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Hockey cards are getting much hotter

Like father, like son. During Dave Creighton's 12-year stint in the National Hockey League with the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers he would collect as many items related to his career as possible. Some of those items included his hockey cards.

Adam Creighton, 26, has spent all or parts of eight seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and presently the Blackhawks. Like his father, Adam has accumulated personal memorabilia including player cards.

Since Dave Creighton, 60, broke in with the Bruins in 1948, drastic changes have been made in the quality of hockey cards and collecting habits.

"I would just buy a pack of cards so I could get the bubble gum," said Dave, reflecting on his youth in Ontario, Canada. "I can't recall seeing my first card as a player, but I was surprised at seeing some of them when I went through some old things. I hadn't seen them for quite a few years."

Among the cards that Dave discovered were a couple of Canadian Parkhurst issues from the late-50s. Dave, who owns Northdale Golf Club, has them proudly displayed in his office. His cards, all from the fifties, fetch anywhere from $6 to $25.

Parkhurst issued cards from 1951-52 through 1963-64. Many of the cards in the first few sets were line drawings of the players or were of poor photographic quality and do not bear much resemblance to the player depicted.

"Some of them don't even look like me," said Creighton, who made it to the Stanley Cup finals with the Bruins in 1953 before losing in five games to the Montreal Canadiens. "The cards look much better today. Heck, some of my cards could be pictures of anybody."

But everybody knew who he was one particular winter night at the Chicago Arena. Creighton, who scored 140 goals in 615 games, recalls a hat trick he scored that evening against the Blackhawks during the 1957-1958 season as being one of his most memorable moments as a pro.

"I was playing with New York at the time and we were playing in Chicago the year Bobby Hull was a rookie," he said. "There weren't too many hat tricks scored back then so it was certainly memorable. We ended up winning the game 3-2 with Hull scoring both of their goals. He even had a third one that was disallowed."

While Dave received a lot of attention after that particular game, there wasn't much enthusiasm surrounding hockey cards or autographs during that era. But Adam has noticed how autograph requests have become more numerous as more companies have issued card sets.

"A couple of years ago there would be few people that would get autographs," he said. "But today, when we enter the rink at 4:30 for a 7:30 game there are people waiting out front of the arena, and it's not just Chicago Arena but any rink we go to.

"There are about 40 or 50 of them that want autographs before the game and another 100 would be waiting outside the arena after the game. Then there are about 10 guys that would follow you back to the team hotel. Some try to get 10 or 12 cards signed but will only keep one or two. They'll then trade or sell the rest."

Hockey cards have become so popular the past two years that even some of the players have gotten into the act.

Canadien goaltender Patrick Roy is an avid collector while Toronto Maple Leaf forward Dave Reid and Detroit Red Wing goaltender Allan Bester opened their own card shop outside Toronto.

"I know some of the players are really into it," said the younger Creighton. "I get a lot of my cards from people that just give them to me.

"I used to collect a little when I was young, but never kept track of them. I kept them in a gym bag. I'm sure some of them are worth a few dollars."

Adam, who scored a career high 34 goals and 70 points in his first full season with Chicago in 1989-90, did not have a card until O-PEE-CHEE (a Canadian manufacturer) released one as part of the 1989-90 set. The card is 30 cents.