Collector's Corner: Picking a Name and Number
This edition of the Collector's Corner is written by Dave McCormick!
In my previous CoolHockey.com blog, “How do you display your jerseys?” I started with the questions of “which jerseys to add and with who’s name and number?” Usually after good-natured teasing about the team and/or the player’s jersey I may be wearing I’m often asked “why that team” and “why him?” It’s a great topic as many of us choose certain jerseys and players for different personal reasons. Having to decide when given the opportunity to choose can be overwhelming! It’s quite literally like being a kid let loose in a candy store with an unlimited allowance.
Most of us start out with the jersey of our favorite player on our favorite team. When we’re younger this is often the team’s superstar. I certainly have a few Hockey Hall of Famers in the collection like Nik Lidstrom, Scott Stevens, and Al MacInnis. Although they were revered for certain parts of their game when they played, like Big Al’s blistering shot, they weren’t always seen as the best players on their team such as the way Lidstrom was overshadowed by Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman most of his career. What these, and the other players in my collection have in common for me to admire them enough to invest in their jerseys, was or is a certain character role, often as a leader (with or without the letter on their chest), or a “smoothness” to their play and a dedication to their teammates and the game itself. So, while I have a few star players’ jerseys like those HOF’ers and PK Subban’s most of my collection has followed my admiration for how certain players played, regardless of their team.
Some collectors focus on their particular favorite team. While I do have teams I consistently cheer for over others, such as the Canucks that I adopted when I moved to the west coast of Canada, I’m much more a fan of the sport. Maybe it’s because my home-town original Winnipeg Jets lost a lot when I was growing up before we lost the team entirely or because I just loved the different bios on the back of players’ brightly coloured O-Pee-Chee hockey cards that my collection of players’ jerseys has taken a more “eclectic” path. However, the common trait is that all but two of my jerseys are those of defensemen since I’ve always been a blueliner from the time I started playing.
I don’t have enough space here to describe each jersey in my collection so here’s a few examples of those that best represent “glue guys:” hard working, character players that have/had a certain skill set that may not be fully appreciated by the average fan but every team needs to have a chance to win. Of course, if there’s an opportunity to have their name and number on a team’s jersey I don’t yet have or was from a special event or celebration I was quick to add it:
Roman Hamrlik. Whether fact or legend, I’ve heard he chose #44 because he was a Babych fan like me as a young defenseman even though he grew up in the Czech Republic. The Canadiens’ Centennial Celebration series of jerseys are great reminders of the unique hockey sweater designs of the early days of hockey so when “Hammer” played for them in a game wearing this beauty it was a “no-brainer” to add.
Francis Bouillon is the epitome of a heart and effort guy from the east end of Montreal. So, it was only natural to customize the infamous Centennial Celebrations “Barber Pole” jersey with his name and number.
Alec Martinez is another great player who, outside of his 2014 Stanley Cup winning goal, is overshadowed by star players on his team but he plays the game the right way. This throwback purple takes me right back to the glory days of hockey card collecting.
Kevin Bieksa is another guy that every team hates to play against but you love to have him on your side. It was a sad day when he left Vancouver for Anaheim but he’s still a favorite. *Note that he wore #2 his first season there before getting his customary #3 back this season.
Speaking of old Canucks both the Flying V and “Haaaaaarold” Snepsts are simply iconic!
I could go on and on about other defensemen’s jerseys in the collection but I do have two forwards that I’m proud to have:
Al Secord: I was lucky to watch him play many times in person versus Winnipeg as a kid and his effort level going up and down the boards, helping his defensemen sticks with me today. Max Lapierre was all grit and character who was key in the Canucks’ 2011 Cup run; another real “love him or hate him” player! (and I can’t wait to see him in Canada’s 2018 Olympic team).
So, whose jersey is next? I just may add a third forward’s: that of Auston Matthews – the kid does everything exceptionally great! Then again, Derek Engelland's Golden Knights inaugural season jersey would be the precise example of a character player with a unique story that fits perfectly into the collection.
If you’re worried about a player moving on from his current team too soon after buying his jersey I often check the contract status online. Doing so will let you see how long that player may be locked up and whether he has a no trade or no move clause. Although long-term contracts with an NMC or NTC clause don’t always guarantee he’ll be with the team for the duration it gives you an idea of how long your jersey may remain current; unless the player changes his number like how Bieksa was able to have his familiar #3 after donning #2 his first season in Anaheim.
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