On February 7, 1976 Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored a record setting ten points against the Boston Bruins. Fast forward exactly 42 years and the sweater the Hall of Fame center wore that night has reentered the spotlight through some detective work by MeiGray and its president, Barry Meisel. He believes the historic jersey could be worth between $350,000 and $500,000.
As first reported by The Sporting News, Meisel was contacted by a longtime collector with 90 vintage game worn jerseys for sale. The collection that also included a Montreal Canadiens sweater worn by Aurel Joliat in the Howie Morenz memorial game, a Gordie Howe jersey from his stint with the New England Whalers of the WHA, and a Bobby Clarke sweater from the Philadelphia Flyers 1973-’74 Stanley Cup winning season.
The item on the list that intrigued Meisel the most, however, was the 1975-’76 Maple Leafs sweater belonging to Sittler. While the owner of the collection did not claim it was from the record setting game, its whereabouts had been unknown for some time. One story claimed that Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard gifted it to a friend but Sittler admitted he had no idea what became of it. At the time, little thought was given to game-worn gear and players often used individual jerseys for months. “We played the next night after the 10 points, but I really had no idea if I had the same sweater on or if it was already taken, ” Sittler told the Toronto Sun.
For his part, Meisel suspected the sweater could be the one, but it would take research and photo matching to prove it. Meisel traveled to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto to review their photo archives. The Hall was in possession of several negatives from the game that provided Meisel with three identifying marks to establish his claim. The first march was a slanted stem on the Maple Leaf crest. The second was a loose white thread on the right jersey sleeve’s number ‘7’. The third and most important was a board burn on the left jersey sleeve visible on the jersey he’d purchased and clearly visible in photos from the game.
“And there was one beautiful (picture), perfectly positioned of his arm where the blue stripe had a unique white blemish,” Meisel told the Sun. “Same shape, same place, same size. That gave us three points of absolute uniqueness. We knew we’d found it.”
Meisel has described the find as one of the “top 3” in the collecting world given a number of factors. First is the record itself, which was one that eluded the great Wayne Gretzky. Second, is the overall condition of the sweater, which includes period repairs and blood stains. Third, is the popularity of the Maple Leafs themselves as one of the ‘Original Six’ NHL franchises.
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There are currently no plans to sell the sweater, but Meisel is open to the idea. “I’m sure we’ll reach out to people who should have the first opportunity to buy this shirt,” he told Canadian sports network TSN. “There are a lot of private collectors who will put this in their basement or living room, but we believe this is a shirt that should be shared with a lot of people.”