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Jersey Week: On obscure jerseys, rare finds, and a little about friendship

This week, all across SB Nation, we’re talking jerseys. Favorites, least favorites, obscure jerseys lurking in the back of our closets. Do you have a great Kings jersey story? Why not submit a Fanpost about it?

The first time I visited Los Angeles as an adult — my high school marching band trip 20-mumble-something years ago hardly counts at all — I committed the cardinal sin of asking a friend to pick me up at the airport.

Because she’s a good friend, and also probably because she wanted me to experience firsthand just how nightmarish of an idea that was so that I would never ask again, she complied, and I had an actual friendly face waiting to pick me up at LAX.

We didn’t have many plans for that day — brunch, probably, then just wasting time until I could check into my lodgings for my visit — and so we ended up finding our way downtown. Because I had a mission.

I needed a Kings jersey.

After all, it wouldn’t do to show up to my first home turf Kings game not appropriately attired.

Once in the store, it was an easy call on what player jersey to get. Oh, sure, I pretended to think about it, doing my best impersonation of an adult deeply contemplating a Jonathan Quick or Anze Kopitar jersey. But if you know me, then you know my gateway to the Kings was, first and foremost, a steady diet of Jeff Carter highlights, lovingly fed to me by all my Los Angeles-based friends.

So I tried to look casual as I slipped a number 77 jersey off the rack and, you know, exchanged money for goods and services.

My first Kings game at Staples didn’t exactly go well — or maybe it went exactly as you’d expect, as it was an eventual loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets which featured a combined 52 penalty minutes, two fights and a Jonathan Quick slashing penalty. But I was at least outfitted right. Like I belonged.

I made the trip back out to Los Angeles during Mike Richards’ brief stint with the Washington Capitals. Look, we all have our weaknesses, okay?

There was a surplus of Richards jerseys in the crowd that night — and while there are always  a plethora of Carter jerseys, it felt like there were just a few more than usual roaming the concourse.

A friend wore a Richards Philadelphia Flyers jersey, partly because I don’t think she had one from his Kings days, and partly because it was funny. She got a lot of confused reactions, some heckling, even…

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…until they saw our backs and everything made sense.

Because of who I am as a person, I tend to collect complete sets of things. There’s a reason I’ve got four different Marian Hossa jerseys in my closet, after all. I’ve got eBay alerts for dozens of jerseys for favorite players, obscure teams, international play.

I have an Anze Kopitar Slovenia jersey, which has resulted more than one person walk up to me, speaking Slovenian, thinking I too am from their homeland. That jersey got me into a conversation about Kopitar’s stats with a pulled pork vendor in Raleigh, North Carolina, at a Carolina Hurricanes game. Kopitar himself even gave me the smile and nod once when he spotted me in that jersey at warmups (No, I’m still not over it).

My most recent semi-obscure find was a Mike Richards jersey from his Kitchener Rangers days. It’s about two sizes too big and I don’t think I’ll ever have anywhere to wear it, but I absolute did a little fist-pump when I found that online.

There’s one crown jewel in my closet, though, of all the obscure jerseys and former teams and garishly colored sweaters that I don’t really have the occasion to wear.

Jeff Carter’s tenure on ice with the Columbus Blue Jackets lasted for about four sullen, injury-plagued, unhappy months. When the Kings acquired him, the Blue Jackets offered to transform any Carter jerseys into Jack Johnson jerseys. It was a nice gesture by the team to soothe fans who were angry about Carter’s tenure — but friends, let me tell you, it makes completing your collection of Jeff Carter Jerseys For Teams He Has At One Point Played On a huge challenge. I don’t want to hazard a guess at how many Carter Blue Jackets jerseys are left out there in the wild, but I will say I’ve only ever seen one for sale in the past, oh, five years or so?

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that hard work, perseverance, and eBay alerts don’t pay off, though:

While I value my life too much to wear this to a Kings/Blue Jackets game in Columbus, please know that I think about it every season that a new schedule comes out. The temptation is always there. So close. I just don’t think I can set up a fundraiser for “bailing me out of jail for fighting a Blue Jackets fan,” though. Doesn’t feel right.

So instead — with the exception of the All-Star Game, where anything goes — this jersey sits and waits for the right moment to see the light of day again.

Somewhere in the depths of the internet is a picture of me with two of my dearest friends before a Kings game. Our backs are to the camera, me in the middle, my arms slung around their shoulders. We’re in front of one of those “we are all Kings” signs — you know, the one with Tyler Toffoli roaring in celebration. We were a much shorter, much less talented That 70s Line, the three of us, me in my Carter jersey, with a Pearson and a Toffoli on either side.

I didn’t intend to be the last one standing of our trio of jerseys, but looks like that’s how it’s ended up. Sports are so rude.

Talking Points