From Wednesday, July 26 to Sunday, July 30, the 38th annual National Sports Collectors Convention took place in Chicago. While baseball makes up the bulk of the trading cards, game-used gear and other memorabilia at The National, there are always some hockey gems to be found.
This year was no exception. On my four-day journey at the NSCC (I skipped the last day), I found some diamonds in the rough. Most are out of the price range of all except the most hardcore — and deep-pocketed — collectors. Regardless, all were fun to look at, and would be cool to own.
Here are the top 10 hockey finds at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention.
1989-90 Game-Used Wayne Gretzky Jersey
Perhaps nothing is more iconic to 1990s hockey fans — at least those in the United States — than Wayne Gretzky in an L.A. Kings sweater. This black road jersey was worn by Gretzky during the 1989-90 season. The paperwork notes that it was just worn for a game on March 17, 1990, so this jersey does not have a lot of wear and tear.
Bobby Orr & Wayne Gretzky Rookie Cards
Maybe not as hard to find as an autographed, game-worn Gretzky jersey are these rookie cards of Gretzky and Bobby Orr, considered the best and second-best hockey players ever. (Which of them is the all-time best will always be up for debate.) Admittedly, there were quite a few Gretzky and Orr RCs available at The National this year — but that doesn’t make them any less awesome.
Various Old Hockey Pucks
St. Louis Sports Cards had 12 pucks from the 1940s and 1950s, including pucks made by Tyer (upper left), Rawlings and Monarch (center). My favorite was the one puck that had the word “Official” engraved on the surface (left, second from top). I forgot to ask the price of these pucks, but as you probably know, an old hockey puck can sell for a ridiculous amount of money — sometimes over $700, sometimes even more.
Ed Belfour’s Last Goalie Mask
Eddie The Eagle’s last season was spent playing in Sweden with Leksands IF in 2007-08. There, he donned a metallic blue version of his famous “Eagle” mask. I hate to admit it, but I like this version even better than his red Blackhawks mask from the early 1990s.
This mask included a letter of authenticity from Belfour himself and is even signed in silver across the back. At $8,000, this was well outside of what I could afford, which is probably a good thing; if I owned this mask, I would probably cradle it in my hands and stare at it all day. (J & J Distributing)
2016-17 Sidney Crosby “Sunday” Jersey
The Pittsburgh Penguins wore canary-yellow jerseys for two games during the 2016-17 season. From what I understand, this is the only yellow Crosby jersey from 2016-17 in existence; the Penguins did not have players change jerseys every game like some teams do. This was available at the 2017 National for $16,000. (J & J Distributing)
Mario Lemieux Game-Used Skates
These skates were worn by Mario Lemieux when he scored his 1,500 NHL point on December 30, 2000 — his comeback season. One of the skates is also signed in gold marker. Super Mario’s skates will be auctioned off by Lelands in September of this year, and have an estimated value of $2,500.
1926-27 Ottawa Senators Team Photo
Lelands also displayed this old photograph of the Ottawa Senators hockey team from the 1927. Note that the photo states that the Senators are the “holders of the Stanley Cup, O’Brien and Prince of Wales Trophies.” That’s a lot of hardware! Like the Lemieux skates, this photo will be available for auction in September, and also has an estimated value of $2,500.
1966-67 Topps U.S. Test Issue Box
During the 1966-67 season, Topps test marketed a 66-card set of hockey cards that used only English on the back (instead of English and French), sold exclusively in the U.S. This box once held packs that may have included the rarer, “U.S.A. Test” version of Bobby Orr’s rookie card, but now it’s empty. Lelands had this for sale at the National for $5,000.
1972 Team Canada Framed Autograph Collage
This huge Team Canada Summit Series Collage was available for $1,000. It contains a full-color team photo, 22 autographed hockey cards and 11 additional signed index cards, all symmetrically arranged, matted and framed. I didn’t measure this, but it is huge; probably around 24″ by 36″. Click on the picture below for a super-sized detail view.
2005-06 Sidney Crosby SP Authentic RC
Lastly, here’s a modern hockey card — but it’s a Sidney Crosby rookie card; the only one I saw at this show. While Sid’s SP Authentic RC is maybe not as iconic as his Upper Deck Young Guns card or his rookie card from The Cup, it is still pretty rare, as it was limited to just 99 copies and came autographed. This one happened to be graded. The dealer was asking $2,000 for it. (BuyNiceCards.com)
Question: If someone was willing to buy you three items on the list, which would you pick? And no, you can’t use the money to pay your bills instead. Leave a comment and let me know. ■
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.