It's not often you get to see a hockey sweater from the pre-Original Six era, but one such item is up for auction right now. Lelands auction house is currently taking bids on a 1922-23 Vancouver sweater and it is a sight to behold.
While there is a constant debate in hockey circles these days about whether players wear "jerseys" or "sweaters," there is no debate with this one: it is literally a cardigan-style sweater made of dyed wool with wooden buttons up the middle.
Vancouver was playing in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association at the time, winning the league title in 1921 and 1922 before changing their name from the Millionaires to the Maroons for the 1922-23 campaign. The patch on the left breast was stitched on after Vancouver won the 1923 PCHA title and only about 10-15 of these sweaters are believed to have been made (they weren't worn as uniforms, they were given out at the end of the season as championship mementos).
The coolest part of this sweater, other than the age, is the 'V' logo on the pocket. No doubt Vancouver fans will remember its use on the throwback Canucks jerseys worn by the NHL team at the 2014 Heritage Classic and for those who love their hockey history, it's the logo worn by the Millionaires/Maroons during their tenure in the PCHA.
The Canucks have had an incredibly colorful uniform history during their tenure in the NHL and while their looks have inspired both love and vitriol - all the way up to and including the team's Reverse Retro jersey that was recently released - that Millionaires throwback was nearly impossible to hate.
This particular sweater is believed to have belonged to goaltender Hughie Lehman, who would go on to become the very first netminder for the Chicago Black Hawks. It had previously been displayed at the Kingston Hall of Fame in Ontario and Lelands believes this is the only piece of Millionaires/Maroons gear publicly offered for sale.
It's a fantastic piece of hockey history and it's hard not to fall down a research rabbit hole when items like this surface. For example, the PCHA put together a women's tournament in 1921, featuring three teams with incredibly unique names: The Vancouver Amazons, Seattle Vamps and Victoria Kewpies.
As for the Millionaires/Maroons, they made their mark by featuring hockey legends such as Cyclone Taylor and Frank Patrick and winning the Stanley Cup in 1915. And not to open up a West Coast wound, but they are still the last Vancouver team to lift that championship trophy.