The Stanley Cup: Original Six Match-Up Provides Collectible Options

The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate winning their second Stanley Cup in four years on June 24, 2013, coming from behind with two goals in 17 seconds of Game Six. Like all Stanley Cup series, there are many items for hockey collectibles to get their sights on.

This year’s Stanley Cup Finals—won by the Chicago Blackhawks in spectacular fashion in six games earlier this week—featured two of the league’s oldest teams in the Hawks and the Boston Bruins. Both teams are rich in history and tradition. They had also won of two of the previous three Stanley Cup Finals, with Chicago winning in 2010 and Boston the following year in 2011. These two evenly matched teams mix toughness and speed with rosters comprised of both established veterans, and young stars.

Patrick Bergeron’s SPx autographed rookie card with a swatch of game-used jersey from the 20003-04 season.

From a collectibles standpoint, due to each team’s storied history, there is a tremendous amount of material to pursue that includes everything from trading cards, game-used apparel and equipment to ephemera like yearbooks, programs, autographed photos and more. Unlike other sports, the NHL has very specific rules that clearly define when a player is eligible to have their first trading cards produced and, as a result, it makes it very simple to know and understand how to collect rookie cards of the game’s top players.

As with all sports, manufacturers produce a variety of products at different price points to meet the budgetary needs of all collectors. This in turn means that while a player may have several rookie cards, some are going to be more valuable than others. Here’s a brief look at some of the rookie cards of the Bruins and Blackhawks top players, including the year, number of total rookie cards available, a couple of their key cards, including those with autographs or game used memorabilia.

Key: GU – game used; AU – autographed; /XXX – serial numbered to; JSY – jersey; C – captain; A – assistant captain.

Boston Bruins

Jaromir Jagr’s 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier card.

Jaromir Jagr’s Upper Deck card commemorating this No 1 draft-pick status.

Tyler Seguin’s limited-edition autographed rookie card with a swatch of game-used jersey.

Jaromir Jagr: 1990-91 (11), O-Pee-Chee Premier #50; Upper Deck #356;
Patrice Bergeron (C): 2003-04 (37), Upper Deck Young Guns #204; SPx #220 GU JSY; AU, X /925;
Zdeno Chara (A): 1997-98 (1), SP Authentic #186;
Tyler Seguin: 2010-11 (21), Upper Deck Young Guns #456; The Cup #179; GU JSY; AU, X/99;

Chicago Blackhawks

Patrick Kane’s 2007-08 Upper Deck Young Guns card.

Jonathan Toews’ SPx autographed with a swatch of game-used jersey from the 2007-08 season.

Zdeno Chára’s SP Future Watch card from the 1997-98 season.

Patrick Kane: 2007-08 (20), Upper Deck Young Guns #210; The Cup #185; GU JSY, AU, X/99;
Jonathan Toews (C): 2007-08 (19), Upper Deck Young Guns #462, SPx #231 GU JSY; AU, X/499;
Duncan Keith (A): 2005-06 (14), Upper Deck Young Guns #230; The Cup #186; AU, X/249;
Brandon Saad: 2011-12 (18), Dominion #185 GU JSY, AU, /99, Elite #266, /99

In addition to their rookie cards, these players represent some of the key athletes to pursue with regards to other collectibles as well.

Autographed items from the various players come in all shapes and sizes. The most popular of these, are obviously autographed photos and pucks, with pucks carrying a premium. Hockey pucks themselves can be found with different graphics on them including logos of the team, NHL, Stanley Cup and championship. The ones that seem to carry the greatest value are ones bearing a championship logo commemorating the year of achievement. Typically signed using a paint pen, signatures written with a finer point often display a crisper and more legible signature that those with a bold point.

An official Stanley Cup Finals puck featuring the team and cup logos.

A Boston Bruins-logoed hockey puck signed by goaltender Tuuka Rask.

Photographs display well and can be found pre-framed and matted with team logos. These items are excellent pieces for acquiring in-person signatures. It is an affordable way to turn a commodity into a true collectible. Hockey players are typically much more accessible than players of other sports, participating in numerous signing opportunities throughout the year. When acquiring a player signature, be sure to have them sign using a medium point Sharpie marker, asking them to sign specifically where you would like them to autograph the photo or other item and, if possible, do not have the autograph personalized with your name. This is really only important if you ever plan to sell the photograph. If you are keeping it as part of a permanent collection, having the player make the autograph out to you, can be a nice touch adding to the memory of the signing experience and athlete interaction.

Custom painted to reflect the individual characteristics of the net-minder, goalie masks serve as a great canvas for autographs and make for a truly beautiful display. This mini helmet is autographed by Chicago’s goalie Corey Crawford.

Collecting items from goalies can make for a unique collectible. The tremendous amount of equipment worn by goaltenders is unlike that of any other sport. As a result, one of the more individualized pieces of equipment goalies wear is their mask. Custom painted to reflect the individual characteristics of the net-minder, these pieces serve as a great canvas for autographs and make for a truly beautiful display. Usually produced in limited quantities, the scarcity and uniqueness of the piece and accompanying autograph can make for a collectible item that will appreciate in value. However, they can initially be purchased, often, for less than one hundred dollars.

One of the easiest pieces of memorabilia to acquire is an official 2013 Stanley Cup Finals Program.

A current search on eBay or the NHL Shop will result in no shortage of Stanley Cup-related collectible items. It’s important to remember that many of these items are produced in large quantities, therefore removing any potential value based on scarcity alone. Like other championship items, time and condition preservation are essential to insuring any appreciable value. One such item is the annual Stanley Cup Finals Official Program, a truly impressive keepsake for sure, but not one that will have much collectible value. As with other items, having key players of the winning team sign the program changes the value immensely. Some collectors choose to have as many players as possible sign it, other choose just to get it signed by the Conn Smythe Trophy winner—this year it was Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane—which is awarded to the series most valuable player. Again, as with most ephemera, this is an item that should be signed in a Sharpie of a contrasting color, like gold or silver. Having the cover signed is usually the preferred location and often a paint pen can work as well. If using a paint pen, collectors should make sure the tip isn’t clogged by testing it beforehand, shaking it regularly while they are waiting and keeping the item flat while it is drying.

Tickets from the Stanley Cup Finals venues are also quite collectible, particularly vintage tickets from years past. The growing popularity of ticket collecting has caused even newer or current tickets to escalate in price. The one picture here from Game One in Chicago on June 12, 2013, can be purchased for $50. Cheaper than the face value, it’s still quite a sum for a used ticket.

A framed photo of Jonathan Toews with Blackhawk logo.

A Corey Crawford-autographed 8×10 photo.

Finally, the most coveted collectible items from the Stanley Cup Finals are player-worn or used equipment and apparel. Unfortunately, these items can be very difficult to find as most players keep their sticks and jersey, the two most desirable items. This is especially true in the short-term. However, years after retirement, some players eventually part with these items. Typically, they are consigned to a major auction house where they are authenticated and well-marketed to garner interest from a large collecting base. Realized prizes for such items can stretch into the tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the player and time period from which the items originate.

As with all things collectible, it’s important to collect what you like and not what you think you will be able to turn for a profit. While it’s nice to have items from you collection earn you some well-deserved cash, it’s more important that you actually appreciate the items themselves, on their own merits, for the games, players and memories they represent.

Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.

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