Your parents won’t likely remember Vancouver’s only Stanley Cup win, maybe not even your grandparents can recall the Millionaires’ 3-0 sweep of the Ottawa Senators in the best-of-five series that took place at the beginning of the First World War.
It’s one of the biggest sports accomplishments Vancouver can lay claim to and a local rock legend and his business partner are doing their best to bring the Millionaires back into the limelight.
Jon Mikl, also known as heavy metal phenom Thor, and Paul Falcon, his bassist and a competitive cyclist, are the brains behind VM Sports, the company that is producing the most authentic Vancouver Millionaires apparel on the market.
“Our mission was to create a line of Millionaires apparel that would be worthy of representing our Vancouver champions, raise awareness of the Millionaires’ contributions and inspire young athletes with their stories of determination and achievement,” said Falcon, who first heard of the team through Mikl, a hardcore Millionaires fan since the age of nine. HISTORY COMES ALIVE
The story of the Vancouver Millionaires is one filled with many holes as the team was only around for 15 years from 1911 to 1926 and aside from a couple historians, few people remember much about them. They first competed in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association and later joined the Western Canada Hockey League when they became the Vancouver Maroons in 1922. Both teams played an integral part in establishing hockey on the West Coast before they folded, yet when Denman Arena, their home rink, burned to nothing in 1936, almost all known Millionaires memorabilia and the team’s legacy were lost. Well, until now.
Mikl and Falcon, both Vancouver residents and avid Canucks fans, did their research and confirmed that no original Millionaires sweaters were left in existence after the fire, so they took it upon themselves to recreate them. Stitch for stitch they’ve created some new/old sweaters that are the real deal.
“VM Sports has taken great efforts to bring this stunning and important piece of Vancouver and hockey history back to life,” said Mikl, who was an infamous bodybuilding champion in the early 1970s (he was the first Canadian to win Mr. Canada and Mr. USA titles) before getting into the music biz.
His wife Katherine, VP of VM Sports, also helped extensively with the recreation of the sweaters. “She had to totally relive and immerse herself in that era to get the true feel of what the garment was all about and what it represented. She always says the Victory V has a story to tell that she believes is relevant to our present culture.” KEEPING TRADITION STRONG
The 100 per cent merino wool sweaters feature felt cresting and are as close to the original 1915 version as modern manufacturing can produce. The maroon and white sweaters proudly display the team’s signature Victory V, which has ‘Vancouver’ written in it, on the front. Vancouver Sun writer John Mackie described them as “brand new 1915 sweaters,” but just how did they manage to recreate the sweaters to such perfection without having an authentic one to mimic?
“Through much study of that era and conversations with historians, curators and sports collectors. Also personally examining original sweaters that managed to survive all these years from other teams in that period and researching the texture and weight of the fabrics,” said Falcon, adding that they were able to reproduce the team’s authentic colours with the help of the True Colours program at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. The wool sweaters are the gem of the Millionaires’ collection, but they’re by no means the only merchandise that Mikl and Falcon have created. In addition to a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, air knit hockey jersey and hat, a Baby Millionaires infant-sized, eco-friendly t-shirt (70 per cent bamboo/ 30 per cent cotton) is also available, so there’s literally something for everyone available on their website
Even Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, who passed away in 1979, is benefiting from the new sweaters in a sense as his mannequin at the BC Sports Hall of Fame is now next to a Millionaires sweater that Mikl and Falcon donated to the Hall in early May. Taylor is currently donning an authentic Ottawa Senators jersey as he was a member of the team before coming to Vancouver in 1912, but at least now Jason Beck, curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, has the option of switching things up on Cyclone from time to time.
Mikl and Falcon plan to expand the line of Millionaires apparel to include more eco-friendly products in the near future, until then the pair will be raising awareness of the Millionaires’ contributions and promoting their new attire at several local events. That includes June 1 at the 2008 Heritage House Tour, which takes place at the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, and June 21 at Ride2Survive, the 400km/1 day Kelowna to Vancouver bike ride fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.