Collecting hockey cards with a twist has become a labour of love for a Cree man from Alberta.
Naim Cardinal said he’s put together 70 cards of Indigenous men who have played in a regular season game in the National Hockey League.
“I thought why not find some I can hang on to that would be meaningful for me?” Cardinal said over the phone from Edmonton. “Why not start a collection of Indigenous hockey players.”
All but one of the players is Canadian.
Only T.J. Oshie from Washington state is not.
A photo Cardinal recently shared of his collection on social media seemed to catch fire.
“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. It generated interesting conversations on my Twitter account,” said the advisor for Indigenous Community Engagement at NorQuest College.
Players in the collection have played a regular season game and have a hockey card. Cardinal says it took about three years to find each card.
They are: George Armstrong, Fred Sasakamoose, Jim Neilson, Frank St. Marseille, Reg Leach, Ted Hodgson, Ted Boucha, Wayne King, Bryan Trottier, Stan Jonathan, Gary Sargent, Bobby Simpson, Dale McCourt, Ron Delorme, Grant Fuhr, John Chabot, Dan Frawley, Theoren Fleury, Shayne Corson, Gerald Diduck, Jason Simon, Jamie Leach, Rich Pilon, Mike Peluso, Dennis Vial, Everett Sanipass, Craig Berube, Gino Odjick, Ted Nolan, Stu Grimson, Sandi McCarthy, Kimbi Daniels, Dody Wood, Chris Simon, Rudy Poeschek, Jamie McLennan, Shawn Rivers, Jeff Friesen, Wade Redden, Jamie Rivers, Dan Cloutier, Darcy Tucker, Denny Lambert, Scott Daniels, Brantt Mhyers, Arron Asha, Harry York, Blair Atcheynum, Norm Maracle, Sheldon Souray, Jonathan Cheechoo, Chris Kelly, Scott Ferguson, Brad Leeb, Alfie Michaud, Rocky Thompson, Vernon Fiddler, Cody McCormick, Jordin Tootoo, Cody McCormick, Darren Reid, Rene Bourque, DJ King, Carey Price, Kyle Chipchura, TJ Oshie, Brandon Nolan, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Michael Ferland and Brandon Montour
“I did a lot of research on the Internet, eBay searches, Googling, flea markets, different card shows looking for specific cards. I did some online trading through a trading site,” Cardinal said.
“Some were easy to find – like the newer ones. Some from the 1970s and ‘80s were trickier.”
The toughest catch? Ted Hodgson of Maskwacis or Hobbema First Nation in central Alberta, who Cardinal said played in five NHL games.
His card is a little bigger in size and was issued by his World Hockey Association team, the Cleveland Crusaders.
Cardinal said some of his Twitter followers were surprised to learn some of the players had an Indigenous background, like celebrated Edmonton Oilers’ goalie Grant Fuhr.
“He has family members from Enoch Cree Nation outside Edmonton,” Cardinal explained. “It brings to light the number of Indigenous players in the NHL.”
Cardinal, who is working on his Master’s degree in Education, doesn’t know what the collection is worth but said it’s not for sale. “It’s worth a lot to me. It’s something I want to keep in my family.”
The collection begins in 1952 with George Armstong and ends in 2016-17 with Brandon Montour. The earliest two cards are drawings of the players – names – and not photos. All of the cards are in colour.
Cardinal is from Tallcree First Nation in northern Alberta and used to play hockey but not seriously. These days he’s more into football, basketball, and volleyball.
Yet he wouldn’t turn down a chance to meet another member of his collection in person.
“I met Ted Nolan one time,” he said. “I’d love to meet Fred Sasakamoose and Jordin Tootoo.
“These players have a lot of really interesting stories that need to be heard. They reached the pinnacle of hockey in the NHL.”
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