Jim Boyce never thought he’d see the jacket again. Certainly not on eBay, and definitely not for an asking price of nearly $200.
Boyce was surprised this week to see the championship jacket he earned as a member of the 1968 Cyclone Taylor Cup-winning Nelson Junior Maple Leafs up for bids on the auction website.
The jacket, which appeared and then disappeared from eBay, was listed by a Winnipeg seller with bids starting at US$169.99.
It was only a month ago Boyce decided to give the jacket, along with a Selkirk Saints championship jacket, to a diabetes society as he prepared to move from Port Alberni to Victoria.
“I don’t know why anybody would want it. I was going to throw it in the garbage,” he said. “My wife said, ‘No, somebody might want something like that.'”
How the jacket made its way to Manitoba is still a mystery, but the seller, who goes by Larry, told the Star in an email he ended the sale when he realized how much interest there was in the Leafs memorabilia.
He said he had interest from a buyer in Tacoma, Wash., as well as from Nelson’s Bill McDonnell, a former Leafs player who maintains the sports museum at the Civic Centre.
McDonnell wanted to find a similar jacket prior to Nelson hosting the Cyclone Taylor Cup in 2014. A photo of the 1967-68 team sits in a display case at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
“When [that] jacket came up I was really excited to see that, so that’s why I pursued it,” said McDonnell, who is hoping to acquire the jacket for the Leafs’ collection.
“That’s one of the neat things about working with the museum. Some people have items they don’t know the value of it until I get ahold of it.”
The jacket, which was twice stipulated in the listing as not being Toronto Maple Leafs apparel, is described as “a creamy white cotton or gabardine outer with a nice satin lining. The stretch waistband and cuffs done in green and white match the green snap buttons. Well-made with nicely finished pockets and comfortable fine-fitting raglan style sleeves. Nice crest on the front and No. 15 on one arm.”
It’s an artifact of the Leafs’ first and only Cyclone Taylor victory, just one year after the trophy’s competitive debut.
The team went undefeated that season before facing Vancouver’s Grandview Steelers in a best-of-three final.
Nelson won the first two games and Boyce scored a hat trick in the second game to clinch the trophy.
“That was a good year,” said Boyce, now 67. “That was a fun year of hockey. Fritz Koehle took over the team and he was a real hockey guy. He grew up in Nelson and played for the Leafs and then coached us. That was a big year.”
The Cup that year was first played in Vancouver’s Exhibition Forum before moving to the Pacific Coliseum, which had just opened.
“I think about 3,000 people were watching us and we thought, ‘Holy cripes, 3,000 people,’ but in an 18,000 seat stadium it didn’t look like very much,” said Boyce.
Bob Jeffs played centre on a line with Boyce. Jeffs had his own jacket, which he joked never fit him and hung for 45 years before he also parted with it. He remembered Boyce as a good hockey player, and for the red hair all three players on their line had.
“Jim was really fast,” said Jeffs. “A good straight-line player. Actually beginning of the year they were going to cut him. Jim and I grew up together and chummed together. … I talked them into keeping him. I said let him play with us.”
Boyce, who played while wearing glasses and no helmet, remembered returning to Nelson on the bus after winning the Cup. Defenceman Bruce Ferguson, he recalls, expected a party on their return.
“All [Ferguson] thought about coming back on the bus was, ‘Gee, I hope they have a fire truck waiting for us and we can be paraded through town.’ I guess a coach or the manager heard that. They had a fire truck waiting for us and they paraded us through town.”
Boyce left Nelson to attend the University of BC before becoming a gym teacher. Now that he’s had time to think about the jacket, he hopes it ends up at home with the Leafs.
“It’s just too bad … I haven’t been back to Nelson in quite a while. I didn’t even know they had a sports memorabilia place, and if I’d known that I would have offered it to them. It went over my head. I didn’t really think about that.”