Put a Stop to Counterfeit Sabres Jerseys

There’s an epidemic sweeping through First Niagara Center and there doesn’t seem to be a cure. Counterfeit jerseys continue to show their ugly face in the arena and there seems to be more this year than ever before.

Bad Jersey1

Perhaps the most unfortunate factor is that there is no precise way to address this growing trend. Most fans who are wearing fake jerseys – let’s call a spade a spade and just call them fake – have purchased them for the drastic cost savings compared to what you pay through NHL Shop or the Sabres Store. I’m sure there are fans who think the jersey they bought is in fact real and they’ve simply been duped, but I’m willing to bet those fans are in the minority.

There are a few things that really rub me the wrong way when it comes to fake jerseys. First and foremost is the fact that they simply don’t look good. At all. The entry image for this post is a really bad fake jersey and most at least look a tiny bit closer to what’s being worn on the ice. However, every other fake jersey still looks terrible and I’ve yet to see a fake NHL jersey that made me think it was close to the real thing.

No set of fakes look as bad as the phony 40th anniversary third jerseys, however. Whether you’re looking at the stripes, the crest, the numbers, nameplate or the colors, nothing beats a bad 40th third jersey when it comes to terrible fakes. Really, that’s what stands out most to me. Counterfeit jerseys just look terrible and the cost savings don’t outweigh how silly the jerseys themselves look.

Another factor to consider when you’re looking at $39 fakes on the internet is where your money is going. Purchasing a fake jersey only serves to support the guy selling it. The money doesn’t go to the team nor does it go to the player via hockey related revenue. Now, we can all play the tiniest of violins because millionaire players and billionaire owners don’t get their slice of a $150 jersey. However, the fact remains that when you buy a discount, fake jersey, you’re doing the exact opposite of supporting your favorite team. If anything you’re taking money away from the franchise.

I realize it’s hard to side with any sports franchise when fans are already paying an exorbitant amount of money on tickets and concessions to begin with. Millionaire players and billionaire owners aren’t exactly hard up for cash and whatever cut they get off the sale of one jersey probably won’t be the key to the next million they put in the bank. However, you really aren’t supporting the team at all by buying from eBay or at the flea market or where ever fake jerseys are found. You are supporting the guy selling you the jersey and no one else. I guess you’re helping yourself too since you’re saving money, but the chain stops there.

If you really don’t want to spend $150 or more on a jersey but you still want to show your team colors, buy something else in the pro shop. Grab a player t-shirt. I features the logo name and number of your favorite player at a fraction of the cost. You’ll actually get more run out of that than a jersey anyway.

A hat trick of phony jerseys!

Spotting fake jerseys isn’t too difficult. For the most part phony jerseys look so bad that you don’t need to look hard. However, if you aren’t sure what to look for, here is a crash course on how to spot a fake jersey:

  • Stitching – Officially licensed jerseys will have tackle-twill sewn letters and numbers that will be flat and stitched directly onto the jersey. The stitching on counterfeit jerseys will look rounded and look more like embroidery and not true tackle-twill. The silver trim on the Sabres logo adds another checkpoint as most fakes butcher this feature.
  • Font – The Sabres use a pretty normal block font that isn’t exactly unique. However, when you look at a real Sabres jersey compared to a fake Sabres jersey, it’s obvious. More often than not, the nameplate on a fake jersey features text that is much taller and wider than an officially licensed version.
  • Logos and Numbers – In addition to bad stitching, another tell-tale sign is the look and feel of the numbers and logos on a jersey. Since fake jerseys aren’t manufactured to the same quality as an officially licensed version, the numbers and logos are often bubbled or wavy. This is easy to see from a distance or up close as both will likely have a heavier sheen than an official version and there will be obvious waves in the fabric. Here’s a great example that also features some brutal colors and striping.
  • Colors – The colors are another dead giveaway when it comes to fake jerseys. Rarely are the colors accurate and the easiest way to tell with Sabres jerseys is to look at the gold, especially on the numbers.

There are other things to keep an eye on although these are related more to common sense rather than specific examples on a real jersey. For example, if your jersey has a fight strap on it and you only paid $25, you’re probably wearing a fake. Fight straps only come on authentic (the $300 versions) jerseys and fakes, so that actually works on two levels. If the stripes on your jersey start at your nipples, you’re probably wearing a fake. If you bought your jersey off the tailgate of a pickup truck, well, you get the point.

Many NHL teams have taken strides to at least inform their fans about counterfeit jerseys. For example, the Canucks and Canadiens each have assets on their website devoted to the cause. The Sabres haven’t made an effort to call out fake jerseys that I’m aware of. I’m not sure why they haven’t taken steps to at least inform people of the drawbacks of these monstrosities, maybe they’re hoping people will look in the mirror before they leave for the game and realize they look ridiculous, I’m not sure.

Obviously they can’t completely eradicate the problem. These counterfeit jerseys are everywhere and far more people are interested in saving a few bucks than looking foolish, it would seem. However, they could stop taking B-roll video of people in counterfeit jerseys for use in pre-game pump videos, the social media manager could stop tweeting and retweeting images of people in fake jerseys to try to turn the opinion on fakes. There is certainly a segment of the fan base who agree that fake jerseys are ridiculous, why not try to grow that sentiment and, in turn, drive more fans to buy team license merchandise?

Remember, friends don’t let friends buy fake jerseys.

32 thoughts on “Put a Stop to Counterfeit Sabres Jerseys

  1. Pat Madia December 29, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    tackle-twill sewn letters and numbers…that’ll show everyone (who never graduated HS and feels the need to judge others by what they are wearing) how much of a fan you are! Seriously guy, this isn’t an epidemic. The jerseys are incredibly expensive. I also can’t figure out why I “need” an officially licensed jersey, or maybe I save a few bucks and get a replica. If im not the “elite level fan” whose dropping 1/3 of my rent on a jersey to prove to utter strangers how much I love my team, why should I bother?

    Naturally, there is going to be a counter culture to it. If the NHL wants people to buy the merch, stop pricing entire populations of the fanbase out of it.

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve read in a while, and I just read some Skip Bayless tweets


    • Chris Ostrander December 29, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      By all means continue to line the pockets of the guy at the flea market selling you a heinous knockoff that looks embarrassing. Thanks for reading.


      • Anthony Misso December 30, 2015 / 11:44 am

        I agree I don’t make alot of money but I do buy and collect authentic jerseys. Quality wise they are worth every penny and you are right the fakes.look ridiculous!! I wear my authentic jerseys with pride…


    • MattyRenn December 29, 2015 / 8:06 pm

      Maybe you should buy something more in your income bracket, like a t-shirt or a keychain. Sporting a fake jersey announces your ass is broke as much as driving a rusted out chevette.


      • bourbon December 30, 2015 / 4:08 pm

        And those authentic jerseys just show you like getting ho’ed out by Reebok and the NHL by paying $300 for a $20 jersey made in China.


    • greg chris December 30, 2015 / 7:13 pm

      I spend $200 for a Mike Bossy jersey from NHL.com. The thing arrived with letters and numbering heat pressed on and not sewn. I was against knockoff jerseys but if you’re going to shell out $200 for ironed on numbers and lettering I say screw the NHL.


      • Chris Ostrander January 4, 2016 / 7:46 am

        NHL Shop orders seem to be lacking based on reviews I’ve seen and heard of. That’s unacceptable considering the money that needs to be shelled out.


    • Gilberto January 1, 2016 / 5:24 am

      The NHL doesn’t tackle twill sew anything except the team crest the rest is iron on garbage not worth the 150 for it


    • Jimmy January 20, 2016 / 1:03 am

      I’m SICK of spending $150 on a jersey for a player that gets traded a few months later. The players don’t give a crap about you wearing their official jersey, they will jump teams if the price is right leaving you with a $150 paperweight. The “Fake” jerseys first off are very easy to get, only cost around $25 – $30 SHIPPED, and are excellent quality for the money. They are getting real close to the originals, except in price. My son has several “official” $150 jerseys, all 3 players got traded. He now gets “fakes”, and when placed next to the real jersey they are very hard to tell apart. You keep selling those $150 jerseys, as you said yourself, I don’t know of an NHL player or owner who’s hurting for cash, I’ll stick with the $25 “fakes” and toss them when the player jumps ship.


      • Chris Ostrander January 20, 2016 / 8:31 am

        The next time I see a counterfeit jersey that looks comparable to a licensed jersey will be the first.


  2. plaunplovecho December 29, 2015 / 9:21 pm

    Pat Rick I agree!!! Chris and Mat your both a idiots!!! What kinda FOOL (Like YOUSE) is stoopid enuff to drop all that hard erned m$ney on a $130 jersey???? And on top of that NOT suporting your local small bizness sellers??? I live in BUFFALO, NY, USA!!! I suport local small biznisses!!!! We need all youse too do the same!!! These local merchant sellers spend all of their hard erned m$ney too buy those jersey and our kind enuff too sell them at a cheaper PR ice too us!!! So what that the jersey isnt “OFFICIALLLY LICENSED”???? I mean C’omeon!!!! Ive bought plenty of cheep “counterfit” jerseys from local merchints!!!!! Use your brain people!! Like the commercial says!!

    •Shop Small

    •Shopp Cheep

    •Shopp Fake

    •Shop Buffalo

    ~~~~Plaun!!! (@PlaunPlovecho)


  3. Jay December 29, 2015 / 11:56 pm

    I hate to break this to you but players also buy knock-off jerseys. They often get asked to donate items for events and what’s better than getting 10 for $300? Look into it. You’ll find I’m right.


    • Chris Ostrander December 30, 2015 / 8:50 am

      You’re right. I’ve seen it myself at charity auctions and stuff like that. You can’t argue with the cost savings.

      I think what may have been lost in the convo that has come from this is that the point isn’t about giving the players or owners more money – they hardly need it. Unfortunately I may have pointed the post in that direction a wee bit too much.


    • Tony December 30, 2015 / 7:35 pm

      Absolutely true Jay. My bro-in-law is a retired pro and said the same thing. They can give more that way. The jerseys Chris mentions, the really cheap quality, are bad but there’s a lot of really good ones too. Buffalo is a blue collar town so who the hell is this guy to insinuate that these hard working Buffalonians should be concerned with the players and teams’ pocketbooks, when we’re spending $200+ on a couple tix then $10 a beer. When the players stop buying the fakes then talk to us.


  4. R. Hanash December 30, 2015 / 12:48 am

    Purchased one yesterday from Dick’s Sporting Goods for $70. I assume Dick is selling genuine Eichel jerseys.


  5. Pat Ballantyne December 30, 2015 / 9:43 am

    I am a jersey collector and I buy the real ones or the CCM or Koho ones before the fake market. Anyways when I go to Sabres games I wear the real colors. Good points you made man!


  6. Dallan December 30, 2015 / 10:46 am

    I’ve been seeing counterfeits since Reebok changed to the more pricey “Edge” uniform system in 2007-08. They drive me NUTS. It is understandable that people don’t want to spend the $180 for a player jersey (I hear it ALL THE TIME at the store I work at), but cheap fakes aren’t the way to go to “stick it to the system.”

    T-shirts average at $20 for just logo, $30 for players. Hoodies $50+. You DONT have to buy a jersey to be a fan. You DONT have to sink a whole lot of money into gear.


  7. Vince December 30, 2015 / 1:41 pm

    The number one problem is that Replica jerseys took such a HUGE leap in cost when Reebok bought CCM. GOOD licensed replicas ran from $69 to $99. Heck, when Starter, Nike, Pro Player and CCM/Bauer were the licensed providers, you could get well made, tackle-twill lettered licensed replicas for as low as $40 with some even being essentially game weight without the reinforced elbows and shoulders or fight strap. NO replica ran more than $100 unless it was a custom lettered version. Mass produced marquee player named jerseys ran around $100 and they were really well made. If you wanted ultra cheap, you could get silk-screen printed ones for $20.

    Now the cheapest “licensed” one you can find is $180. Common fans can’t afford that. Heck collectors have trouble affording that. Reebok has done this to themselves. Like any market, if you price your product out of reach of your customer base, a black market will pop up to fill that void. If Reebok wants to fix this, They need to come up with a way to release a product customers can afford. I don’t support counterfeiting but stupid business will yield such results.


    • Chris Ostrander December 30, 2015 / 2:17 pm

      The NFL model (not pricing) is probably what the NHL needs to follow. Three pricing tiers like you’re referring to which would put more consumers into the range of being able to afford a jersey. The one difference between the NHL and NFL products is that the NHL replica mimics the on-ice product so well. That can’t even be said of the authentic versions sold by the NFL.


      • Jim December 30, 2015 / 2:36 pm

        Chris, I would agree that their needs to be a better tiered system. I have 3 authentic Avalanche jerseys which set me back about $200 each from Pepsi Center. I personally only want the ones from the team store. For the NFL though, I have the cheap jerseys from the store. The ones which are no where near the same fabric as used on the field and have screen printed numbers. I bought that from Dicks sporting goods for $50. The NHL needs this as well.


      • Chris Ostrander December 30, 2015 / 3:32 pm

        Yep. There’s another comment here from Vince that lays it out nicely. Maybe the league reintroduces a CCM (or Reebok or Adidas or whatever) price point jersey that doesn’t feature the EDGE fabric or panels. Just a basic CCM jersey that would still feature proper quality features but could be sold at a lower price point. Thus giving fans more affordable options.


      • Vince December 30, 2015 / 2:53 pm

        Exactly. You can get NFL “consumer” Replica jerseys in mass merchant stores for $30 to $70. NHL fans bought jerseys like CRAZY when the multiple companies were competing to put GOOD replica jersey’s out at a reasonable cost. Reebok needs to find a way to do a $50-$70 jersey that looks like on-ice. Heck, get away from the “edge” style and go back to the CCM simple cut with modern materials and logos and it would be fine. It would simplify things and make fans happy.


  8. Alan December 30, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    What’s the difference if someone pays $30 for a “fake” as they call it or pay $180 for a “replica” jersey. Replica is just a fancy word for fake. A $180 “replica” jersey is not authentic either. If the person buying a $30 jersey doesn’t care if it’s not an exact replica, then who cares. For $30 someone can get a jersey instead of a tee shirt in most cases.


    • Chris Ostrander December 30, 2015 / 3:28 pm

      Replica =/= counterfeit in this case as the replica is a reproduction of the product on the ice. Whereas counterfeit jerseys are anything but thanks to the substandard look and design.


      • Alan December 30, 2015 / 4:22 pm

        Substandard look and design? Because the colors may be slightly off. No one should be close enough to me to see the difference in the colors or if I have tackle-twill sewn letters and numbers…Sounds to me like someone is justifying getting ripped off for a $180 jersey. If I shit in 2 bags and charged a $1 for one bag, and $20 for the other, the $20 bag isn’t any better…you still have a pile of shit.


    • Vince December 31, 2015 / 6:12 pm

      The difference between a “Replica” (as discussed here) and a “Fake” is the license and the quality. A replica is one sanctioned to be produced by the team and is made to meet the standards set by the NHL. A “Fake” is one made by a third party who has not paid for the license and who has used cheaper materials and usually has not matched the colors to the standards set by the team.

      That being said, I have received some counterfeit jerseys that were VERY well made and accurate on first inspection but one or two washes and it was quite evident they were NOT. Numbers started coming undone and seems started splitting and logos even washed out or blurred on the tags where the they had been printed. There IS a substantial difference in quality and durability. Even though most of us will never use one for more than wearing to a game or out and about, it would be nice if they lasted more than a wash or two before looking like they had been used by somebody who’d been stuck opposite Bob Probert or Dave Shultz on the ice for a night.

      Like I said above, the biggest culprit in this, in my opinion, is Reebok and the NHL for not creating a consumer level product that fans can buy to feel like part of the game. Those saying “buy a T-shirt or Hat” are missing the point. The Jersey shouldn’t be a sign of “prestige”. EVERY other sport has a consumer grade replica Jersey that all fans can afford without taking out a small mortgage. Heck, NBA, NFL and MLB all have replicas with names that are durable and look like the “real thing” only lighter weight for $20 to $30 (granted NBA jerseys don’t have much material but I digress…) It used to be the same in NHL and the “status symbol” were those who had “Game-Weight” with lettering and a FIGHT STRAP. Now it costs as much for the lowest level NHL licensed jersey as an Authentic without lettering used to cost. The NHL needs to fix that and they will cure their counterfeit problem.

      Like iTunes proved. Very few people WANT to “steal” something when they can purchase it at an reasonable price. People were using the Original Napster to steal music left and right because no one had given them a legal way to get digital music. When Apple introduced iTunes and gave people a way to get what they wanted at a reasonable price bootleg music essentially disappeared.
      Give consumers what they want and they won’t feel the need to go to someone to get it on a black market.


  9. Leslie December 30, 2015 / 2:50 pm

    Actually, I have an authentic jersey (of another team), officially licensed and bought from Shop NHL. The letters and numbers are only ironed on and one is starting to slightly “bubble” from being crammed into a suitcase many times. Hopefully another fan doesn’t approach me and demand my NHL receipt.


    • Chris Ostrander December 30, 2015 / 3:30 pm

      I’ve seen that quite a bit from the NHL Shop orders. Unless you buy a blank jersey and then request a player’s name and number to be put on it, you won’t get the high-quality tackle twill product. And that’s unfortunate because if you’re paying the league $180 for a jersey you should expect the highest quality.


  10. frank December 30, 2015 / 3:45 pm

    like…..who really gives a fuck?… players switch teams so often, they de-value their gear anyway. I just bought one of these jerseys from China for $45.. not too cheap looking… seems legit…looks great..

    now I can take that money I saved to actually buy a ticket to these god awful expensive games.


  11. Mike December 30, 2015 / 4:18 pm

    $210+Tax vs. $30 with free shipping. Fake unfortunstely wins all day at those prices.


  12. Ron q December 31, 2015 / 10:18 pm

    I don’t condone knock offs to the same degree as monopolistic pricing. But if the NHL and NFL were not so greedy to fans they already take advantage of by excessive ticket prices and concessions, their would not be an opportunistic market for these replicas.


  13. James April 29, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    The official replica jerseys sold by the nhl look horrible since Reebok started making them. Numbers and shoulder patches are printed and glued on and they all have that ridiculous patch at the bottom that aren’t on the real ones. Authentic Reebok on ice jerseys look great but cost $400. There are a lot of bad counterfeits out there, but how would you onow if you saw a good one? You’d probably assume it was real.


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