Credit for photo above to Francis Rady
Have you ever wondered what happens to the jerseys that your favorite players wear? Especially those worn during iconic moments in your team’s history or games that you have attended at home or on the road. There’s a good chance that it is owned by and on display in a fellow hockey fan’s home somewhere around the world.
Worn by Alexander Ovechkin for his Snovechkin hat trick against Pittsburgh on February 2, 2010 and his first penalty shot goal against Philadelphia on January 17, 2010. Worn by Nicklas Backstrom for his game winning goal against San Jose on March 10, 2018 and the assist on the last second goal against Carolina on January 12, 2018.
There are so many fans that collect game worn jerseys in the United States and Canada that there game worn jersey expos all across the United States, Canada and Europe and collectors that will travel around the globe to attend them. The demand for game worn jerseys is so great that there are also several companies in the United States that have been hired to resell NHL teams’ game worn jerseys, equipment, and goal pucks on their behalf, directly to customers and through online auctions.
The Washington D.C. region’s annual expo, the NOVA Game Worn Jersey Expo, was held on Saturday March 16 at the Holiday Inn Washington-Dulles Airport and, as usual, all of the display tables (29 this year) were sold out quickly. The expo was open to the public free of charge and the room was busy with collectors and hockey fans viewing the displays (mainly Washington Capitals jerseys at this expo), as well as talking about hockey, their collections and catching up with other friends in the hobby that they only get to see a few times each year.
Although a lot of the collectors are from the Washington, D.C. region, several collectors drove from other states, including New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, while others flew in from Chicago, Northern California, Windsor, Ontario and even London (England, not Canada) just for the expo.
Included amongst the displays were the jerseys worn by Devante Smith-Pelley when he scored the game tying diving goal against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals (and which he wore when he lifted the Stanley Cup over his head afterwards), the jersey that Evgeny Kuznetsov was wearing when he scored the series-winning overtime goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their second round series, and the white road jersey that Braden Holtby was wearing for all of the Capitals road games through the first three rounds of the playoffs, including the Game 7 shutout against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One collector displayed a variety of the different jersey styles that the Capitals have worn, including jerseys worn during the two Winter Classic games in 2011 and 2015 and the 2018 Stadium Series game in Annapolis.
Some collectors focus their collections on a single player, like Ben Russell, who collects all of the different styles that Jay Beagle has worn throughout his career. He did not stop collecting Beagle when he signed with the Vancouver Canucks as a free agent in 2018. Russell has already pre-order Beagle’s home and away set 1 Canucks jerseys for his collection, which should arrive after the Canucks’ season ends.
Also in attendance was The MeiGray Group, which is the official reseller of Capitals game worn jerseys and warmup pucks. MeiGray had a sales rack with numerous Capitals game worn and practice jerseys for sale and a display table with several iconic jerseys, including two Wayne Gretzky game worn jerseys (one each from his time with the New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues), one of Alexander Ovechkin’s road Stanley Cup Finals jerseys, and two Gordie Howe game worn jerseys (one each from his time with the Detroit Red Wings and the World Hockey Association’s Houston Aeros).
This was the 13th year expo that the expo has been held and it is organized by Francis Rady, who is from Boston and collects primarily Boston Bruins jerseys. Rady has focused his collection on the game worn jerseys of the Bruins’ current general manger, Don Sweeney, and has over 60 of them in his collection.
The expo takes place in March each year around the time that the local youth hockey tournament is in town and is an all day event.