Identification The 97-98 and 98-99 jerseys are mostly identical to each other. The main way to tell them apart is by the set mark written on the collar tag. The 97-98s have a large digit written in marker, which usually shows some marker bleeding around the edges. The set marks on the 98-99s are written in small lower-case Roman numerals.
A second way to differentiate these two years is by the number layering. The 97-98 jerseys appear to have the "kiss-cut" construction that first appeared on some jerseys in 96-97, in which the middle color sits below the inside and outside colors. A word of caution: I'm not sure if the kiss-cut style applies to all 97-98 jerseys, but the ones I have seen are kiss-cut. (See Numbers section below for more information on specific construction)
A third apparent difference appears to be the curvature of the name. The curve of the 97-98s appears to be a bit flatter than the 98-99s. This can be really difficult to detect on some jerseys, as longer and shorter names tend to show the curve differently from each other.
In cases where no set mark exists, other methods such as deductive reasoning or photo matching must be used.
Crest The crest measures 12" from the top of the "A", straight down to the bottom-most portion of the puck.
Custom Sleeve Sizing As with 96-97, the 97-98's had custom sleeve configurations from the factory. Sleeve widths are anywhere from 7" to 11" at the cuff. Sleeve lengths are usually 20" to 22" (see "Size Tag" below for an explanation of the tagging itself). Some players still had additional alterations performed on their sleeves, in spite of the varying size options.
Nameplates The letters measure 4". The letters are sewn to a nameplate, which is sewn to the jersey.
Numbers In 97-98 the numbers on the jerseys' backs were reduced in size. Beginning this season, the back numbers should measure approximately 12", however they may measure as large as 12.25" on any given jersey, but the sleeve numbers should still measure 4.5.
The "kiss-cut" number layering introduced in 96-97 was carried over to 97-98, and it appears most, if not all of the 97-98s are constructed this way. Kiss-cut construction is a reverse of the traditional top-to-bottom layering. Kiss-cut layering places the main center portion of the number on the bottom, with the outer two colors raised even with each other, for an inlaid effect.
Note 10.22.00: At the Detroit Jersey Expo, I examined a 97-98 Kamensky road jersey that had back numbers which were 13", not the standard 12" noted for this season. The jersey appeared to me to be legitimate, down to the style of the set mark in the collar. This is the only jersey I have seen like this, but it establishes that nothing is absolute when it comes to the specifications on these jerseys. There appears to be many exceptions out there.
In 97-98, the "kiss-cut" inlaid number layering introduced in 96-97 was the standard configuration. Instead of the traditional top-to-bottom layering, the new construction featured the main portion of the number on the bottom, with the outer two colors raised even with each other, for an inlaid effect.
Beginning with the 96-97 playoffs, the "2" lost its pointed tail in favor of a flat one. This is carried over into the 97-98 jerseys. At some point (it is unclear when) the "3" also took on a slightly different look: the bottom portion became slightly more rounded, with a little less of the "dagger" look. It is a very slight difference, and can only be seen easily when comparing two jerseys from different years.
Outer hem logo Beginning in 97-98, the jerseys feature different Starter logos on the home and away. The home jerseys have the Starter star logo, while the road jerseys carry the word "Starter" spelled out. Both carry the NHL logo.
Size tag The size tags in 97-98 are similar to those from 96-97, with two notable differences. First, the tag is located in the neck, as in the first year, and are positioned below the "Centre Ice" tag. Second, the numbering code is different. In 97-98, the tag format is "56R-8-21", with the first number being the jersey size and cut, the second being the sleeve width at the cuff, and the third being the sleeve length from the shoulder seam to the end of the sleeve.
Washing Tags The washing tags are located inside the jersey, stitched into the side seam. Unlike previous years, the tag is now a single cloth tag with washing instructions embroiderd on it. There are no logos. (Note, this washing tag configuration appeared in some of the earlier jerseys, as well.)