by Karine Hains aka Pheebs888

Pro Set Hockey Box
It was a long time ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday…It was a cold night of December 1990 in Quebec. I was 10 years old and had just got back from school. I was watching Fraggle Rock while waiting for dad to get home from work. Back then, he worked on a building site quite far away, it was an hour drive each way and it meant he had to gas up his truck quite often. He did just that on that night and while he was at the petrol station he did something else. He signed up for their fidelity program which meant that each time he gassed up there, he would get a certain amount of vouchers to spend in store.

He had always been a hockey fan and for as long as I can remember, he had tried to pass on that passion to me. It had worked a charm! Back in 1986 when Montreal won the Stanley Cup, he had let me watch every single game, even the ones in Calgary which started at 10.00 PM eastern time. He would make me nap straight after dinner and then wake me up for the game, to him, it didn’t matter that it was a school night. He knew just how into hockey I was and even then, I completely idolized Patrick Roy. No matter how much my mother protested, I was always allowed to watch the games. So on this cold December night, when he got his first vouchers to spend in store he noticed a box by the cash register which read “Pro-Set Hockey”. Upon further inspection, he realized that these were collectible hockey cards and decided to buy me a couple of packs to see if I could be interested in collecting.

When he got home, I heard him call me from the door saying he had something for me. I ran there, which 10 year old doesn’t upon hearing that there is something to be had? I looked at him puzzled when I saw that he was holding two little pieces of blue plastic wrapper, to be honest, I thought that he had got me some candy or chocolate while gassing up, what was I going to do with two pieces of blue plastic wrapper?!? Noticing the confused look on my face he laughed and told me to look closer and read what was written on the wrappers. I was even more confused as everything was written in English (French-Canadian kids do not speak very good English when they are that young) until I noticed one word which was the same in both languages: hockey. I tore the wrapper and my first ever hockey card looked back at me: Ray Borque. Yes Borque, this was the now famous number 1 error card of the 1990-1991 Pro Set Series. There were 14 more cards in that pack and as I looked through them I became completely hooked. I loved hockey and I finally had a way to find out a lot of information about my favorite players. Of course, everything was written in English but it didn’t take me too long to figure out what goals, assists and points were in that foreign language.

Ray Borque

From then on, dad and I had a new ritual. He would gas up the truck three times a week; Monday morning, Wednesday evening and Friday evening and I, would get a couple of packs when he got home on those three days. Initially, I would open the packs, look at the card and soon would be on the floor acting out a pretend game involving whoever was in the pack on that day. Mike McPhee, Chris Nilan, Guy Lafleur, Ron Tugnutt and Curtis Joseph, they all played together and it mattered very little which team they were on. This carried on for a couple of months until one Sunday my dad came in my room and said: “Come on we’re going to the flea market and you’re coming”. I hated shopping but no matter how much I said I didn’t want to go, he was insistent that this was one shopping trip I wouldn’t miss.

When we got there, dad led me straight to one table in the corner of the huge surface and I finally understood why he thought I would like that shopping trip. In front of me was a massive table full of 300 count boxes of cards, top loaders, binders, all kinds of supplies! I approached with a certain reservation noticing that the man behind the table seemed to take extra care with his cards, he certainly wasn’t acting out pretend games on the floor with them! When I got to the table, I looked through his binders and discovered that there was more than Pro-Set to card collecting. He had Topps, O-Pee-Chee and Pro Set. That day, I left the flea market with an extra large binder and enough 9-pocket sheets to fit the entire Pro-Set collection. When I got new packs on Monday, I put the new cards straight in my binder in the right numerical place. Just like that, in the space of a weekend, I had learned to collect like a grown-up. Through the next six years, there would be numerous trips to the flea market for supplies, singles and eventually price guides.

At 16, I stopped collecting as I found new hobbies and became busier with college and sports but in 2007 I came back to the hobby. Having moved to England in 2002 I was suffering greatly from hockey withdrawal and when a knee injury forced me to stay at home for four months I needed to find something to keep me busy. I searched “sports cards” on Google and discovered sportscardforum.com. As soon as I saw the website I realized that collecting would be possible even from a distance! I could buy cards and then trade or sell them on this website to improve my personal collection. Within minutes, I was hooked again, just like in 1990. Since then, I’ve not looked back, I keep on collecting and building my collection. In just over 3 years, my Patrick Roy collection includes over 900 different cards (base, inserts, game used and autographs), two autographed jerseys, an autographed mini-mask and numerous oddball items. As for my Brodeur collection, it is less impressive standing at around 600 cards but it matters not to me, it just means that the chase will last even longer…