By Tony Joyce aka Enigma

Hockey aficionados know that there are a limited number of go-to people when it comes to sports cards. At the 2011 NHL Fan Fair, I had the wonderful pleasure of meeting one of them. Al Muir’s history in hockey cards, well hockey in general, is well-known. Between stints with Sports Illustrated, Beckett and now Panini America, there is no questioning Al’s hockey acumen. The Windsor, Ontario, native took a few minutes out a frenetic weekend to chat.

Q: As you have stated many times this weekend, you are from Windsor, Ontario. What is the hockey life like up there?
A: It’s like it would be anywhere in Canada. The area loves its hockey. The Spitfires have been playing well the last few years and that increases the love. But overall, it’s not any bigger than most areas of Canada.

Q: Obviously hockey was and still is your sport of choice. Who was you favorite player growing up?
A: Bobby Orr. He is the reason I am a Bruins fan. Funny thing is, because of the opportunities my jobs have provided, I have been fortunate to talk to numerous hockey players. But I’ve never actually met him.

Q: Was there any ridicule growing up being a Bruins fan instead of following a Canadian team?
A: Not really. In that area, there are of course a lot of Leafs and Montreal fans as well as the (Red) Wings. I would say that Boston is the fourth most popular team in Windsor.

Q: Like most in the industry, I’m sure you were a card collector growing up.
A: Yes. I can remember having a dollar in my pocket on a Saturday and riding my bike with friends to the local store. I would open the ten packs and chew the gum and enjoy seeing the players in my hand.

Q: How long have you be within this industry?
A: I started with Beckett in 1991 and three months later, I became a full-time market analyst.

Q: What is your current job title and function?
A: I am the Hockey Brand Manager with Panini America. My focus is on the conceptualization, creation and realization of hockey cards for Panini. With Panini being new to hockey, this offers a fun but unique challenge. However, I do enjoy it very much.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the hobby/industry?
A: Going around to card shows and seeing the collectors first-hand. Hockey collectors are a different breed than other sports. You see them walk up with want lists in hand and a focus on set building. They love to build sets and I’m able to connect with them on that level.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I am the official scorer for the Dallas Stars. I enjoy coaching youth hockey. Pretty much, my life is centred around hockey in some fashion.

Q: What would you be doing if not working with Panini?
A: Well, I did write for years for Sports Illustrated. So I would say something journalism related.

Q: Now you can relax and have a little fun. What’s you favorite movie?
A: Jaws.

Q: The original?
A: There is only one.

Q: What would be your dream vacation spot?
A: That’s tough since I’ve been able to go everywhere I’ve wanted to. I would say Aruba. Yeah, really like Aruba.

Q: Facebook or Twitter?
A: Don’t really care about either.

Q: Finally, of which are you a bigger fan, Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift?
A: Don’t really follow either one, but if I had to choose then it would be Taylor Swift. Only because she is a hockey fan.

Q: Future Fans Of The Game star?
A: Working on it.