DKM Hockey Podcast

Friday, June 15, 2012

Inside the Dressing Room: NHL Issued Jerseys

Chances are you love your favorite hockey team.  You've bought your favorite team's jersey and you wear it "mit stoltz" or "with pride."  You where it to a game.  You wear it watching a game.  You wear it to the office on dress down Friday's to profess your love.  The NHL does one tiny piece of good marketing, it allows the fans the ability to buy "authentic" jerseys (or sweaters) made to the same specs as the jersey's issued to the players.  By 'authentic' the manufacturer means they are constructed with the same features as pro issued jerseys, but they are not exactly what your favorite player wears on the ice.

We at Distinct Kicking Motion do have an affinity for things obscure.  We happen to have an actual 'team issued' jersey hanging around in our collective closets.  This is an Atlanta Thrashers team issued jersey, straight outta what once was the Thrashers's dressing room.  Let's take a look at what make team issued jersey's unique.

Atlanta, GA - supplying Western Canada with NHL teams since 1981.

Each Player is issued two home and two away jerseys at the beginning of the regular season.  This makes 'game worn' jersey's highly valuable since they are issued to players in such limited quantities. For special auctions, playoffs, and 'shirt off our back nights' the players are issued sweaters just for those events.  Teams keep extra "blank" jersey's in the equipment room in the event a player is called up from the minors or a player is acquired in a trade. 

Team issued jerseys feature such things as "Embroidery" "Gussets" "Reinforced Elbow Pads" and "Fight Straps."  These features are found in the 'authentic' jerseys that you can buy for hundreds of dollars at fans shops or on eBay.
One, two, three, four, five, six.  Six colors in the Thrashers logo, AH-AH-AH.

All logos and numbers for issued jerseys are heat pressed then embroidered onto the jersey.  The numbers and logos themselves are stitched and embroidered.  This makes the logos/numbers very durable and easier to photograph.

A tidy fight strap or "Tie Down" fills out this Reebok Edge 2.0 sweater nicely.

The most identifiable piece of an 'authentic' and team issued jersey is the fight strap.  This is a snap and velcro reinforced strap that is sewn to the inside of the back of the jersey.  The strap is then fastened to a loop on the hockey pants to keep the jersey from being removed.  The fight strap is not designed to keep the jersey from being pulled over a players head in a fight.  It's meant to keep the jersey ON during a fight.  Thugs of yester-year would wear jersey's three sizes too big, and during the course of the fight, the jersey would come off, leaving the player bare-chested.  This creates a distinct advantage in a fight when you have no jersey on, giving your opponent no leverage with no jersey to grab onto.  #TheMoreYouKnow.  The equipment staff will often mark the fight straps to signify any importance of the jersey.

Gussets are a diamond shaped piece of fabric in the armpit of the jersey.  This serves two (and sometimes three) functions.  1) it makes the sweater fit better over shoulder pads and adds flexibility to the jersey. 2) the gusset today is usually a lightweight breathable material to minimize odor.  3) Phil Esposito came up with the idea of making the gussets of striped fabric for the Tampa Bay Lightning jerseys.  You could only see stripes when a player raised his hands in the air after scoring a goal.  It was a nice touch.  The Lightning discontinued doing this with their latest "all blue and white" jerseys.

Gussets, fashion and function.

Reinforced Elbows.  There are two 'high wear' zones on hockey jerseys.  One of them is the elbows.  Jersey manufacturers have long added an extra piece of fabric in the form of an oval patch to the interior of the jersey sleeve.  This looked a little ghetto as the stitching from a giant oval patch would detract a little from the appearance of the jersey.  Now, with the newer jerseys, the extra layer of fabric is built into the sleeves as part of the jersey.

It's hard to illustrate, but the white band of the jersey here is two layers of fabric.
The other high wear zone is the shoulders.  Store bought 'authentic' jerseys do not typically have the second layer of fabric added underneath the jersey material.  The 'inner' layer of fabric would rub against the shoulder pads while the outer layer of fabric rubs individually against the glass, boards, or some guys head.

Here you can see the pie shaped second layer of the reinforced shoulders.  Also, you can see the embroidery of the sholder patch.
Almost unceremoniously, the team issued jerseys bear little if any indication of it's own importance.  There are no giant tags to signify it's uberness to the super fan.  They are shipped with three tags, two permanently affixed to the jersey and a tiny one on the the sleeve that is removed once issued to a player.  There is one tag sewn inside the left hem of the jersey that lists the manufacturer and product code.  The second tag is sewn just inside the collar to identify the size.

Size 58 - And made in Canada.
All issued helmets, sweaters, and jerseys are required to bear the NHL shield.  The logo is embroidered on the pants and jerseys.  For a long time the NHL shield was embroidered on the lower back hem of the jersey.  It was always a nice subtle touch.  When the NHL switched to the Reebok Edge style jerseys after the lockout, the location of the NHL crest/shield moved to the front of the collar, a more conspicuous area of the jersey.  It looks nice on 'busy' jerseys like the Trashers sweater, but having the shield on the collar detracts a little from the more traditional jerseys like Toronto or Detroit.

The tiny, barely postage stamped sized tag on the left sleeve of the jersey.

The construction of the jersey has changed considerably over the last ten years.  Our next "Inside the dressing room" series will feature a photo rich pictorial of how jerseys have changed over the past decade to get to where they are today.


  1. I have a lot of jerseys from different sports team but my favorite is the Chicago Cubs Jerseys.
    Chicago Cubs Jerseys

  2. Wow! This looks amazing! I will surely buy this as soon as possible. I even have a tank top with the same print. It looks superb on me. I would love to buy this jersey as well, it will help in differentiating between the teams when I play football with my friends.