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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


The ROOKIE Card and it's place in "Hockey"

I grew up knowing nothing about hockey...until the Canucks run for the cup in 81/82. Watching "King" Richard Brodeur, Thomas Gradin, "Tiger" Williams and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks, making a unlikely run for the cup. I was just a 10 year old kid. But seeing the team that represented my city and province do the unexpected, it made me feel like I could too.

It took me to playing street hockey, pond hockey, grass hockey , kitchen hockey...well point is, I fell in love with hockey. Like many of you. I became a fan and forever have been one. My allegiance's have shifted over the years. As a 10 year old boy, Vancouver was my team in their bright yellow jersey's. Then it shifted to the "Broad street bullies" when Pelle Lindberg took them to the Stanley Cup in 1984. Followed them until the 87' Canada Cup where the "Magnificent" Mario had his coming out party. It was Pittsburgh all the way. That was until 1992 ,when I became a Oiler forever.

We all have our stories of how we first fell in love with the game and how we wanted to be the players, the kids now call hero's, but what I remember most during that cup run in 82 was "Hockey Cards".

Every allowance, I would get all excited. I would run out the front door and bike as fast as I could to the local corner store to get the latest package of new hockey cards. Quickly ripping open the package, I would throw the stick of gum from the package into my mouth, start chewing and hope to find a card of my favourite hockey player like Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier and almost choke on my gum when finding  one.

On the back side of the cards were that players scoring and statistics. I would  know, all the other boys at school would do anything to get that card. Lots of trading would happen. That one good player could fetch you dozens of other cards in completing your team sets.

The excitement would grow at school everyday. We couldn't wait till recess or lunch break.  We would arrange for a card throwing game. A game where each player puts up their best card. Everyone  playing would have to be in agreement that each player had a special card that the other players wanted. You would take your card, stand it up on a slight angle against a wall, then draw a line about ten feet away. That was the line that each player took turns to toss a card from, in hopes of knocking the card down. The player that knocks the card down will get to pick up all the cards that the other players have already tossed and the special card you wanted as well. 

I never thought much about it then, but the cards we were tossing were pretty special cards. It included the likes of the "California Golden Seals", the "Kansas City Scouts", the "Cleveland Barons", the list goes on. Rookie Cards were not thought to be as valuable in that time as gaining your favourite player trading card or completing your favourite complete team set. That was the early 80's. By 1984, the ROOKIE Card in Hockey took a whole new turn. they became valuable! It was years later  that I started remembering all those Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Mario Lemieux ROOKIE cards, I once held in my hand and treated like nothing more then a common pebble found on the playground....It was the 'Dawn" of the ROOKIE card and the game of hockey was about to change forever.......(to be continued)

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