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Greg Wyshynski

Jersey fouls: When hockey fans disrespect the sweater

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

During Puck Daddy's short time in existence, we've come to notice that Pittsburgh might be the epicenter of jersey fouls, a.k.a. innocent or intentional desecrations of the sacred shrouds of puckheads. Please recall that nice young lady's "Maklin" jersey. Also recall the infamous "Malsby" mutation of the Pittsburgh Penguins jerseys of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And try as we might, we can't un-burn the image of the Detroit Red Wings/Penguins "Stanley Cup Champ 08" hybrid from our minds.

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Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters is also a purveyor of sweater follies, and earlier this month published a slightly defective Sergei Gonchar jersey found on eBay. (We believe it's pronounced "No-char," with the "G" silent like in "gnat.")

Perhaps sensing that he's in cradle of hockey fashion faux pas while writing for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Rorabaugh today published a 10-point "Jersey Foul Bill of Rights" that chronicles some of the high crimes against puck sweaters he's witnessed:

We call violations of this system "jersey fouls." A few of you have asked what exactly a jersey foul is while many of you have asked for clarifications to this system.

We agree with some of them. We disagree with at least one of them. And, naturally, we have a few to add to his list.

For example: How do you all feel about fans who wear jerseys to the game that depict teams that aren't actually playing that night in the arena?

Seth covers some of the ills we're all witnessed this year: Malsby, the scourge of the pink women's jerseys and our friend Gnonchar above. He also rightfully takes his knives out for people who place names on sweaters that never had them (like a Richard Montreal Canadiens jersey) and people who place their own names on the backs of sweaters.

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Perhaps his most salient point: "The Third Party." From Empty Netters:

Something that is always a head scratcher for us is the presence of a jersey for an NHL team not involved in the game the bearer is present at. The above picture is of a Flames jersey we saw during a Flyers-Penguins game in March. The occasion of a hockey game isn't an excuse to wear something simply because it's hockey related.

There are many exceptions to this rule however. If one of the teams involved is a rival, the practice is acceptable. We remember seeing a Dave Keon Maple Leafs jersey at the Penguins' first playoff game against Ottawa last season. Since Ottawa and Toronto are rivals, that's cool.

Another exception is a certain player's jersey from a former team. (Example: A Miroslav Satan Islanders jersey or Tyler Kennedy's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jersey.)

Also, international jerseys are acceptable assuming a player of that country is involved with the game. If you want to wear a team Russia jersey in honor of Evgeni Malkin, go for it.

The biggest exception to this rule is defunct franchises. If you're rocking a Uwe Krupp Nordiques jersey or anything with the Hartford Whalers, we will grant you jersey asylum.

Well put, sir.

But we have a bone to pick with Seth as well, as he goes after those who choose to wear a hoodie with their hockey jerseys:

This doesn't really apply to anyone in a blank jersey but a sight like this is almost like an annoying canker sore to us. During our pregame travels around Mellon Arena, we run into plenty of quality jerseys that are obscured by hoods. Granted, hockey is a sport which is primarily played during winter months so you need to dress accordingly, but if you have a Kevin Stevens jersey, show it off. Don't hide his name. If your head is cold, buy a hat. This problem also plagues men and women with long hair.

Boo. Hiss. The hoodie under the sweater is perfectly acceptable for two reasons. The first being that the hoodie is clearly part of the blue-collar aesthetic that makes hockey so appealing, no matter how many they sell at H&M. It's the anti-suit, and should be celebrated as such.

But more than that, wearing a hoodie under your jerseys brings us back to a basic tenet of hockey dogma: That it's the logo on the front, rather than the name on the back, that matters. Plus there's really something cool about having a name like "Niedermayer" peeking through the two sides of the hood, like a TIE Fighter without wings.

Now, for an addition to the list: The "Sucks" Jersey.

This is completely acceptable, because it is desecrating the jersey of a rival in a feat of fan voodoo:

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This, however, is a waste of a jersey. Unless his name is Frank Penssuck, by chance:

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What you've done here is the equivalent of going to the game and buying a ticket just so you can boo the visiting team rather than cheer the home team. It's also the admission of deep, psychological scarring on the part of your conference rivals and eternal tormentors.

It's simple: If you want to mock your rivals, use their own sweaters against them:

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Or else it's a violation of the amended Jersey Bill of Rights (pending Seth's inclusion of our amendment, and the expected Washington Capitals fan filibuster).

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