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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Passion for the ROOKIE

When Wayne Gretzky made his famous statement about "Sidney Crosby" in regards to breaking some of his records, it put the world on notice. Ears were listening everywhere, especially in the media. That same year Crosby made a "Lacrosse" move behind the net scoring a highlight goal that had the hockey world stand on notice. It even brought out comments on HNIC from Don Cherry on 'Coachs Corner' calling him a HOT DOG.

While some did feel like that,  Crosby was never  known to be a prideful player, even as a Jr Star. In a interview Crosby was asked about his expectations , to which he replied  "I’m just a 16-year old who played only 17 games at junior level. I have a long way to go. I love to play hockey, I want to enjoy it and I don’t want to put pressure on me about points. " He goes on to say his greatest challenge is to stay consistent, every game, every shift. His main goal for the season? "Every night, I want to be a better player, If I improve, I can keep going."

Not only would Crosby go on to becoming a great player, but he would become the face of the league. A Rookie who was able to score over 100 points as a 18 year old. All signs in his Jr career pointed in this direction. The excitement I  had over a ROOKIE card, had been changing and I didn't even notice. The excitement of following a prospect ( a potential NHL player in the making) became more of a passion then actually the ROOKIE card itself.

While following the latest prospects in the Oilers organization , I became rather frustrated like many of you. With more misses then hits, you can imagine the joy that was felt when we finally drafted Sam Gagner. While there was some glimmer of hope in a few of our prospects it was when Jordon Eberle arrived that things began to take shape.

With Jordon's last second goal in the World Jr game vs Russia , the hysteria at Rexall Place that night was nothing short of crazy. I was at that game. The Oilers game that is. I can't recall who they were playing, only the fans response when the crowd at Rexall went crazy while watching Eberle (oiler draft pick) score the tying goal with only seconds in the game. Hope was there....Passion was there! Not for a card anymore, but a prospect, who maybe one day, could do the same for the Edmonton Oilers.

The following year, we were able to steal Magnus Paajarvi who fell a couple draft picks right into the Oilers hands. While few knew much of him, I had been following many potential prospects for the draft and was ecstatic at the opportunity to draft him.

With Eberle continuing to play Jr hockey, Magnus in Sweden still, Gagner was left alone to find his way through the stormy waters with little support. A 30th place finish assured us the best player (or at least we hoped). Following the prospects all year again allowed me more opportunity as to the potential possibilities between Hall and Seguin in the 2010 draft. I wanted Taylor Hall all along. Attended the draft party that year at Rexall and jumped with joy at the announcement he was our pick.


This past year, after all the excitement of drafting a #1 overall, I was secretly hoping for one more #1 overall. Having followed the 2010 Draft prospects closer then any other draft year, I felt I had a pretty good idea as to who the Oilers would once again draft with their 2011 #1 overall. I followed the draft class closer then any previous year. To me, it was a no brainer. With Stauffer's coverage of the top prospects and interviews with Oilers brass, as well as incredible coverage by Lowetide in his blogging and his show NationRadio, I felt more excited then ever. Not only as a fan of hockey but especially as a Oiler addict. Draft day 2011 came and so did "The Nuge", Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.


Life has changed since that Vancouver Canucks playoff run in 1982. Life has changed since trading and playing hockey trading cards in the school yard. Life has changed since buying and selling ROOKIE cards in hockey. It's changed alright, but for me in a good way. I now follow so many prospects I can barely keep up. But that's OK, because I love it! I love seeing these young players develop over the years, I love guessing and trying to figure out who will be drafted where. I love hearing from their families and friends and from the players themselves. It's the gleam in their eye, the thirst to succeed. It's the dream of one day, playing in the NHL, playing for
Lord Stanley's Cup. We all had our own dreams of doing that ourselves one day, only difference is? For us it's a Fantasy, for these young players, it could become a Reality!

All I can really say is "Thanks for the ROOKIE Card". It changed my life. It took me from the boy who watched hockey to one crazy fan who can't wait to discover the next greatest players in hockey. Who am I? What could I possibly know? I don't know, maybe not much, but I have to say....I am right far more times then I am wrong....spend enough time following...and you stand a better chance at least having a educated guess.....(just


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