If you live in Canada and you’re a hockey fan then you probably heard about Hockey Day in Canada. It is billed as a day for the whole family to meet and see some hockey stars, be entertained and of course have some fun. The day was billed as All things hockey under one roof but the day was so much more than just hockey. My Hockey Day in Canada’s(we’ll call it HDIC from now on) experience was right in my hometown of Richmond B.C. and hopefully this blog post will give you an understanding of what the day was all about, from a serious hockey fan and card collector’s perspective.
The doors opened at the Olympic Oval at 10am but being the on time kind of guy I am I arrived at 9:30am. To my surprise there was already roughly 100 people in line. The venue(the same as last year) was previously home to the speed skating oval, curling and other Vancouver 2010 Olympic events. It is a place that some locals love and others, as with any capital project in a city our size dispize. For me, the Oval is the perfect place to hold HDIC as there is room for everything under one roof, with room to spare. So back to the lineup. By 10am the crowd had grown to roughly 200 and fans were already getting antsy to get in the door to take part in all the day had in store. For information on the Oval just click on the link. http://richmondoval.ca/default.aspx
As we entered the oval we were given a bag that included information on some upcoming events as well as a pack of HDIC hockey cards that Upper Deck was giving out.
I headed straight to the Upper Deck hockey booth and picked up 2 more packs of cards as I wanted to get the set of 15 cards. To my surprise there were people filling their pockets with packs and grabbing them like they were going out of style. Did your mother not teach you anything about what happens to greedy people?
So up the stairs I went and what greeted me at the top of the stairs was a card & memorabilia collectors paradise. Table upon tables full of hockey cards, baseball cards, signed pictures and jerseys, hats, pins posters, you name it they had it. I made my way over the the Wiser’s Collectible’s table where Chris and Shane were busy bartering over cards, hobby boxes and everything else sports related they were selling. The buzz around the tables was unreal and pretty much made it impossible for me not to get in on the action.
As a collector my goal was to meet Guy Lafleur who was doing an autograph signing and then it was to bust open some hockey cards. I later found out that Guy wouldn’t be signing until 1pm and the lineup that I saw to meet him was already growing so I had to let that opportunity go.
Back to the card tables I went. I picked up 3 boxes of 2013 Upper Deck Series 1 and ripped one box while I was there. I got my hits, my Young guns etc and those will make up another blog page but despite all card companies feeling the pinch of the lockout, the cards in series 1 are unreal. I have completed a lot of sets of Upper Deck cards over the years and of course going back even further than that to the days of O Pee Chee.
So after opening a box, I met up with a friend of mine and we headed over the entertainment section. This area included bubble hockey, air hockey, a skills training area with pro’s to help you out a long with tones of stuff for kids to do(that was a joke) My luck in bubble hockey wasn’t very good but seeing the number of families and friends that were hanging out made me realize perhaps I had missed the point of HDIC.
I was there to meet Guy Lafleur, bust some packs and buy some memorabilia and yes I accomplished some of that. But what really happened was I realized what a great experience the day was for everyone in the community, hockey fan or not. So let’s run down a few of the features of the day that people could take advantage of.
There was a celebrity ball hockey game that included Guy Lafleur, there was a Vancouver Canucks Alumni game vs The Sockeyes Alumni, The Odds were playing on stage and yeah they rocked the Canucks jersey to boot. There was the marketplace I mentioned with all the memorabilia and cards, a Sony playstation and Nintendo Wii game areas a long with countless vintage hockey paraphernalia like old Vancouver Millionaire jerseys. The list goes on and on but the one thing that each event shared was it was for everyone. There was infants being pushed in their strollers, kids had their face painted, even geeks like me had my Vote Trevor Linden for MVP pin from 1988 on, trust me it was a great conversation piece. I met friends as I mentioned but I also had people striking up conversations about the Canucks and hockey in general.
One thing I know is when an event feels like it went off without a hitch it probably means a lot of people worked really hard to make it feel that way. It’s like that saying about ducks; on the surface they float on the water with ease while under the water where nobody can see, there legs are going a mile a minute. Ok I’m a Canucks fans so let’s not talk anymore about Ducks! I also know that events like this only happen because of sponsors and I wanted to focus on one in particular, Upper Deck.
For those of you that don’t know, when it comes to hockey cards, at least for me, Upper Deck is the King. They put out a consistent product and despite the curse of our 3rd NHL lockout they came out with some great product for this year. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Upper Deck cards just check out this link below. http://www.upperdeck.com/Corporate/History.aspx
Now I don’t claim to only buy Upper Deck cards and my previous posts often mention many manufactures of cards but because it was Upper Deck that shelled out the resources to help support Richmond’s HDIC I wanted to make sure they got a shout out from me. The hockey cards they gave out for free were a hit with the young and the old. The table they had set up allowed space for people to crack some wax and best of all, trade with others around you so you could build the 15 card set.
The sets are probably not worth a lot being the cards were free. But it brought people like me back to a time when opening packs wasn’t about the value, it wasn’t about that one card, it was about sharing the hobby and experience with your friends. I often find myself basing a hobby boxes results on the current value of the cards pulled when in reality I don’t want to sell them anyways. The value of cards, as with anything comes from what someone else is willing to trade or pay for a particular card. For me, there are not many San Jose Sharks cards that I would cherish in my personal card collection or my PC. That said, take a Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton Rookie card to San Jose and you’d probably get a lot more for it that you would in Vancouver.
Upper Deck also had some prizes that you could enter to win, like a signed jersey or a helmet signed by Canada’s junior team. Two prizes I might add that any hockey collector or fan would love to have. One of my favourite pieces in my collection is an old Wayne Gretzky lunch box of mine. It’s made numerous appearances in my blog either in pictures or comments but adding a World Junior autographed helmet would be just fine with me.
I ended up having one heck of a weekend in general. I spent today with my wife, daughter and some family out at Rogers Arena at the Canucks Super Skills game competition and Alumni game, talk about getting your dose of NHL!
I realize with a name like HDIC one would think the event was really just for hockey fans but I would suggest that you bring out your friends and families next year as it’s a great opportunity to do something within your community wherever you are in Canada. For families that are on a budget don’t worry, I should have mentioned that entry is free, Upper Deck gives you free hockey cards, the Odds played for free and the interactive fun zone was free. What more could you ask for.
It was also a special weekend as it was Chinese New Year, The year of the Snake. There was a lion dance at 10:30am that added another layer to the event that made me realize HDIC is about our communities that make up our country and the one thing that ties almost all of us together in one way or another, Hockey! Kung Hey Fat Choy.
For me I was lucky that there was no entry fee as definitely did my part to support the local economy. After purchasing some hobby boxes(let’s just leave it at “some” as my wife reads this blog once in a while) I wanted to go and see what the various booths had to offer other than just cards. I stumbled upon the 5 Hole for Food gang and bought a T-shirt for $20 as the proceeds help them put on the amazing hockey games all across Canada. Please take a minute to read all about them and their amazing story. If you are an avid tweeter like me you can also follow them @fiveholeforfood or search the Hashtag #FHFF and get involved. http://www.fiveholeforfood.com/ I also headed to listen to the Odds blast out some great music and then for the last time I headed over to the cards and memorabilia tables and bought a few more goodies that I’ll post on another blog piece soon.
I want to thank all of you for reading my blog since I started writing it in mid October 2012. The first few posts were all about learning what blogging would look like for me and then tweaking it all the time to see what people liked and what they didn’t. There are thousands of views already and I hope the numbers and comments grow as my favourite thing about the great hobby of card collecting is, it’s always better when you get to share with others.
My only regret I have is I never got to meet Ryan Cracknell who writes for that little outfit called Cardboard Connection, www.cardboardconnection.com Yes i’m kidding; Ryan and the rest of the people at Cardboard Connection are a huge source of information when it comes to the hobby of collecting cards and the website is ever changing. Ryan is active on Twitter as well @Tradercracks if you wanted to search him out. I did however get to meet Carson, @carsonmckee and his 3 boys, hopefully next year I can bring my daughter and the kids can run around and have some fun.
Although this blog post isn’t or at least wasn’t meant to be about me, Upper Deck or my obsession with collecting it does tie in together all of the things that HDIC meant to me. I just hope that sponsors and the City of Richmond continue to see the value of the event for the community and our country. I hope the people that payed to have booths in the marketplace benefitted and will continue be supportive and I hope the volunteers had a lot of fun and will also return in 2014. Thanks a lot and enjoy a few more snapshots from my…….I mean our HDIC.