You’d be in for a saga if every hockey jersey in Rick Paasch’s collection could tell a story.
Over 400 jerseys line the closets of Rick and his wife Sherron’s modest two-storey Nanaimo home, attesting to Rick’s passion of a sport that he grew up loving in Wisconsin. Most jerseys are crested with names of his favourite players, from both their junior and National Hockey League days. Some are game-worn uniforms, many are autographed. All of them have a story to tell.
“My favourite jersey is my Trevor Linden New York Islanders ‘fisherman’ jersey, it represents a timeframe when Linden wasn’t with the Canucks,” Rick says. He owns every professional Linden jersey, including a rare game-worn Canucks uniform from an exhibition match in Japan in 1997. The Islanders jersey was the second one Rick bought in Canada after replacing his original collection set to fire by his ex-wife amidst their bitter divorce.
“I bought his first jersey for him,” Sherron beams from across the room. An avid sports fan herself, she also used her connections with the BC Lions to have legendary kicker Lui Passaglia personally mail an autographed jersey to Rick in his West Virginia home. That jersey hangs in their bedroom closet.
Rick spends an average of $250 for a crested jersey, and even more for autographed or game-worn ones. Rare items like a signed Pavel Bure sweater and his Los Angeles Kings Wayne Gretzky “Burger King” jersey cost most, he says.
Other obscurities among his collection—including recent additions exiled to corners of the house—are the now-defunct Las Vegas Thunder, Greenville Grrrowl and Louisville Panthers, of which Rick is still searching the surface for a supposed Roberto Luongo signature.
While Sherron doesn’t entirely share Rick’s hockey jersey zeal she supports his ongoing collection and “doesn’t mind” that most of their closet space is reserved for jerseys. As a hockey fan she enjoys his hobby and is growing her own collection. “I have one,” Sherron laughs.
“I bought her a Ryan Kesler jersey, but she likes Alex Burrows now so she might have two [soon],” Rick says.
Rick can often be found wearing one of this many jerseys around the city, inviting complements and conversations of fellow fans. “It’s a beautiful way to get to meet people,” says Rick. “They ask questions about the jersey’s origin, whether they like the team or not.”
One thing is for certain—Rick and Sherron’s home contains closets that most hockey fans would die for.