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THN.com Blog: Touching The Rocket’s blood, sweat and tears

THN.com video producer Ted Cooper holds The Rocket's jersey at the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Photo by Dave Sandford)

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THN.com video producer Ted Cooper holds The Rocket's jersey at the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Photo by Dave Sandford)

Just got back from a couple of memorable days literally hanging out with all the old sweaters/jerseys at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Hockey News art director Jamie Hodgson and myself were guests of Craig Campbell, the Hall’s manager, resource center and archives, along with Phil Pritchard, vice president and curator.

The purpose of the visit was to execute a photo shoot of some of the thousands of sweaters the Hall has on display and in its resource center. It’s for our fall special magazine project, which will profile hockey’s best jerseys (or sweaters depending upon your point of view).

Hodgson and photographer Dave Sandford did all the hard creative work giving each of almost 100 sweaters its own special attention under the camera lights. It was 20 hours of pure enjoyment looking at some of hockey’s most fabled jerseys and listening to stories from Campbell about how they were secured or donated.

Don’t want to give away all the details of our summer project, but one highlight was holding Rocket Richard’s game-worn red Montreal Canadiens sweater – naturally, wearing white gloves to help extend the life of the artifact. It was a surreal moment, touching the actual material that one of the game’s greatest-ever legends went to battle wearing. It contained his blood, sweat and tears. His DNA. You could see the sweat stains and you could feel the karma.

THN website video producer Ted Cooper, a lifelong Canadiens fans, put down his video camera at one point, slipped on white gloves and asked if he could hold the Richard sweater.

“I don’t normally get like this, but I can’t let this opportunity get away,” he said as Sandford snapped a photograph.

Part-way through the first day, Montreal’s newest Canadien, Mike Cammalleri, came into the resource center for a pre-arranged photo shoot for our latest issue: The Dawn of an Old Era. Cammalleri was the definition of accommodating, showing up early, taking time to look through some of the artifacts, posing for our cover shot and staying later than expected to do a web video interview with senior writer Ken Campbell.

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At one point, Cammalleri noticed a stick over in the archive and said, “That looks like a J.R. curve.” He walked over to it, looked at the label and said, “Yep, it’s a J.R. stick.”

During some down time, Cammalleri couldn’t resist, asking the Hall’s operations coordinator Scott Veber if he could use his computer. In no time, he was looking at the just-released NHL schedule checking out where his Canadiens would be on certain dates and text-messaging friends. We could hear him, “Wow, opening in Toronto October 1st (text, text, text), then Calgary October 6th (text, text, text). Los Angeles? Yep, March 6th (text, text, text).”

It wasn’t long before Cammalleri and Hodgson were exchanging jabs, the player criticizing the creative one for having to do his job coming up with alternative shoot ideas and the art director complaining about the glare coming off Cammalleri’s black tuxedo shoes.

All in all, it was a neat couple of days at the Hall of Fame.

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Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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