Fedorov’s White Nike Skates Seeing Sneakerhead-like Price Surge

Sergei Fedorov wearing his signature Nike Zoom Air skates.

Sergei Fedorov wearing his signature Nike Zoom Air skates.

Throughout the countless stories and tales of Sergei Fedorov when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday, you could find a reference to his iconic Nike Zoom Air skates in most of them.

Hockey equipment’s design and aesthetics really hit a boom during the mid ’90s and Nike hit the turbo button by signing the prolific Russian scorer to a massive marketing deal in 1995.

And nothing says a statement piece by busting out white skates in what was an all-black skate market. The commercials seemed to be even better than the skates themselves as Nike made its first push into hockey gear.

It’s been 20 years since those skates launched becoming a vintage piece. Thanks to Fedorov’s HOF induction and the chatter about the skates, Fedorov’s Nike Zoom Air model is seeing a booming resale value in a pattern similar to collectors finding old school Air Jordans. Clean them up and put them up on eBay and see the dollars come in.

Typically, a 20-year-old skate might not even be in one piece anymore. Rusty rivets can ruin the soles, leather rot or dried out, possibly mold, or just worn-out ankles. At best you’ll get $30 to $40 for a skate that old.

An eBay seller is asking for $125 so far for these Nike Zoom Air skates, made in 1995. The skates were made famous by Sergei Fedorov.

An eBay seller is asking for $125 so far for these Nike Zoom Air skates, made in 1995. The skates were made famous by Sergei Fedorov.

Not these. Listings as of Tuesday, Nov. 10, show one adult pair is going for $125, only expected to rise. Another listing the Gretzky models, which are black with the white portals and some with silver instead of white, are also around the $100 to $125 range. One seller thinks they can get $300.

Gretzky wore a couple variations of the Nike Zoom Air, with my fave being these white beauties with a blue overlay.

I’m amazed that these skates, if the pictures are accurate and up to date, are in such good condition. Some would argue that’s because these were the days when Nike actually made hockey gear in Canada. And those Tuuk blades and runners were the best of the best. How the plastic isn’t chipped up on some of these is a little suspect. Maybe new holders, but they do look original or at least of the era.

If you have a pair lying around, you may want to either clean them up and take them for a twirl to relive those glory days for us gear sluts. Or, even better, capitalize on a booming vintage market for the skates and list them on eBay.

Fedorov left Nike in 1999 as he himself wasn’t all that comfortable in the skates, which is understandable for pros. He went back to Graf skates that year. Which is too bad because those Nike commercials were the greatest.

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New Lighting third jersey gets BOLTS in black treatment

Steven Stamkos unveils the new Tampa Bay Lighting black third jersey in the dark at Amalie Arena Sept. 27. Photo by Charles Schelle

Steven Stamkos unveils the new Tampa Bay Lighting black third jersey in the dark at Amalie Arena Sept. 27. Photo by Charles Schelle

The  new third sweater revealed Sept. 27 at Fan Fest includes cleaner, thicker lines and essentially an update of the retired navy blue “BOLTS” sweaters.

It reminds me a little too much of the Los Angeles Kings home black sweaters, but the entire kit, if that’s what you want to call it, looks sharp with how the updated blue bolt pops against the black pants.

When you look at the sweater up close, each letter in BOLTS has some blue underneath to add some contrast to the white letters on black sweater. The blue also appears to be deeper than the blue sported on the home sweaters, which I don’t know if the team really wanted to introduce another shade of blue. They’re already inserting a silver/gray tone to add to the mix with these new sweaters that were once a staple of the black sweaters. I guess there was so much subtraction with the blue-white sweaters that the only thing to do is addition.

I like the “victory stripes” being removed in these new ones, especially that odd armpit-to-hip loop stripe. They looked great on the authentic player sweaters, but if you see a replica version or a child’s or women’s cut, the lines and cut looked ridiculous. Plus, the shades of navy blue seemed to vary too widely when people bought knock-offs. You can spot those puppies out in the crowd in a heartbeat.

I don’t know how widespread of an issue this was, but I bought a replica BOLTS navy blue Lecavalier jersey two years ago at Champs Sports and the chest word mark would peel from being in the dryer. I’ve never had an issue with dryers affecting hockey jerseys and this was something odd. I’ve seen that same thing happen to a handful of other people sporting the same thirds. Yet, hockey sweaters have moved away from an older style of embroidery to one that includes glues and pressings, giving some susceptibility to dryers. Let’s hope the new versions don’t have that issue.

A fake third jersey produced by the Lightning to prank the players.

A fake third jersey produced by the Lightning to prank the players.

Visit my original post, which includes this update, to see a history of the team’s third jerseys including a rejected black jersey from the early days and a 2006 rejected black jersey that has some similarities to the new one.

For shits and giggles, the team pranked/trolled its own players with a fake third jersey that as one player aptly put it, looked like a Christmas sweater with palm trees. Sun Sports play-by-play announcer said during Fan Fest that you know that would sell well anyway just as a novelty. He’s right—it’s a lot better than a lot of minor league Christmas sweaters, too.

The reveal itself could have been a little less dramatic with the lighting, as you can tell by my photo above. All throughout the team kept the house lights dark with a spotlight on Stamkos, making it hard to see in person what it looked like, so you were left with the pre-recorded intro.

The new Tampa Bay Lightning third jersey, pants, socks and helmet as worn by Steven Stamkos. Team Photo

The new Tampa Bay Lightning third jersey, pants, socks and helmet as worn by Steven Stamkos. Team Photo

The team store is pre-selling the authentic versions with name and number for $350 while replicas are going for $140 and will be delivered in time for the first game with the new sweaters.

You can check out a full photo gallery of the team’s new thirds on the Lightning website. The team also announced the Bolts will sport the sweaters at the following games:

  • Nov. 13 vs.  San Jose Sharks
  • Nov. 15  vs. New York Islanders
  • Nov. 22 vs. Minnesota Wild
  • Nov. 29  vs. Ottawa Senators
  • Dec. 6 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Dec. 27 vs. Carolina Hurricanes
  • Jan. 17, 2015 vs. Colorado Avalanche
  • Jan. 31, 2015 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Feb. 7, 2015 vs. Los Angeles Kings
  • March 7, 2015 vs. Dallas Stars
  • March 14, 2015 vs. Winnipeg Jets
  • April 11, 2015 vs. Boston Bruins

Fan has unrealistic expectations selling replica Lightning Stanley Cup ring

ring

This replica Stanley Cup ring being sold on Craigslist is definitely not worth $399. Not even $20, really.

The second-best schedule released by any sports team is the promotional schedule. Heck, it might even be the superior schedule.

At least when I watched the Orioles lose in the most ugliest way possible against the Rays on Saturday, I got a free Evan Longoria bobble head that has him rocking out on a drum set.

Some time after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup, the St. Petersburg Times gave fans replica Stanley Cup rings. I didn’t live here during the time, but I can’t imagine they were handed out until either a parade or until after the lockout season. 

I’m sure they were special, and maybe even so the 10th-anniversary rings handed out this year at an event on the plaza. 

By no means are they worth $400. An overeager Craigslist seller in Sarasota listed his replica ring for $399 on Monday. Not even a gemstone to be found and heck, it’s not even in the plastic packaging. The very, very classic plastic packaging that has the Times hawking subscriptions in exchange for arena food and merchandise credit.

A sucker is really born every minute and this one is probably the tops. Greedy Lightning fans/collectors on eBay are trying to sell their replica rings handed out this year from $40 to $70 on eBay. One person decided to up the sucker-ness and put the ring in a Luccite cube so it can fetch $175.

If you want to check out the real deal, The Boston Globe has a great interactive graphic on 50 years of NHL championship rings. Someone should tell Dave Andreychuk because his own non-profit foundation website doesn’t even show the actual ring. It’s some gold version with what appears to be a blue sapphire. I’m not a gemologist or jewelry nut, so feel free to correct me.

At least this guy doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a replica. Well, kind of. He doesn’t come out and says it, just that it was provided to fans from a newspaper who once had its name on the arena.

The collection of goalie helmets being sold in Sarasota may feel a bit overpriced, but compared to $399 for a toy probably made overseas, that’s a deal.

Why layaway is needed for hockey equipment

Tim Thomas, the biggest gear slut of them all.

Tim Thomas, the biggest gear slut of them all.

If you’re lucky to play hockey, let me congratulate you for somehow affording to pay for league fees, ice time, doctor visits and gear.

The equipment is expensive and us goaltenders get hit hard. Skates will last you for years once your feet stop growing, your chesty should last you a good five years or so before the bruising becomes more noticeable and that jock stays fresh, eh? All told, you’re looking at $2,000 for leg pads, a glove and blocker. The chesty can go for $500, pants are $200 and so on.

There was a time you could get away from not buying pro level gear and feel relatively protected and getting good performance. That went away when every beer leaguer could let off a shot like Shea Weber thanks to lighter, stronger one-piece sticks. Paying for that extra padding helps.  (For what it’s worth, I’ve heard for the last five years the Bauer gear that’s a a step below the pro level is pretty solid, but have yet to test it out.)

It’s time that hockey retailers offer layaway to get more people into newer, safer gear and to help eliminate financial barriers. I’ve seen similar requests on Goalie Gear Sluts United only for guys to get chirped saying use the PayPal payment plan or a credit card. The PayPal plan is actually a credit application and it’s only good for certain items on eBay. Some of us don’t want to carry an extra credit card, or any. We each have our own way of saving, too.

Used gear is an option, but the margin is lower for stores. The life in those pads aren’t usually much and at times were modified unbeknownst to the shop or customer. Buying online, you can’t tell the life of the pads in pictures thanks to kids getting smart with ways to remove puck marks from white-based pads. Unless you get a look at the knee cradle and calf wrap, it’s hard to tell how beat up the leg pads are.

What layaway does is holds the item you want so somebody else doesn’t buy it from under you, as long as you continue to make timely payments. Sometimes if a shop is out, they’re out. If they have to order if for you, they’re going to ask for money up front so they don’t have extra inventory.

The weird thing is that stores essentially do this for custom orders asking for like $600 or $800 down then the rest due when the work is completed and shipped. Still, that much as a deposit can be a little rich. Some of us just want stock gear, you know? Not all of us are Tim Thomas, going through five or six brands of gear a year.

The systems aren’t hard to set up and most computer-based POS systems should be able to handle it. If not, hook up a spreadsheet or Quicken to handle it. If you’re a small shop, all you need is a small back room with a couple shelves or a cage where each item is labeled with customer info or even a corresponding customer. Sure, charge a layaway convenience fee. It still would be worth it for the customer.

If you’re not sure how to create terms and rules, visit Kmart or Walmart when they have it during Christmas on how to handle cancellations and nonpayments. If they cancel, hold a percentage as a penalty unless they are buying something else in the pro shop.

This would be a great way for your local pro shop to help drive revenue and find a way to divert sales away from the big online shops.

On the flip side, places with tremendous stock like GoalieMonkey, Perani’s and TotalGoalie could all take this to the next level and offer online layaway. Kmart now offers this where you can create a layaway order online, choose the payment plan and when the layaway is paid off, the merchandise is picked up in store. With these big stores, they’d have to ship these out.

I’ve read how a couple of shops in Canada are smart enough to carry a store demo pad and have people pay to rent the pad and test it out before they decide on the pad they want to buy.

Some small shops are willing to allow you to do a layaway even if it’s not advertised. I haven’t tried that for hockey gear, but six years ago I wanted to get a bike, so I saw a Fuji hybrid bike in my local shop, gave the guy $300 then came in every two weeks and paid him until I could get it. I still have the bike today, which reminds me I ought to be riding it more now that my leg is better.

I have my eye on some pads that are marked down in Brandon and hope to convince the owner to let me pay on them and take them off his hands. In this case, they’re pads that have been in the shop for a few years now and haven’t found a buyer and he has lost money on them. These are the opportunities where a layaway system works for both people involved.

Do you know of a pro shop that offers layaway? How do they have their system set up? Comment below.

The bane of hockey button repair in Florida

Having hockey in Florida is a blessing. Having several well-stocked pro shops to buy gear in Florida is a blessing. Getting your gear repaired, however, causes me to curse.

Part of all of this is simple geography. Though I have a rink and a pro shop about 30 minutes away, both the rink and myself are far enough away removed from the bulk of the rinks in Tampa Bay where services are more readily available.

Even when I lived in Maryland, it was a challenge to find the right person to fix hockey equipment that had plenty of life. I still had to drive an hour away for certain repairs. Fortunately, I worked an hour away, too.

I hope you like equipment minutia because this is going to be a thousand-word ride on the bane of buttons.

The most challenging repair to have done down here seems to be suspender buttons. It would be great if I didn’t need to use suspenders but between not having an ass and having a gut, the pants slide down when playing. Can’t wear them too tight either, or else I can’t breathe.

I sold these Mike Smith Lightning pants after I found out they lacked suspender buttons.

I sold these Mike Smith Lightning pants after I found out they lacked suspender buttons.

I actually sold off a pair of Lightning pro-return goalie pants because I realized after I bought them they didn’t have suspender buttons. Knowing how hard it was to get that installed, I didn’t want anything to do with them.

When you’re a kid, the guys at the shop always tell you to remove your insoles from your skates to prevent rust, mold and boot breakdown. They should have engrained a message about removing suspenders, too. It was never a habit for me to remove them, mainly because it can be a pain in the ass to get the button through the tight rubber loop again. It still is for at least one of my pants.

What happens is that these buttons, which are installed as rivets, rust. They will either break off or rust through the fabric and fall out.

The first try to fix it yourself is by going to Jo-Ann Fabrics or a similar store to find these buttons, sometimes called bachelor buttons or jean buttons. That attempt failed. I hammered them in crooked and they wouldn’t stay in. I also needed a washer, too, to help it to stay. I gave up after a while and just connected both loops on one existing button on the right side until that fell off.

Of all things, that is what partially motivated me to go back to goaltending because my pants were still holding up. Turns out one button is literally hanging by a thread.

I couldn’t find anywhere online to order replacement buttons. The type you need that will last are attached to a square of fabric or in a V-shape that can be sewn onto the pants. The local pro shop would order them for me, though.

I blame some of these on me not being handy enough. I can sew a few simple things and have a needle my mom gave me that could work, but I have this in my head that I need something that is machine-quality so that it won’t rip off. As much as my employer thinks I am a robot, I’m not.

I actually ordered this from the pro shop last year or even two years ago and they either never came in or called me. This time it took three weeks for them to arrive. For whatever reason, they can’t do a single special order where I can get it mailed and I’ll pay. They put the order in with some other stuff they needed in the shop, thus the long wait.

Once I got it, it turns into a game finding someone who will install them. The shop doesn’t do it. I think the Brandon rink does, but that’s a hassle for me now. (The Brandon pro shop also does some goalie gear repair. Saw a guy drop off his kid’s catcher and they were willing to fix the binding.) The Ellenton shop doesn’t have a relationship or a recommendation with a go-to repair guy, which would help tremendously.

Anyway, the go-to places are usually a cobbler, a tailor and a luggage repair shop.

I lugged both my player and goalie pants along to a small shoe repair shop in downtown Bradenton. He’s able to do my player pants but not the goalie. See, certain machines have a lift to them to sew. The player pants, he explained, didn’t have padding where he needed to sew–the goalie ones did.

He sent me off to a place down the street that did muffler and upholstery repair, which is the strangest marriage of repair services I ever heard of. He was closed Friday, at least I think he was just closed for the day. He might be out of business.

This morning I found an upholstery repair shop tucked away in a Sarasota industrial shop that was open–they normally aren’t on Saturdays. I walked into Tepe’s and asked if he could do it. He took one of the pieces back with the pants to see if his sewing machine was able, came back successful. He did the other one just fine and it cost me $10 and I didn’t have to wait a week or more for it to be done. He didn’t even know what they were and had a big smile on his face holding them up when I told them they were goalie pants for hockey.

This has taken more than a month to get figured out and completed. My player pants should be finished by next Friday. I hope.

Asides from pants, I had goalie leg pads repaired twice before–twice in Maryland and once here in Florida. The guy in Ellicott City, Maryland did shoe repair and did an awesome job sewing a new strap on my old Vaughn Visions (Byron Dafoe’s Boston graphic). However, he more than a month, if not more, to get to them.

These TPS IceCaps I bought could use some work, but I don't care anymore.

These TPS IceCaps I bought could use some work, but I don’t care anymore.

Here, I had to go to some luggage guy  in Tampa who does these guys regularly for my Vaughn Velocity pads that I’ve since sold. His turnaround time was around two to three weeks, which is understandable because it had to be done by hand.  I highly recommend him–it’s called Luggage Service, 4121 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa. He also sells new and lightly used/repaired luggage and travel accessories.

Those old TPS Ice Caps I just bought a couple weeks ago to get back in goal need a few repairs, but I’m not really in the mood to get those things fixed. At this point, play in them until I get money to buy a brand new set, then repair them to sell.

I’m willing to go to Tampa for goalie pads repair, but something as simple as buttons on pants shouldn’t be a trek across Tampa Bay.

The silver lining is that I’m waiting for a cut on my foot to heal along with my shoulder to feel better after a tetanus shot, so I’m not in a rush to play.

Well, physically in a rush–my mind still wants me back on the ice. Enough so, I needed to bitch about buttons.

Hockey Team Gear Sales: Players versus fans

When a pro hockey team has a team gear sale, the impulse chemicals start flowing until I can get my hit.

These sales are usually well attended by fans and players in any city, but they can get ugly. Both in line and online.

Olie Kolzig's Reebok X-Pulse leg pads still at the Tampa Bay Lightning gear sale last season.

Olie Kolzig’s Reebok X-Pulse leg pads still at the Tampa Bay Lightning gear sale last season.

Attending gear sales with the Capitals in the past, even the smallest sales were loaded when held at Capitals Kettler Iceplex, but then became highly organized events when moved to the annual Fan Convention.

The initial one I attended was first-come, first-serve and gradually moved to where season-ticket holders gained early access. Because of the size of the convention, these became almost a timed entry system.

Hockey players–no matter the age–really wait for these things because gear is expensive on top of paying to play hockey. The sales offer huge discounts on sticks that normally cost $300 and skates that go for $600. Some are used, other new and a few items modified.

There are two things that piss hockey players off when it comes to gear sales. The overall concern is that the equipment would never be used. One, is when you go home and see some guy decided to buy a pair of gloves he paid $35 for and decide that because they were worn and used by a fourth-line player, you should pay $150 on eBay or Craigslist.

The other is when they sit around as a collector’s item, no matter how insignificance the history of it is.

Hockey players like to see the gear used, even if someone else got it. The exception is when the gear doesn’t even make it to the sale and players are friends with the equipment guys from the team, who just give or sell the gear to their friends. I’ve known this personally to have happened with at least one set of Lindback pro return goalie equipment in Tampa. One, it cuts any proceeds from going to the charity of choice that these gear sales provide. Two, it cuts out the fair chance of the gear being available to anyone. But the sting is alleviated knowing that it’s getting some use. I’m not just singling out the Lightning for this, it happens at a lot of teams and rinks. It’s OK if the equipment and team guys keep gear for themselves, but peddling it off to friends for money is bad.

The players versus collectors took a bit of a tough turn this week when Capitals fan blog Russian Machine Never Breaks shared an email and photo of a fan who bought Brett Leonhardt’s Vaughn leg pads this past weekend. Leonhardt, the team’s video coach, is better known as the team’s fill-in goalie during Caps practices and even was called into emergency back-up action.

The poor girl posted a photo of her with the pads having them on backward and showed how they’d never be used other than as an expensive decoration in the TV room.

Within probably minutes of the post, a user (not me) on Goalie Gear Sluts United posted the picture of the girl.

I chimed in on the discussion via GGSU linking to the Russian Machine Never Breaks blog to give people context (and give them a traffic boost) and joking this is why we can’t have nice things. It’s a goalie thing, and seeing how the group is mainly teenagers, the discussion went south real quick. Even the comments on RMNB look a little hairy, probably as a spill-over from GGSU.

While they mocked her and wanted to do other things to her, goalies have a fickle feeling about the proper use of gear. This group hates endless posts of all-white pads, questions about stances and countless other things that irritate net minders of all levels. The group includes some AHLers and even has a fan in Ryan Miller.

I feel for these gear sluts because some of them will take the time to see and ask others what size certain pro goalies wear because they want the same pad set up or are trying to find the right size. The pros don’t have 35+2 written on their pads. You have to ask around and find the right gear rep. And if you can get your hands on them, you’re saving at least $1,000, especially if they’re lightly used or new.

Player gear is a little easier to get used to and sample in person. The Brian Pothier Easton Syngergy SE stick I got years ago at the Caps gear sale was probably the best stick I’ve ever used, and wouldn’t doubt if Mike Green used it in an emergency as he ran out of  Easton Stealth sticks after potting 31 goals in 2009. The Sami Salo stick I’m using now was a great buy at $70 for a $300-plus stick. His Bauer Nexus One is perfectly made for someone 5’11” tall despite him being 6’3″.

At that same sale where I nabbed the Salo stick, I witnessed probably all of the downfalls of gear sales: the insistent lady yelling at another woman claiming she cut in front of her and called security over; the guy who bought Kristers Gudlevskis’ Bauer One100 leg pads he used while with Dynamo Riga probably not knowing those pads were hand-me-downs to Kristers before the Lightning gave the Latvian near gear. Or also seeing Anders Lindback’s incredibly beat up Reebok Premier trapper move very quickly. Or the Olie Kolzig Reebok X-Pulse leg pads finally marked down to something sensible, but still hasn’t moved. Or the oddities of suddenly seeing old Revoke Mike Smith trapper  with a beefed-up palm, new in a bag suddenly appear at the sale after not being there at the previous four I attended. Did they find it hiding in some closest after all these years?

The only goalie gear I bought at gear sales have been three goalie cut jerseys (two Caps, one Lightning) and a couple Olie Kolzig Reebok wood sticks. (Love his model–managed to buy his pro sticks at a Play It Again Sports in Maryland for cheap.) Actually, I don’t remember if there was ever goalie gear left before I could get into the Caps sales. I remember seeing Jose Theodore’s Vaughn Velocity’s walk away in the hands of a smiling man.

Anyway, there are fans who always want a collectible of some sort from their favorite team, whether it’s a practice puck, team-signed jersey, or in some cases, people really want the locker room stall nameplates. And stuff like nameplates and jerseys and autographed items are great for collection cases. The skates, gloves, pants and helmets–well, there’s a turf war on those.

Probably the best thing to do is have a lottery first for people at local ice rinks for a first exclusive pass before opening it up to the public and season ticket holders. Have them show you their USA Hockey registration and call it a day. (And stop the equipment guys from over-pilfering the inventory.)

Until then, I hope I see some Evgeni Nabokov gear in good condition at a Lightning sale next season. I know they’re likely to be all white, but I’ll settle for something that fits.

Wesley Chapel ice rink hoping for 2016 opening, could have company

Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex

The Cypress Creek Ice and Sports Complex is expected to open fall 2015 at S.R. 56 and Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel. Rendering provided

Update: The Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex, 3173 Cypress Creek Blvd., Wesley Chapel, wants to open in August 2016. was supposed to have broken ground in October 2014, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

I checked Pasco County building permits website on Jan. 11 and nothing has been issued for that site but the Tampa Tribune reports that they have been issued and groundbreaking is to take place in January 2015.

Original: Come August, ground is expected to be broken on the largest ice rink complex in Florida, and it’s coming to Tampa Bay.

The Cypress Creek Ice & Sports Complex could open as soon as fall 2015, the Tampa Tribune reported, and will be located on State Road 56 and Interstate 75. The rink will have the capability to run four sheets, including one Olympic, two mini practice rinks and will look to host the USF Bulls, visiting NHL teams and some mega tournaments.

The fourth rink will be multipurpose so it can be converted for indoor soccer/lacrosse, a basketball court, event space or you know, ice.

The guy behind the rink is Gordie Zimmermann, who formed a company called Z Mitch. It happens to be that the Canadian transplant is high school buddies with Lightning vice president and Stanley Cup captain Dave Andreychuck. Sounds like a good deal for the Lightning to try this place out.

The project will cost $16 million to $20 million, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported, and was not originally planned for Pasco County:

Z Mitch originally planned to build its ice facility in South Tampa or the airport area, but a property search, led by Deb Tamargo of R.O.I. Commercial Property Brokerage, didn’t pan out. “We put in a number of offers and finished second a few times, but we did motivate some buyers to exercise first right of refusal,” she quipped.
The change in focus to Pasco allowed the project’s footprint to double in size from its originally planned two rinks and six acres.

Oddly enough, a practice rink called Xtra Ice opened near the airport instead, offering private instruction and four-on-four hockey.

Kudos to Channel 10 for posting all the design slides, allowing me to have a few comments on the design:

  • Not crazy about the purple and green–you’re in Tampa Bay Lightning country not Orlando Solar Bears.
  • The exterior looks like a ’70s or ’80s concrete fortress. It’s like I’m staring at a practice rink version of Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ont. Ice rinks need more windows and glass to show the action and let some natural light in to make it feel authentic.
  • Savvy move to have a neighboring hotel to make it easy on teams looking for hotel rooms near the rink.
  • Good on them to use the Olympic rink for curling and short-track speed skating.
  • It appears that there will be a second floor that will be a viewing area, a restaurant, birthday party rooms and more to look over the main rink.
  • It’s smart to have the fourth rink being able to convert for other uses. Really, this rink probably will have three sheets going at a time. I predict the fourth will be used for a variety of uses that are not hockey more often than not. It would be wise to use that surface for roller hockey in the summer like the incredi-busy Ice Gardens in Laurel, Md.
  • I like that there is a laundry facility on site–good for both the physical therapy (bonus) and a host club.
  • It’s bizarre that there are basketball courts here. More crossover with lacrosse than basketball. Kind of an odd addition.
  • Can’t wait to find out who will be running the pro shop.

What’s kind of funny is that Pat DeLorenzo, a part-time NHL official who lives in Clearwater, has or maybe had at this point, plans for a twin rink plus build a banquet and event space nearby at State Road 54 near The Grove, Suncoast News reported.

DeLorenzo said in that report that he thinks Zimmermann’s rink is too big and that his would be a community rink, and despite DeLorenzo’s claim, there might be room for both. Just not in Wesley Chapel as they two would be five miles apart, according to the Tampa Bay Times:

DeLorenzo expects to finalize the sale on the 13-acre site in July. He doubts four rinks would succeed and noted that his plan for two NHL-sized rinks corresponds to area demographics.
“One of the things I believe is this area does not have anywhere near the ability to have four rinks all working at the same time,” he said.
DeLorenzo said the property’s owner, Anaheim, Calif.,-based Specialty Restaurants Corp., would provide some financing. The rest would come from outside investors and DeLorenzo’s development company, Sportsplex of America LLC.
He’s also considering adding a conference center for $4 million.
“I’m going on the idea that Gordie Zimmermann is not there and I’m doing this as if I’m alone,” DeLorenzo said.

Considering that Cyprees Creek will only have three full sheets of ice, maybe it DeLorenzo’s rink will work out, too, but only if one of his pads can be converted for multi-use. They ought to not try to put each other out of business. But still, five miles away is too close for comfort in Pasco.

I will say that during season when the Canadian snowbirds flock down here, the area ice rinks get incredibly busy and full of players looking for a team. So from November to Easter, they’ll have a good crowd.

Rink management penalty box

I’ve taken a lap around this rink debate before. When I lived in Hagerstown, Md., our ice rink opened with a single sheet (still does) in August 1997. Come December of that same year, the Dorris I. Billow Ice Arena opened in Zullinger, Pa., no more than 11 miles north.

That Pennsylvania rink felt like it was off the beaten path even though it was right off Interstate 81. Today, the corridor is much more grown up. While the second rink came on board, it was late to the game despite being far superior.

The Hagerstown rink had management issues from the start with four people quitting the board weeks after its opening. The guy, who had worked with my sister at First Data later, was found to have falsified his qualifications and wasn’t very respectful toward women. The rink managed to survive all these years.

The Pennsylvania rink was a dream of a woman who bequeathed money at her death to build an ice rink. The community built an Olympic sheet instead of the NHL sheet in Hagerstown. They had ceiling heaters pointed toward the bleachers, had a higher ceiling, better lobby area, and had far better locker rooms. Having showers easily one-upped the Hagerstown rink, which still lacks showers today.

But the ceiling had condensation issues and would often drip water onto the ice causing holes and cones to be put up–even during games. The management wasn’t explosive, but they had issues, mainly financial. Some of it was from the Hagerstown and Zullinger ice rinks raging war against each other. It was too bad because it seemed that yes, there was enough ice to go around during those early days.

The Hagerstown rink attracted people who couldn’t get to Cumberland and couldn’t afford Frederick and drew people from Winchester, Va., and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. The Zullinger rink attracted kids from Adams County and those who would travel to York, Harrisburg and Mechanicsville, plus draw kids from the western edge. Chambersburg was bit of a battleground area and an overlap, but there were always enough people.

Nobody saw that and the Zullinger rink, the better rink, closed two years later and was sold at a bankruptcy sale leaving a competitive team looking for a home. Today the rink is an indoor tennis club. And the Hagerstown rink would like to expand to add a second sheet of ice. Guess two rinks could have survived.

Back to Tampa Bay

Now, I don’t believe that six sheets of ice in a five-mile radius in suburban Tampa will work. It’s a larger metropolitan area, yes, and the Wesley Chapel rink(s) will take some from the existing pool of players that play at the current rinks, but there are players to be had and introduce from Zephyrhills, Brooksville, Spring Hill and Dade City.

It also helps that the Brandon has a good bit of customer service complaints. If anything that should be the rink worried if one or two Wesley Chapel rinks are successful.

Zimmermann told reporters (which I could have been present today) that he wants to bring in large tournaments that area rinks can’t handle. That’s smart because it’s what supports the income to run a successful rink along with camps. He also wants to do a hockey academy and host the USF Bulls and take some business away from the Brandon Ice Sports Forum to have visiting NHL teams practice there. Hell, it would be better if the Lightning could practice there.

When Zimmermann targets tournaments, academies, colleges and the like, he’ll have a full schedule just for hockey right there. That’s before youth leagues, adult leagues, public skating, figure skating and hell, he might as well do curling and speed skating to round it out.

Yet, I’ve noticed that if the area rinks were better schedule makers and better local marketers maybe we wouldn’t need more rinks.

It’s easier to get out-of-state business when you’re an ice rink in Florida. Pitch goes like this: beer, hockey, beach, beer, warm, hockey, beer.

It’s more difficult to get your local clubs, organizations all working together to create programming and marketing to pull in new people or people who play or figure skate who might not know you exist.

The scheduling is more than quirky here. In Ellenton, there seems to be an aversion to go past 11 p.m., or even 10 p.m., and instead favor crack-of-dawn ice times. Other rinks are like that, too. Pick-ups are scheduled at odd times or bad times at other rinks, or sometimes not at all while leagues are active.

All of the rinks save for Brandon need some TLC on aesthetics and maintenance. In Clearwater, the new owner has added a better entrance, expanded lobby, secured weight room and better showers. However, the ice can be suspect more often than not with rumble strips in the middle, chipped or low ice in two corners. Getting to the locker rooms are awkward as two players with bags have no room to pass by each other. The benches are laid out weird, too, with one being very slanted and crooked. And the venting needs to be better, still. This place once had carbon monoxide poisoning. I’ve smelled Zam fumes too many times there, even this past month. Oh, and the ceilings are ultra low.

Ellenton needs a new paint job inside and out, new flooring, fixed showers and locker room toilet. Two club team locker rooms were improved but that’s about it.

In Oldsmar, the refrigeration system needs repaired on the south rink. It gets insanely low on that sheet and some nights I don’t know how we were allowed to play. The place just looks old and beat up all the way around. Most nights you pray the Zamboni makes it around the rink. I’ve witnessed a Zam breakdown at least three times there with one delaying the game for hours, damaging the ice.

Near the airport, there’s a mini-sheet called Xtra Ice that has room for four-on-four, and they probably have the best ice next to Brandon. The quality of the facility, yet small, is top-notch. They need to get their word out more that they are there to book more ice time. Xtra has been open for more than a year and there are so many people I run into who don’t know they are open.

I just can’t wait for this new rink complex to open if I still live in Florida. I really would find a way to move closer to it, too. There’s a long road ahead to success, but Cypress Creek has the goods. Now it’s up to them to manage the goods.

Sarasota man talks about his massive hockey collection

Ron Chawkins explains the story behind him acquiring Nikolai Khabibulan's Phoenix Coyotes practice mask inside his Sarasota office. Chawkins is selling his goalie masks to try to reduce his massive memorabilia collection.

Ron Chawkins explains the story behind him acquiring Nikolai Khabibulan’s Phoenix Coyotes practice mask inside his Sarasota office. Chawkins is selling his goalie masks to try to reduce his massive memorabilia collection.

SARASOTA, Fla.— Every collection has a beginning and an end.

For Ron Chawkins of Sarasota, Fla., his began with seeing Wayne Gretzky amaze Californians at the Great Western Forum and ends with a wife and two young girls that need attending to more than his hockey treasure.

Chawkins’s warehouse and office is a working man’s Hockey Hall of Fame, with artifacts and commemorations of hockey history and pop art celebrating greats like Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull and Dave Taylor. He operates Symphony Salvage, which buys clothes and goods from organizations like Goodwill Manasota in bulk that can’t be sold in stores locally and then sends them overseas to non-profit organizations.

His office would easily qualify as an eBay store. In one corner, stacks of jerseys—many autographed—are neatly folded looking for a home. A team-signed jersey is framed on the wall celebrating the inaugural Mighty Ducks of Anaheim while a cut-out Rangers-era Wayne Gretzky flashes a friendly smile.

That charming grin isn’t enough to keep his memorabilia thrill alive.

“At this stage of my life, the money—I know it’s there, but the time to go through all of this,” Chawkins said, trailing off. Maybe an appraiser is needed, he offered, just to process it all and get it out there.

Chawkins, 54, needs to start somewhere and just by looking up from his desk, the answer sits atop his filing cabinets where an array of goalie helmets are on display.

[PICS: View more of Ron Chawkins’ hockey collection here.]

None exactly considered iconic, but several an example of when goalies started to get creative and personal in the 1990s and early 2000s, and making a name for artists.

The masks are predominately branded by Eddy on the interior shell and feature artists like Rod ‘N  Van, Tony Jarrett, Brad Dinwoodie and others.

Don Beaupre's Ottawa Senators helmet.

Don Beaupre’s Ottawa Senators helmet.

He’s unloading them via Craigslist, initially as a lot for $48,000, but he is willing to negotiate for individual masks. He’s since lowered his price.

“Sixteen masks at two grand a piece, which I didn’t pay less than that for any of them,” Chawkins said. “You can have them for $32,000, and you can buy the whole lot of them. What a great starting thing if somebody can afford that.”

Most are signed by the goalies, a few, like Byron Dafoe’s Bruins mask and Mike Vernon’s Panthers mask lack autographs and if they fit your head, are good to play in. (Though you might want to replace the padding and sweatbands.)

“Those are all original masks, most of them game-worn,” the native Brooklyn resident said.

Some masks have been photo matched by collectors, he said, including the Kevin Weekes’s 1999 Canucks, Mike Vernon (both Red Wings and Panthers), Manny Legace’s Red Wings and Byron Dafoe’s Bruins ones.

One of the nicest in his collection is a Rod ‘N Van Tampa Bay Lightning mask belonging to Nikolai Khabibulin. The white brick wall with Lightning logo is great, but there’s a mistake: the artist painted “Bulan Wall” instead of “Bulan Wall” on the chin and tried to fix it. So, the mask was relegated to practice.

The most underrated mask of his collection is Don Beaupre’s from his time with the Ottawa Senators, after getting traded from the Washington Capitals. The mask features the Ottawa clock tower, center stage that was once embraced as a secondary logo for the franchise. It’s an artistic gem that didn’t receive the attention it deserved thanks to a bad franchise and a goalie limping to the end of his career.

“I like the goalies, but I was buying them for the artwork,” Chawkins said, showing off mask after mask.

Trevor Kidd’s masks and pads were always a statement, but the most widely recognized would have to be the Mike Vernon Red Wing’s masks with the two wings coming out from the wheels and the Stephane Fiset “King Tut” mask from the Kings.

Here’s the overall list—corrected from the original Craigslist collection:

  • Mike Vernon –  Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers
  • Manny Legace – Detroit Red Wings
  • Freddy Brathwaite – Calgary Flames
  • Tyler Moss – Calgary Flames
  • Vesa Toskala – San Jose Sharks
  • Stephane Fiset – L.A. Kings
  • Don Beaupre – Ottawa Senators
  • Kevin Weekes – Vancouver Canucks
  • Byron Dafoe – Boston Bruins
  • Trevor Kidd – Carolina Hurricanes (2)
  • Kevin Hodson – Detroit Red Wings
  • Nikolai Khabibulin – Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes
Nikolai Khabibulan's Phoenix Coyotes mask completed by Rod 'N Van.

Nikolai Khabibulan’s Phoenix Coyotes mask completed by Rod ‘N Van.

Chawkins knows that compared to other collections, his goalie mask set is small, saying there is a man in the Fort Lauderdale area who has one of the largest around.

He’s more than willing to show off his collection, especially to someone who’d like to buy, and can be reached via his Craigslist ad.

Hockey fan for life

How Chawkins arrived at this collection starts decades ago.

The masks certainly weren’t worn by Chawkins tending goal.

Chawkins skated out when he was younger growing up in Brooklyn as he watched both the New York Islanders and New York Rangers games where he found the love for the game watching Mike Bossey and the boys.

He later moved out to Los Angeles and would watch the Los Angeles Kings play loaded with good players—Luc Robitaille, Bernie Nicholls, Dave Taylor and Steve Duchesne. Then The Trade happened.

“That man drew me to hockey,” Chawkins said, pointing to that Gretzky cutout in his Rangers gear. “Gentleman of gentlemen.”

But Chawkins realized he’d never be a Gretzky. In his mid-30s, Chawkins decided to quit playing in beer leagues after finding some guys at Brandon Ice Sports Forum took the game too seriously for their age. Surprise, right? Now Chawkins straps on some rollerblades and his up to Longboat Key from his St. Armands home for a little street hockey.

Hooked on hockey, he had a treasure waiting for him taking the basketball court in Chicago.

From His Airness to The Great One

Ron Chawkins of Sarsota maintains his goalie mask collection inside his office. Chawkins is selling the entire collection on Craigslist.

Ron Chawkins of Sarsota maintains his goalie mask collection inside his office. Chawkins is selling the entire collection on Craigslist.

Of all things, his hockey collection is in part thanks to Michael Jordan. An avid card collector, Chawkins knew the odds of what cards would be in a box or a case. He decided to invest in Fleer basketball cards during a heyday what would become a valuable period for rookie years—Hakeen Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing.

“The box itself was $24.99, and there was a subset of 10 cards,” Chawkins said. “Of course, the Jordan rookie became very, very expensive and at that time you wanted to put the set together. I think 99 cards was the set. There were 10 stickers that were hard to get.”

After buying a couple more boxes without any luck, Chawkins decided to increase his odds and bought about 10 cases of trading cards through a friend at California Sport Card for a few hundred dollars, opening a couple of the boxes initially to see what he could find. Ideally, he would stumble on a Mint 10 card. These cards today go for thousands of dollars. A 1986 Fleer Mint 10 Jordan rookie card is listed for $17,500 on eBay.

Ron Chawkins has endless hockey sweaters, including this framed Wayne Gretzky one.

Ron Chawkins has endless hockey sweaters, including this framed Wayne Gretzky one.

“I put the boxes away what was left over. Five or six years after that they started to become worth a lot of money,” Chawkins said. “In each box, you were almost guaranteed five to seven Jordan rookies, roughly.”

The packs alone went for $250-$350, so he sold boxes back to California Sport Card at $500 to $600 a box and kept some cases.

“That’s when my $24.99 investment became hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it was just sitting around,” Chawkins said. “I sold one or two boxes back for a crazy amount of money in the mid ’90s, and I put the rest away.”

After card companies changed the formula for how precious cards were distributed in packs, he moved on to buying vintage trading cards to make full sets then went into sports memorabilia.

“After you do that, now what?” Chawkins said. “I go to here.”

He shoots, he scores

Wayne Gretzky's Ninety-Nine All Stars jersey from the 1994 lockout.

Wayne Gretzky’s Ninety-Nine All Stars jersey from the 1994 lockout.

Chawkins’ trading card obsession led to pro authentic jerseys, some game worn, others autographed. The jerseys in turn led to sticks and art and more. A 1994 Vancouver Canucks Wheaties box sets atop a back of collectable Corona beer.

He flashes the great 1990s Starter jerseys made out of then, essentially a gym shorts material. There’s Chris Chelios and his Blackhawks No. 7 and Patrick Roy’s Size 46 Colorado Avalanche jersey on his chair.

“From Gretzky to Lemieux to Roy,” he said.

Out in Los Angeles, he’d get them to sign while at Kings or Ducks games and then here in St. Petersburg and Tampa. He doesn’t consider himself an autograph hound—he actually detests these folks.

Sure, he’ll research to see where the team hotel is and where the post-game hangouts are, but he just wants to have a regular conversation with the boys. Even if one of the boys is The Great One.

Inside Wayne Gretzky’s Toronto restaurant, he saddled up along Gretzky, Darryl Sydor and Marty McSorely following a game.

“I don’t want your jersey, I don’t want your signature, I don’t want your card,” he recalled. He just wanted to know how his burger was.

“After that, they’re just people, and you start to talking to them,” Chawkins continued. “He’s a good human being and good to talk to when you’re not pounding them for their autograph.”

One of the nicest sweaters in his collection is from the 1994-95 Lockout when Wayne Gretzky formed the Ninety-Nine All Stars. It’s a sweater that looks like a mix between a Campbell Soup label and a classic Canadian junior hockey league sweater: it’s a beaut.

Chawkins pulls it from a pile and that clean white is blinding with that classic embroidered Ninety-Nine on the front, and Gretzky’s name, 99 and signature on the back.

As a season ticket holder at the Great Western Forum, Chawkins would gain access to players thanks to charitable donations and being around the team. He’s certainly a super fan, the type that would go to every NHL arena and for a period of time go to each All Star Game with his “Original Six” crew that included his wife Lonnie, his brother Neil, and friends Bob Hart, who owned Monk’s Steamer Bar in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate neighborhood; Johnny Rockwell, who owned PaddyWagon Irish Pub here, and Bob Askew, a dive instructor.

It was trips like the one at the 2004 All Star Game in St. Paul, Minn., where they chat up an attractive blonde in her forties talking hockey along with the likes of Jaromir Jagr. She had to excuse herself to find her husband, Barry Melrose.

Ron Chawkins' hockey collection is endless, including this framed inaugural ticket set from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Ron Chawkins’ hockey collection is endless, including this framed inaugural ticket set from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

“We were awestruck,” Chawkins said, fortunately before Melrose would coach the Lightning for 16 games in 2008. They maintained in contact and still exchange Christmas cards, he said, despite his poor coaching record. You have to hand it to Melrose, though, he’s an entertaining, engaging hockey personality that seems like the type of guy you want to have a beer with.

“What great people,” he said. “Barry Melrose is a nice person, and so is his wife. They are very, very cool people. They’re like family.”

Tempered in Tampa

In Tampa, home of the Lightning, he has a love-hate relationship with the team and organization. And it starts way before that dreadful 2008 season.

Chawkins moved to Tampa Bay in 1994-95 after he lost his house from a devastating earthquake in California. His hockey life maintained watching the Lightning at the Thunderdome—now Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. After a couple of seasons, it was a struggle to watch, he admitted.

“Because I had all these jerseys, I became the opposition fan,” Chawkins said. The concept isn’t much of a stretch today for snowbird fans who fill the Tampa Bay Times Forum, but the fanbase has matured and grown enough where 18,000 Lightning faithful is more regular occurrence than not.

Flashing back during those infancy years of the Bolts, Chawkins had enough and called into a radio show with Steve “Big Dog” Duemig and then-general manager Phil Esposito (or as I call Espo, Frank Reynolds.)

This autographed mask actually contains a mistake. Nikolai Khabibulin goes by

Nikolai Khabibulin goes by “The Bulin Wall” but instead this mask first read “Bulan Wall” on the chin until the artist fixed it.

“He and I had it out over the radio, and he hung up on me,” he said, with a gleaming smile. “I came back the next day and all the people—the parking lot attendants, my ticket guy and the ushers were like, ‘Way to go Ron!’ They were too afraid to tell Phil he was a jerk.”

He’d still root for the Lightning when he could and was there, too, for the Stanley Cup Final.

“When the Lightning were in the playoffs playing for the Cup, I wanted them to win,” Chawkins said. “Prior to that, I could care less who won. I just wanted to watch a good hockey game.”

As sports championships do, the demand and quality of the product jumped in price for tickets. It didn’t help that following the championship, a lockout wiped out the 2004 season and many teams continued to increase ticket prices.

Moving on

His marriage to hockey season tickets ended to devote more time to his real marriage and his young family.

And now, it’s time to let go of the collection: The Anaheim Ducks inaugural ticket set, the collection of Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens cards and photos, the endless hockey sweaters folded in the corner and the stacks of Looney Toons-themed art depicting Lemieux and the greats.

“I said I’ve had enough, and I’m starting to weed out and getting rid of some stuff,” Chawkins said, resigning himself to the fate of his tangible memories.

Gulf Coast Hockey Plus closing Estero store

The southernmost hockey shop on the Gulf Coast will be shuttering its doors in favor of its Fort Myers location.

Gulf Coast Hockey Plus owner Scott Schilling announced on Facebook Wednesday that he is closing his Estero shop after 10 years and will move all his inventory to his smaller shop at the Ft. Myers Skatium.

The Estero shop, 9510 Corkscrew Palms Circle, Suite 3, will have a sale in the meantime, according to his Facebook post:

GCHP would like to thank all of our customers for a great 10 years in our Estero location which we will be closing and moving everything remaining to our Skatium location in Fort Myers. Everything in Estero is 30% off till May 13th!
 This is disappointing to hear, but not unexpected. The Florida Everblades’ pro shop22 inside Germain Arena has stepped up its game and has support as part of a network, HockeyEmpire.com. The Everblades pro shop has recognized its advantage of corner the market by offering a wide variety of equipment and service inside an arena serving both hockey players at the two rinks and the fans stopping in from the Everblades games.
GCHP wasn’t too far away down the road from Germain and had an equally impressive selection of equipment, worked well with team orders, but I’d have to give the nod to the Everblades shop for goalie gear. I bought a set of elbow pads at GCHP at a good deal, so it should be worth checking out before they close up. The store is also known for its friendly collie, Carter, roaming the store greeting customers.
The Skatium store, 2250 Broadway, Fort Myers, is a very small shop that takes advantage of the walls to provide inventory. I haven’t been there in a month or so, and hopefully they will be able to expand its space.
The owner, Schilling, is a native of West Allis, Wisc., and played two years of college hockey for Lebanon Valley College, located northeast of Hershey, Pa., outside of Lebanon.
A YouTube video by Justin Kline that gives more insight into the shop and Schilling. Here’s a transcript for the video impaired:
“I’m from Wisconsin and originally ran a couple of hockey stores up there for 10 years for two hockey brothers. My parents actually retired  here in Bonita Springs, and we saw a need for a hockey store in the area as it was being under-serviced. …
“Having the Everblades here in town is a great thing. We have a lot of transplants from the north that have moved down here and love hockey and love the game,. The Everblades help new kids that grown up here in Florida, giving them the chance to play hockey and learn the game. Hockey is getting bigger, bigger and bigger down here.”
Roller hockey brand Tour also has a well, tour, of GCHP on YouTube, talking to Schilling as well.
Looking where to buy hockey gear on the Gulf Coast? Check out my tumblr post, which I will soon convert over to this blog.

Sarasota resident unloading NHL goalie masks for $48,000

Some folks acquire goalie equipment as a necessity to play, like myself, and others are collectors. And there there are some goalies, who consider themselves gear sluts.

Image

This Nikolai Khabibulan autographed goalie mask is for sale on Craigslist in Sarasota. (Photo courtesy of Craigslist)

It’s among those Goalie Gear Sluts United, which include professional goalies, where I stumbled upon a link to a Craiglist hockey ad.  Someone here in Sarasota has a problem. Well, a few problems: They have too many goalie masks going unused, he only has one head, he had way too much money to acquire these and he also wants way too much money to get rid of them. (How am I for negotiating?) The poster, who goes by Ron, has a glorious set of NHL-used and autographed goalie masks looking for their forever home. He’s listing all 16 of them for $48,000. That’s about $3,000 per mask. That is also about how much one of those costs new with a custom paint job for one today. It’s about $1,000 for the molded mask and then $2,000 for a nice paint job. The mask I play with, a Hackva, has a stock Phoenix (bird not team) paint job, and cost around $350. I barely could afford that one. Goalie gear, no matter how collectible you might think it is, never appreciates in value. You can charge a little more if in great condition, but none of these goalies on the list have a name hot with goalie gear enthusiasts. It’s kind of like trading cards if you’re looking at those commodities. While the paint jobs are the first of the true wave of modern, pro masks in the NHL, these aren’t being sought out by art collectors. One that might be worth is the Nikolai Khabibulan mask from his Tampa days. The Bulin Wall won his and the franchise’s only Stanley Cup here, making the mask a bit more worthwhile to own. The others are former No. 1 goalies from the ’90s and early ’00s whose peaks were short lived, or guys like Mike Vernon, who was taking his retirement tour in Florida and beyond after his Cup win in Detroit. Here is what he’s got:

  • Mike Vernon –  San Jose Sharks, Florida Panthers
  • Manny Legace – Detroit Red Wings
  • Freddy Brathwaite – Calgary Flames
  • Vesa Toskala – San Jose Sharks
  • Stephane Fiset – L.A. Kings
  • Don Beaupre – Ottawa Senators
  • Kevin Weekes – Vancouver Canucks (2)
  • Byron Dafoe – Boston Bruins
  • Trevor Kidd – Carolina Hurricanes (2)
  • Kevin Hodson – Detroit Red Wings
  • Nikolai Khabibulin – Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes (2)

Man, that list brought me back to middle and high school. I don’t know if kids today know half those goalies on that list. That Stephane Fiset mask has to be the sweetest one of them all, though I do appreciate the Beaupre helmet and what he was going for using the clock tower, which is now used as a secondary logo for the Senators 20 years later. Vernon’s Florida Panthers mask also goes for that timeless John Vanbiesbrouck look. The keeper of the masks, who goes by Ron, invited me over to take a look at the collection, so I’ll take him up on the offer. Depending where he lives, I might either post a short interview and photos here or if he’s in my work territory, I’d have to do it for my full-time job…and then link out to it from here. In the meantime, how much would you offer this guy? Which one is a keeper?