Fake jerseys hit Calgary ahead of Heritage Classic

Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Flames defenceman Steve Staios show off the jerseys to be worn at the Feb. 20 Heritage Classic game in Calgary.

The NHL is warning fans to be on the lookout for fake Heritage Classic jerseys as the Calgary Flames get set to face off against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.

Both teams will be wearing vintage jerseys when the puck drops on the temporary rink on the football field at McMahon Stadium.

But knock-offs of the shirts have already been flooding into Calgary, officials believe. Police recently seized about 100 counterfeit Heritage Classic jerseys that were illegally brought into Canada from overseas, the RCMP said.

More than $100,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise was seized in Pittsburgh during the NHL's Heritage Classic there last month.

Brent Gibbs, who manages FanAttic, the official retailer for the Calgary Flames, said it takes a sharp eye to pick out a fake jersey. And there are good reasons to avoid them, he added.

"The corners they cut and the factories where they're made. We don't know about child labour and also the lead content of the jerseys, because they're not inspected," Gibbs said.

The surest way to know if a jersey is authentic is the price, according to Gibbs. The real thing sells for at least $150, while some of the fakes are being offered online for $50.

Some counterfeit jerseys are a little bit darker in colour, and the big C is slightly rippled and not as stiff as on the authentic version.

"We didn't get the jerseys until December. But I saw people wearing Heritage Classic jerseys in September — so they got them online, and they got them before we did," said Gibbs.

The punishment for selling counterfeit jerseys ranges from a $25,000 fine to jail time.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the ice in preparation for the Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between Calgary and Montreal on Feb 20.

The game will be broadcast live on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada and streamed on CBCSports.ca at 3 p.m. MT.

Temporary seats have been constructed at McMahon to bring capacity up to about 42,000.

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