I had tickets to the Winter Classic for a couple months before the event took place. I didn’t spend too much time thinking about important things like how to get from Columbus to Ann Arbor, where I would stay, where I would park… you know, important things. But I did spend a ton of time thinking about what kind of jersey I would buy when I got there. And yes I’m saying jersey because I’m American. In Canada you can have dressing rooms and sweaters, I have locker rooms and jerseys, deal with it.
It was very important for me to get a jersey at the event itself. I wanted the ‘authentic’ product. I didn’t want to be one of those people that bought a jersey half a year before the game took place and that player maybe wasn’t on the team anymore. It was important to me that if I got a Winter Classic jersey, I acquired it at the Winter Classic. Also acceptable, at the Alumni Showdown.
What I really struggled with was which player to get on the back. The only Red Wing jersey I’ve owned to this day was Steve Yzerman. I had wanted it forever and after I left the military and got payout for accumulated leave days I had never used, a Steve Yzerman jersey was the first thing I bought. The authentic kind, closest you’ll get to what the players wear, money be damned, go big or go home! My friends make fun of me constantly because the jersey has a fighting strap… and I tie it in with my belt. When asked why I’d put on the fighting strap I tell them ‘It’s a game misconduct if you don’t have your fighting strap tied on, and I don’t want to be kicked out of the game!’
So who would I pick to be up there with Steve Yzerman? This still seems like an impossible task. Sure Jimmy Howard is cool and is a great American, but how can I put him up there with Yzerman? Pavel Datsyuk is unquestionably skilled but everyone has a Datsyuk jersey. He was second most sold jersey in the 2012-2013 season behind Jonathan Toews, and second most for the season so far behind Sidney Crosby. Plus there was some comments that he made in the off-season that would make me a little uncomfortable owning his jersey. Maybe it’s silly, but that’s me. Of course, Henrik Zetterberg is immensely popular, a strong caliber captain, arguably the best in the NHL. But again, everyone has a Zetterberg jersey, and I wanted mine to stand out a bit. I also thought about getting a Todd Bertuzzi jersey, but that was more to agitate a friend of mine and $200 seems like a lot to do that… I did consider it though.
If I absolutely had to get a jersey, I’d pick Dan DeKeyser. As I’m learning to play on a beer league level, I’m becoming a defensive defenseman, which makes me appreciate DeKeyser’s style. Plus a team in Michigan is always going to appreciate a player from Michigan. This presented two obstacles. The first of which, is that DeKeyser was on an entry-level deal. There’s no promise of him still being a Red Wing past the 2013-2014 season. Yeah, he’s a RFA after this season but it still makes me nervous. Seeing fans with Marian Hossa jerseys always makes me smirk. At the Alumni game I saw someone with a Mike Modano jersey and I thought “Come on man!”. It’s one thing to have a jersey for someone like Shanahan or Chelios, who spent a bunch of time with the team even if they didn’t spend their whole career there. But when it’s a guy who was only there a year or two, I worry that I’ll look silly with a DeKeyser jersey a few years from now. (Don’t get me started on Daniel Alfredsson jerseys.)
The other obvious obstacle was that at the merchandise stands, no one had DeKeyser jerseys. In fact, they gave me funny looks when I asked if they did have them. So I ended up not getting a jersey at the Winter Classic, although I did consider even getting another Yzerman jersey at the Alumni Showdown. It did make me realize how much time I had spent thinking about which jersey to buy, and it made me wonder what other people think about when getting their jerseys.
So what do you think about when getting yours? Do you have a long, neurotic though process like me? Or is it much simpler? Tell us in the comments below.