Thin Air: Short and Sweet

- I believe it won’t be too long until the Blue Jackets are no longer mired in the stink of the past.  I think they will turn it around in a few seasons.  Of course, I thought that a few years ago, when they had a decent roster of players and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.  The problem was that the roster never gelled as a team.  They looked like a lot of names on the back, not logo on the front.  It’s cliche, but it’s cliche for a reason.

- How much longer will the Coyotes be owned by the league?  I remember doing a “special edition” of The Rink with the news that the team owner was going into bankruptcy court, and that was a long time ago (heh, remember The Rink? No? Damn).  The league may want to keep the team in Glendale, but I just can’t see it happening.  The great hockey fans in Arizona aren’t numerous enough to justify keeping the team there, and they are only part of the equation.  The biggest part is arena management.  That’s how Florida remains in business, and plenty of other teams that are hurting at the turnstiles.  Don’t be fooled: the prevailing attitude may be that the NHL is a gate receipt driven business, but that is only part of it.  The larger part is arena management and arena deals.  That Taylor Swift concert is as much a concern as the thousands of fans at the game.  The harder Glendale makes it for a prospective owner to get to those dollars, the harder it will be to find a new owner willing to keep the team in place.

- Or think of it this way: if the NHL were the owner of the team for the next five years and knew that were the case, would they keep the team in Arizona?  Would they subsidize the team with the money from 29 other owner’s pockets, or would they move the team to a place they didn’t have to dip into the coffers as often?  Business wise, what would you do? I’d send them packing.

- Fact: I could read Roy MacGregor writing about shopping for canned goods.  I swear, he could find a way to make it interesting.  If you don’t know his work, find it.

- A 7-0 curb stomping of the Islanders is not going to fix the Flyers, but it’s something to build on.

- I call them jerseys, not sweaters.  You can call them what you want, but for me, they haven’t been sweaters for a long time.  They certainly stopped being sweaters when Reebok came out with the EDGE jersey.  Before that, you could go either way and be fine.  Jerseys. Book it.

- No one cares about your flag football team.  Kickball?  Softball?  No one cares one damn bit.  Your rec league hockey team?  Hey, that’s hockey.  That’s different.  Tell me more.

- Matt Duchene was so far offside, you have to wonder if the ref knew whose team he was playing for.

Pure linesman fail.  But what I was more interested in was what Barry Trotz was upset about on the next goal.

 

Maybe it was the line change?  At the game, we couldn’t tell, but the coaching staff kept holding up three fingers on one hand and two on the other, and waiving them back and forth.  Oh well, but yeah, that Duchene goal should have never happened.  Mind you, Mason was letting everything in, so I’m sure Duchene would have gotten around to it.

Colorado Avalanche Vitaly Kolesnik Game Worn jersey

The season of 2005-06 was a strange on for anyone watching the NHL. Coming out of the lockout, fans saw their favorite players walk away to other teams for more money, new rules were in place, a new national broadcaster was getting their feet wet and their faces flattened, and everything else was fraught with uncertainty.

The Avalanche were feeling the sting of losing a few long time key players, including Peter Forsberg, Dan Hinote, and Adam Foote. But for me, the season was marked with a goalie-go-round that seemed unnecessary. David Aebischer was faultering (but ended the season with a winning record for the Avs), Peter Budaj had some solid play but faltered at times, and Jose Theodore eventually showed his face in a trade from Montreal. But Vitaly Kolesnik was the guy who was thrown in at a moment of desperation.

The 2005-06 Colorado Avalanche Vitaly Kolesnik game worn jersey:

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Kolesnik was the third goalie, playing in the AHL for the Lowell Lock Monsters (not to be confused with the Lake Erie Monsters), who the Avs were sharing an affiliation with the Carolina Hurricanes (who won the Stanley Cup that year, largely on the work done in Lowell during the previous AHL season). Kolesnik was called up for a little while, and the Avs carried three goalies for a bit. Call ups and being sent back down was confusing at the time, with the new waiver rules in the CBA. No one knew what was going to happen when someone was called up. Would they be wearing the team colors in a few days, or playing for someone else.

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Kolesnik didn’t really shine in net, but the Avalanche weren’t taking the minor league system seriously enough then, and it would show in the next few seasons of play. And the three headed goalie monster took it’s toll.

For Kolesnik, the writing was on the wall. With the Avalanche trading for big name and big dollar Jose Theodore, and Peter Budaj the next goalie the Avs would be turning to, Kolesnik was going to be stuck in the minors barring the unforeseeable. Kolesnik packed his bags the next year and headed to Russia. Vitaly was a part of the 2006 Kazakhstan Olympic team, that won one game and lost four. I don’t know how many of those Kolesnik played in.

The two things that are a little unique about this jersey are the patches. First, the obvious one. The Avalanche ten year anniversary patch:

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A cool – but not overly photogenic – patch. I know there were mixed reviews on the patch, but there are mixed reviews on everything. I like it. Enough said.

The other interesting part is found inside the hem of the jersey. Jersey2010_1_092.jpg

Meigray, the people who deal with NHL, AHL, ECHL and other league’s game worn jerseys put a patch inside the jersey (sometimes outside the jersey) to authenticate and catalog it. Notice the dates on the Meigray patch, and the small patch they added on. You can’t have a game worn jersey during the lockout, can you? Also, check out the NHL logo. It’s the logo previous to the change after the lockout.

For some reason, I have a place in my heart for third goalies. They work hard in the system, and have less slots available to them. You could be a solid goalie, but things just don’t work for you with a team. To me, this is a classic example.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Ivan Tkachenko Game Worn Jesrey

I’ve got this guy, on ebay. He gets me the good stuff. He doesn’t know me. I’m just some guy with a paypal account, but I know him. I know his stuff, and his stuff is good. Just looking at his stuff, I’m getting that itch, the itch that says there will be a new Russian jersey added to my collection.

When people ask me about my Russian jerseys, they want to know what my connection with the Russian game is. And there really isn’t one. I have a respect for their hockey history, their game, their players. And I love their jerseys. The ads, the design, the logos. And the feel. A Russian hockey jersey feels different from a North American jersey.

This jersey has been around the block, and it shows. From Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, here is Ivan Tkachenko’s game worn jersey:

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There is an art to these jerseys. The logos remind me of the promise of the future, the flying cars and jet packs we think we were promised. That team crest alone is worth the jersey on it’s own.

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And check out the rip on the ‘B’ on the lower right of the logo. This jersey has been through some battles. (click any photo to make it bigger)

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The back of the jersey.

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A few more design elements and ads on the jersey.

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This is one of the few Russian jerseys I own that isn’t made by Lutch. It has a different, thicker feel to it, maybe a little more durable feeling.

Big time thanks to Dmitry Chesnokov for his help with Mr. Tkachenko. Find him on Puck Daddy here, or on Twitter. Or you can hear him on an old episode of The Rink here.

Sneak Peek: New Jersey

I finally picked up a few new jerseys from Meigray, and I’m really happy with them. I posted a few pictures on twitter, just little teasers. When I have a few minutes and a good place to do it, I’ll take some photos of the new ones, and put them on the blog. For now, here are a few phone cam pics:

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Plymouth Whalers Game Issued (maybe) Jersey, Plus a Photo Bonus.

Sometimes, you just want a jersey because you like the jersey. Sometimes, you just want something neat. And that’s how I felt about the Plymouth Whalers jersey. I liked the jersey, and I liked the fact that it hailed from a time gone by, while still being it’s own separate thing.

Plymouth plays in the OHL, one of the few US teams in the OHL. For those who don’t know, it’s on the outskirts of Detroit (but don’t hate it right away). Junior hockey is rife of turnover, at times more turnover than in college hockey. Players get drafted, sometimes high enough that they will move on quickly from their junior team, and that makes it hard for fans to latch on to a particular player. That doesn’t mean the fans are any less loyal to the team of the players. Here for now is the motto of the juniors.

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I had wanted a Whalers jersey from my first game there, but when I was ready to buy, the choice was either a $100 replica, or a $200 ‘authentic.’ I put authentic in quotes, because the authentic version was still air-knit material, which wasn’t what the players were wearing. I like the thicker, less prone to pulls material they had for their on ice jerseys.

As luck would have it, the team was auctioning off their game worn jerseys from a previous season while I was there, and there were deals to be had. Most of the jerseys had the 2008 Memorial Cup patch (a Cup the Whalers did not win), but not this jersey. And the end result was, no one wanted it. With a lower starting bid than a store bought ‘authentic,’ and no one bidding against me, I got the deal of the season.

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So who is Beal? I believe this jersey was made for Chad Beal, although he didn’t stick with the team.

What this jersey did do for me was garner an introduction to the coach of the Plymouth Whalers, as well as the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Tyler Seguin.

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Don’t worry, kids, that’s soda in his hand. (I look tanked in that picture, but I swear I’m not. Really)

Huntington Blizzard MW Jersey: Not a Jersey Foul

Yes, obviously, I am a jersey collector. I love hockey jerseys, and I wear them all the time (I’m not crazy, I wear other things in the off season). I’m not as big a jersey collector as some people I know, but I have a fair share of jerseys, as many as my budget allows. But what I lack in sheer numbers, I make up for in variety and uniqueness (amazingly, uniqueness is a word, who knew?).

And some day, I expect that variety and uniqueness to land me on a coveted, infamous Puck Daddy jersey fouls post. And with all due luck, this jersey will get me there. But this, is not a jersey foul.

I present to you the Huntington Blizzard mascot worn jersey:

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This is a true winter jersey, one of the thickest I own. If it were worn by a player, it would have acted like body armor. Throw a fleece under this jersey and you could take on winters in Alaska.

But why would this be a jersey foul? Well, it isn’t, but seen from the back, it could be misconstrued as one.

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That’s right, 1 1/2. If you didn’t know this was a MASCOT WORN jersey, you assume this was a foul. But it is more unique than anything else.

As an added bonus, a short story. The Central Hockey League team that played a few years in Broomfield, CO, the Rocky Mountain Rage, had a head coach that played in Huntington. I wore this jersey to a game, knowing that the players and coaches had to walk by an area where the fans could see and chat with them. The coach saw my jersey and gave me the thumbs up. Then I turned so he could see the back, and the look on his face was one of confusion. It was a fun moment for me.

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ELITE Sheffield Steelers Jersey

If you have walked around a city for long enough wearing a hockey jersey, someone will probably ask you about it. In some parts of the US, wearing a hockey jersey is similar to wearing a clown outfit, or a burka. You tend to stand out. For hockey fans, hockey jerseys are a social object. The jersey is the reason we are talking in the first place. If I weren’t wearing the jersey, we wouldn’t be randomly having a conversation in a bar or on the street. (and if it weren’t for twitter, facebook, blogs, new media, podcasting and everything else, we wouldn’t be talking like this, inventing new language to describe how we interact).

I get asked about my jerseys all the time. Some of it is genuine curiosity and interest, and some of it is rubbernecking at the guy who isn’t dressed like everyone else. It was the curiosity aspect that brought me this jersey. For those who didn’t know, yes they play hockey in the UK. From the British ELITE league, may I introduce the Sheffield Steelers:

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Look at those colors.

The story goes that I was at a Hartford Wolfpack game, and was taking a stroll through their gift shop, when I spotted a couple who were wearing jerseys I had never seen before. I had to ask them where these had come from, and they told me a bit about the ELITE league, which I had only heard of online at that point. They were from England, and spending time seeing hockey games in the US.

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That is some serious orange.

As I said me goodbyes, and was about a block from the fan store, I heard someone calling out to me. It was the woman I had been talking to, and she handed me this jersey. I really didn’t know how to respond. I was wearing my first game worn jersey and one of my absolute favorites, my Cincinnati Cyclones jersey, and couldn’t give that up. She just said it was OK, and to look them up sometime if I made it to a Steelers game.

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It was an amazing gift, more than I could imagine someone giving a complete stranger.

Some day, I want to take her up on that offer, and see them at a Steelers game. Maybe even take a tour of the ELITE league (now up from eight teams to ten). The only question will be, what to wear?

Christmas Jersey 2009: Part 2

As I said just a few days ago, I got a few jerseys for Christmas and…

What? Christmas was five months ago? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Finally, the long promised jersey post is here. Meet the Lake Erie Monsters Mark McCutcheon Game Worn Jersey:

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Now, I didn’t know much about McCutcheon (actually, I didn’t know anything about McCutcheon), so I went to look up him up from the nameplate on the back of the jersey. Shouldn’t be too hard, right?

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One slight problem. They misspelled his name.

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That’s right, the team misspelled his name, on his own jersey. The one he wore. The team. This is the same team that hasn’t made the playoffs in their three years of existence. Not once.

But I digress. Here are his stats, according to TSN.

OK, so we have a game worn jersey with the player’s name misspelled (Ok, I’m letting it go, but my mind is blown), but is there damage? Does it look game worn? You bet it does:

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This is an original style (1.0) RBK EDGE jersey, and I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t feel durable.

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That’s some serious damage, most likely from the shoulder pads of McCutcheon. No wonder they changed the jersey materials after the first batch.

More jerseys coming soon.

Swag Report: Bakersfield Condors

On to the good stuff.

SWAG!
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A basic puck. But I went to two games, which means two pucks. And since it was Links-for-Love weekend:
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OK, you already saw this jersey:
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But you only caught a glimpse of this one:
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This is a Brian McCarthy Charity Game Worn jersey. And as far as “pink jerseys” are concerned, this one isn’t bad. You may want to tuck it in (jersey foul) if you are too concerned with your manhood.

The secret to jersey collecting is to get things that are special to you. It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the world thinks about your jersey, so long as you are happy with it. Why would you get a jersey from a player you don’t like or respect? Your jersey should only satisfy yourself. I wanted this jersey for a few reasons. One was that the money went to charity. Another was that this is a great reminder of what a great weekend this was. Also, and this was a big consideration, Brian was one of my teammates for the Hockey-thon (if you look at this picture, he’s the one in the white helmet on the left). I didn’t talk to him much, mostly because I was trying not to completely embarrass myself (FAIL!!!). But still, I wanted one that one of my teammates, and the other two Condors player’s jerseys were well out of my price range.
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Yeah, that’s right, it’s signed. And since it was used during a charity alumni game, it certainly was devoid of marks.
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Projoy is the jersey manufacturer.

Plenty of good swag, and a new jersey. What more could I ask for? Stockton Thunder is next.

Beckford-Tseu Alaska Aces GW Jersey: Merry Christmas to Me

One of the great things about shopping for me on christmas is that you can’t go wrong with a jersey (unless it’s a Wings jersey, then forget it, you are dead to me). This one is a fine example of what works:

Chris Beckford-Tseu Game Worn 2007-08 Alaska Aces

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First off, I don’t have any jerseys of this color.

Second, I saw Mr. Beckford-Tseu at St. Louis Blues training camp, and thought he had great work ethic. I liked his play.

Third, he won a Kelly Cup in the ECHL.

Fourth, can you imagine the travel this jersey has seen?

Fifth, it has a Union sponsor patch and the 20th Anniversary of the ECHL patch. See?

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Sixth, his name is huge.

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Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, eh?

note: I am going to see the Aces on my west coast hockey tour, but not as many times, thanks to the Fresno Falcons folding.