The Hockey Card: An Industry That's Lost Its Soul

Tommy GCorrespondent IMay 6, 2009

I remember those days as a kid when I spent countless hours studying my hockey card collection. Who knew how much they would be worth? I just loved hockey cards, and I couldn’t get enough.


It was a form of entertainment, like watching a movie or reading a book. It was time spent with friends so that we could complete our collections via trades. Today’s youth might liken it to Facebook or Twitter.


We would memorize players’ stats and learn about the game through their mini bios. I guess this seems archaic now, but to us, it was a fulfilling hobby.


I don’t even think the majority of collectors are youth anymore. A plethora of “adults for profit” have taken over the reins. 


The same baby boomers and Gen-Xers who once flipped through cards with soiled hands are now “double-sleeving” them so that they can’t be contaminated by impurities in the air.


My collection is long gone, but rounded corners and slight bends would render them valueless in the minds of collectors. In my life, these cards have a lot of worth because they filled my mind with great memories of my favorite sport.


What happened to the hockey card business, or better yet, what happened to youth? Why does everything have to be glossy with graphics that ignore the real subject—the athlete?


Some of these cards are made so thick that I can’t imagine they even need plastic for protection. Do all young people have such an attention issue that they can’t value simplicity? 


Then you have game-worn jersey cards and other gimmicky cards together with so many manufacturers that even the price, which collectors value the most, is in question.


When will this insanity end? I recollect when O-Pee-Chee/Topps was the only major player with one set per season. Those were the days when collecting seemed plausible. 


But then again, assembling a set was done for different reasons. I guess present-day hobbyists just want the “big ticket” cards with the dollar sign written all over. 


It’s a shame how a great pastime has been stained in the name of the almighty buck.  In the end, most of these cards aren’t worth a lot of money anyway.