ST. LUNAIRE-GRIQUET, N.L. – Wayne Earle’s hockey card collection is as vast as his dedication to the sport and his knowledge of the players.
Wayne is now planning to downsize his more than 10,000 card collection and sell off what he can – with the exception of his treasured Toronto Maple Leafs cards.
“I was at a cards place in St. John’s just this last Christmas, and there was only one card in the store I didn’t have,” said Wayne. “So there’s a few Toronto players I’m still missing but I’ll get them.”
In two wooden boxes, nearly every player of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1962 onward has their rookie card laminated and stored with Wayne’s collection.
He also has the cards organized by the points of each player, and Wayne has in the process memorized the stats of nearly every player to don the Leafs jersey.
His daughter recently bought him a hockey card trivia game in hopes of testing her father’s knowledge.
“She was sure she would stump him somewhere along the way but no, he never missed a beat,” his wife Marilyn said with a laugh. “She just had to keep saying, ‘You geek'.”
Wayne keeps a stat book of every Leafs players since the 1920s, with only a few of the earliest players he’s missing information for. After each game, he grabs his notebook and pencil to update the stats of the current Leafs line up.
Wayne’s passion for the Toronto team is displayed even further than his card collection. In the basement of their St. Lunaire home jerseys, blankets, beer bottles and other team memorabilia are hung and laid on every wall and table.
While he had collected cards as a boy, he lost interest as a teenager and had thrown all those cards away. It was in his early 20s Wayne decided to restart his hockey card hobby. Now, 35 years on and 10,000 cards later, Wayne’s hobby has gone far beyond what he imagined it would at the time.
“I’ve always loved hockey, but I never thought it would go this far,” he said.
From boxes and binders, cards of every NHL team (and even many no longer in existence) are catalogued. While he never thought he would get a collection this extensive, there is one goal he’s kept in mind since the collection first began – to get every Maple Leafs player he can possibly find.
He even once traded with a fellow collector all of his Wayne Gretsky cards in exchange for all of their Toronto Maple Leafs players.
By garnering his collection solely through visiting flea markets and trade shows across Newfoundland, he’s managed to avoid the high priced market of online vendors. Wayne has some rarities in his collection like an Alexander Ovechkin rookie card, but he says the most he has ever spent on a hockey card is 10 dollars.
“For the real old cards, to find them online it’s too expensive,” he said. “I’m not in it to spend money, it’s only a hobby.”
While Wayne is now hoping to sell a lot of his collection, he’ll still be keeping at the hobby by searching out those remaining Toronto players he’s yet to laminate and catalogue.
“If someone wanted all the Montreal cards or something I wouldn’t mind getting rid of them,” he said. “I just want to stick to the Leafs from now on.”