Hockey card collectors have long been the smallest segment of the trading card market out of the "Big 4" sports. However, what the consumer base lacks in size, it makes up for in terms of its passion for collecting hockey cards.
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The History of Hockey Cards
For many years, hockey was mistakenly thought of as strictly a Canadian sport and collectibles market. However, beginning with Wayne Gretzky's departure from the Edmonton Oilers to the bright lights of Hollywood and the Los Angeles Kings, the NHL has focused its considerable marketing resources on expanding the prestige and popularity of the game in the United States. As a result, the market for hockey trading cards has grown considerably. Unfortunately, while the ranks of hockey collectors has grown, it has not been at the commiserate pace with which cards are being produced today. While demand remains strong for premium, high-end products, perceived to deliver greater collectibility and future value, entry level and middle tier products have suffered as a result of the glutton of product on the market. Hockey collectors are fairly specific when it comes to their collecting pursuits with strong team allegiances in particular. While free agency has drastically effected player collections in other sports, the hard salary cap, and diluted talent pool due to over expansion by the league itself has created a climate where it is not uncommon for star players to play their entire careers for the very team that drafted them. This has helped to bolster collector allegiance to not only teams but specific players as well.