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Chaulk bought a jersey at that sale and hasn’t slowed down since. He began buying at other auctions and networked himself into a community of like-minded souls who would get in touch if they ran across something they thought might interest him.

Persistence helped.

“Once I get something in my mind, there’s no stopping me,” Chaulk said, laughing. “Ask anybody that I’ve acquired something from who didn’t truly want to give it up. I am a hound.”

A note of reverence creeps into Chaulk’s voice when he talks about the day his collection was visited by the man who created it. Gretzky was appearing at a function in 2011 where Chaulk’s collection was on display. The two took time to walk through it.

“I’d tell him where the sticks came from and he’d smile and react accordingly. And then, as we moved through the collection, he realized the magnitude of what I’d put together and it was just absolutely surreal to walk the collection from end to end and discuss the pieces with him,” he said. ” In terms of collecting, it don’t get any better. That’s beyond my wildest dreams as a collector.”

Why sell, then?

Insurance is a big reason. It’s hard to buy coverage for such collections, and the thought of a fire makes him blanch. Also, he’s already got most of the main Gretzky items likely to come on the market, so some of the thrill is gone.

“There’s not a lot of chase left,” he said. “It’s like I’ve gotten to the top of the mountain. I have the memories. It’s maybe time to spread it out a little bit.”

He’s casual about what he thinks the sale might bring and claims not to have a figure in mind.

Still, consider just the sticks. The cheapest one is worth about $2,500 and the most expensive about $20,000. There are plenty leaning against his wall that sell for about $9,000. Chaulk has more than 100 sticks.

He knows his trove won’t stay together. It’ll get parceled out to collectors around the continent and, probably, the world.

He just hopes that whoever buys the items lets people see them. He shudders at the thought of someone cutting up the jerseys and selling them piece by piece, which happens.

“That’s sick,” he said. “We just cringe at that.”