By Karine Hains aka Pheebs888

Much like the love of a sport, the passion of collecting and the addiction to this hobby is something that can be passed on from one generation to the next one or in some case, people catch the collecting bug on their own. Personally, I was initiated to both hockey and to the love of collecting by my father from a young age. In fact, some of my most cherished childhood memories are related to the love of hockey he and I shared. From my introduction to the world of hockey cards to the Christmas I was sick and he bought me the Wayne Gretzky table top hockey (which we still use on a regular basis whenever I am home about 20 years later) and by the numerous autumn mornings spent stopping his shots in my goalie gear, all these memories contributed to create the hobby addicted monster that I am today. Don’t laugh, this is seriously how my mother sees it…Back then she would say to my dad; “Will you stop with this stuff?!?! She’s a little girl, she would be playing with dolls not goalie gear!” Despite her best efforts to turn me into a pink addicted Barbie fan though, I remained devoted to hockey and anything relating to it. Today, she just rolls her eyes whenever I mention my collection and lets out a huge sight whenever dad and I get into an in depth conversation about the Canadiens’ last game or the potential return of the Nordiques.

Whether my mother realizes it or not, hockey is the best way my dad found to relate with me, he’s never been a big talker but to this day, he still gets very animated when talking about his passion. Now, I’m 30 years old and I do not have any kids of my own and to be honest, I do not think I want any (let’s be realistic here I still feel like a kid myself and I really do not have the necessary patience). However, around 8 months ago, on the 16th March 2010, my sister gave birth to a little boy. Since then, I have become his godmother in July and I’ve been unable to stop myself from showering him with gifts many of which have been hockey related.  His birth actually made me think back on my relationship with dad and on how it evolved and improved through our shared passion. Now that I’m the adult, it’s my turn to be able to pass on hobbies and passions to the young one and I am sure planning to do this.

He may be too young to start collecting yet but he can definitely wear his Montreal Canadiens tracksuit (which I bought myself at the Habs Zone in the Bell Centre in Montreal) and make use of his multiple Canadiens bibs. While he grows up, I’ll busy myself with putting together the 2010 Score set to commemorate the year of his birth and to pass on to him once he is old enough to appreciate collecting. Of course, I’ll start him off slowly, letting him play with some cards on the floor first, much like I busied myself recreating matches for hours when I was ten years old. I still have my old Pro-Set cards for his own personal use and let’s face it, being dragged around on the floor is the best fate those cards can expect considering their “huge” value. Once he outgrows that stage, I will present him with his very own first complete set and tell him all about the way the year he was born, the Canadiens made an awesome run in the post season and P.K. Subban made the headlines in the NHL for many different reasons.

Before then though, I can guarantee that the Gretzky table top hockey set will be very busy as I teach him all there is to know about dominating your own dad at the art that is table top hockey. While I’m sure he will enjoy this, it’s important to remember that things have changed since I was a kid myself. The era of video games and the internet is in full swing and these are yet more ways to bound with youngsters, who doesn’t enjoy a game of NHL 11 on the Playstation 3? And what better way to get someone excited about box busting than showing them video box breaks on Youtube so they can hear the excitement in the voice of the box buster?  I’ll aim to find the right balance though, while the virtual world is exciting and interesting, we must not forget that the real world is still going on much too often on the sidelines. Can something truly beat the excitement of putting on your favorite team’s jersey and heading to the arena to watch a game? Quite soon, I shall be buying him a Québec Remparts youngster jersey and taking him to a few games, you have to start them young don’t you? The action, the noise and the ambiance will surely get him excited about the sport and that is without a doubt the best way to start him off. Well, that and an healthy dose of backyard hockey of course!
More and more, collecting seems to be become an adult hobby mainly because of the costs involved but I am optimistic that the trend might be changing in the near future. After all, with the arrival of Panini on the scene, there are now two $0.99 a pack product out there and if both are fairly successful, the manufacturers may well realize that this is their chance to groom a new generation of collectors.

All that being said though, you cannot force someone to like something if they do not like it and if my nephew decides that he’s not into hockey or even sports, it will be his choice and I’ll do my best to find some other common ground. Chances are though, we’re all a product of our environment and growing up in Québec where hockey is a religion is often all that is needed to jump start one’s interest in the sport.