Sports

Man who stopped accumulating after his Gretzky memorabilia was stolen says Connor Bedard introduced him again

A person whose giant assortment of Wayne Gretzky memorabilia was stolen says he had given up on the interest till rookie NHL star Connor Bedard introduced him again.

Aron Gratias of Emma Lake, Sask., stated the objects of his assortment that have been stolen included 19 autographed Gretzky jerseys from each workforce the hockey legend performed for because the age of 12.

Signed footage, hockey sticks, pucks and near 10,000 hockey playing cards — together with 2,200 of Gretzky, some autographed — have been additionally stolen, together with different objects.

The theft from a rural property close to Shellbrook, Sask., about 120 kilometres north of Saskatoon, was found in April, 2022. The gathering had been in a locked storage container.

Virtually a 12 months later, RCMP introduced they recovered a “giant amount” of the memorabilia from a Shellbrook house. A 41-year-old man was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property obtained by crime over $5,000.

However Gratias stated it was solely a small proportion of his assortment and principally lesser-valued objects, akin to key chains, recreation ticket stubs and posters.

Police discover memorabilia investigating different crimes

All of his most treasured memorabilia remained lacking till simply earlier than final Christmas, when police produced one in all his autographed Gretzky hockey sticks. Gratias was informed it was present in an deserted car north of Shellbrook as a part of an unrelated felony investigation.

Then two months in the past, police in Prince Albert, about 40 kilometres east of Shellbrook, recovered three of Gratias’s signed Gretzky jerseys in one other unrelated investigation. Gratias was informed that in a search of a suspect’s house, officers got here throughout the jerseys in the lounge.

Autographed Wayne Gretzky hockey jerseys recovered by police in Prince Albert, Sask., in an unrelated investigation. (Aron Gratias)

“I used to be type of giving up hope. It was simply over a 12 months that we have been turning over rocks and never discovering something,” he stated.

“It began to provide me just a little bit extra hope that possibly these items did not transfer so far as I assumed it was shifting.”

Gratias stated about 75 per cent of his assortment stays lacking — however with these current discoveries, he is feeling “very constructive.”

Nagging query about theft

As a result of the Gretzky assortment was “selectively eliminated” from one in all two storage containers within the yard — with costly family and storage objects left behind — folks have been telling Gratias it needed to be somebody near him.

Gratias stated he does not know the accused, however he believes somebody he is aware of tipped off whoever was accountable or informed the incorrect folks.

“Simply the entire timing of the yard being plowed, entry to that sea can — only a few people knew that it was accessible throughout a sure time,” he stated.

Nevertheless, Gratias admits this principle is unproven.

A photo signed by Wayne Gretzky of a young man in a blue and orange Edmonton Oilers hockey jersey sitting next to two children also wearing jerseys.
One in all a number of household images in Gratias’s assortment signed by Wayne Gretzky. (Aron Gratias)

In the meantime, he stated he appreciates how collectors and different strangers proceed to ship him messages, asking him how he’s doing. He provides he’s obtainable on social media if anybody spots an merchandise that may be his.

Bedard brings him again

During the last couple of months, Gratias has returned to accumulating hockey memorabilia after giving it up.

“It has been a very long time since I had that power and drive to gather once more. Dropping my assortment type of threw me off, type of turned me towards just a little little bit of that accumulating world. A bit little bit of frustration and a few anger nonetheless,” he stated.

“However with this teen Connor Bedard coming into the league, and the entire card fanatic of going after a few of his memorabilia, [it] has actually sparked just a little little bit of that curiosity in me.”

WATCH | Sask. collectors line up for shot at uncommon Bedard rookie card:

Sask. collectors line up for shot at uncommon Bedard rookie card

In March, shops began promoting the 2023-24 Higher Deck Collection Two assortment, which accommodates the Connor Bedard “Younger Weapons” rookie card — what collectors say is his official rookie card. An American firm has put a $1-million bounty on one notably uncommon model.

Gratias stated his Gretzky assortment was by no means meant to be offered, however to be handed all the way down to his youngsters and grandchildren — and accumulating Bedard memorabilia is about rebuilding that legacy.

Crown prosecutor MaryAnne Larson stated discussions between the Crown and defence associated to the case towards the accused within the Gretzky memorabilia theft are ongoing.

Larson stated the matter is probably going headed to trial subsequent fall or winter, on the earliest.

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