Two years ago, Ron Cruickshank walked into a second hand sporting goods store in Whitehorse and walked out with an unexpectedly valuable jersey – and he got it for a bargain.
It was Christmas 2019 and Cruickshank was flipping through a rack of hockey jerseys at ChangingGear. That's when one jersey in particular caught his eye. He held it up and saw "All Star" on it.
"I thought originally it was from like a Western Hockey or – like just for maybe 30 seconds – I thought it was someplace other than the NHL," Cruickshank said.
"Then I looked at the NHL logo … and then of course I was beginning to see the signatures on it."
Cruickshank knew, despite not knowing exactly to what extent, that this jersey was not just an ordinary one.
He said his head started spinning "pretty quickly."
"You get pretty excited when you see something like that. You don't exactly know what to do, quite frankly," he said.
He looked at the price – it was just $26.
'I felt a bit like I was stealing'
"So I quickly grabbed it and went to the front counter and checked out kind of as quickly as I could. That was just what my reaction was," Cruickshank said.
"I felt a bit like I was stealing it. It had that, 'man, I got to get out of here with this thing.'"
He left the store and brought it home.
It turned out to be an autographed NHL All Star jersey from 2008 and it could be worth significantly more than what he bought it for.
He spotted the signatures from the likes of NHL stars Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, among many others. He said it took him a long time to identify them all.
"I didn't know anything about autographs or memorabilia at that time. So I looked up to see whether it was real," Cruickshank said.
The tips he found suggested he check if the autograph's were written by hand, and then look to see if it's legible or illegible – the less easy it is to make out, the more likely it could be real, he said.
Cruickshank said he took the jersey down to Ottawa to get it verified. He first tried the Ottawa Senators store, where the manager had a look at it and had reason to believe it was real. The manager then told Cruickshank to take it to the Hockey Hall of Fame to get the authentic papers to go with it.
Cruickshank hasn't yet done so, and says he isn't sure if he ever will.
From Atlanta to Whitehorse
For Cruickshank, the mystery in it all is how this jersey that seemed to be bought from the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, where the 2008 NHL All-Star game took place, ended up in a Whitehorse second hand store.
"This is the mystery," he said. "I do not know how it got from Atlanta and then how it got out onto the floor … at the actual store to allow me to buy for $26 when it says clearly assigned NHL hockey jersey."
Today, he still considers it the most valuable thing in his home.
"This is like a TV show," he said, "where you find something valuable just on your day, walking around a store in Whitehorse."