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Why do we collect hockey jerseys?

What is it about them that drives us with an urge to fill our closets?

2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

My closets are generally well organized, but there is one in my house that’s less organized than the others: the one where my hockey jerseys live.

I have a modest collection, of just 17 jerseys. Eight of them are Blues jerseys from various eras. The newest is a Jaden Schwartz Winter Classic jersey, the oldest is this one:

Do I need 17 hockey jerseys? No. A good portion of them I don’t have a regular opportunity to wear - they’e Atlanta Thrashers jerseys, and obviously I don’t have season tickets anymore. The Blues jerseys I wear at games I can make it to in St. Louis and Nashville, but those trips aren’t regular. I have local college hockey, and I take that chance to mix and match jerseys. Sometimes it’s a Blues sweater, sometimes it’s a Thrashers sweater, and once in a while I trot out the Peyote Coyote that I saved from when my dad cleaned out his jersey collection in the mid-90s (I should’ve saved them all, dammit).

I’m persnickety in what I buy - most of mine are older. There are a couple 90s Starter jerseys, which aren’t official CCM/KOHO quality, but for the most part I stick with the CCM or KOHOs. They’re better quality to me - there’s more heft. They don’t snag (looking at you, Winter Classic jersey). They feel like an actual sweater should feel. I have a couple RBK Edge Thrashers practice jerseys that I bought at an equipment sale for $25 a pop. I don’t wear those often, and I didn’t even when the Thrashers were still here. They feel like shirts. That’s part of the reason I don’t have many recent Blues jerseys - those RBK ones put me off of them, and then the price tag didn’t help. The cost of an official jersey vs. a Fanatics replica is insane and the quality difference between the two is glaring, like they were with the Reebok jerseys.

I’m an old-school hockey snob, I guess.

I’ve bought jerseys because they were unique, like my Russia Valeri Bure jersey. I’ve bought them because I love the design or color scheme, like the 2004 All Star Western Conference jersey that I have. I’ve bought huge oversized ones (appropriately enough, one is a Tkachuk) because some days I want to wear a hoodie and a jersey, or I want a big one to lounge about in.

It’s like buying any other piece of clothing, I guess, except that closet of 17 jerseys means more to me than my closet of clothes. They’re a snapshot of history. Those Clown Jerseys? That’s me being a teenager. The early 90s road blue? That’s my memory of watching Hull and Oates on KPLR, sitting on the floor in my great aunt and great uncle’s family room. Those Thrashers jerseys? A team that’s gone, but who led me to some great friendships and the world of hockey blogging.

That Patrick Stefan jersey? Yeah, maybe it’s a running joke or a reminder of a poor first choice in an entry draft. But it reminds me of the summer of 1999, when I got to watch a hockey team grow firsthand.

On that note, why do you collect? What is it that you look for in a jersey - is it rarity? Is it as a reminder? Do you focus on the new, old, or everything in between?