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Book puts Hall of Fame hockey jerseys on display

Posted Nov 11, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Mar 27, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Professional hockey has a colorful history, but the bright splashes of color on NHL jerseys make the sport even more distinctive.

When I was a kid, my Cub Scout pack’s monthly meeting during the winter months invariably would contain a grainy film of the previous season’s Stanley Cup Finals. I always loved the Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. There was something about its rich blue fabric and white maple leaf logo that I always enjoyed. It also was the year the Maple Leafs won its last Stanley Cup (1967), defeating the Montreal Canadiens four games to two.

While Toronto’s uniforms were beautiful in simplicity, there are many other jerseys that are colorful and have historical significance. If you travel to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, you can see how the hockey jersey evolved through the years. If you can’t make the trip to Canada, author Steve Milton can give you the next best thing.

In “Hockey Hall of Fame Book of Jerseys,” (Firefly Books; hardback, $35, 192 pages), Milton tells the stories behind the 100 of the most iconic and/or interesting hockey jerseys in pro hockey history.

It’s a large, coffee-table sized book, with more than 400 color photographs. The book contains an eclectic sampling of jerseys, including those worn by NHL greats, all-stars, international stars and champions (Stanley Cup and others). If you love hockey history, just looking at these uniforms will send you into a nostalgic feeling.

Many of these jerseys are still battered and torn, and a fan can almost sense the hits and slashes that took place. There is the Boston Bruins jersey worn by Phil Esposito, heavily repaired. Head back to the 1950s and view the jersey worn by Canadiens legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Go back even farther to see the unique jersey worn by the Ottawa Senators in the 1920s — stitched across the front was a patch that read “Champions of the World 1920-21.”

There are even photos of jerseys from the 1917 Stanley Cup champions — the Seattle Metropolitans. Other jerseys from long-lost franchises are also highlighted — the Windsor Bulldogs, Philadelphia Quakers, Montreal Maroons and New York Americans.

The jersey Wayne Gretzky wore as an 8-year-old in Brantford, Ontario is shown in its threadbare glory, along with the Houston Aeros jersey Gordie Howe wore when he came out of retirement to play on the same squad with his sons in the WHA.

Olympic jerseys belonging to Ken Morrow (1980 U.S. “Miracle on Ice” squad), Al Purvis (Winnipeg Mercurys that won gold for Canada in 1952) and John Coward (1936 Great Britain squad) and colorful jerseys from Finland, France, the Czech Republic, the Soviet Union and Italy are other examples.

Milton brings the photographs to life with his short stories. It’s the perfect book to flip through because of the vivid photography. As NHL fans wait for the labor impasse to end, books like this one will scratch their itch for hockey. It’s much more sedate than watching a game, perhaps, but it certainly will keep the hockey fires burning.


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