Hockey players and hockey fans must consider slightly different variables when buying hockey jerseys. For fans, a jersey is more about personal style, and it's often the centerpiece of their look. But for the player, a jersey is part of the overall
equipment package: it should fit loosely over the protective gear and provide free, unrestricted movement. New-to-hockey players or hockey parents often need a little practical guidance when buying and fitting equipment, including the jersey.
How to Fit a Hockey Jersey
Obviously, hockey jerseys are not t-shirts. Jerseys require additional room to fit over protective padding and to give players the mobility and flexibility they require. Getting an accurate
size isn't difficult—all you need is a tape measure and a sizing chart. Be aware that different manufacturers may size their jerseys differently. Spend a moment researching the sizing chart for your desired jersey manufacturer.
If you don't have a measuring tape, be sure you try on the jersey over your pads.
Before ordering your jersey, you'll need some measurements. For an accurate chest measurement, dress as you would for the game: wear your undergarments and shoulder pads/chest protector. Then measure around the fullest part of the chest, just under the armpits.
If you have access to the actual jersey you might buy, lay it flat on the floor and measure from side to side across the rib cage. Double the result for the size measurement.
Usually, this is the "A" measurement you'll see on a sizing chart.
Next, measure from the top of the shoulder pad to the hip. This is typically the "B" measurement and determines the length of the jersey.
For non-players, the B measurement is an important one—do you want your jersey to hang below your waist? How far? For example, some women like to wear a hockey jersey like a short dress and thus will want a long "B" measurement, though a similarly
ultra-long jersey might look silly on someone else.
NHL players are not allowed to tuck in their hockey jerseys (the "tuck" rule) and fans are advised to never, ever do it: it's just not done.
Finally, with arms extended to the sides, measure from the center of the back of the neck to the wrist. This is the "C" measurement on most sizing charts and determines the sleeve length. If you're buying your own jersey for team play, make sure
you know whether your team uses a ¾ or full-length sleeve.
Now that you have your measurements, compare them to those on the manufacturer's sizing chart and make your selection. If you're buying a jersey for fashion, the measuring process is the same, but you'll make adjustments for the look you want.
Hockey "C" and "A" Patches
If you're new to hockey, you may have noticed a few players on the team wear "C" or "A" patches on the top-left front of their
jerseys—sometimes you may see them on the top-right front. What are they, and why don't the jerseys you see in the store have them?
The "C" stands for captain—the team captain. A fairly common concept, the team captain is usually elected by the players and is empowered to speak to the referees and ask for rule interpretations, which he then relays to the coaches and other
players on the bench. The captain is the only player on the team allowed to do this.
The "A" stands for "alternate" captain, and this player performs the same role if the captain is on the bench. There may be more than one alternate captain.
Both patches are earned, and unless you're buying an authentic or replica jersey of a player who happens to be a captain or alternate, you won't find them on the typical practice or team jerseys you buy off the rack.
Hockey Jersey Fakes
If you're a fan and want to buy a hockey jersey, know that not all jerseys are equal. Like Rolex watches, fakes abound and are sold by vendors who lack the license to sell them. Sub-par materials, inexact lettering, logos, and detailing, and suspiciously
"low, low" price tags often betray a jersey as a fake: real hockey fans can spot them from a mile away.
If you're going to do it, do it right.
In 2015 the NHL inked a seven-year contract with Adidas (the parent company of Reebok) to provide jerseys and licensed outerwear. The deal began with the 2017-2018 season. Before spending your hard-earned money, confirm that the jersey you want
You'll find licensed Adidas/Reebok authentic, premier, replica, and practice jerseys with different looks and at different price points, while several companies make practice jerseys, Bauer and
CCM among them.
A Brief Hockey Jersey History
It's an age-old question: which came first, the sweater or the jersey? Unlike chickens and eggs, this one is knowable. The hockey sweater came first. Why a sweater? Before climate-controlled rinks and arenas, players went to battle outdoors—what
better than a sweater to keep you warm? And by "sweater" we mean exactly that: a knit wool garment, possibly like the one you're wearing right now. Olde-tyme coaches headed to the clothing store, grabbed a bunch of sweaters with identical stripes
or patterns, and distributed them to the team. It was just that simple—when you hit the ice, you wore your hockey sweater.
The term "jersey" came into common use later. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the NHL started to experiment with alternate fabrics that were lighter weight and more flexible, to help players stay cooler and move better. The term "jersey," which
by then already described basketball and football apparel, kind of became the standard term for hockey. There was no official proclamation.
Why "jersey"? Jersey, one of the Channel Islands off the French coast of Normandy, has long been famous for its warm, water-resistant knit garments for sailors and fishermen—since medieval times, in fact. The name has stuck for all sorts of
pullovers, though these days, hockey jerseys are made of polyester rather than wool for lightweight, dry warmth. In Canada, the use of "hockey sweater" is something of a point of pride and indicates the hardcore fan.
While the trivia is interesting, new players and hockey parents needn't worry about all that. You need a jersey that fits. Your team will likely provide you with a jersey, bu if they don't, now you have the knowledge to get the right fit.
New to hockey or buying equipment for your child? Check out our handy hockey buying and fitting guides for everything you need to know.