Do Hockey Cards Get the Respect They Deserve in America?

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Do Hockey Cards Get the Respect They Deserve in America?

By Gabe Weeden

 

It is no secret that I love to collect sports cards. I am always searching for something new and exciting to add to my personal collection, especially with a wow factor to it. Despite collecting for over ten years, I only focus on two sports when it comes to collecting, baseball and hockey. Not that there is anything wrong with football or basketball cards or those who collect them, but football and basketball have never really interested me as sports and I haven’t kept up with either sport with any regularity for quite some time.   Personally, I focus my collections on pitchers and goalies as these were both positions I played and excelled at.

Living in New England and dating a girl who has played on Team USA’s U16 and U18 National hockey team, hockey is a big part of mine and other New Englander’s lives. While I convinced her to start collecting hockey cards, I am surprised by the lack of hockey card collectors in the US, especially in regions where hockey thrives.

Our neighbors to the north in Canada love hockey more than Texas high schools love football. Collecting hockey cards could possibly be one of the most popular hobbies in Canada and there are several card shops and box breakers in Canada that only deal in hockey cards. I would also think with the several minor league hockey leagues scattered throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and players who get scouted to the pros from such diverse regions, that hockey cards would have more appeal. However, it seems that hockey hasn’t found its place in most American card collectors the way football and baseball has.

I know football and baseball are the two biggest sports in the U.S. The Southern United States does not have the climate or weather to regularly enjoy outdoor hockey the way New England and the Northern Midwest do. But it is a shame that most collectors don’t collect hockey or give hockey cards the respect they deserve. I will admit I might be biased on the subject based on where I live but even here it is hard to find someone who is enthusiastic about collecting hockey.

Just because you like hockey as a sport or play it, does not mean that you are obligated to collect hockey cards. But hockey cards come in the same formats that football, basketball, and baseball cards do. They feature rookies, autographs, relics, short prints, numbered, inserts, and refractors just like all the other sports. For the most part, hockey cards offer some of the most colorful patches and relics. Compared to baseball jerseys, where most home jerseys are white and road jerseys are grey, some hockey jerseys use three, four, five different colors. I always enjoy seeing a patch of the Florida Panthers jerseys that feature a palm tree on it and believe some of the prettiest jersey cards in the hobby come from hockey. Another big plus in hockey is that most autographs are hard, meaning the player actually signed the card, instead of signing stickers which are placed on the card later. Hockey players have some of the cleanest signatures in major league sports and often include their jersey numbers.

From a price standpoint, buying hockey card packs and boxes is relatively cheap compared to football/baseball. The top of line hockey products such as UD Premier will cost you somewhere around $250-$270 a box depending on where you look. Inside are 7 cards, five of which are hits, including a rookie auto patch and mega patch relic. Compare to Panini Flawless, the top of the line products in football and basketball which can cost over $1300 a pack. Although due to high demand some reached over $2,000. Inside are 10 cards instead of 7 and instead of 5 hits you get 8. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think spending 7 -10X more on a box is worth the three extra hits. Even if you are looking for singles on places like eBay or COMC, for the most part hockey will be one of the cheapest options in the world of sports card singles.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy collecting baseball cards as much as most American collectors. To my friends who collect football and basketball, I encourage you guys and wish you all the best in their quests. But when I walk into a store like Target or Wal-Mart and go to the card section, there are probably 7-8 offerings of baseball and football, and maybe 2-3 for hockey. If you collect sports cards but not hockey, do not feel obligated to rush out and start getting into hockey. I am not trying to push hockey on you or shame you for passing on hockey. If hockey isn’t for you, I get it, I get a lot of odd reactions when I say I don’t collect football. For all I know, American football and baseball cards could be taking backseats to hockey cards in Canada. But in both scenarios, it is time to stop snubbing our noses at hockey cards and not giving them the respect they deserve. They aren’t wannabe collectibles or sports cards. They are just as collectible and fun to collect as football, basketball, and baseball and should be treated as such.

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