The Hockey Autograph Story

December 12, 2008 by Tyler  
Filed under Hockey Collectibles, Hockey Columns

Mats Naslund Hockey AutographA few days ago I wrote the story of my favorite hockey card. I thought it only fitting to follow that up with the story of how I received my first and favorite autograph.

It was about 4:30 PM and I remember it like yesterday; the wind was chilling me to the bone. I was standing outside the players entrance to the Winnipeg Arena waiting for the Montreal Canadiens’ bus to arrive.

I had waited for this day for months This was the day I would finally get my favorite player’s autograph. I can remember how excited I was, a seven year old boy, with his dad standing behind him as the bus pulled up.

There were a bunch of other autograph hounds around me, but I couldn’t hear them or see them. In my mind, I could only see one thing…my first autograph!

As the bus pulled closer I could smell the familiar Diesel fuel exhaust as it floated through the frigid Manitoba air. I was starting to get nervous; I had never asked for an autograph before. What should I say? I know they have probably heard it a thousand times before, but today was my first.

As the bus pulled to a stop I could feel my heart starting to race and a lump growing in my throat as I tried to swallow.

It was time.

The players filed off the bus one by one and I watched, looking for my chance as they passed by. There they were, Larry Robinson, Patrick Roy, Bob Gainey, Stephane Richer, Chris Chelios, Guy Carbonneau, Bobby Smith, Claude Lemieux and I waited quietly as they made their way past the autograph seekers and into the arena.

I finally saw my target and, with a small shove from Dad, moved forward to greet him. I said “excuse me sir…Mr. Naslund, may I please have your autograph?”

I don’t remember him saying anything, he just reached out and grabbed my notepad and pen. As he signed, I stood there like a statue as if I had been literally frozen in that moment. I couldn’t muster any more than a “thank-you” as he passed the pen and paper back to me, but there it was…the autograph.

I still have the autograph in my box of Montreal collectibles today and it is still my favorite one.

Do you have a favorite autograph?

Image courtesy: Canadiens.com

Comments

4 Comments on "The Hockey Autograph Story"

  1. Gregsky on Thu, 16th Aug 2007 11:34 am 

    Great discription Tyler! I was hooked from the start, much like your experience, the cold, bus fumes etc. I have so many of them though, I’m not sure I could pick a favorite. My top hockey picks would be my elevator ride with Gretzky where he signed everything I brought that day, Gordie Howe (any of the 30+ times actually) teasing me by rolling up his car window on my arm and slowly starting to drive away or writing on my nose with my sharpie, Rogie Vachon bringing me into the locker room so I could get the entire team’s autographs, showing Selanne the back way into the arena from the hotel in his rookie year to avoid the crowd (being the only one to get his signature that day), trading my pictures for a stick with Terry Ruskowski (pictures of him in his rookie year), sitting with Eddie Shore watching a game, the entire Islanders 79-80 team hanging around in the hotel lobby making sure I got everyone before they left thanks to Bob Nystrom. Too many more to list. That’s the great thing about collecting autographs, there are so many stories that go along with them.

  2. EightyTwo on Thu, 16th Aug 2007 2:18 pm 

    Growing up in Wisconsin, I didn’t have an NHL team to stalk. We did have the Milwaukee Admirals, however, and as a teen, I used to wait for the Admirals to emerge from the locker room to sign autographs. After one home game against the Atlanta Knights, we were waiting for someone, anyone to come out from the home locker room. Instead, we heard someone say behind us “there’s Cory Cross.” We had just seen the future NHL defenseman play a monster game, so we rushed over to him and wearing our Admirals paraphernalia, asked him for a signature. As he signed index cards for us, he said “You know I don’t play for the Admirals right?” my buddy said, “yeah, but we love you anyway.”

    My second story is from a few years earlier, when I decided I would add the awful Ottawa Senators as one of my favourite teams. Being that Sylvain Turgeon was the only name I recognized on that diastrous innaugural season, I wrote a letter to him and sent him a picture I drew of him. He sent the picture back to me along with an autographed hockey card and a personal letter which fortold of the Sens getting better with time.

  3. Tyler on Sat, 18th Aug 2007 11:15 am 

    Greg,
    Those are some amazing stories. I lived in a small town growing up and only made it to a couple of NHL games in Winnipeg. I wish I would hav ebeen able to be more of a rink rat, but that’s small town living for you!
    Thanks for sharing your stories, I know that the readers like them as much as I do.

  4. Angelo on Fri, 12th Dec 2008 1:40 pm 

    As a follow peger who is both a habs fan and an ex-autograph hound I must say i like the story. I was a huge Nasland fan but I followed Roy Chelios and Richer. Great Job!!!

    P.S. 1st autograph was pokey reddick… you can only go up from there!!!!

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