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

Tom Lennox finds peace when he runs in the Cumberland Forest. He hasn’t missed a day in nearly a year. Photo supplied
Cumberland runner nears 366 consecutive days on the trails

Cumberland resident Tom Lennox has been running a minimum of five kilometres… Continue reading

Courtenay’s Ace Brewing Company’s Jet Fuel IPA was chosen for second place in the annual Canadian Brewing Awards. Photo submitted
Courtenay brewery takes silver medal at Canadian Brewing Awards

“It’s huge - they are the biggest awards in Canada that you can get (in the brewing industry).”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board is concerned about having to fund more than just hospitals like the one in the Comox Valley. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona board worried over funding more than hospitals

Island Health points to seniors care to reduce demand at acute care sites

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Courtenay area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace by installing 360-degree glass panels for year-round use.
Comox winery aims for year-round experience with glass-surrounded terrace

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

First We Eat: Food Security North of 60 is featured at the Feb. 5-13 World Community Film Festival. Photo supplied
First We Eat celebrates resourcefulness of Yukoners

First We Eat: Food Security North of 60 celebrates the ingenuity, resourcefulness… Continue reading

Most Read