In the Hockey Hall of Fame, aside from the presence of the greatest hockey players to every lace up skates, there is another category of inductees that are present... The Builders Category.
The Builders Category is reserved for those who have changed the game in other ways, ranging from famous coaches, GM's, commentators, owners, and others who have made significant contributions to the game of hockey in their own unique way.
Within my own collection, I am now creating a 'Builders Category' of my own.
Using some connections within the hobby, along with some good old fashioned research, I have tracked down some notable people who each personally played a role in the creation of some cards in my collection. I wanted to help honour their roles played in bringing these cards to life - cards that would eventually land in my personal collection.
I have included a quick summary of the first couple of people who were kind enough to participate in this project, along with a picture of the card I had them sign for this unique subset within my Jhonas Enroth card collection. I hope you enjoy!
Dr. Brian Price - Founder / Former Owner of In The Game (ITG)
Dr. Price Price was the original mastermind behind In The Game (ITG) trading cards, founding the company in 1998. He produced a variety of products over the years, and eventually sold the In The Game brand name and assets to Leaf Trading Cards in 2014.
Brian has always been a big player in the industry since the beginning and paved the way for a collector-focused approach to the hobby that he now continues with President's Choice Trading Cards.
I've been lucky enough to own many amazing cards he's created over the years, so when I started this project, I knew I had to get Brian to sign something for the collection. Luckily for me, I have spoken with Brian many times over the years, including guest appearances on the hockey card podcast I also co-host on. As always, Brian was great to deal with and more than happy to autograph a card for me.
I had him sign a Enroth base card from 2008-09 ITG Between The Pipes, which was Enroth's very first North American hockey card after coming over from Sweden to join the Portland Pirates (AHL) in 2008.
Dave Sandford - Professional Sports Photographer
Everyone knows the photos on cards is one of the main selling points of a card, so who better to include in the builders category autograph project than a photographer who's work is featured on some cardboard?
I reached out to Dave Sandford, an award-winning sports photographer who's work has ended up on a few cards over the years. Dave was happy to sign this 2009-10 Upper Deck Black Diamond Rookie Gems card for my Jhonas Enroth collection after connecting with him online.
One interesting thing to note about the original photo (Left), is that the # 31 was photoshopped during Upper Deck's final production stages to a # 1 for the final version of the card (Right), which is the number Enroth would go on to normally use after making this switch. I know that the number 31 and 1 were sometimes interchanged on Enroth's rookie cards (the UD Young Guns is a good example of this, mentioning 31 on the card while being pictured wearing number 1) due to his number swap, so maybe Upper Deck wanted to keep some sort of continuity on his rookie cards moving forward at the time Black Diamond was being created.
Stephen Laroche - In The Game (ITG) Brand Manager
Stephen Laroche worked with In The Game (ITG) from 2004-2014. During this time, Stephen helped develop many ITG products such as In The Game Action, Parkhurst Original Six, Toronto Star series, Heroes & Prospects, Ultimate Memorabilia, Between The Pipes, and Sport Kings brands.
Among his various duties, he selected and approved photography, card designs, wrote card backs, and assisted in developing new product ideas with the production staff. I had him sign this 2010-11 ITG Between The Pipes insert card (on the top portion of the card), which he helped create.
Billy Celio - Upper Deck Product Manager & Builder
Billy Celio has been a hockey Product Manager at Upper Deck since 2015. He has build many flagship products over the years including Upper Deck Series 1 & 2, O-Pee-Chee, Chronology, Metal Universe, and UD The Cup (among many others).
I asked him to sign this 2016-17 O-Pee-Chee base card, since he built the flagship hockey product that year.
Matthew Stewart - Licensed Trading Card Artist
Even though I added this card in October of 2021, I still felt I needed to mention this card in The Builders Project introduction post. Matt was kind enough to create this 1/1 Leaf Artist Proof card for my Enroth card collection last year, and autographed the back of it.
Matt has been making sketch cards for licensed trading card manufacturers for many years now, including Leaf, Upper Deck, and Topps. If you want to learn more about this Artist Proof card, you can check out the blog post I made about it back in October.
So there you have it... the first 5 "introductions" into the Builders Category of my collection. If this idea has inspired you to do the same with your own collection, awesome! If you'd like to suggest and/or help me find other people to bring onto this collection, also awesome! Please feel free to connect with me through the comment section, or contact me on social media or through the contact page of this website.
Aaron / creasecollector
Author - Aaron
I've been collecting Hockey cards since the late 90's. Mainly the goalies since 2005. I also Co-Host a Hockey Card Podcast.
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