A piece of hockey history is up for sale, with a rare Vancouver Millionaires sweater, seen in an undated handout photo, hitting the auction block. The cream and maroon wool cardigan is believed to have belonged to Hall of Fame goalie Hugh Lehman, who backstopped the Millionaires to a Pacific Coast Hockey Association championship in 1922-23. (Lelands Auction photo)

A piece of hockey history is up for sale, with a rare Vancouver Millionaires sweater, seen in an undated handout photo, hitting the auction block. The cream and maroon wool cardigan is believed to have belonged to Hall of Fame goalie Hugh Lehman, who backstopped the Millionaires to a Pacific Coast Hockey Association championship in 1922-23. (Lelands Auction photo)

Hockey history up for sale as 97-year-old Vancouver Millionaires sweater hits auction

It was made in a time when even hockey’s top stars would squeeze every possible ounce of life out of their equipment

A unique piece of hockey history is up for sale, with a rare Vancouver Millionaires sweater hitting the auction block.

The cream and maroon wool cardigan is believed to have belonged to Hall of Fame goalie Hugh Lehman, who backstopped the Millionaires to a Pacific Coast Hockey Association championship in 1922-23.

About 10 to 15 sweaters were made for players and staff to celebrate the achievement, but the one currently up for sale is believed to be the last of its kind, said Mike Heffner, president of Lelands Auction.

“Of those 10 or 15, it’s amazing that even one survived,” he said. “Because you put clothing dormant in storage for even 10 years, if they’re not cared for properly, moths can get at them, they can deteriorate. And having something that is (almost) 100 years old, like this, that survived through so many different stages is incredible.”

Not only did the sartorial souvenir survive, it remains in excellent condition, complete with the original wood buttons, the remnants of a tag, and a patch on the left front pocket with the Millionaires’ iconic “V” logo.

It was made in a time when even hockey’s top stars would squeeze every possible ounce of life out of their equipment, Heffner said.

“Players wore the same jersey for the whole season and sometimes for multiple seasons because teams didn’t have the money that teams have now.,” he said, noting that if a jersey was ripped during a game, it would simply be sewn up and given back to the player.

“The garments weren’t worth anything back then. They were considered just sweaty, old hockey jerseys.”

When a piece like the Millionaires sweater finally outlived its usefulness, it wasn’t carefully packed away to be preserved for posterity, either.

“All it was considered was a shirt or a jacket or the time, and once it wore out, things were discarded,” Heffner said. “They were thrown in the trash. And they were worn until they couldn’t be worn any longer, just like hockey jerseys.”

The sweater currently up for sale was previously displayed at the Original Hockey Hall of Fame in Kingston, Ont., and while Heffner said he can’t prove its ownership, the story that’s been passed down is that it belonged to Lehman.

Born in Pembroke, Ont., in 1885, Lehman played 22 seasons of professional hockey and won the Stanley Cup with the Millionaires in 1915.

He spent two years in the NHL, too, joining the Chicago Blackhawks at age 41. Lehman set a record in November 1926 as the oldest goalie to win his debut when Chicago beat the Toronto St. Patricks.

That record stood until February of this year, when 42-year-old Zamboni driver David Ayres caught international attention for coming in as an emergency backup for Carolina and helping the Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3.

Lehman was known for being one of the first goalies to regularly leave his net, and he was nicknamed “Old Eagle Eyes” because he was so good at tracking loose pucks.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1958. Three years later, he died at the age of 75.

Heffner expects the unique Millionaires sweater will end up in a private collection, but said its next owner may also donate or lend it out to a museum where it could be appreciated by the public.

As of Thursday, the top bid for the piece of hockey history was US$3,137. Heffner believes it could fetch as much as $10,000 before the auction closes on Dec. 11.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

crowe shop
Shop class receives wonderful response from West Kootenay residents

“Each item came with its own little story which was really neat to hear.” - Dale Smyth

(File photo)
Rossland council surveys residents for input on new city plan

Rosslands Official Community Plan has run its course, and the city is nudging residents for input

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

View of the city from West Trail. Photo: Ryden Wahl
What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email it large or actual-size to editor@trailtimes.ca

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

Interior Health has declared the Cariboo Chilcotin a community cluster. (Angie Mindus photo)
Interior Health declares Cariboo Chilcotin region a COVID-19 cluster, 215 cases since Jan. 1

Most cases are related to transmission at social events and gatherings in Williams Lake

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read