Aside from the on-ice product at Mariucci Arena being sub-par over the past few seasons, another key area for this fan that has dropped in recent years has been the poor (and that’s being kind) quality of replica jerseys available for purchase for Golden Gopher hockey fans.
This photo illustrates the disparity between the on-ice product and what fans have the ability to sport.
Several years ago, Nike made very nice replica jerseys for the Maroon and Gold faithful. The fabric was very high in quality, the ‘M’ on the front (or, later on, the cursive ‘Minnesota’) was accurate and very close to what the on-ice product featured.
However, since then, the replica jerseys have gotten progressively worse. The team switched from Nike to Mission has the jersey supplier heading into the 2002-03 season. Mission, which is now solely focused on roller hockey, made jerseys that were very short in length and the quality of the fabric was way worse than what Nike used, though the upside to those jerseys was that you could get a name put on the back, which wasn’t possible given the way the striping of the replica Nike ones was done. Still though, the ‘M’ on the front was really awkward looking, which is mind-boggling. How hard can it be to make the shape of the ‘M’ on the authentic on-ice jerseys the same as the replica?
Apparently this is a tough thing to do, since Easton, who the Gophers switched over to after a few years with Mission, had the same problem making the ‘M’ look half decent. The fabric was different than what Mission used but was still crap compared to the original Nike ones.
Then, the U went back to Nike, and fans like me were hopeful that the replica jersey selection’s quality would go back to where it was in the early 2000s. Wrong. These Nike ones are arguably worse than anything Mission or Easton did.
One of the bigger, over-arching issues here is the lack of authentic jerseys, which have been available to Sioux fans in Grand Forks for years. Yes, they are spendy, but with the large and rabid Gopher hockey fanbase, you can’t tell me there isn’t a good chunk of fans that would fork over the $150-200 for a real-deal authentic jersey.
I’ve been told with a straight face by a Gold Country employee that they don’t carry Nike Gopher hockey hooded sweatshirts because they can make their own and thus pocket a larger profit. Good for them – that’s the American way. But it blows for fans that want to spend lots of money, be it on hoodies, jerseys, etc.