TORONTO - With around 107,000 people expected for next week’s Winter Classic, counterfeit souvenirs among the sea of blue and red fans could be difficult to trace for NHL snoops.
But the league says it and local authorities will try and head off the fast-buck artists in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Mich. It sent out a warning the past few days, urging fans to be vigilant for cheap goods, such as a shabby looking Leafs or Wings logo. They’re promising to seize unofficial wares and pursue legal avenues with those who get caught peddling them.
“Our ultimate responsibility to fans is to ensure that their experience isn’t tarnished by the counterfeiters and their substandard merchandise,” Tom Prochnow, NHL Enterprises group vice-president, legal and business affairs, said in a release. “A counterfeit T-shirt is not a keepsake if it contains a typo or shrinks three sizes when you put it in the laundry.”
Since 1993, the NHL has been involved in the seizure of more than 10.5 million pieces of counterfeit merchandise featuring the logos of various pro sports leagues and teams, colleges and universities — valued at more than $400 million. In connection with the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia, more than 1,100 unauthorized NHL products were seized, valued at more than $250,000.
The NHL says it will be assisting U.S. Homeland Security and other law enforcement branches in prohibiting the sale of such merchandise.