Canadian hockey card collector Dean Barnes still remembers the joy of getting new packs when he was a young child.
“I began collecting cards when I was seven years old with spare change that my dad gave me,” Barnes said in an interview with Daily Hive. “I rode my bike to purchase cards at the Jug Milk variety store in Burlington, Ontario, which was about a four-minute ride from my house.”
Barnes’ childhood hobby has turned into a lifelong passion, and it’s now led him and his Black hockey card collection to be part of a new NHL touring experience spotlighting contributions from underrepresented and multicultural demographics in the sport.
The NHL United by Hockey mobile museum is stopping in Calgary on Tuesday, March 28, prior to the game against the LA Kings. The museum is free to check out and will be parked outside Scotiabank Saddledome from 1 to 3 pm and 5 to 7 pm.
“During the pandemic, the world became more attuned to social injustices faced by Black people and people of colour following the George Floyd death,” Barnes said. “I reflected on the importance of representation and greater inclusion and acceptance of Black people and other people of colour in the NHL.
“I did some research to identify close to 100 current and former NHL Black and bi-racial players and purchased all the cards from eBay.ca. I did have to purchase around 10 custom cards for players who did not have a rookie card when they were in the league.”
Barnes’ Black hockey card collection is just one of the featured exhibits of United by Hockey. The museum will highlight how the sport is inclusive for everyone and features trailblazers, changemakers, business leaders, and collectors.
Visitors will discover exclusive artifacts from players from a variety of backgrounds, an interactive broadcast booth, and one-of-a-kind hockey card collections from collectors across North America.
“I met Naim Cardinal, a collector of Indigenous cards, and Chris Woo, an Asian card collector, through social media,” shared Barnes, who played hockey for the University of Waterloo men’s team and started the first girl’s high school hockey team as PE head at Emery Collegiate in Toronto.
“As an educator, I have a great amount of respect for the commitment both gentlemen have made for promoting diversity and inclusion in ice hockey and sharing stories of players from underrepresented groups which may be unknown to many.”
Fans visiting United by Hockey will see the rookie cards of 10 Black and biracial players, including P.K. Subban (the first Black defenseman to win the Norris Trophy), Tony McKegney (the first Black player to score 40 goals in a single season), and Grant Fuhr (the first Black player to win the Stanley Cup).
“Canada has always been a hockey-crazy nation,” added Barnes, who hosts the educational podcast My Hockey Hero, which is supported by eBay Canada. “I am filling in forgotten modern hockey history, highlighting the diversity which has been part of the NHL since 1958 although it’s limited.
“I am broadening awareness by using visual representation to change the perception of who has played and continues to play in hockey and the NHL. Amplifying Black players’ stories and sharing their cards can help normalize the presence of Black people in the game.
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NHL United by Hockey mobile museum
When: March 28, 2023
Time: 1 to 3 pm and 5 to 7 pm
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome — 555 Saddledome Rise SE, Calgary
With files from Rob Williams