Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All about the hockey card geek

While I’m a baseball (San Diego Padres) and enjoy football (Green Bay Packers), in what other sport can you find such finesse, speed, grace, and physicality, as hockey? Don’t even get me started on basketball – it’s a wuss sport – you get a hangnail and you’re on the DL for two weeks. In hockey, you break your jaw, get it wired shut and then continue to skate your shifts. It’s a blue-collar sport.

Hockey wasn’t that big when I was growing up in Southeast Iowa in the late ‘60s, early 70’s, but I still followed it. It was during my junior and senior years of high school when the Broad Street Bullies lofted Lord Stanley’s Cup.

It wasn’t until I joined the Navy and moved to San Diego that I was able to see my first live hockey game. That was the “golden” days of the San Diego Mariners, who played their World Hockey Association games at the San Diego Sports Arena.

I returned home to Iowa’s hockey wasteland in 1980, and it wasn’t’ until 1995-96, that hockey raised its head in Moline, Ill., as the Quad-City Mallards were born. They originally played in the old Colonial League, which was later reformed into the United Hockey League. Even though it seemed somewhat “goonish,” it was entertaining, and the Mallards went on to record six straight 50+ win seasons, as well as three league championships.

I now live in Des Moines, Iowa, where we have the Buccaneers, a Tier 1 USHL team, (which sent Erik Cole, Kyle Okposo and Scott Clemmensen to the NHL, winning the national championship in 2005-06); two high school teams (the Oak Leafs and Capitals, Midwest High School Hockey League); as well as Iowa State University’s club team (1992 ACHA National Champs).

The Iowa Wild (formerly Houston Aeros) begins AHL play at Wells Fargo Arena this season, and we already have our season tickets in hand. It’s good to have AHL hockey in the area again, as the Iowa Stars (Dallas Stars, 2005-06, 2006-07) and the Iowa Chops (Anaheim Ducks, 2008-09 formerly resided here.

While I don’t have one favorite hockey team, I like the Blackhawks and Avalanche, and follow teams of interest such Boston, Philly, St. Louis, and the Rangers (I consider Toronto my “Canadian team.”). The only team I actually love to hate, is the Detroit Red Wings. As you can well guess, “Slapshot” is one of my favorite movies.

I have more than 30,000 hockey cards taking up a corner of the guest bedroom (much to my wife’s chagrin) and more on shelves in the basement. I enjoy vintage hockey cards, today’s offerings, and the thousands of hockey cards in between. Whether it’s autos, game-used, RCs, serial numbers, refractors, I love them all.

What can I say, I’m a hockey and hockey card geek.