A hockey jersey that symbolizes the handover of greatness from one era to another is to go on the block this week at a Montreal auction.
A sports lover some call the Wayne Gretzky of Wayne Gretzky collectors has decided to sell the jersey worn by the Great One during his entire breakout season.
"It's a phenomenal jersey," said Shawn Chaulk, who made headlines last summer when he sold a trove of game-used Gretzky sticks, pucks, skates, gloves and jerseys — enough to make a hockey fan weak in the knees.
This time, Chaulk is selling what may be the jewel in the helmet — the blue jersey Gretzky wore when he scored a record 92 goals during the 1981-82 season, a mark that still stands.
It was Feb. 24, 1982, during a game against Buffalo when Gretzky broke Phil Esposito's old single-season scoring record of 76.
Everyone figured Gretzky would break the record that night because he scored almost every night. But he had been kept off the board until the last half of the third period.
Then he potted three — bang, bang, bang — during the last seven minutes of the game.
Chaulk has an old newspaper photo taken after that game: Gretz and Espo, sitting together just after the young phenom broke the older player's record. Gretzky's face is still flushed from the 6-3 triumph.
The same marks and loose threads seen in that photo are the ones on the jersey being sold off at Classic Auctions.
"It's got significant wear," Chaulk said. "It's dirty. It's got lots of marks and identifiable intricacies and burns. It's an amazing shirt."
The price? Perhaps $250,000, Chaulk guesses, but anything can happen at auctions.
If that's too rich, there are other items. Chaulk is selling the puck Gretzky shot to score that historic natural hat trick. The '81-82 gloves, on the Great One's hands the night he reached his 200th point, are also up for bids.
And there's the stick he used to score his 212th point, the second-highest total he would ever reach.
Chaulk's collection is much reduced from the days when his downstairs office held a forest of Gretzky sticks and a dressing room of No. 99 jerseys.
But he's not done collecting yet.
"I was just in Edmonton last week and I flew a guy over from Sweden and bought Gretzky's 1984 white Team Canada jersey from him.
"I've still got the bug."