The Beginning of an Obsession turned Collection


Let’s talk about that closet… you know the closet.  That one that houses the jerseys, jackets, t-shirts, caps and other bits of sports merchandise that your significant other doesn’t let you keep with your “regular” clothes.  We all have that collection — whether it’s one t-shirt or a hundred jerseys.

My make-shift jersey closet (2004) not long before it collapsed

I currently have a couple of those closets — I’ve amassed so many jerseys over the years they have to be continued into another room.  My first jersey closet collapsed because of the weight of all the jerseys in there.  The bar in my second closet was so warped by the time we moved clothes hangers would just slide down to one side.  Yes, I have quite the collection.

But it had to start somewhere… and today I’ll start with what I hope will become a regular virtual tour through my jersey closets.  We begin with my first jersey.

Yup, that's me, a few months old and already sporting a Toronto Blue Jays cap

As I’m sure you can imagine, I was into logos at a very young age, if it had a sports logo on it I wanted it… the exchange between my mother and I whilst walking around the K-Mart at Parkway Mall would typically go like this:

Chris: “Mooooooooom, can I have this Quebec Nordiques mini-stick? It’s only $2.99”

Mom: “But you don’t even like that team!”

Chris: “Yeah, but no one else at school has anything from that team!”

It was a sound argument in my eyes and it still is.

My parents would fulfill my wishes usually at Christmas or on my birthday.  Every year I’d get at least something with a sports logo on it.  From the brand new all-blue Blue Jays road cap at Christmas ’89, to a pair of Pittsburgh Penguins 1991 Wales Conference Champions pyjamas, or even a deck of Washington Capitals red-white-and-blue playing cards, I loved it all, the more random the better!

But there was one type of cloth that I always asked for but never got year-after-year… a hockey jersey.

Oh that elusive hockey jersey… I must’ve asked for a hockey jersey every other day for four years, and when you’re a kid four years is an eternity, practically half your life.

All that persistence finally paid off that one magical Christmas morning in 1993… gift after gift, like every other year, no jersey was to be found — I had accepted that it just wasn’t going to happen this year.  That is until my dad reaches under the tree, pulls out a hidden present and ta-da!  There it was!  My first hockey jersey… what every Canadian kid dreams of (they even wrote a book about it called the Hockey Sweater, check it out).

So was it the classic jersey of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Montreal Canadiens? Nah, Dad knew too many kids would have that one at school, he knew I had to be the only one to have this one… and he picked the perfect one — so what was my first-ever hockey jersey?

A road Florida Panthers – the new expansion team… good job Dad!

Our Grade 9 high school photo (1996), still wearing the jersey regularly after 3 years

I rocked that jersey, I wore it at least twice a week from the 6th grade well into my junior year of high school.  I stopped when another kid in my class also wore a Panthers jersey, I didn’t hate him for it, we actually became good friends and just last year he spent 20 hours on a train just to be a member of my wedding party.

All those years the Panthers were my #2 team, whenever the Leafs were out I was a die-hard Panthers fan… that jersey saw so much daylight during the ’96 cup run and subsequent hot-streak to start the 96-97 season… when John Vanbiesbrouck was picked as the cover boy for NHL 97 guess what game I suddenly had to have?

I wore it in my Grade 7 school photo, I was wearing it when I ran into Don Cherry at a junior hockey game and he signed it; the day after Pavel Bure was traded to the Panthers I rushed out and got BURE 10 stitched over Don’s signature — it was a rush decision, and I now wish I didn’t get it crested but I was the only kid in school with a Pavel Bure Panthers jersey and that’s what counted, right?

After all that love, today the Panthers jersey is hanging in Jersey Closest A (Basketball-Football-Hockey), it still looks as good as new…

Remember when crests were sewn right onto the jersey? You can't get that anymore

Unfortunately that’s all the life this jersey gets these days, I haven’t worn it this century – just hangs there waiting to be moved to another closet one day, constantly being passed over in favour of other jerseys… Hmm, I wonder if it still fits?  Oh what the heck, just this one last time!

How about that?  It still sorta fits.  Gut and all.

So there you have it folks, my first hockey jersey… it was the only one I had until I got a job, after that I was buying a new jersey every week and they never seemed quite as special as this one… maybe I’ll tell their stories one day too.

This entry was posted in Chris, Hockey, Jersey, Misc, NHL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Beginning of an Obsession turned Collection

  1. mike says:

    additional info .. (I think you know this) I saw it in that sports store beside where shoppers drug mart was in 5 points mall , it was hangin near the entrance and what attracted me to it was the colour and overall good look of it and it wasn’t what everyone else already had,, I am surprised it kind of ,sort of fits you or at least you can get it over your shoulders …

  2. paynomind says:

    What a great story. Well told. I realize I’m a little jealous, not of the tomato red sweater from yet another team that didn’t deserve to keep their franchise as much as my favorite team, but of the fact that you have a story. I can’t recall my first jersey. I can’t nessesarily narrow it down to 5 or even 10. I do know there is a picture hanging in my mom’s hall of 8yo me, in an Earl Campbell Oilers jersey, busting through a wall of empty soup cans. Maybe that’s my first. Or the tiny Georgia Tech jersey I have on in my 3month photo, vinyl double zeros competing with my chubby cheeks for attention. Maybe it doesn’t really count until adulthood when I bought an authentic Braves jersey, with no number because I thought I’d be able to add the 5 and GANT for cheaper than the upcharge to have it already sewn on. Or the Thrashers jersey I bought on the weekend just before the franchise opening game I was to attend.

    So, I’m not sure i know what my first jersey was. I’m pretty envious you do.

  3. Scott Jacobs says:

    Hey Chris. I’m an avid fan of the site, so I have to say: wow, the Panthers? I never would have guessed that! Go figure. That was actually my first jersey (hockey was my first love as a kid) and Florida’s run to the Cup FInals got me into sports. But I also grew up in South Florida. I had like 3 Beezer autographed pictures in my room. Or have? I think I still have them. I had a huge collection of jerseys as a kid, but they were all from like Ross or TJmaxx or whatnot, so I had all the knockoff jerseys. I had so many random basketball jerseys like Horace Grant and I think I had a Bruce Smith Bills jersey. I still have the Panthers jersey, but it no longer fits me. Still, I think that’s funny.

  4. Scott Jacobs says:

    BTW: The Panthers logo has always been my favorite logo. I’ve always thought the intricate detail in it was really unique, and if they had not missed the playoffs for 10 years it’d be one of the more iconic logos in the league (besides the old, olde ones of course)

    … just one man’s opinion.

  5. Matt Marczel says:

    Great story Chris. I remember my first hockey jersey, it was a Chicago Blackhawks jersey I got for my 12th birthday way back in 1991. I was a Blackhawks fan back then, and didn’t really care a whole lot for my home town team the Canucks at the time, well cause quite frankly they were terrible back then. I first started collecting hockey cards around 1988 and pretty much immediately became a fan of the Blackhawks logo and uniforms, which was then that I started following the team. They had a great team back then with players like Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour (who as of yesterday is now a HHOF member), Chris Chelios, Steve Larmer, Steve Smith, and Troy Murray just to name a few. My Blackhawks fandom didn’t last long however, as once Pavel Bure came to town and really started his career off with a bang, Canucks hockey actually became exciting to watch. From that point onward I never looked back, as that was when I became a die hard Canucks fan.
    To this day I still have that jersey, although it’s folded up in a box with others in the storage somewhere along with my thousands of hockey cards . My how times have changed, it’s a complete reversal from how it was 20 years ago, I now love the Canucks and loathe the Blackhawks. It’s hard to believe that I actually disliked the Canucks at one point.
    I currently have a closet full of jerseys in my den at home, mainly reserved for my Canucks jerseys, as well as various other game worns I bought over the recent years. I’m currently really into the vintage jerseys especially those of the ’70’s era and earlier, which I started collecting around 7 or 8 years ago. Really love the vintage jersey fabrics, and the nostalgia.

  6. Brad says:

    Wonderful story Chris! Brings back memories of my first jersey! My parents got me a Rodney Hampton jersey for Christmas 1992, the year after the NY Giants won the Superbowl. I loved the blue and thought it was the coolest because all the other kids at school had Packers or Bears jerseys. I coupled that with my obligatory Brett Favre Packers jersey, because I was and still am a die hard Packers fan, and my 1994 Phoenix Cardinals jersey (complete with Cardinals head & AZ Flag on the sleeves). My collection is just around 100 jerseys but moreso of just Wisconsin sports teams. I do occasionally pick up jerseys though that I think are just cool and that I feel no one else has.

  7. Zo says:

    That high school pic looks like Humberside CI. Am I right?

  8. JustinF says:

    Have you ever made any sort of career out of sports logos outside of this website? Have you ever designed logos for a minor team?

  9. Joe says:

    As a Florida Panthers fan this story made my day! Totally wasn’t expecting it XD

  10. Frank Torres says:

    Great story on the Panther’s jersey. There are not many of us around who claim to love the Panthers. By the way I too went out and bough a Pavel Bure jersey fro $200, just to lose him s few years later. However his jersey and my Marino #13 are nicely snad sefely kept on my “Sports Jersey Closet.” Great story!!!

  11. Jeason Gagnon says:

    Man i am a die hard habs fan and i live in Fort Lauderdale 15 minutes from the arena Panthers are my second team, i have a beezer jersey i was 3 feet away from him to get it signed and they cup the line before me… Glad the Red is back and i love your story

  12. Mitchell says:

    I almost have the exact same story…only mine is from Christmas 1991, and it was the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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