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This edition of the Collector's Corner is brought to you by avid jersey collector, David McCormick!
Whether it’s your first hockey jersey, you're 51st jersey, or your more-than-51st jersey, the most difficult question that us collectors have to answer after “which jersey to add” and “with whose name and number to customize” is: “where to display” them?
As a young defenceman growing up in Manitoba, I idolized Dave Babych of the (1980s) Winnipeg Jets. My uncle, who had Jets season tickets and would take my dad and me to games, still reminds me how I cried and cried when Babych was traded to the Hartford Whalers. This was my introduction to the business of hockey and, as it turned out, my passion for hockey jerseys. Somehow, my uncle managed to get me this classic Whalers’ green jersey, which was no easy task in 1985! When I wasn’t wearing my new prized possession, my mom would fold it (argh!) and tell me to put it away in my dresser. Of course, I wanted to always look at it and show it off to my friends: the jersey that my hero was now wearing! So, I’d hang it on my wall with push pins, the back collar still has an indent from doing this. A couple of years later the sting of the trade wore off and I received this Jets jersey. The silk-screened logo jerseys were a little easier to find at the local Woolworths store in 1987. Again, it ended up folded more often than not and as I quickly outgrew them they (thankfully) found their way into storage boxes for the next couple of decades while I pursued school and being an “All-Star” intramural and beer league player.
Although my skill set growing up as a young player had my coaches tell me to try to play like Babych I always admired Ray Bourque. In 1997 I received his Bruins’ jersey for Christmas. I was in university in Vancouver at the time, pinning it to my dorm wall wasn’t all that cool, but I had to display it somehow so wearing it to the Vancouver All-Star Game festivities in 1998 where I got to meet Bobby Orr was more than cool and the best way to display it for an afternoon!
Life moved on and it wasn’t really until I met my wife and her hockey-crazy Czech parents and established a career for myself that the collection really took off. All that jersey-passionate people want for gifts is the next bright, bold, unique jersey. We’re really easy to buy gifts for! That is when every birthday, Christmas, anniversary, and random day of the year when there was a Coolhockey.com sale that another jersey would get added to the collection. Though they never ever got folded they weren’t getting their full appreciation in a closet. Pretty soon, the hanger bar started to bend, split and finally break like my old Sher-Wood P.M.P 7030 Bourque pattern sticks. To solve the problem of being able to better see and appreciate my jerseys like I wanted with that first Whalers’ beaut and to have something of strength from which to hang them I looked to the most sturdy and strongest solution possible – a Bauer Supreme 3030 stick shaft with the broken blade sawed off. By screwing a couple of hooks from a beam in the ceiling of my den I then attached the stick lengthwise the Canadian way – with duct tape and zap straps. (Pro tip: skip the duct tape and zap straps. They will break; usually in the middle of the night! Find big enough U or Eye hooks to slide the stick shaft through at both ends) As the picture shows you can safely hang at least 67 jerseys depending on the length of the stick. So, if you only have a few jerseys, start with a Johnny Gaudreau-length stick or, if your collection like mine, this Steve Staios pro-stock Bauer twig will work. I know others have bigger collections so you’d be wise to find a Willie Mitchell length stick to use.
While it’s nice to keep your jerseys for display in your den, man, or woman cave they will collect dust and only a select few that you invite into your home will ever see the true art that are hockey jerseys. Would the Mona Lisa really be truly appreciated if da Vinci kept his Masterpiece in his basement? I encourage you to wear your jerseys and talk about them. I’ve met so many interesting people and made many new friends from simply wearing different jerseys out and about. I’m a suit guy for work so people are often surprised to see me in a hockey jersey. I also play a lot of drop-in hockey so I make a point of wearing a different jersey almost every time out on the ice. “What jersey is it this week?” has become a fun talking point in the dressing room and has brought other guys into collecting jerseys (you’re welcome, Coolhockey!)
Ultimately, the best way to display your collection is by wearing your jersey to watch the team play. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not cool to wear a jersey to watch a game in person at the rink or from your couch to watch Hockey Night in Canada on TV. Collecting jerseys is fun! Talking about the one you’re wearing and why you chose the name and number you have on it is more fun. It takes us all back to being little kids looking at the bright uniform colours on our hockey cards and turning tears into smiles when we all received our first Dave Babych (or whoever was your favorite player’s) jersey.
Want to guest write for the CoolHockey blog? Check out this post and you could receive $50 toward your next purchase just for writing about jerseys!