Like many kids growing up in Canada, I have been a hockey fan since I was very young. But I guess my love for hockey must be even greater than most kids because, besides playing hockey for the Minor Bantam Kitchener Rangers and watching all the games on TV, I have most wanted to get up close and personal with my NHL heroes.
I guess that’s how my collection started.
When I was 6-years-old, my dad and I were invited to meet a NHL player who grew up in our hometown of Kitchener, Ontario. Scott Stevens had just won the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils and brought “the Cup” to a family party. As a little kid, it was so cool meeting Scott and having my picture taken with him and the Stanley Cup. Scott also signed a few hockey cards and a hat for me. That night, I asked my dad if we could meet some more NHL players. My dad said, “Oh sure,” because he figured we wouldn’t have any more chances like we had that day.
He was wrong.
In Toronto, which is about an hour from where we live, there are a couple of places that bring in sports athletes for autograph signings. I found out about two really good places on the Internet – Frozen Pond (www.frozenpond.com), run by Hersh Borenstein, and A.J.’s Sportsworld (www.ajsportsworld.com). My dad and I started to go to a lot of the autograph events.
As a young boy, the players and the promoters always welcomed me because they knew I was a real fan. I decided to get NHL pucks signed and the collection started from there.
I am now 13 years old and have close to 700 autographed NHL pucks. My dad and I always say that every puck in the collection has a story. It’s not just about getting the player’s autograph on the puck; it’s about spending time together and the stories that happen when we meet the players. And we have some really great stories. Most of the players we have met have been really nice, and have asked me about school and playing hockey in Kitchener. A few players have been kind of cranky, but mostly we have good memories of them all.
By far, my favorite meeting was with my all-time favorite hockey player, Vincent Lecavalier. I have been a fan of Vincent since I was really little, and I always wanted to meet him.
Last year, Vincent was doing a private signing for Frozen Pond. With private signings, you bring your items to the store and the store takes them to the player and gets them signed for you, so you get the autograph but you don’t get to meet the player. Well, the owner of Frozen Pond is a friend of mine, and he knew how badly I wanted to meet Vincent, so he asked me to come with him. I got to spend about a half-hour with Vincent Lecavalier, and it was awesome. We talked about hockey and he signed a puck for me. It was so great.
One question people always ask me is who is the player that I haven’t met that I would like to meet. I have never met “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. I have met his dad, Walter, a few times. I actually have a puck autographed by Wayne in my collection which was a gift. But I still want to meet Wayne, shake his hand and tell him he really is the greatest. Some day . . .
All of my pucks are displayed in my room, although it’s starting to get pretty full. At each meeting, my dad takes a picture of me with the player, and we write a short memory of the meeting. My dad puts the photo, a scan of the puck and a hockey card of the player in a scrapbook.
I have four very large scrapbooks full of memories – and it keeps growing and growing.
My dad and I have talked about starting a website for my collection and are hoping this will happen in the next few years.
My goal is to collect an autographed puck from every living NHL player. There are about 3,500 living NHL players, so I’m only about a fifth of the way there.
Having a collection is a really great hobby. Hockey is so important in my life – so my hobby is part of my life.
If you would like to know more about Hayden Allison’s collection, please send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Crease With Hayden
Editor’s note: Thirteen-year-old Hayden Allison has already shared his love of hockey collectibles, now it’s my turn to ask him some questions about collecting.
SCD: Did your family have any collecting interests before you started?
Hayden Allison: No, I am the first one in my family to have a collection.
SCD: Do you have any siblings? If yes, do they share these interests?
HA: I have a younger sister named Chloe, age 12. Chloe comes to some of the signings with me but she doesn’t really like hockey. She likes to collect baseball cards and comic books.
SCD: Do you collect anything else hockey-related or otherwise, such as trading cards?
HA: Yes, I have a pretty big collection of hockey cards, too. We always like to have a hockey card of the player to copy and put on their scrapbook page, so I have quite a few sets of hockey cards.
SCD: You have a love of collecting. Do you ever consider what the value of your collection is? Do you even pay attention to autograph values?
HA: Well, we have to keep track of what the collection is worth because my dad had to get a separate insurance policy just in case something happened to the pucks. So he keeps an inventory of all the pucks. I think the collection is really priceless, because I could never replace it. A lot of the pucks are personalized to me, so it would be hard to replace them. I have even met a few NHL players who have died since I met them, so I could never get a puck personalized from them again.
(Note from Dad: Hayden met Teeder Kennedy and Peter Zezel and Kent Douglas before they passed away).
SCD: Is it hard to afford getting this autographs? It seems you have a good network of friends to help out, too.
HA: Some players are really expensive, so we might not get their autograph. Bobby Orr did a private signing in Toronto, but it was more than $200 just to get a puck signed, and you didn’t even get to meet him. So I’ll wait and try to meet him another time. You can meet a lot of players going to charity games and other hockey events, so you don’t always have to pay for the autographs. And there are lots of hockey players that live right in my city, so I have called them and asked if they would sign a puck for me. I think the players can tell when someone is a real fan and when someone just wants to get their autograph so they can sell it for money.
SCD: Think you’ll ever lose interest in this collection?
HA: No, because it is something I am really interested in. It is lots of fun seeing my collection grow.
SCD. The scrapbook idea with the photos and a short note on each signature received is excellent – How often to go back and look at those and what’s it like to look back at seven years of collecting?
HA: I look at them a lot. It’s really cool because you can see me growing up. In some of the early pictures, I am only 6 years old, and I look so little. And now I’m a lot older. It’s great to remember all the players we met. Sometimes I even forget I met a certain player and the books remind me.
SCD: Do you like sharing this interest with your dad and getting to spend time on something you both enjoy?
HA: Yes, that is the best part. We are both interested, and it gives us time to spend together. Sometimes we have very busy schedules. I have school and hockey, and my dad has work, but then we come together to go and meet a hockey player and it’s a whole day adventure.
SCD: I would think it’s pretty easy to come up with gift ideas for you – do you have to provide a list of who you already have so you don’t get too many duplicates?
HA: Yes, this is my dad’s job. He has a list of every single player I’ve met since I started collecting. Like I said, sometimes I even forget that I met a player, if it was a long time ago. So the list is a good reminder. I don’t usually get autographed pucks as gifts, and we don’t usually buy them. I really want to meet the player myself, get the puck signed and get a picture with the player. The puck is a reminder of the time I met the player. But I have had some pucks given to me as gifts. Usually, these are players who have passed away and I won’t have a chance to meet. Like last Christmas, I got a puck autographed by Maurice “Rocket” Richard for a present. But mostly I want to meet the players for myself.