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Hockey CBA Generates Positive Hobby Buzz

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#1 Derek21


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Posted 15 July 2005 - 04:31 PM


Hockey CBA Generates Positive Hobby Buzz
7/13/2005 1:46:35 PM

Today’s announcement of a tentative agreement between the NHL and its Players’ Association came as a great relief to collectors of hockey memorabilia.

“It’s about time,” said Dan Garant of Toronto. “It’s been really tough staying involved in the hobby, but I think things are going to be very positive from here on out. There are a lot of things [on the horizon] that should bring back old collectors along with encouraging new ones.”

Among the elements that have hobby message boards buzzing is the anticipation of the massive player movement that lies ahead as NHL clubs seek to fill roster slots.

“There are going to be a lot of big name players changing teams, either through free agency or buy-outs,” noted Brian Dobbins of Calgary. “Seeing some of these guys on different teams is going to is going to generate a lot of excitement across the league. Everyone will want the first new cards showing them in their new uniforms.”

There’s also the highly anticipated arrival of Sidney Crosby, the 17-year-old prospect expected to go first overall in the draft who was identified by Wayne Gretzky last year as the player with a chance to break some of his all-time NHL records.

“People have been taking about Crosby all year,” says collector Ray Garrity. “When they have the [draft] lottery [to determine the order of selection], that’s going to be one of the biggest days in hobby history. It’ll start people drooling for his cards. If he ends up in the right market, like New York or Detroit or Toronto, it’ll be insane.”

The hobby’s already seen a hint of that insanity with Crosby tucked away in small town Rimouski, Que. His junior hockey cards were the hottest collectibles of 2004-05. Singles bearing his autograph sold for up to $600 at a time when Gretzky signed cards could be had for as little as $100. Collectors expect his first NHL-licensed cards to be record breakers themselves.

“If you consider that Rick Nash’s most expensive RC books right now at $850, it’s not out of the realm of reality to envision a similar RC Crosby topping $1,000 right out of the gate,” says Clint Hall, price guide editor for Beckett Hockey. “Not that Nash isn’t one of the better young players in the league, but Crosby’s impact on the hobby will be magnified by a factor of 10, given the hype and his pedigree.”

Crosby, while sure to be the main attraction, won’t be a one-man show in 2005-06. Collectors are looking at the crop of rookies expected to debut this season as the best ever, topping even the legendary 1979 class that included Ray Bourque, Mike Gartner and Mark Messier.

“I can’t wait to see how good this rookie crop will be,” says Wayne Bailey of Bailey’s Sportscards in Eden Prairie, Minn. “With two years worth of buildup, we’re going to get guys like Jeff Carter, Alexander Ovechkin and Dion Phaneuf all at once.”

Others, while appreciating the impact of new blood, think good, old-time hockey will be the power source behind any hobby revival.

“The hardcore guys have stayed active, but the in-betweeners , the guys who just did it as a little hobby, they’re the ones we need to pull back,” says Stevan Rosu of Little Shop of Heroes in Listowel, Ont. “Good, solid hockey will be what gets them involved. As long as the game’s entertaining, it’ll have an impact on the hobby.”

For their part, trading card manufacturers were excited about the news, but played it safe regarding how it might impact their production plans for the 2005-06 season.

“We are extremely pleased to hear of an agreement in principle between the NHL and the NHLPA,” said Brian Price, president of In The Game. “As a hockey fan I can’t wait for the season to begin. As a hockey card manufacturer, I hope both the NHL and NHLPA will allow us to make cards next year.”

In The Game operated without an NHLPA license in 2004-05, relying instead on an NHL license to release several sets that featured mostly retired legends. That NHL license expired on June 30.

“It’s great news,” says Topps spokesman Clay Luraschi. The company sat out the 2004-05 season in anticipation of a long lockout and has yet to determine its future plans. “We’re still discussing it internally,” he says.

"We're very excited to have hockey back playing," said Joe Fallon, Director of Product Development for Upper Deck . "While the work stoppage has been difficult for all involved, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to hockey and the hockey card market. With the amount of player movement and what is essentially a double rookie class, we're looking forward to a strong comeback for hockey."

Upper Deck also plans to show appreciation to hockey fans for their loyalty by offering a free 2005-06 Rookie trading card. No further details on the offer are available at this time.

Not coincidentally, we can also confirm that Beckett Hockey will return to a monthly publishing frequency, beginning with the next issue (Sept. #174).
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