Looking through the prices of cards, the question of why old hockey cards may be undervalued may linger in your mind. It’s a good question, since there are some older cards that do sell for a lot.
While hockey does have its rabid fan base, it doesn’t come close to reaching that of baseball or football. Even somewhat casual baseball fans devour the statistics and know a lot of the players on past and present rosters. The same can be said of football. Hockey, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have that many historians behind it – it also doesn’t receive as much coverage in the media as the other sports and the accessibility of the hockey players as everyday people also can work against them – it doesn’t make them as particularly memorable as the players from the other sports. Casual fans will definitely remember a Wayne Gretzky, a Mario Lemieux, a Sidney Crosby or a Mark Messier, but they may not remember Tony Amonte, Tie Domi, or Grant Fuhr once their careers are in the rearview mirror. Forget about those players in the early years.
Hockey is a regional sport. Some kids in California play hockey, but because you need a rink and a decent amount of equipment, they’re more likely to play—and follow-- basketball, football or baseball. If they aren’t big fans, they’re not likely to become big collectors. It's Canada's national game and that's where the most die-hard hockey collectors are (as well as in Europe).
Another issue is that the baseball and football Hall of Fames are very well know – all a person has to say is “Cooperstown” or “Canton” and a vast majority of people will know what location is being mentioned. The Hockey Hall of Fame, on the other hand, is in Toronto. A good majority of baseball and football card collectors are in America and the trickle-down effect in the market can be from their visiting either the Baseball Hall of Fame or Football Hall of Fame, seeing the plaques and igniting that collecting gene. Not as many Americans—even if they follow the game a little—make the pilgrimage to Ontario.
This can actually be beneficial – if hockey does finally get its strongest foothold in the public consciousness, then the prices of the older cards may go up and investors and collectors can both reap the benefits of buying old hockey cards at a low price point. For now this explains why they may be undervalued and if you’re a fan of the game, maybe the most economical sport in which to build a great collection of old trading cards.