Stanley Cup Champions
Identification The inaugural season jerseys are the first of the shiny Starter Mesh jerseys. The Starter jerseys were used for the first four seasons of the team's existence. In 95-96, they can be most easily identified by the block-style Starter tagging on the outside right hem. This is the only season the rectangular hem branding was used.
Crest Besides the hem tag, one of the most obvious features that defines the first year Avalanche jerseys is the smaller crest. The crest measures 10.5 inches from the tip of the "A" to the bottom-most portion under the puck.
Numbers A lesser known feature of the 1995-96's is the number size. Both the 95-96's and 96-97's carried larger numbers than later shirts. The back numbers measure 12.75 inches, while the sleeve numbers measure 4.5 inches.
Nameplates Also unique to the first year are the slightly stylized letters in the nameplates. Although similar to the years following, close inspection of the 95-96 nameplates reveals that the stroke width on some letters is varied within the individual letters, while the stroke width on letters the following years is uniform throughout the letter. Letter height should be 4". Some of the early nameplates are uneven in shape, with almost a handcut look to them, but this seems to go away with the later jerseys. The stitching securing the nameplate to the jersey also appears to be a tighter, more even stitch later in the year.
Outer Hem Logo The Starter/NHL logo on the outer hem is not a patch and is embroidered all the way through the hem, with a felt backing on the inside of the jersey. This is also the only year the Starter and NHL logos were incorporated into a single logo, which is rectangular in shape.
Set Markings There aren't any.
Preseason Sets Confirmed with a former Avs' employee that there was not a separate preseason set; the preseason jerseys were the set 1 regular season shirts.
Washing Tags The washing tags are located inside the jersey, stitched into the side seam. Most, but not all of the jerseys carry two tags. One tag is a soft cloth tag with the washing instructions emboidered on one side, and the Starter logo embroidered on the other. The other tag, which is placed right next to the first tag, is the "Ripon Athletic" tag. This tag is more of a papery material. Both are blue lettering on a white tag. Please note: though few, there have been variations of these tags:
- Dual tags with no starter logo on the cloth tag, only washing instructions.
- Single cloth tag, washing instructions only.
- Dual tags with the Ripon tag cut out (the remnant remains in the seam).
Finals Jerseys/Patches A topic of discussion has been the fate of the Finals jerseys. Several first-year jerseys with Finals patches have circulated in the hobby. These jerseys were created when the team attached patches to the jerseys they had left over as backups, jerseys that were worn earlier in the year. Consequently, these jerseys show legitimate game wear, but are not Finals-worn. So, when evaluating a Finals shirt, the distinction needs to be made whether it is a fake with respect to being passed off as Finals-worn, or whether it is a fake gamer altogether. The backup Finals shirts were discovered after the fact, through a set purchased by a collector, who bought with the assumption they were gameworn Finals shirts; it was later discovered through close inspection that they were not Finals-worn after all. Other shirts of the same variety were distributed individually by way of the trainer.
To my knowledge, only one bonafide gameworn Finals jersey has surfaced in the hobby (road burgundy). It is in a private collection, and was acquired directly from the player. The others that have circulated, and are legitimate gamers, are from the backups the team created from the leftover shirts still in their possession at the time the Finals commenced.
Patches The "fake" Finals worn jerseys were first brought to light because of the presence of a replica Finals patch (replica patches were available throughout the Finals at the arena). The replica patches, though close to the correct patches, differ in two respects: the chevrons on the correct patches are narrower and the fonts on the two patches differ slightly. One major complication to the patch issue is that the team actually attached both types of patches to the shirts, so it is possible to have an Avalanche gamer with the replica patch on the chest.