In the wide world of hockey memorabilia, there are many ways that collectors will assemble their menageries. Some will work by player, others by product; but one of the most common methods, and most treacherous, is to collect by team.
Now this may come as a bit of a shock to those of us (myself included) who will obsess over a team and collect up as much memorabilia as possible. Afterall, it’s a fairly common practice to want to adorn your body, your car and a room in your house with souvenirs of your favourite squad. Jersey? Check. Bumper sticker? Of course. Pennant or poster? Naturally.
These examples, however, fall under the realm of fandom rather than collecting hound. It is the latter mentality that will drive someone to wait outside arenas or hotels for autographs, attend trade shows, search through online auctions for game-used gear and the rare souvenirs from years gone by.
The attachment we have to a team to want to own a piece of their story is not uncommon, and often we make this connection because of a childhood memory. Maybe it serves as a reminder of going with your dad or grandfather to your first hockey game, or how you and your friends would skate around a frozen pond in the dead of winter, pretending to be your hockey hero.
But building a proper team collection, as I alluded to earlier, can be a challenge, especially if your mentality in collecting still resembles the 80s / 90s philosophy of “gotta get them all”. This can lead to OCD (Obsessive Collecting Drive), and can give your Interac card a pretty lethal hit, especially if you’re awake at 1am surfing through eBay listings.
To keep your collection in check, here are a few helpful tips:
1> Have a project or two – Focus your collection on a longterm goal that will be sustained for a few years, such as an autograph from each player who was on a Stanley Cup-winning squad or a ticket stub from each arena your team has visited.
2> Set a budget – It’s very easy to over-spend, especially if you try to go cold turkey for a couple months. Give yourself a collecting allowance and either use it to pick up a piece or two each month or save up for a higher dollar item like a game-used jersey.
3> Get on trade networks – The modern world of collecting is made easier by trading websites and local collecting groups who can help you track down your most coveted items. Local prices can be inflated, so you’ll have a much easier time picking up your Canadiens cards from a collector in Toronto.
4> Build the collector cave – If all of your collectibles are going into bins and storage boxes, then you might forget just how much you have. Put your treasures out for display and you’ll soon see just how much you have (and as a result feel the need to spend less).
Jon Waldman has written about hockey for several publications over his decade-long journalism career, including The Hockey News, The Toronto Sun and Winnipeg Men Magazine. A graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism program, Jon is working on his first book on the history of hockey, to go along with two other books he has published since 2009.