SURREY — Think you’re nuts about hockey? Meet Andrew Castell, who owns what is probably the largest collection of puck-related stuff this side of Toronto’s big Hockey Hall of Fame.
He’s jammed thousands of sticks, gloves, jerseys, videos, audio tapes, game sheets, programs, books, posters and other memorabilia into the basement and upstairs bedrooms of his Surrey home.
Those in the know have told Castell he has the world’s largest private collection of hockey memorabilia.
“I’m proud of that because it’s taken me a long time to collect all this, and there are a lot of memories here for me,” the lifelong hockey fan said as he gave the Now an hour-long tour of his massive collection.
“I can tell you how and where I got each piece, where I was,” he added. “I could probably tell you what the weather was like that day, but I can’t tell you my postal code.”
Hockey sticks line the wall in the main room of his basement.
“I have 1,827 of them,” Castell said when asked about the exact number of twigs, each stamped with the date he acquired them.
Close to 100,000 print publications, including programs from every game he’s attended and nearly every The Hockey News magazine published since the 1950s, are carefully stored on shelves. Some of the books in his collection include his name as researcher.
“I might not have a lot to show for my life, but this is me,” Castell said with a smile.
“I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I have a lady friend, it’s all good, but to me, this is my life. Unfortunately, I can’t get a job that pays me to work in hockey, but I love my stuff.”
(Story continues below a “Province” newspaper video of Castell in conversation, from 2011)
As a kid, Castell recorded the radio broadcasts of Canucks games and, later, the ones shown on TV.
“My mom and dad, rest their souls, used to tape the televised games for me when I was at them, pressing pause when the commercials came on,” he explained.
Today, he owns reel-to-reel tapes of the very first Canucks games.
“(Play-by-play broadcaster) Jim Robson gave me those, along with eight boxes of stuff he was getting rid of when moving from a house in Kits to a downtown condo,” Castell boasted.
People frequently contact him looking for hockey-related information, stats and stories. Others want to give him their stuff, like the widower in Richmond who reached out to Castell after seeing him profiled on Hockey Night in Canada in the mid-1990s.
“He had an attic full of things passed down to him over the years, like Rocket Richard press clippings, and I took three van loads out of there,” Castell recalled.
“He knew I’d take care of it all, and that’s what others have told me, too.… I collect stuff, I don’t get rid of anything. I get calls all the time, but I don’t sell.”