Listen up hockey people, it’s time we sat down and had ourselves a chat. One of the greatest symbols of fandom is the jersey collection. Now, I know that the Coyotes fan base has gone through some rough times recently. Not many people have been buying expensive (perhaps overpriced) uniforms. But with Jamison knocking on Glendale’s door, that may all change here pretty soon.
Now that we have some downtime here in the off-season, it would behoove us to go over some of the basics of finding, purchasing, and sporting your perfect hockey sweater.
The Benefits of Owning a Hockey Jersey
Owing a really nice hockey uniform is like owning land used to be: there's nothing wrong with not having one, but you'll be a much cooler person for it. Don't believe me? Ask Happy Gilmore, or Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
A high quality hockey sweater is more than just another piece of Coyotes (or Canucks, or Rangers, or Penguins, etc.) apparel. It takes on a complete personality of its own that grows with every single game you watch in it. My black Mike Smith jersey served me well during this year’s playoff run and will always remind of the games I went to. In fact, it still has patches of dried blood from a couple annoying Blackhawks fans (kidding). Trust me, you will create a bond with your tough-guy tuxedo.
Also, unlike baseball and football jerseys, hockey uniforms are more than just something to wear on Gamedays. They are made for two things: comfort and warmth. Your Shane Doan or Smitty jersey can easily replace your hoodies, snuggies, etc. It's the quintessential piece of bumwear apparel.
Finding and Purchasing the Right Jersey
The first thing you will want to do is find out what kind of jersey you want. You might think this sounds simple, but it’s not. Each team has at least two current jerseys as well as a collection of throwbacks. On top of that, there are different quality levels. They are classified as either Authentic (the same thing the players wear), Edge (sold in most stores) or knockoffs. Obviously, don't buy the knockoffs.
Most people either find their ice-ponchos on the Internet or in person (Dick's, Just Sports, Coyotes Den, etc.). The NHL Shop is the most obvious place to something up online. They offer just about everything that your team currently wears out onto the ice and they are obviously a legitimate vendor. If the NHL shop doesn’t have what you are looking for, IceJerseys or FansEdge are both great websites. Keep in mind that both of these options will cost you a solid chunk of change.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, look for jerseys on Craigslist or eBay. There are always cheap jerseys available on these websites. For instance, I just bought a top of the line, fully embroidered Yotes jersey on Craigslist. The guy who sold it to me had received it as a gift and just wanted some quick cash for it. I bought a $150 jersey for $45! You can find deals like this too, but the trick is to look often and make sure you check out the quality of the product.
The nuclear option that a lot of first-time buyers go to is China. This is one of the worst ideas you can have. There is not a single Chinese website on the entire internet that sells a quality Coyotes jersey. Not one. You know those off-color, bright red jerseys you see at Jobing.com Arena? Those are the Chinese jerseys and the people who wear them ought to feel public shame. Keep away from these websites like the plague. You may have better luck with other teams, but keep in mind that these websites are 100% illegal.
Wearing Your Jersey
Let me say this first – never wear an NHL jersey to a game unless that team is out on the ice. Sure the Bruins are a good team, but their sweaters have no place in the crowd at a Coyotes and Sharks game. Also, if you ever wear anything from Winnipeg to a Coyotes game when the Jets are not in town, you are most likely a horrible person. That’s just my opinion though.
The most important thing about wearing your jersey is this – have fun with it! Wear it to work. Show it off to your friends. Pop the front logo as you taunt rival fans. Hockey is the greatest sport in the world and wearing a uniform brings you closer to the action.
Feel free to leave a picture or two of your jersey(s) in the comments.