Saturday, November 29, 2008

The most obscure jersey in Leafs fan history?

My last post mentioned Leaf jerseys and lead to some comments from fans with odd jersey choices. One guy had Jason Blake, another was thinking of getting a Jeff Finger jersey, and another had an old Sylvain Lefebvre.

Well, I'm pretty sure I can beat that. I mentioned this over at Die Hard Blue and White, but now it's time to tell the Craig Berube story.

In 1991, I decided to ask for a new Leafs jersey for Christmas. That year's team wasn't very good, so there weren't many players to choose from. There was Wendel Clark, of course, but everybody had Wendel jerseys. As a moody teenager, I wasn't going to just go along with the crowd on such an important fashion choice, so Wendel was out.

There was new goalie Grant Fuhr, and some holdovers like Gary Leeman, and Peter Zezl was kind of cool. But I decided that if I was going to be different, I'd go really different. I'd get somebody that nobody else had. I'd get Craig Berube.


Journeyman enforcer Craig Berube was acquired by the Leafs in the Damphousse/Fuhr trade during the 1991 off-season. Like most Leaf tough guys (but not all), he was a popular player with the Gardens faithful. He had some memorable scraps, including this one against Basil McRae, and this one against a future Leaf. Also, he had a bad-ass mullet.

So that's what I asked for (the jersey, not the mullet). And even though it was pretty tough to get a custom jersey back then, my parents came through. On Christmas morning, 1991, I was the proud owner of a brand new #16 Craig Berube jersey, quite possibly the only one ever created.

Some of you who know your Leafs history can see where this is going.

I spent most of the week between Christmas and New Year's doing family things, so I didn't get a chance to wear the jersey right away. But the day after New Year's, I went downtown for the day with a few friends. A perfect time to break out my new fashion statement. I even wore a thick sweater under the jersey so that I wouldn't have to cover it up with a coat.

As we walked around Toronto during the day, the jersey didn't get a lot of attention. But later in the day, I noticed people starting to look my way. And as we headed for the subway ride home in the evening, I was pretty sure that people were actually pointing and talking about me when I walked by.

I was officially the coolest kid in the world, wearing my one-of-a-kind Craig Berube jersey.

On January 2, 1992.


When I got home that night, my dad was waiting for me when I walked in the door. "Nice jersey," he said. "Heard the news?"

It turns out that while I was strutting around downtown Toronto in my jersey, the Leafs had pulled off one of the most famous trades in hockey history, a ten player deal with the Flames. The Leafs had acquired Doug Gilmour, among others, and sent the Flames a package built around Gary Leeman that also included, of course, Craig Berube.

Eight days. That's how long it took my Christmas present to get traded. I wore it once. And I was the only person in Toronto who has mad about the Gilmour deal.

(Epilogue: I decided to keep wearing the jersey anyways, and I credit myself with single-handedly starting the retro jersey fad that would take hold a decade later.)

So what do you think? Do I win the prize for most obscure Leaf jersey of all-time? Or can somebody out there top me? What's the most obscure jersey you've ever owned, or seen? Post away in the comment section.


  1. I was going to do a similar post - you beat me to it.

    Whenever I am lucky to scam tickets to a Leafs game I always seem to see one guy with a Kordic jersey. I would love to have that one.

    I always regretted not getting a Tom Borrasso and Phil Housley jersey for the 5 minutes they were actually leafs during that playoff run that wasn't one year under quinn.

    Other jerseys I would love to have:
    Damian Rhodes (sp?)
    Corey Hirsch
    Guy Lehoux (sp?)
    Lonny Bohonnos

    And any playoff rental that was here for less than half a season.

    So in anyone reading this has some kicking around in their closet. I would be willing to negotiate a fair price.

  2. My personal Leaf jersey 'Rarity' would have to be the now infamous no letter Borshevski.
    My dad has both a Iafrate and a Ing jersey, and my sister owns a Travis Green and a Kypreos (the later she hids lest I burn it).

  3. We used to bug a guy I went to high school with for having a Berube jersey.

    Maybe there was something in the water in Scarborough as Beaupre, Berg and a Cullen jersey were also worn without irony.

  4. My dad has both a Iafrate and a Ing jersey

    Wow, Peter Ing? Was your dad a fan, or was he just paying by the letter?

    Maybe there was something in the water in Scarborough as Beaupre, Berg and a Cullen jersey were also worn without irony.

    Hold on, was that Berg jersey a #10 or a #8? Because Bill Berg was awesome. I still have a game-used Bill Berg stick in the garage.

  5. I found a Dave Andreychuck jersey at a thrift store in Peterborough, though I suppose that isn't so obscure. But, the #71 Mike Foligno jersey I got at a thrift store in Victoria, of all places, has to be the most obscure jersey I've ever seen.

  6. I have no idea what number the Berg jersey was. It was owned by a guy I played summer hockey with. He was crushed when Berg went to the Rangers...Brad Smith was another strangely popular jersey choice way back in the day.

    I always thought the worst jersey choice was when people put their own surname on the back (unless the number is 69, then we're into a whole new territory).

  7. I mean, I own a Wade Belak jersey.

  8. I got you all beat.

    I grew up in St. Catharines during the days of the AHL Saints. Those early 80's Saints teams featured some very good players, like Steve Thomas, Gary Yaremchuk, Barry Melrose (yes, that one), Bill McCreary (yes, that one), and Bob Parent in goal.

    But, the leading scorer on the team, number 19 in your programs, and number 1 in our hearts was Bruce Boudreau. Yes, the same guy who should win the Jack Adams trophy in Washington this year. Bruce played so well, he was called up for a cup of coffee with the Leafs, and I begged my parents for a new Boudreau Leafs sweater, number 35.

    All through high school, whatever team I was on, I had to have number 35.

  9. I think S. wins. A #71 Foligno jersey. I just did the jump.

  10. Great story.

    I have a Wendel Clark Nordiques home(white) jeresy from their last season. They lost in the first round, and then the team moved to Colorado and Wendel was traded to the Island in a 3-way swap with the Devils for Claude Lemiuex. I don't know if that counts as obscure, but because the Nordiques don't exist anymore I just think of it as my Wendel sweater.

    Andreychuk is rare, I don't know why, but I don't see as many as there should be. He was a great player, but his name, like Borschevsky, has an awful lot of letters. It was a lot cheaper to get Clark or Potvin or Gilmour.

    Berg was a relative bargain. (wink)

    I have a friend with number 7, Horton. I like that one a lot.

  11. I had a Berg jersey (#10 - I don't remember him ever wearing #8) in high school. Damn, I wish I knew where that is now.

  12. Great comments everyone. Bruce Boudreau? Wow.

    For some reason, I don't think of Foligno as being obscure. That probably says more about me than it does about him. I'd buy a retro Foligno today if I saw one.

    Re: Berg. The #8 I was referring to was Aki. Bill Berg (aka "The Real Berg") always wore #10. Isn't he still on TV occasionally doing analysis? I know I've seen both him and Osborne. I think Berg's on the NHL Network.

    A #7 Horton jersey would be awesome. I had a buddy in high school with a #22 Williams which I also thought was great.

    Re: putting your own name on a jersey -- this is a contentious issue that I have strong feelings about. I may need to figure out how to post a poll.

    Keep the comments coming!

  13. Re:Ing, My dad always liked Ing, his exact reasoning was, and these are his words "He seems like a stand up guy"

  14. Stand-up guy he was, but he should have given butterfly a shot. I tried to block out Aki from my mind, apparently. Berg, IIRC, is still doing analysis for the NHL network with another great Leaf grinder and former Pete, Dave Reid. TSN used to show it, it was called "The Spin" or something like that. Anyone?

  15. Classic story. Nothing says "I deserve your respect" more than an obscure jersey.

    I had a Gilmour jersey... yawn... but then decided I needed another one and after a few early games in 96/97 I told a friend that if Mike Craig got 5 goals in October that I was getting his #9 jersey... luckily he only got 4... but I was so fired up I got his jersey anyway... he finished the year with 7 goals.

    Luckily later that year I scored a Greg Terrion #7 jersey at value village... so that's my obscure jersey of choice these days.

    1. I doubt the Leafs ever licensed a Terrion jersey for public sale and since Greg Terrion had a break in and much of his stuff was stolen years ago you may have actually gotten your hands on an actual game used jersey!!!

  16. I was wrong to click the post where to comment, sorry. Feel free to delete the other post's one.

    My 2 jersey (1st and 2nd of 2003) are blank, because I buy them asking it to a friend who knew nothing about hockey and was visiting.... Montreal!

    Now I would like to take a Kaberle 3rd jersey.... but your tale is not the best to make me close the deal soon! :-D

    I was trying to buy a Green jersey, too, but the online shop collapsed in these days and few days later Green was dropped.

  17. My obscure jersey is not quite for the Leafs, but is near enough. In one of the late nineties years the Leafs didn't make the playoffs (I think it was 1998), Potvin went to the World Hockey Championship Tournament. My parents were getting me a Team Canada jersey as a gift around that time, and Potvin's inclusion on the team made it easy for me to choose what number would go on the back.

  18. Scout takes it hands down.

    Greg Terrion... Now there was a player who never quit.

  19. I own a #20 Al Secord away jersey.

    How's that for obscure?

    My dad won it in some sort of draw in 1986. He gave it to me a few years later.

    I've worn it to shinny on a few occasions and always get a good laugh from people.

  20. I've got 2 good ones, only 1 of them is a Leaf...

    In college my friend Ellis was notorious for his wry sense of humour.

    1st - He owns a Bates Battaglia jersey. He'd spend hours selling people on the merits of Bates, convinced that Battaglia was the x-factor every time he was given sufficient ice time to contribute.

    2nd - This isn't a Leaf jersey, but it wins the award for most obscure jersey I've ever seen. In our 2nd year of school, there was a teacher strike that lasted 16 days. Ellis and I spend those entire 16 days on a couch, smoking pot and playing NHL 2004 (it wasn't the most recent, but 2004 was the best version of NHL until 08). Because we'd already played the game to death, we decided to play as one of the Finnish SMLiga teams instead of being the Leafs for the 700th time. After playing 5 seasons in 3 weeks, Ellis bought a jersey online, complete with the last name of the captain of our team, who was actually a fiction computer-generated player.

    Combine finding the jersey online with getting lettering and having a Finnish league jersey shipped to Canada, and I believe it may go down as one of the most expensive inside jokes in history.

  21. That's it. I'm never walking by a Value Village again.

  22. I had a buddy in university that went with me downtown to buy a Clark jersey, to replace one that had been stolen. He decides on the way down that he's going to get a jersey too. His choice: Kent Manderville, #18! Her reasoned that he wanted one that everyone didn't have, and he figured in couple years Manderville would be a stud. Everytime he went out in that jersey people would ask him if he was related to Manderville.

  23. Wow.

    OK, not even counting the guy with the fictional video game character (that needs to be its own category), I obviously need to retract my "most obscure" claim.

    Greg Terrion, Kent Manderville and Bates Battaglia all have me beat by a mile.

  24. I'm thinking the only thing that could beat a Bates Battaglia Jersey would be a Wozniewski...

    But then again, with the way he fired a Kennedy style magic puck into the net...there has to be at least one sucker with his name...

  25. Does Terrion still own that gas station in Marmora? Things must have been really bad for the Leafs back in the 80s as Terrion was one of my favourite Leafs.

    I thougth for sure someone would have a #15 Frachescetti jersey out there...

    DGB - If you get a few random defencemen jerseys submitted here, you could do a post on the all-time obscure Leaf jersey line-up with Manderville, Terrion and Battaglia up front and Beaupre between the pipes.

  26. I thougth for sure someone would have a #15 Frachescetti jersey out there...

    I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but I absolutely did see a Lou Franceschetti at the Ottawa game.

  27. I can't believe I forgot to mention this, but I absolutely did see a Lou Franceschetti at the Ottawa game.

    That seriously just made my day. Thanks for the follow-up.

    (Oh, and your post at Cox's The Spin is fan-freakin-tastic).

  28. The Chief!

    This may not be *quite* as bad, I have a Mike Bullard Flyers jersey.

  29. When you say you saw Franceschetti do you mean the jersey, or "Sweet Lou" himself. I inherited a Baumer jersey from my dad. Hopefully someday I'll pass it down to my son.

    The jerseys I'd like to have:

    Inachuk (Peter, not Miroslav)
    Allison (Mike, not Jason)

  30. A girl I went to high school with wore a Kent Manderville jersey.

  31. I guy I went to high school with had a Sergio Momesso jersey. Man was he ever proud of that jersey... well, untill Momesso got traded shortly after he got it.

  32. heres a head scratcher...

    i saw a guy walking to jane st wearing a leaf jersey #9 Suglobov.
    SUGLOBOV!!! i almost crashed my car!
    did he even record a point?
    must of been a relative or something

  33. Not a Leaf jersey, but a damn obscure jersey story.

    In my first year of university, I was sitting in my history seminar, waiting for the TA to show up. Just after he did, a kid walked in wearing a blue Nordiques jersey.

    Now, this wasn't all that uncommon. First off, those Nords jerseys were downright sweet looking, and Sportchek had all kinds of Nordiques retro jerseys, with Sakic, Forsberg, Nolan. My roommate even had a sweet Sundin Nordiques jersey.

    But then the kid walked to the back of the class, and his back was facing me, and I saw the most amazing obscure jersey ever.

    The number? 88.

    The name? Lindros.

    An Eric Lindros Quebec Nordiques jersey. I damn near stood and applauded. I settled for waiting until class ended and telling him that that was an incredible jersey.

  34. I'm going to comment even though no one else probably will see it.

    I have a Belfour jersey. I've never seen another one.

    I proudly wear it whenever I'm in Montreal for a game (won't go to the ACC, the crowd is better, more Frenchy, but better nonetheless in Montreal).

    The Leafs ALWAYS get blown out when I go to a game. The girls behind the counter are either Leaf fans or just feel bad for me, but in the 2nd intermission I never pay for drinks.

  35. Really? the belfour jerseys are pretty common, still around here. sorry.

    some on my wish list (not obscure, necessarily, but on my list):
    4 Lanz
    7 Thibaudeau
    8 Warriner
    10 Berg
    10 Damphousse
    11 Larose
    12 Pearson
    16 Olczyk
    16 Bohonos
    20 Johnson
    22 Vaive
    23 Gill
    25 Zezel rip
    30 Bester
    31 Wregget
    32 Thomas (80s jersey, not his 2nd go-round in the late 90s)
    32 Marois
    71 Foligno

  36. I have two Leafs jerseys - one a really small kids jersey from when I was a young'un - it's a signed Peter Zezel jersey. He was my favourite player growing up and I got to meet him at a mall in Georgetown.

    My current Leafs jersey is an Alyn McCauley 'alternate captain' jersey from the playoff run where the Leafs lost to Carolina. I wear that one with serious pride.

  37. I guess my most obscure jersey would be a #9 Antropov jersey...I had that before the numerous injuries and the number changes that came afterwards #11 and #80.

  38. i would kill for a greg terrion jersey he was the best penaly killer ever

  39. I'd love a Fergus jersey.


  40. Reminds me of the Gilmore sweater I got for Christmas or my birthday only for him to be traded later that year, I believe it was a few weeks after I had gotten my sweater as well. I was 6 at the time so I can't remember when he got traded.

    Same with Berezin, got it for either my birthday or christmas, bam later in the season, gone.

  41. My dad swore up and down that we lost that trade now that "We had no Toughness left" because Craig was gone. No Lie.

  42. Not a Leafs jersey, but I own a Dallas Sean Avery jersey....mmmhmm. I scored a bunch of authentics for pretty cheap with one being the Stars at the beginning of the 08-09 season. When deciding who to get on the back, I checked a salary cap site and said "Hey, I kinda like Avery's antics and he just signed a four year deal so at least his jersey won't be obsolete any time soon". A few sloppy seconds later and it's only a topic of self loathing.

    One day I'd like to get a J.P. Parise Leafs jersey, I'm a huge Zach Parise fan and collector, his dad played a single game for the blue and white in the 70's.

  43. My wife has a Mirko Frycer #15 jersey - she actually asked for it so long ago. She wore it a Leaf game 5 years ago and had many comments directed her way.

  44. I don't have any particularly obscure jerseys that I wear, but I own exactly one game-used jersey. Bought it for the team, bought it for the number, the player was negotiable.

    Mounted, framed, and ready to go on my wall, when I have a wall worth hanging it on: a Philadelphia Flyers #55 game-worn Pavel Brendl jersey.

  45. Frycer was #14

    First words out of my mouth after the Gilmour trade: " Not Berube"

  46. I had a Peter Zezel jersey, but when he was with the Flyers.


  47. Not a Leafs jersey but at a caps game I talked to a guy wearing a Colorado Rockies jersey.

  48. Each team would have some sweet rarities.

    Petri Skriko for Vancouver? Maybe Josh Holden?
    Racicot for Montreal.
    Any of the Shannons from Winnipeg.

    I wanted a Zhitnik when he was on the Kings. When we traded him for Fuhr, I was livid. And it only grew as Fuhr took a massive dump on the Kings' season back then. I know, I know. Karma for the high stick in '93...

  49. got a few...

    lebfebvre #2 for sure, was awesome loved that guy.

    another #16 that a friend of mine got, was nikolai borchevsky, an awesome choice.

    the name pops in my mind occasionally and is a jersey i always wanna get some day - #29 palmateer
    not sooo obscure but for 2013, its an awesome throwback bring back jersey.

    wanna say, rick vaive #22 for sure aswell. awesome now for 2013.

    mike krushelnisky's #26 great jersey. great name.

    lou francheschetti #15

    potvin #29 jersey'd be pretty badass too for 2013.

    saw someone say here, miroslav frycer #14. excellent choice.

    ohh just came to me, the game winner i think....dan daoust #24.
    game set and match. i think with the daoust.

    my selections.

    honourable mention , sergei berezin #94.