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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

EBay Buyers' Guide

After having a discussion on the pinnacle of uniform sites, known as Uni Watch Blog, with several other hockey fanatics, it became increasingly clear to me that EBay needs someone who can sort out hockey jerseys. Not into teams or leagues or anything like that. No, they need someone who can sort out the replicas from the pro-style jerseys. Far too often, I see auctions for "pro jersey" when it turns out to be a replica. When someone is putting out that kind of money for a jersey they want, you had better be honest with the buyer. And that's what this article is about.

First, we'll start out with what you need to know. Buying jersey is easy - there are thousands of them on EBay, and you can almost find every team you can imagine. However, there are certain pieces of information you need to know when buying a hockey jersey.

The sizing on a professional hockey jersey always comes in a numerical value. It doesn't matter if the jersey was made by Starter, CCM, Koho, Pro Player, or any other company, NHL players have been wearing a number as a size for a long time. If you're looking for a replica, you'll look for a traditional size. Be careful, though, as some people advertise both in their ads in an effort to pass off a replica as a pro jersey. Another tag to look for in pre-1999 CCM jerseys is the Center Ice tag. This is another indication of a pro-style jersey. These can be found on or near the shoulder-back seams where the sizing tags are.

The next thing to look for is the hemline logo. All NHL jerseys prior to 2000-01 season had the logo of the manufacturer on the hemline. CCM had been doing it for years, while Pro Player jumped onboard on the hemline as well. Starter put their full name on the hemline, and left their logo for their replica jerseys. Even the minor league teams, outfitted by Bauer, had their hemlines adorned by logos. However, when Nike came along, they decided not only to keep the hemline logo, but add a neckline logo as well. When CCM successfully outbid the other manufacturers for a contract to outfit all 30 NHL teams before the 2000-01 season, they moved both their CCM and Koho logos to the neckline as well, leaving just the NHL shield on the hemline. This is vital when looking at auction pieces, leading me to...

Rule #1: Know your product!

Would you buy a car without doing research on it first? Do you buy a house unseen off of someone's word? If you answered yes, you might be crazier than I. However, when putting out anywhere from $300 to $3000 for a jersey you want, you better know what to look for in order to make the smartest purchase.

Sometimes, you just have to know what to look for in an auction. This seller seems to believe that this Hartford Whalers jersey was made by CCM. However, I'm going with "liar" since the CCM logo on the hem of the jersey is the new CCM logo, not the old one that the Whalers wore. This is the CCM logo that the Islanders wore on their Fisherman jerseys. After that, CCM moved their logo to the neckline. That CCM logo never appeared on an NHL jersey in the history of the game. And since the NHL is not licensed to make Hartford Whalers retro jerseys, this is clearly and obviously a fake. This leads me to...

Rule #2: No tags, no purchase.

If the seller can't put the tags in a picture, I'd seriously question whether or not the seller was auctioning off something legitimate. The tags are a dead giveaway as to whether you're buying a pro or replica jersey, so demand photographic evidence!

The third thing that you want to search for if you're looking to buy a professional jersey is the fighting strap. All professional jerseys come with one of these. There are no exceptions on the pro-style, and can be identified by the stitching under the number on the rear of the jersey. Pro Player and Starter, however, did introduce fighting straps on replicas for a short period of time, so be sure to examine the tags!

I have seen some jerseys that have had the fighting strap sewn in after the fact, so be sure to check the stitching in a few other places as well. The first place is on the elbows. Both elbows have an extra layer of fabric on the pro-style jerseys to help prevent the elbow pad from being exposed. You should also look at the shoulders for the double-stitching there. The double-stitching prevents the seams from coming apart, especially during a fight. This leads me to...

Rule #3: Details are everything.

The big picture is nice, but the details make it a masterpiece. The Sistine Chapel isn't just a painting - it's an amazingly detailed portrait. The details make the difference, and it's the same with hockey jerseys.

Lastly, you need to know what you're looking for when it comes to EBay auctions. For example, Chris Pronger played with the Hartford Whalers to start his career. However, he never wore this jersey. And the Whalers never once had a blue nameplate on their green uniforms while Pronger was in Connecticut.

Most of all, use your instincts. If the price is too good to be true, ask the seller some questions. Make him or her sell you the jersey rather than you just buying it. You're making a commitment to it - get what you want!

I hope this helps a bit when it comes to scrolling through hundreds of jerseys. If you have any questions on a jersey in terms of its validity as a pro jersey, please feel free to email me. I'll do my best to try and answer as best as I can about the jersey in question.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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