I found it in a thrift shop with a price tag of $4.99. I instantly snatched it off the rack and held it tight like I had just won a prize. Upon further inspection of this hockey jersey my excitement grew. Mint condition. I stood in the aisle of the store and threw up my phone for some research.
I wasn’t sure what I would find, but I was hoping for a familiar face. That’s one of the cool parts about thrifting. First you find a piece of clothing, then with the help of the internet you can quickly study up. You can find out all kinds of stuff you maybe didn’t know. All I knew was the Windsor Spitfires were a junior team at the same level as the Kamloops Blazers. They must have some notable NHL alumni, as they all do.
To my surprise when I goggle searched “Windsor Spitfires” a picture of Taylor Hall popped up wearing the exact jersey, in his hands he hoisted the Memorial Cup. I kept scrolling. In disbelief I learned of his many accomplishments.
Taylor actually won the Memorial Cup twice. He was selected tournament MVP both times (a title that only he holds). He was also named the rookie of the year for the OHL and CHL with the Spitfires. A member of Team Canada, he was selected 1st overall in the NHL entry draft, to the Edmonton Oilers. All this happened about six years ago before he started his successful pro career.
I knew right away what I needed to do.
I needed to customize the shirt turning it from average to exceptional.
I had an old friend that was a life long Edmonton Oilers fan. My plan was to give it to him, someone that could appreciate it and love it more than I could.
The only problem was that I was in Sault St. Marie Ontario. It was going to take some time before I could get home and put my plan into action. Over the next few weeks as I drove past the Great Lakes and onto the Parries, I dreamed about the gift. He was going to love it.
I was most of the way home from my tour across the country when my heart broke. Taylor Hall had been traded to the New Jersey Devils. “What are the chances…” I thought. My bubble had officially burst. My die hard Oiler fan would surely no longer be interested.
I racked my brain trying to think up a suitable home for it. It was a size small so it’s best suited for a teenager or a female.
Maybe I could just keep it in my own personal collection. If I ever found another girlfriend I could make her wear it when we go snowboarding. But I already have a classic Hartford Whalers jersey for that.
Then I thought about giving it to the best female player in Lillooet. Whoever gets it would need to be a hockey person, so I asked her if she knew who Taylor Hall was. She responded “I think I’ve heard of her…” With that, I knew that option was out.
Then I remembered another old friend. Probably the biggest hockey fan I know. I also remembered that I owe him a jersey after he helped me out a few years back with a signed Jarome Iginla tarp… The perks when you work for the Calgary Flames.
When I did my research I found out that Taylor Hall played some of his Minor Hockey in Calgary. Perhaps my friend could find his old coach or club to pass it on to.
Maybe the man himself is the best one to have it. My friend could make the play the next time the Devils are in town. I’m sure he could find this VERY classy jersey its rightful home. Taylor could sign it and give it to a family member or a sick kid at the children’s hospital. Who knows where it will end up.
People questioned why I would spend $100 and go through all the effort only to turn around and give it away to a complete stranger. I guess it’s just a way of paying it forward.
I like to think of it like catching a big fish and then releasing it back into the ocean, only to be caught again by someone else. Or putting a message in a bottle and hoping for the best. Inside the tag I wrote a message to the next would be owner “A Gift From Lillooet B.C.”
I also think it makes for a good story. The hockey gods would be pleased with this one.
*Update the Jersey has now been all the way to New Jersey to get signed by the man himself. It made it’s way back to Calgary where it’s been sent back across North America to the Greater Kingston AAA Hockey Club.
Taylor played his minor hockey there and they’re holding their 1st annual Taylor Hall Minor Hockey Tournament. I emailed the organizer and told him that I wanted to donate a prize for one of the kids. After sending him the jersey I got this note back:
I wanted to let you know that your donated Jersey was a big hit this weekend. We decided to keep it simple and do a draw for a visiting player to win the jersey. We had it on display over the weekend and completed the draw on Saturday at noon.
The winning player was Brayden Bruce (#12 York Simcoe Express, age 11). He was playing when we did the draw and presented it to him after the game in the locker room. He was very happy.
I will email you a picture tomorrow.