By Karine Hains

As a hockey fan and collector, every year I sort of dread the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I do not mind the hot weather, but I miss my daily fix of NHL highlights and the regular release of new products. During the regular season, so many interesting boxes come out that it’s unreal: the standard Upper Deck, Artifacts, SPx, SPA, Ice, Superlative, Heroes and Prospect and the list goes on. In the summer months, there is a clear lack of releases.

Of course, by now we all have all heard that as well as OPC Premier and NHL Legends, Upper Deck is indeed going to release another series of The Cup. Great news I hear you say as those are three possible buys, but if we look at the price tags, Premier currently stands at $169.99 in presale and Legends at $108.99, it’s not as good as it sounds. As for The Cup, a SRP of around $350 can be expected once more. Add that to what it costs to get boxes to England and you should be about ready to consider giving up the hobby. In short, it looks like my addiction could be pretty expensive to fund this summer, and to make things worse, my subscription to the Hockey News will shortly expire and renewing it in good old England will set me back £150 (in other words about $300) I really need to get into soccer and stick to those magazines. They sell those for about $0.50!

Fortunately, all is not lost! I am heading to Québec for a three week holiday, and according to the various websites of the hobby shops I visit when I am over there, they still have plenty of stock of SPx, Sweet Shot and Upper Deck. Hurrah! I get to buy the boxes without paying ridiculous amounts in shipping. The temptation will be strong to stock up for a while, but let’s be honest here, who can buy boxes and save some for later? I know I sure can’t. Maybe I am just really weak minded, but I always give in to the temptation to bust everything. Therefore, I will try and be reasonable about it and buy two or three boxes before spending the rest of the summer trading to make up for the lack of wax.

When I say trading, I of course mean online trading as hockey collectors are a rare breed in England. As per usual, I will be spending a fair amount of my time on Sports Card Forum, but lately, I have also realized that YouTube is a gold mine for trading too! You can watch people’s box breaks and message them to inquire about the gems they have pulled. If you are lucky, they still have the card and are willing to engage in online trading. I personally prefer to trade through a site I know though, so I tend to convince people to sign up so the trade can be moderated shall the deal go wrong: you can never be too careful online as I have learned that the hard way. Another site which I will be browsing regularly will be Facebook, there are more and more groups of card collectors on there. While a few friends have asked me: “What on earth is this new group you joined ‘Hockey Cards Addicts?!?’” with a tone that said you utter geek. I couldn’t care less about their judgmental view, I am just really grateful that technology has evolved in such a way that makes it possible for me to collect hockey even from overseas.

So there, this is my plan to survive the off season, spend less money but spend more time online quite literally hunting for new gems to embellish my personal collection. Granted I won’t get much of a tan this summer, but what chance did I stand anyway, this is England, land of the fog and rain!