nb-hockey-cards

Rookie cards of future stars can eventually sell for thousands of dollars. (Courtesy of PB Nation)

A Moncton business owner says the market for hockey trading cards should pick up now that the NHL and its players have reached a deal.

Malcolm Cole, who sells sports memorabilia at D & M Sports Cards, says the lockout hurt sales, particularly for rookie cards of future stars, which can eventually sell for thousands of dollars.

"With the strike, they do have a rule that they can't make any rookie cards until the player actually plays a regular season game," he said.

"Last year's rookie would have been [Russia's Nail] Yakupov," Edmonton's first draft pick. "He hasn't played a regular season game yet, so they started making hockey cards this year, but they couldn't put any of the key rookies in it, which loses a lot of the value in the product. So for us, it definitely had an impact."

Cole says rookie cards should begin to appear on the market within about a month and he expects fans will start collecting again.

Some collectors will spend thousands on packages of cards, hoping to find that elusive card of a first-year player who goes on to become a superstar, he said. That's where the big money is.

A Guy Lafleur rookie card is now worth about $12,000, a Gordie Howe card, $15,000, and a Bobby Orr one, $40,000, said Cole.

Meanwhile, a 1979-80 Wayne Gretzky rookie card was auctioned off for $94,163 last May, he said.

The NHL owners and the players’ union reached a tentative deal early Sunday, and while it has yet to be ratified, the agreement is widely seen as precipitating the end of the lockout after more than 110 days.

The lockout has left many fans bitter, leading to worries that customers may not return in the same numbers to businesses that rely on NHL-related sales.

A social-media campaign that encourages people to boycott the NHL has garnered more than 21,000 "likes" on Facebook and media coverage by outlets including the New York Times.