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

SIMPSON: The role of local government is changing

Mayor Bob Simpson outlines what mandate creep means for Quesnel

Researchers in B.C. say earlier than usual return of bats or dead bats can indicate trouble, such as signs of white-nose syndrome. (Cathy Koot photo)
Public help is essential for monitoring for bat disease

Anyone finding a dead bat is asked to report it to the BC Community Bat Program

In this Nov. 21, 2019 file photo, Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck at Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. The much-hyped unveil of Tesla’s electric pickup truck went off script Thursday night when supposedly unbreakable window glass shattered twice when hit with a large metal ball. The failed stunt, which ranks high on the list of embarrassing auto industry rollouts, came just after Musk bragged about the strength of “Tesla Armor Glass” on the wedge-shaped “Cybertruck.” (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)
FOREST INK: Electric vehicles the future, not present of industry

Jim Hilton looks at where electric vehicles need to go

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
EDITOR’S COLUMN: Optimism at council

Cassidy Dankochik enjoyed the news from the City of Quesnel’s most recent meeting

Sandi Griffiths is the region’s new district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
New MOTI district manager takes the wheel in Williams Lake

Sandi Griffiths replaces Todd Hubner who retired recently

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read