Jeff Veillette: 31 for 31 - Pacific Division
A little over a decade ago, a high-school-aged me decided that, at some point in his life, he was going to have the jersey of every team in the National Hockey League in his closet. Maybe some teams more than others, and not every sweater would have the same story, but we'd get there.
This journey started just a few blocks away from the CoolHockey head office, so over the years, we've built up a pretty great relationship - one that has led to the completion of this collection, as they've filled the final three gaps needed to complete it.
Over the next several posts, I'm going to pick one sweater I own from each team and talk a little about it. In many of these cases, I may have "better" or "rarer" uniforms for the respective teams, but these were the ones that spoke to me the most.
Today’s focus is on the Pacific Division.
We'll kick this off with what's probably the worst customization job in my collection. The fonts are right, but the colour of the name is wrong, and.. I don't think any of this is fabric. It's layers of vinyl, and up close, it's not particularly pretty.
I have a much better customized Ryan Getzlaf sweater from recent years, and could've chosen that one, but this is one where I'm going to sacrifice technical quality for sentimental. That Disney Duck is one of the most iconic logos in modern sports history, and when you think of it, most memories involve Paul Kariya streaking down the left wing, either to set someone up or fire a cannon in motion. When you put this sweater on, no one worries about the imperfections - they focus on the legend and the memories, and while I'll definitely get a better-quality version of this jersey down the line, the love I still have for this flawed piece of fabric reminds me of why we collect these things in the first place.
The second of two blank jerseys featured in this series, this was my first adult-sized sweater. My father found it at a thrift store for $7 in 2003, and I distinctly remember wearing it to the first day of Grade 7 - along with many other days since.
Now that the Yotes have retroed this sweater, I'll probably get a customized Adidas with a current player instead of debating who in the past to put on this one. In a way, the lack of investment is part of the sentimental value of the sweater. Plus, it's a look that is so distinct and cool that as a blank, it comes off as something that isn't just a hockey sweater.
This might be the most conventional and obvious pick out of any of the sweaters I've mentioned in this series. I'm 99% sure that every single person in Calgary has one of these in a closet somewhere, and that's how I managed to get a new-with-tags one for half the price of a present-day blank.
Iginla is the greatest player in Flames history, bar none, and one of the best players of his generation. More importantly, he was and is a great ambassador for Calgary, and the sport at large - a guy who was tough as nails but as classy and respectful as they came at the same time.
"So who is Shannon, anyway?"
I picked this jersey up from a local eBay seller after a bit of negotiation, autograph and all. I was a big fan of the Todd McFarlane-created look at the time - it was a significant fork from the Oilers' classic look, but from an alternate jersey, that's more than fine by me. It reminded me a lot of a "turn forward the clock" design you may have seen from the MLB a few years prior.
Comrie wasn't the star of that era, far from it, but he was that exact level of player that you'd remember just enough. He had a cool number, and the fun fact about him being a furniture heir and hockey being more of a hobby than a long-term income for him always gets people. I still haven't decided whether to try to remove just the name on the autograph, the whole thing, or just pretend my name is Shannon whenever I wear it.
Despite having a lot of double names in my collection, I've tried to avoid them as much as possible for this tour around the league. However, three of our last four teams are new additions courtesy of CoolHockey, and I used this addition to work towards one of my side-collections. As mentioned in my Metropolitan division post, I'm a huge Kovalchuk fan, and while his time in Los Angeles didn't go great, I still wanted him for completionist's sake.
I'm just sad that his departure to Montreal came before 90s night - I would've loved to have done the Chevy logo throwback instead, but we'll happily settle for the home.
It's honestly really surprising it's taken so long for me to get a Sharks jersey - they have one of the best-looking brands in all of sports, but I think the combination of that and being a middling-market team means that jerseys don't make it into other major cities to go on clearance, and second-hand jerseys are hard to come by and in-demand.
This was a really, really tough pick. Particularly when a player like Joe Thornton is on the table, and not already in my rotation – a Top 20 player of all time deserves his recognition, after all! But I’m holding out hope that he comes home for one more summer before committing to a particular team for him. Erik Karlsson, on the other hand, can be reasonably expected to be in San Jose for the long haul, and also deserves his respect as one of the best players we’ve ever seen – and that CoolHockey-sewn 65 just looks so nice on that Stealth Black.
I mentioned in my Atlantic division post that Pavel Bure was one of my co-idols growing up, and to this day is my All-Time favourite player. My all-time favourite jersey is the black "skate", and I have him on one of those. With all of that in mind - how does this end up with someone else in his spot?
It's simple - this jersey is super rare in it's OG form, its wacky, it's weird, and it's the perfect player to have on it. Mogliny was as flashy as this odd sublimation gradient tries to reflect, and much like you don't often think of this sweater when thinking of this era of the Canucks, you'll definitely remember it once it's shown to you - much like you might remember Mogilny more as a Sabre, Devil, or Leaf, but when someone mentions his time in Vancouver, it all comes rushing back.
I picked this one up on eBay for just $50 last year, and I think it's the loudest I've ever yelled after sniping a sweater.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the newest NHL team, and the third of CoolHockey's three contributions to closing this series off - the Vegas Golden Knights.
There were a lot of good potential choices here. You could go with some of the stars they've recently brought in (Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty), the goalie who led the way on their cup run (Marc-Andre Fleury), the first goal scorer (James Neal), the man with the magic hair (William Karlsson) the local hero (Deryk Engelland), or all sorts of others. I could've even with David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikita Gusev or Vadim Shipachyov as a bit of a deep cut meme. For a team just starting out, there's already a lot of great choices for sweaters.
I settled on Marchessault because he's the type of once-undervalued player that my day-to-day hockey work seeks to find, he cut his teeth to get to a moment of opportunity like he had in 2018, and was an instrumental part of that run. Plus, 81 is a great number.