What the Puck?

Old Leafs puck = 6 ounces of black gold

Toronto Maple Leafs Viceroy Puck - front“Hey Thom, what’s your collection worth?”

I hear that question all the time. Fact is I don’t really know and I figure that arriving at a total is not something I hopefully will ever be burdened with. I will concede that I do know the value of most things and can ballpark estimate the rest. It’s important to remember values change with time too.

As many know, I have a fetish for vulcanized rubber decorated with artwork and make no bones as to admitting that on at least a few occasions, I have spent a little over $100 for a puck that interested me enough to splurge. When people decide to collect, they usually set a focus and settle on one theme. Take hockey cards, for instance. Most collectors I know look for the older cards (pre-1980), and some have decided on just goalie cards. There usually is an end, and then it’s on to something else. The common denominator in this quest is that there is always going to be one card or one piece to the puzzle that is tough to find or so very expensive that the casual – and even hard core collectors – forget about ever owning it. Then there are items that even we, so called experts in the field, didn’t even know existed.

Toronto Maple Leafs Viceroy Puck - frontSuch was the case recently when I spotted an auction on eBay for a Toronto Maple Leafs Viceroy Rubber logo puck. Viceroys were used in the early seventies and right up until 1983. Team logo on the front and orange NHL shield, both inlaid, right into the slug. All the teams had them and some teams like the Oilers only used them for a season or two. Thus, those usually always fetch that $100 price per puck.

The one I will likely (wishful thinking) never own is that Leafs puck. I knew of two different versions. This new one featured a version of their logo that was used in the 1966 season on their jerseys. I, like most other puck collectors had never even seen the puck and that became obvious as I watched this auction. It reached absurd heights in the first two days. $285 in just 48 hours. There it sat for the next three days when it was bumped to an even $300. Surely, that would be it.

Now, when you watch auctions like I do, you get to know a thing or two about the bidders. Some become familiar and in time you know what they like. I have even stopped bidding on some things because I knew that “so and so” was in with an early bid and would find a way to win in the end. So, last week an old name appeared on this Leaf puck auction. A name I knew. A name of a guy who lives in of, all non-hockey places (Alex Ovechkin aside), Washington DC.

Toronto Maple Leafs Viceroy Puck - backI visited this man five years ago to see his extensive puck collection, which concentrates on the Viceroy rubber-front-and-back logos. I’ve since found out he already had this Maple Leafs puck, but it was in poor condition. He needed to upgrade and has waited a long time for another to come along. That wait translated into a freaking weeks pay: seven hundred and twenty dollars (CDN) for the upgrade. I kid you not, loyal readers. And, for a Leafs puck, to boot (oops – sorry Leafs fans)

Some of you may be surprised that a puck might even be worth $20. I was surprised at this price tag too, so I checked with my higher authority when it comes to rubber. In the heart of Leaf nation, north of Toronto, Darren Becker has to have one of – if not the – largest puck collections in the world. He wrote the book on hockey pucks for puck collectors and has an incredible web site devoted to pucks – officialgamepuck.com – where you can search pucks for hours. He was a tad surprised as well; however, he conceded the puck is very rare. Darren’s top valued pucks are seldom seen on the market – and when they are, they still have the staying power to demand close to $1,000. Examples of such pucks are from the Brandon Regals and Saskatoon Quakers of the old WHL; blue slug WHA pucks from the Ottawa Nationals; and the first-ever NHL logo puck. The Holy Grail is an early thirties Spalding puck still in its retail box.

Who just spilled their coffee running to that attic trunk or those musty basement boxes?

Thom Racine lives in Cornwall Ontario and writes a weekly column for “Seaway News”.

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