Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stitches and Patches

I've always been a Caps fan. I've written before about my favorite memories of the old Capital Centre and the Caps of old. As a kid, I always wanted a Caps jersey all my own, with Don Beaupre's #33 on the back, but whenever the opportunity arose to get one I always passed. No one understood why.

You see, those early Caps jerseys had one fatal flaw: the replica jersey and the authentic, worn-on-the-ice jersey were different. While the replica jersey crest was a simple, pre-stitched patch with the 'Washington Capitals' logo and some stitched-on (or often, screen printed) stars above the crest and down the arms, the authentic jersey was a work of art; each letter individually lined up and sewn on, along with the large 'L' stick and all the stars. Even the small puck was stitched on. The jersey was heavy and felt like something a hockey player would wear. By comparison, the replica felt fake.

As far as I could tell, it was the only NHL jersey that was like that. Heck, even the replica Rangers jersey's letters were individually placed on their jersey! THE RANGERS! No thank you, I'd wait until I could get an authentic jersey.

Then I started playing hockey and subscribing to The Hockey News and started getting the Great Skate Equipment Catalog. Somewhere in the middle was the jersey section. And there, at the very top of the price list, was the authentic Washington Capitals jersey, at around $320 with no customization (over $400 with it). You see, in the era of 'people make this, not machines', all that stitching was super time consuming and expensive. Now I understood why no one ever got me one for Christmas. I couldn't afford it and still actually play the game.

Now, all these years later, I still see the odd #5 authentic jersey roaming the halls of the Verizon Center. It still evokes memories that can't really be described. In my opinion, if the Caps are wearing a vintage throw-back jersey on 1/1/11, it say CAPITALS in big, bold, proud letters. I trust Ted will make the right decision.

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