By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Nov. 11) – As I do each Autumn, I dropped by the Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo at the Toronto International Centre on Saturday afternoon: the 45th annual Fall edition. Like every year, I expected a long, irritating drive through acres of parking before I could find a spot for my car – anticipating, as usual, I would painstakingly follow someone leaving the show and occupy his or her space. Instead, I pulled into one of numerous vacancies near the front door of the building.
That was my first clue something was awry.
My second clue was a dearth of people lining up for tickets. In fact, only one party – a woman with two young boys – preceded me to the admission window. Normally, the queue would extend beyond the lobby and snake around the perimeter of the hall. My third and final clue was the ease with which I could meander through the aisles of exhibitors – flogging mostly hockey-related items. Though it was mid-afternoon, and crowds had earlier peaked for an autograph signing with Hall of Fame inductee Mats Sundin, the gathering was considerably smaller than in previous years.
The only reasonable answer? You guessed it: the NHL lockout. Though hockey fans will return to the game they love, a disquieting resentment prevails more than five weeks into what should have been the 2012-13 season. The unoccupied expanse at the Memorabilia Expo – normally a hub for impassioned collectors – was yet another reminder of alienation resulting from the lockout. And, if there is apathy in this hockey-crazed region, one can only imagine the indifference elsewhere.
For those in need of a visual hockey flash, I took photos of several alluring and colorful items at the annual exhibit:
AUTHENTIC HOME JERSEY (ABOVE) WORN BY ED LITZENBERGER – CAPTAIN OF THE CHICAGO BLACK HAWKS FROM 1958 TO 1961.
SIGNED JERSEY REPLICAS.
ACTUAL JERSEY (ABOVE) WORN BY HALL-OF-FAMER TERRY SAWCHUK DURING 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS WITH TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS. SAWCHUK AND JOHNNY BOWER WERE GOALTENDING TANDEM.
WOOLEN REPLICAS OF 1950’s TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AND LATE-60’s PITTSBURGH PENGUINS UNIFORMS. I “STOLE” THE LEAFS JERSEY FOR $50.
MORE SIGNED REPLICAS OF HOCKEY STARS, PAST AND PRESENT. THERE AREN’T MANY GORDIE HOWE/HARTFORD WHALERS JERSEYS IN CIRCULATION.
ACTUAL SEATS FROM THE MONTREAL FORUM: HOME OF CANADIENS THROUGH 1995-96 NHL SEASON – THESE SIGNED BY JEAN BELIVEAU AND PATRICK ROY.
REPLICA JERSEYS FROM THE DOUG GILMOUR ERA WITH TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (1992-97) WERE IN ABUNDANCE AT THE MEMORABILIA SHOW.
HOME AND AWAY JERSEYS (ABOVE) WORN BY AK BARS KAZAN OF THE KONINENTAL HOCKEY LEAGUE IN RUSSIA.
OLD “BARBER-SHOP” CALENDARS OF CANADIENS AND MAPLE LEAFS.
THOSE THAT WORE THE ABOVE REPLICA JERSEYS COMBINED FOR 1,960 REGULAR-SEASON GOALS IN THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE: GILBERT PERREAULT (512), PHIL ESPOSITO (717) AND MARCEL DIONNE (731).
WHAT A REMARKABLE IDEA (ABOVE AND BELOW): STEVEN ANDRADE OF CHAIRS-R-US IN RICHMOND HILL, ONT. CONVERTS HOCKEY JERSEYS INTO SEATS.
UBIQUITOUS HOCKEY CARD BOXES AT THE MEMORABILIA SHOW.
TORONTO AND CHICAGO GAME-WORN JERSEYS FROM EARLY-60’s.
CANVAS PAINTINGS OF NHL STARS (ABOVE-LEFT) AND UNIFORM WORN BY LEGENDARY JACQUES PLANE IN 1970-71 SEASON WITH TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS.
SIGNED REPLICAS OF JERSEYS WORN BY GORDIE HOWE AND MARIO LEMIEUX.
CAPS, CAPS AND MORE CAPS.
HOCKEY PUCKS AND HOCKEY LEGENDS.
CRAFTED, PAINTED LIKENESSES OF YVAN COURNOYER AND BOBBY CLARKE.
YET MORE REPLICA JERSEYS (ABOVE AND BELOW).
BANNERS AND BOOKS.
LOGO OF MY LEAFS PURCHASE.
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