Millions of paintings have been painted, but it’s a few, well-chosen paintings that make a museum. Much the same way, millions of hockey cards have been manufactured, and it’s a few, well-chosen hockey cards that can make a different kind of museum.
However, unlike an art museum, a stunning hockey card museum can be meaningful and valuable, but still affordable.
You can erect a museum for 400-win goalies. Or Latvian backup goalies. A museum honoring European trailblazers. First-round busts. A Hall of Fame of the Hall of Fame. Or much like The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book, hilarious hockey pictures.
Or, take a journey into the history of your favorite team; in this case, a curated tour through the high and lows of the Minnesota Wild’s relatively brief existence.
Card shown: 2000-01 Upper Deck #229
Purchase price: About $50
Other recommendations: 2000-01 SP Authentic #110 (limited to 900 copies), 2000-01 Titanium Hobby #126 (limited to 99 copies)
Forget how it ended. Remember an 18-year-old Marian Gaborik, the Minnesota Wild’s very first draft pick, bursting with hope in this rookie card, on the cusp of NHL hockey’s long-awaited return to Minnesota, his own stardom, and electrifying Wild fans for nearly a decade. Three years after his acrimonious departure, Gaborik is still the franchise’s signature player.
Card shown: 2001-02 Topps Archives Autograph #65
Purchase price: About $20
For better or worse, Jacques Lemaire’s imprint over the franchise was stronger than anyone else’s in its first decade of play. His dreaded neutral zone trap, which kept undertalented Wild teams in games and overpowering Marian Gaborik at bay, actually originated with Scotty Bowman’s dominating Canadiens in the 1970s. Lemaire played under Bowman with Doug Risebrough, who was Minnesota’s GM throughout Lemaire’s entire head coaching tenure in Minnesota. This rookie card reprint (originally from 1967) with Lemaire’s autograph is fitting, his young, clever eyes fertile with the seeds of a franchise that would not come to fruition for three decades.
Card shown: 2002-03 BAP Signature Series Autograph #51
Purchase price: About $5
In just their third year of play, the Wild sent three-time Conn Smythe winner Patrick Roy into retirement, and a dynasty built from pillars like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Rob Blake into memory with a shocking first round upset. The kill shot was delivered by an unlikely hero, Andrew Brunette, perhaps one of the most undeservedly maligned players of the decade. Brunette, cast off multiple times throughout his career despite efficient playmaking because of below-average skating ability, legitimized the fledgling franchise with his Game Seven, overtime goal. Minnesota eventually reached the Conference Finals, still the deepest playoff run that Wild fans have enjoyed. Appropriately, this autographed card was released during that same season.
Card shown: 2005-06 SP Authentic #162 (limited to 999 copies)
Purchase price: About $25
Other recommendations: 2005-06 The Cup #144 (limited to 249 copies)
The applause from the punches given, the ringing from the punches taken. But none of that had happened just yet in the Boogeyman’s autographed rookie card…here, just a simple smile for the cameras.
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter
Card shown: None released
Whatever happens and whenever it starts, it’ll be memorable. Whether as just more colossal contract mistakes that ordained another nuclear winter for the NHL, or perhaps, an eventual raising of the Cup, both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will skate against the ghosts of their immense salaries for the rest of their Wild runs.
Can hometown boy Parise overtake Gaborik as the franchise’s signature star? Will Suter, second to Shea Weber for all those years, play up to an elite defenseman’s contract? These are just a couple of the questions that usher in another fascinating Wild decade.
All cards from author’s personal collection.