Lane Crockett and wife Christeen

Lane Crockett and wife Christeen

Saanich man demonstrates hockey’s healing power

Sticks gifted by Bobby Orr in 1969 up for bids on CBC show Sunday

Decades worth of Boston Bruins memorabilia – jerseys, hats, figurines – surround a suburban living room on Epsom Drive in Saanich.

But it’s homeowner Lane Crockett’s longest-held and treasured hockey artifacts, a pair of old-time sticks gifted to him in 1969 by Bruins great Bobby Orr  that are central to his appearance this Sunday on CBC’s seller-pitches-buyers show Four Rooms.

“I’m actually a little nervous,” the 51-year-old University of Victoria employee said of his TV appearance. He successfully auditioned for the show in Victoria last June and taped the program in August in Toronto.

The sticks, one of which is autographed by members of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions, are encased in a glass-and-wood display box that includes  hockey cards from each player who signed and several of Orr.

The collection is dripping with both sports history and personal meaning for Crockett.

He underwent open heart surgery in a rare procedure at age 7 and as a post-surgery gift, his father searched out a Boston hockey sweater. When none could be found locally, he called the Bruins directly and the club sent a huge fruit basket, an autographed picture of Orr and other Bruins items.

“I call it the healing power of hockey,” said Crockett, who is healthy today.

The young Victoria native’s connection to Orr didn’t stop with the hospital gift. A few months later, Orr invited Crockett, a novice hockey player, to attend his skills camp in Orillia, Ont., where he gave him a pair of autographed sticks.

Later, when Crockett was in Vancouver to watch the Bruins play the Canucks in their inaugural NHL season, Orr invited him into the dressing room afterward to meet the players.

“(Bruin star) Ken Hodge pulled me in and said ‘go get ’em kid.’ I went around the room with one of the sticks and got everybody to sign,” Crockett recalled.

The sticks were stored for years and even made their way to an Alberta bar. Crockett donated them to the young owners when he went to work in the oil patch. When the bar was damaged in a fire, he got the valuable sticks back and permanently mounted them.

Asked why he decided to part with them, he said it was time to pass them on to someone else who could appreciate their value.

Crockett and his wife, Christeen – also a longtime Bruins fan – are sworn to secrecy about the outcome of the show, which sees sellers with treasures approach four professional buyers, with the goal of receiving an acceptable price.

He did divulge that a producer of the program called it “one of the most memorable moments in CBC sports television history.”

Regardless of the result, Crockett will always have the memory of his connection to one of the greatest players and ambassadors hockey has seen.

The show airs Sunday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. on CBC.

ddescoteau@vicnews.com