extraneous to our needs and copy and paste the Warsteiner word onto the black rectangle. If you are more comfortable, you can open the file with Photoshop and just erase the unwanted elements. Once the color of the Warsteiner wordmark has been changed from black to white (either in Illustrator prior to pasting or after it's in Photoshop) and it's sized and centered on the black rectangle, the artwork for a single patch is complete. Be sure to not have the logo too close to the edge of the rectangle in order to leave room for stitching. Now, simply make a copy of the first patch in order to have one for each shoulder and you're set.

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Step 1aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Step 2aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Step 3

In the case of the Skoda patches, none of the round logos will work for the wordmark used on the patch.

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We will then try to find the correct font in order to duplicate the wordmark on our own. Once you have identified the correct font, you can recreate the wordmark for the patch with the type tool in Illustrator or Photoshop.

If you do not have an extensive font library, a third method to acquire a needed logo is to do a google image search for "Skoda logo" and hope for the best. Obviously the larger the image we can start with, the better results we can obtain, so once we have done the basic search, we select "large" in the links in the left hand column (#1).

Skoda logo

Seeing a wordmark we like, we click on it (#2) and are taken to the website for the image. Look on the right hand side of that page and click on "Full-size image" (#3).

Skoda logo

This will show you the image in it's full size.

Skoda logo

Save it to your desktop by your preferred method (#4) and then create your artwork in Illustrator or Photoshop as detailed above.

To summarize, you need to obtain the logo you need for your patch by whatever method works for you, either downloading a eps file from the internet, creating it yourself with a graphic program, downloading an image from the internet or even scanning an ad from a magazine. Then recreate the artwork of the patch you wish to make in the program of your choice. A bit of internet savvy and some computer graphic skills will be quite helpful.

In addition to creating your own designs as described, you can also simply use a good quality photograph found online of an original patch from a game worn jersey. Quite often the shadowing and texture detail will survive through to your printed version, giving it a nice depth and a quite realistic appearance from a short distance, which is how most other people will view it.

The next step is to create the patch to be sewn on your jersey. You will need to buy something called "transfer paper". We highly recommend Epson Transfer Paper.

Epson Transfer Paper

The main use for transfer paper is to make your own t-shirt designs using any inkjet printer. The transfer paper has a special coating which prevents the ink from soaking into the paper as it usually would. Your printed design on the transfer paper acts as an iron-on you will use to transfer your patch design onto a piece of white twill.

An important note: at some point in the process you will need to flip your design so it appears backwards when printed! You can either flip your image in photoshop prior to printing, or some printers have a setting which will do that for you as part of the printing process. We strongly recommend you read and understand the instructions that come with the transfer paper.

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Final logo creation aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Flipped for printing

If your printer has a "t-shirt transfer" preset, or you follow the settings that come with the paper, your results will not be the best they can be. The basic setting for t-shirt transfers puts out very little ink, making for a lousy looking printout. This is fine for printing on a cotton t-shirt, as the ink will spread slightly when transferred onto a shirt, giving you a nice looking result. For our patch making purposes, we recommend going up one or two ink settings when printing on twill for deeper blacks and greater contrast which make for better looking patches. Look for a quality setting similar to "photo paper" or "glossy photo paper".

Try printing your design on a piece of plain paper on the "t-shirt transfers" setting and then one of the "photo paper" settings for comparison to not only see the difference in the amount of ink laid down on the paper, but to confirm that your images are in fact printing out backwards prior to wasting one of your precious sheets of transfer paper, which are generally $1.50 a sheet.

Once you have printed your transfers, treat them very gently, as they are quite fragile since the ink has not soaked in and is just sitting there on top of the transfer paper. We recommend putting a sheet of plain paper on top of them and putting them in an envelope or empty packaging some other paper came in for protection. It is critical that you keep any moisture away from your printed transfers. Any water droplets, be it a bead of sweat, splash, drop of rain or condensation drip from a glass, even a sneeze, will cause the ink to run like watercolor paint, ruining that image permanently.

Something you should understand about injket printers and transfer paper is that there is no white ink. Any white parts of your design will have to be supplied by the background material,wether it's making patches or t-shirts. If you were to try to transfer an image onto a black shirt, the black will overwhelm your image since the ink from your printer is very thin and not opaque in the least.

The other supply you will need is some white twill, the same material used for putting names and numbers on jerseys, which is available from Stahl's, who should allow you to purchase material without an account as a guest. A yard of twill (51" x 36"), the smallest amount you can buy, will yield 16 pieces 9" x 12", which is slightly bigger than a sheet of transfer paper. A yard of twill should be big enough to last most collectors a lifetime and will cost approximately $9 plus shipping. We recommend the kind of twill without any adhesive backing, which Stahl's calls unc twill 51".

The reason we recommend the non-adhesive backed twill is that many times we have located an embroidered version of a patch later on, and want to remove our patch and replace it. What we have encountered is the adhesive from the twill will remain on the jersey after our patch is removed and it can be quite visible, especially on darker jerseys. Quite frequently, the embroidered patch will not be large enough to cover the evidence of the printed original.

Rather than ironing on our designs ourselves at home, we prefer to take them to someone who has a professional heat press. The higher temperature and pressure the heat press can provide will give you outstanding results you simply cannot approach at home with a hand held iron. Look for a t-shirt shop or a shop that does team jerseys in your area.

Bring with your twill and your printed transfers oplus the instructions provided by Epson for the press operator to read so they will know what kind of settings to use with the transfer paper if they are not familiar with it.

Heat press
Placing the printed transfer paper on the twill and using the heat press

One other important tip to pass along is after your transfer is pressed onto the twill, do to NOT peel the backing paper off while the twill is still warm. It will cause the twill to distort in shape, resulting in a warped rectangle you will not want permanently sewn to your jersey. We recommend letting it cool down before taking the backing paper off.

Once you do remove the backing paper, there will be a layer of plastic adhered to the twill over the top of your patch design. Normally when making a t-shirt this will disappear in the wash. If possible, peel that off. It's a bit like trying to remove peeling skin after a sunburn or a film of Elmer's glue from your fingers after it's dried. This will make your final patch that much less shiny for the best possible look.

Now that your patches are printed, just cut them out with a sharp scissors and take them in to whomever you use for your sewing and have them applied with a zig-zag stitch for the proper look.

Cutting patches

How to make patches
Peeling the backing paper off of the twill and then cutting out the patches

Here is the final product with the Warsteiner patches now sewn onto our 1996 Team Canada World Championships jersey.

Canada 1996 photo Canada1996WCF.jpg
 photo Canada1996WCB.jpg
Canada 1996 photo Canada1996WCP.jpg

The only critique is the semi-gloss sheen the finished patches have, but that is accentuated by the flash when we photograph them. They look better in person, especially when viewed at a distance of a few feet or more, as most people will view your jersey from while you are wearing it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 5 - Patch Resources

It's Day 5 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp and our next "drill" is about jersey patch resources and removing the rigid plastic backing from certain patches.

Beginning with the 1921-22 Ottawa Senators, who proudly proclaimed themselves as Champions of the World, the NHL has a long history of celebratory, anniversary, patriotic, anniversary of both city, team and even ownership, olympics games, memorial, charitable organizations, All-Star games, Stanley Cup Finals, arena openings and closings, special event games, such as the annual Hockey Hall of Fame game, season opening games in foreign countries and Winter Classic games, inaugural seasons and most recently jersey retirement ceremony patches.

The use of jersey patches was limited to Stanley Cup champions wearing a celebratory patches in the 1920's and did not reappear until the 1940's with a couple of patriotic examples followed by a patch worn by the Red Wings to commemorate the City of Detroit's 250th anniversary in 1950-51 and 1951-52.

Patches were non-existant for the remainder of the 1950's and all of the 1960's but when the Boston Bruins celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1973-74, the modern patch was born. In 1975-76, five of the Original Six clubs wore a patch for at least part of the season and the memorial patch came into being in 1977. Since then there has been at least one full season patch worn every season and their use exploded in popularity in the 1980's, kickstarted by the Edmonton Oilers wearing a different patch every year for four consecutive seasons from 1979-80 to 1982-83.

Here at ThirdStringGoalie there's nothing we like more than adding a patch to one of our jerseys. Of the over 450 non-game worn jerseys in our collection, 334 of them, or 72% have at least one additional patch added and we're frankly surprised the percentage is not higher. Of the 130 jerseys that do not have a patch, 68 are national team jerseys which tend to have far fewer patches than NHL jerseys, which frequently celebrate team anniversaries, hosting all-star games and Stanley Cup Finals appearances that don't apply to national teams.

There have even been occasions where we have first obtained a patch and then needed to get a jersey to go under it!

As with jerseys, a great number of our patches have come from ebay, due to the ability to find a great many of them for reasonable prices. There was a time when a little patience could turn up most anything you wanted and for a good price. Sometimes favorite sellers come and go, even reappearing again, although sometimes with the same inventory but a different user name.

One thing to be aware of though, is several sellers on ebay are selling reproductions of patches. In some cases they are making available patches which were never sold to the public or patches which are long out of production and we're please to finally be able to have a chance to purchase these. In other cases though, the same sellers are making copies of current, authentic patches which are readily available elsewhere. Normally, the majority patches do not have a finished edge and the design is surrounded by a quarter inch wide white border to allow for the stitching to attach the patch to the jersey. The copies have a very small raised edge around the outside of the patch the authentic ones do not.

While some demand only authentic patches from when they were originally produced, in many cases those were never or are now unavailable anywhere. At this point it becomes a matter of going without in the name of authenticity or getting the best patch available in this day and age.

This is especially true of memorial patches to honor those who have passed away. The teams do not want to risk being seen profiting from those who have died, and do not make memorial patches available to the public. But there is still a demand from collectors to own those patches to either honor the deceased, who have had a profound impact on their favorite club, or for the sake of making their jersey as accurate in appearance as possible for a given season or to simply add one to their jersey to make it stand out from the crowd. In the case of memorial patches, those who have the ability to reproduce such patches often waste little time in making them available via ebay, and it's up to the individual collector to decide if they want a known reproduction and if so, to decide which version available has the highest degree of accuracy, as some are much better than others.

Aside from ebay, one of our favorites is Patch Collectibles thanks to their great service and authentic products.

Another trusted source is Murf & Pat Denny Sports Memorabilia. Murf has been in the hobby since before it was a hobby and deals in only authentic patches as well. If it's hard to find, Murf is always a good bet to be the only one with it in stock. His prices can be higher at times, so it's not a bad idea to check out his ebay listings before buying direct from his website.

These days patches are manufactured by National Emblem, and it's possible to buy directly from the them, but you won't find anything vintage in nature.

If really backed into a corner, we will check out what's in stock at River City Sports. They seem to be either getting out of the patch business or cutting way, way back on inventory, as they only list a handful of patches after 2004 and their prices have been greatly slashed on their older ones. Be warned however, that we consider RCS to be a last resort, as their shipping prices are simply ludicrous. $15 shipping on a flimsy little patch is out of line and does not go over well with us in the least, especially when compared to a $2 shipping charge from Patch Collectibles.

Another source worth mentioning is Patch Collection, not to be confused with Patch Collectibles. We wish we could recommend them more, but they do sell quite a high percentage of modern remakes with the raised edge border we discussed earlier. The majority of the photos they use on their website and their ebay auctions are overexposed, making your ability to detect the remakes quite difficult, but there are some items they sell that are originals and they do carry some things we cannot find elsewhere, so we do on occasion purchase from them, especially via ebay.

If you have any recommendations for other sellers of patches, feel free to post your favorites in the comments below.

A development in the patch collecting world is the use of a hard plastic backing on patches made by National Emblem to prevent them from being sewn on a jersey. Furthermore, under the plastic is a warning sticker which reads "WARNING: Attachment of this emblem to another product by sewing, adhesives or any other means will ruin it's collectable value and is not permitted without the approval of the National Hockey League."

To be blunt, screw that.

They fail to mention how adding a patch will enhance the collectable value of the jersey to which it is applied.

Collectors have developed a number of different methods for removing the rigid, thick plastic backing, not to be confused with the thin flexible plastic coating long used to prevent fraying and the embroidery stitching from accidentally unravelling.

All three methods involve heating the patch in order to soften the adhesive and the plastic backing. The options are heating the patch with a hair dryer or putting a paper towel over the patch and then placing a hot iron on it for a few minutes, which we find to be our preferred method, as it allows for the entire backing to be removed quite cleanly and all at once. We usually leave the iron on for a minute and check to see if the backing will come off, but often need to leave it on as much as five minutes.

The method we will illustrate here involves putting the patch in boiling water. 

Step 1 - First, read the warning label on the back and laugh at the part where it says putting the patch on a jersey will ruin it's value. Then, take a sharp knife and cut an "x" in the plastic, being careful to not cut all the way through the plastic and into the patch itself.

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Step 2 - Fold the patch along the cuts to get the plastic to start to loosen from the patch.

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Step 3 - Boil the patch. Ten minutes should get the job done. This is the step where you can also use an iron or a hairdryer as the heat source. Note: NEVER microwave a patch. With metallic threads becoming more commonly used, their presence will cause burn marks on patch within seconds, ruining your patch.

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Using a fork will help keep the patch submerged, but is not essential.

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Step 4 - Take a needle nose pliers and grab the point of one of the pieces of plastic and twist the plastic back on itself toward the outer edge of the patch. If you have boiled it long enough, you may even get a second piece off during this step.

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Step 5 - Return the patch to the boiling water once it cools too much to get any more pieces off and, after another 5-10 minutes, repeat the removal steps by again grabbing the point of the plastic in the center of the patch and twisting if off towards the outer edge.

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Step 6 - Once all the plastic is off, scrape off as much of the warning sticker that remains and blot the patch dry with a paper towel. I make a habit of putting it under a stack of books or heavy cardboard box to flatten it while it dries. Once this is done, your newly flexible (but now devoid of "collectible value") patch is ready to be sewn on any jersey, which will only increase the jersey's collectible value.

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For the hot iron method, we don't cut the backing and just try to separate the edge of the patch from the backing and use the pliers to then grip the plastic backing and peel it off in one go.

We've had pretty good results using both the boiling and iron methods, but have had an incident where the horizontal threads of the patch backing have stuck to the plastic backing and pulled out of the patch, ruining it. This was likely caused by impatience resulting in not enough heat being used, so please understand these are not foolproof methods, but are widely accepted as the best way to remove the backing.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hunting "Hunting the Last Hamilton Tiger"

Yes, you read that correctly, we are hunting "Hunting the Last Hamilton Tiger", a documentary about the search for a 1920-1925 Hamilton Tigers sweater from the early days of the National Hockey League.

Hamilton Tigers 20-21 Jersey photo HamiltonTigers20-21Jersey.png
Joe Malone of the Hamilton Tigers

The producers of the documentary set out to find a Tigers sweater reportedly sold in the early 1990's for $500 and now estimated, if it should ever surface again, at a value of $60,000 in 2009 when the documentary first aired in Canada on the Discovery Channel and the CBC.

The missing sweater has taken on mythical proportions, aided by Sports Illustrated listing it among the Top 25 Lost Sports Treasures.

The producers of the documentary travelled to New York (where the franchise relocated to, becoming the New York Americans), Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton in search of the missing Tigers sweater, but with no luck in finding it.

1920-21 Hamilton Tigers team photo 1920-21HamiltonTigersteam.jpg

Now four years later we here at Third String Goalie find ourselves in a similar predicament - being located in the United States, we've been searching for not the sweater, but the program itself!

We've never been able to see it aired on TV in the United States, been aware of  DVD available for purchase nor seen it available to view or download online, either legally or not so legally…

Once again the show will be airing on the CBC Documentary Channel on September 27th at 7AM and again at 2 PM (Ottawa time) and we are now coming to you, our faithful readers, on our knees hoping, no, begging and pleading, that some kind tech-savvy Canadian will take pity on our souls and record and burn a DVD of the show for us. We'll happily cover the cost of your postage and other expenses in order that we can finally, finally get to see this program!

Seriously, if there's a BBC America, why isn't there a CBC America channel? We like Canada down here and you've given us any number of really swell things we enjoy - Shania Twain, Molson Beer, The Kids in the Hall and the Colorado Avalanche and to a lesser degree the Phoenix Coyotes, so why don't we get more of your TV? We thought "Corner Gas" was pretty funny and we'd like to see more, particularly when it involves lost hockey sweaters!

What do you say, Canada? Can anyone help us out please? Send an email to Spyboy1@gmail.com to get in touch if you can.

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!



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Hockey Jersey Training Camp - Day 3 - How to Spot a Fake

Hockey Jersey Training Camp continues with our third drill, and we are pleased to bring you a guide of what to look for in a fake jersey, 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.

 

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