RBK = CRP
Since the silly season for holiday shopping is just around the corner, I’m guessing that countless hockey fans have their favorite team’s new jersey on their wish list. Well, as one of the unfortunate few that already picked up the RBK Premiere (nice name for “replica”), here’s some words of advice. Unless you really dig the new colors or a new player on your team, don’t bother — it ain’t all it’s cracked up to me.
I suppose I should start with a disclaimer: I don’t have the budget to blow several hundred bucks on an authentic jersey, so I got a replica because of my Jeremy Roenick fanboy tendencies. Here’s a quick overview of just why the RBK jersey is a piece o’ CRP.
1) The design: How many out there actually LIKE the redesigns of their favorite team jerseys? From an unbiased aesthetic point of view, the only new jersey I like is the Caps jersey. Most of the Original Six stayed the same, so that’s not a reason to buy a new jersey — though, seriously, what’s up with reversing the Captain/Alternate position on the Red Wings jersey? Is that really necessary? Bottom line: most hockey fans, like myself, dislike the new designs and if you’re lucky enough to be on one of the teams with a design similar to the old one, there’s no need to buy it. Strike one.
2) The material: I’m sure the new RBK Premiere material simulates the weird stretchy fabric of the on-ice jerseys. You know, the jerseys you’ve seen tear in half during a fight. Well, if you like FEELING like you’re actually wearing a hockey jersey, you’re going to dislike this thin, flimsy, stretchy material on the replica, whatever it is. Perhaps in an alternate universe, this is some sort of fashion trend; in our universe, it just feels kinda funky and incapable of withstanding a load in the washer and/or dryer. Strike two.
3) Stitching, or lack thereof: I’d heard some gripes about how hardly any of the crests or lettering on the new jerseys are actually stitched. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up my NHL.com shipping box and saw that the big Sharks crest on the front looked to be as high quality as any other replica jersey I’ve got (including old Sharks, Chicago, Team USA, and Tampa Bay). It’s stitched on and the actual crest is composed of threads, not a cheesy looking iron-on patch. Phew.
Well, then I take the damn thing out and the first thing I notice is the shoulder patches — or should I say, cheesy looking iron-on patch. Nice plasticy sheen to make it look like the damn thing could fall off after one trip to the washing machine. Feeling the interior of the jersey, it’s just confirmed my hunch — not a single stitch to hold the shoulder patches in place.
A few inches down, you get the arm numbering. Now, every single jersey I have — even the freakin’ ones that my beer league team plays in — has stitched on numbers. Why? Cause they don’t look like they’ll fall off when you wear the damn thing. Like the shoulder patches, the arm numbers are heat-transfered on, so they don’t really move with the fabric. In fact, the more pointy edges of the numbers (like the tip in the number 7) look like they might easily snag on something and peel right off.
Take everything I’ve just said and you can apply it to the numbering and name plate on the back. Not only does it feel cheap, it looks cheap — the letters and numbers all have that weird shiny feel that tells you it’s not quality material. Strike three, you’re out.
So there’s your buyer’s guide to new jerseys: they generally look bad, they feel crappy, and they aren’t put together all that well. My recommendation? Only buy a new jersey if:
1) You really, really, really, really like the new design.
2) There’s a new player on the team that you really like (like me).
3) You have waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much money in your pocket.
If you’re on the fence, don’t do it. You’ll just take a close look at it and feel kinda irritated and bitter at the whole stupid notion of an “new and improved uniform system” (which, in layman’s terms, translates into “cash grab for greedy owners”).
If I have time over the holiday weekend, I’ll take some close-up pictures and post them on here, along with a comparison to some of the other jerseys I own, including the one I play in.
Oh, and a quick note on sizing: these new jerseys are definitely cut differently. I owned old ones in both medium and large; the medium was a little too small and the large was a little too big. A large of this new RBK jersey fits right inbetween the old medium and large, so basically, it’s a little smaller and a little tighter compared to the same size in the old cut.
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