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Cornered Coach: It's in the Cards

 

"I'll trade you Nic Petan for Connor McDavid!"

Nothing against Nic. He's an excellent young hockey player and, like McDavid, Petan was part of Canada's star-studded squad that captured gold at the 2015 World Junior Tournament.

But an NHL general manager would be boiled in oil for even thinking of dealing McDavid for Petan and I'm proud to say that after entertaining the hockey card equivalent of the same trade, my nine-year-old lad refused to pull the trigger. As a result, his Connor McDavid rookie card will stay safely tucked into his bulging red binder filled with other NHL gems.   

It's pretty simple.

NHL G.M.'s swap real, live bodies. 

Adult hockey nuts barter with their buddies trying to one-up them in fantasy leagues.

And kids get together in the basement or the back seat of the car on their way to their own games, pulling off dramatic hockey card trades.

It was a little different back in the old days.

In the era before multi-million dollar contracts and salary caps, it was a lot easier for NHL general managers to wheel and deal. The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, for instance, pulled off a mammoth trade in November of 1975 that saw Phil Esposito head to Broadway in exchange for Brad Park and Jean Ratelle. Count 'em up… three hall-of-famers in one transaction; the kind of deal that would be almost impossible to pull off in today's big money NHL. (Although, let's be honest; P.K. Subban for Shea Weber wasn't too shabby.)  

Fantasy leagues and hockey pools?

They really didn't hit the scene until the 1980's.

Card collecting, meanwhile, also featured a number of different forms in days gone by.

For one thing, the quality of hockey cards has improved by leaps and bounds. As a kid in the 70's, you'd squeal with delight if you opened a pack that offered a live action shot of one of your hockey heroes. Most of the old-time cards featured simple mug shots or, if the photographer got really creative, a staged snapshot of your favourite player winding up for a big slapper with a goofy grin plastered on his face. In contrast, modern hockey cards are chalk-full of colourful images with the players looking as if they've been plucked right off the ice and inserted into the shiny wrappers. Because today's cards are so gorgeous, (and so expensive) most kids take much better care of their collection than we ever did.

One of my favourite hockey card pastimes as a 10-year-old back in the 70's?

Pulling out the guys from the Big, Bad Bruins and the Broad Street Bullies of Philly Flyer fame, and staging epic bench clearing cardboard brawls. The downside was that the edges of my hockey cards eventually looked as though the family dog had been teething on them and a few years ago, I tossed most of my ratty collection into the recycling bin.

My little guy, however, keeps his collection in pristine condition awaiting the next juicy offer for his prized Connor McDavid card.

And unless one of his buddies coughs up a pair of Auston Matthews rookie cards, I think he'll be shrewd enough to hold on to Connor for a little while yet. 

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