Well, shop.nhl.com recently had a good sale (free name customization, which usually costs $55), and so I ponied up and bought the customized Reebok Chicago Blackhawks premier home jersey (base cost $114).
Personally, I think the customization of the jerseys is one of craziest fees that fans end up paying. The game jerseys are already pretty expensive, and then websites (or the "bricks & mortar" stores) charge an additional $50-75 to customize the jersey. It's not like there's puppies and unicorns in the back room, sewing numbers and name swatches on. It's done by machine; I've watched it be done in the store. I can't imagine those pieces of fabric actually cost $50 to produce, nor is the amount of electricity used by the machine anywhere near that much. (Heck, my average electric bill for my entire apartment is less than what they charge for personalization.) That's some serious profit margin.
But what is a fan going to do otherwise? I would bet that if customization was a lot cheaper - say, in the $10-20 range - a lot more people would "upgrade" their jerseys, or folks who want a customized jersey but who are put off by the price would buy one. But if you're already dropping a couple hundred for the jersey and have to put another $50-75 on top of that, chances are good that you only own one jersey, and maybe it's customized.
Due to the sale, I guess they had a lot of back orders, because I was originally told I wouldn't get my order until late April. It arrived yesterday, and ... well, to call me "disappointed" is a bit of an understatement. The jersey fabric is ok, but what's really disappointing is that all the various patches (front, shoulders, back numbers, back name) are all iron-ons. And what amused me more was that the iron-ons are designed so they look like they have stitches. Only the front team logo is stitched. Also, for a size 2X, it is not as generously cut as the more expensive version of the jersey is.
I get it - team jerseys are the ultimate cash cow. But to charge $114 ($169 if personalized) for this sad quality? Just say no.
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UPDATE 3/28 -- even if you get an active team roster player and not your own name on the jersey, it's considered "customized"/"personalized", and you cannot return it. Buyer beware!!
So if you think you want a customized jersey, but you're not sure how the jersey fits, or what the quality is like, I would recommend buying the blank jersey, getting it, trying it on, etc., and then returning it and exchanging it for a customized jersey.
About two weeks ago, when I wrote this post, I was comparing the quality of the new Reebok jerseys to old jerseys. I felt like the 2X was tighter than it used to be and the adhesive for the team emblems seemed stiff. The jersey just felt odd on me.
So this weekend, I pulled out all three hockey jerseys I own, to do a size and quality comparison.
First, the shoulder sizing:
Red = new Reebok/RBK "replica" jersey, XXL
White = older CCM XXL jersey (2004? 2006?)
Blue = new International (in this case, Suomi) team jersey 3XL
The neck holes are roughly the same size. I would say my favorite collar style is actually the new Reebok; it looks fairly sharp with the NHL logo at the bottom and accommodates a shirt underneath (be it button-up, turtleneck or other) quite nicely. The International jersey is squared slightly at the front, which looks and feels nice. I usually wear a Nike Dri-FIT mock-collar t-shirt underneath my hockey jersey, which has a nice thin fit, and I'm never overly hot wearing layers.
The shoulder seams on the International jersey (blue) fall about 2" below the curve of my shoulder. The CCM (white) jersey shoulder emblems lie about an inch below my shoulder curve, so they look good with their placement on my biceps. The RBK (red) jersey shoulder emblems are directly below my shoulder curve.
Length comparison: for this photo, I lined up the shoulders to see the difference in width/length along the hips. As you can see, the new Reebok (RBK/red) jersey, although the same size as the CCM (white) one, 2XL, is significantly smaller - a good 3-4" worth of material. The International jersey is 3XL, so it is reasonably larger than the other jerseys, but it also has the nice extra length and also the extra tail material. (My only complaint about the 3XL jersey is that the arms are super-long too, so I constantly have to shove the sleeves up my arms.)
It's interesting to note that the NHL rules list the max uniform size as 58 for regular players or 60 for goalies (roughly 3XL and 4XL), but fans almost never have the choice to buy jerseys or T-shirts in these sizes. I've seen fans wear some very tight jerseys in my time (and I'm talking about big & tall folks, not puck bunnies attempting to attract attention), and I have wondered why, in the face of a population that is proven to be increasing in physical size, sporting good manufacturers don't recognize that portion of the population. Even if you had to custom-order it through the websites and/or pay slightly extra (like $2-$5) for the 3XL/4XL sizing, it would be worth it.
The one thing I do like about the new cut of the jersey is the venting, which means the shirt will not pull/stretch as much when you sit down.
One change from the old manufacturer to the new is that on the old jersey, the shoulder emblems were embroidered patches, and then glued onto the uniform. The new shoulder patches are stitched around the edges, but it is flat printing on the design.
The new sleeve numbers and the name and numbers on the back of the jersey are designed so they look like they're stitched, but they're ironed on, too. Now, once you wear and wash a jersey often enough, the various emblems/numbers, etc. will eventually - eventually - soften up.
I haven't compared the premier jersey (you know, the $299 one) yet, but the premier jersey does come in sizes as large as 60, I have found on shop.nhl.com.