There is a certain amount of humor involved in my Tomáš Klouček fandom. I do realize the guy isn't the greatest player who ever lived. The t-shirt was for fun. I do really understand that he wouldn't have made the Thrashers' defense any better than it is now.
But, it's also somewhat serious. I do really root for the guy wherever he goes. When he came to the Thrashers, I honestly thought they'd found the future cornerstone of the blue line. His tale of bad handling by management and career-derailing injuries is one of tragedy.
And so -- I buy his game-worn jerseys.
Five of them, now, and if I came across others I wouldn't say no. Just to give non-jersey-buying people some perspective, if I still had the cash I've spent on the above jerseys, I could buy a round-trip ticket to Eastern Europe, then take a trip to Colorado and back, and still have enough left over for a nice dinner or two.
The one on the far right -- a Syracuse Crunch jersey -- just popped up on eBay in recent weeks. Even though I'd just spent a healthy amount of money on a trip to London, I had no choice. I was compelled.
A quick trip, then, through the museum of Klouček, left to right:
2000-01 pre-season New York Rangers away jersey
Used ahead of what would become his rookie NHL season. He was assigned #61 -- he'd go on to wear #22 with the Rangers in the regular season. Numbers are stitched on, the name is that weird rubbery applied stuff. Has the always-cool tie-up collar.
2005-06 Chicago Wolves alternate jersey
Worn in the year that he should have been anchoring the Thrashers' defense. Wolves jerseys are apparently very very rare and highly sought-after; I spent more money than I care to admit getting this in a team auction. Autographed on the back number, which is a no-no among collectors, but who really cares?
2003-04 Nashville Predators away jersey
My first Klouček. Purchased from Captain's Jerseys. Little did I know that an addiction was beginning.
2005-06 preseason Atlanta Thrashers home jersey
I spent too much time searching, begging, pleading for a Thrashers Klouček. I don't know who the hell is hoarding them, but stop it. This one finally emerged at MeiGray, on the night when their summer sale briefly crashed the system -- I was terrified, certain that some other fan was buying the jersey while I couldn't log in.
2006-07 Syracuse Crunch home jersey
Just purchased on eBay. I actually really, really dislike the Crunch jerseys over the years, whether they're displaying the stupid superhero mascot or the stupid yeti mascot. Nonetheless, I now own three Crunch jerseys (Vaic, Balastik, Kloucek). The new one is pretty well-worn, at least.
So there you go. Five Tomáš Klouček jerseys, enough that I can't comfortably make a display, and yet I want more. I don't have any of his 2004-05 Czech league (Slavia, Liberec, Trinec) jerseys. I bet there's a Blue Jackets preseason floating around now. I don't have jerseys from his Hartford or Milwaukee AHL stops. I wouldn't mind a regular season Rangers.
Some people will spend their old age alone, surrounded by cats. I'll spend it surrounded by Tomáš Klouček jerseys.
As always, props to Tapeleg for the jersey biography concept.