If you are reading this website, you are probably a fan of hockey players and assumedly you probably understand on some level, that hockey players are awesome!

Some of them, even though they are married and (assumedly) haven’t been in a high school in 10 years will agree to go to a teenage girl’s prom with them if the schedule works out (shout out to The Hockey Writers & Kevin Klein, my forever favorite, for that), some of them will call and chirp people who say terrible things about them on the internet (Jerk Alert Level: telling a former alcoholic he’ll end up back in rehab) and then post said chirping phone call on the internet for all to see  and others will be the greatest goalie to ever play the game, sitting in an airport, bored and reading a French magazine and won’t mind when a terrified girl asks for an autograph and to confess her undying love (shout out forever to Marty Brodeur at EWR).

Most of my interactions with “famous” sports people (I use this term loosely, as my other favorite sport is wrestling and many of my favorite indy wrestlers are people that you, the common reader, would probably have no idea who they are but that’s ok) the last 15 years have usually been spent with the idea in the back of my head that I am possibly providing the gas money or meal money for the wrestlers to allow them to continue to do the things that they love for the next weekend. On more than a few times, I know that it was my donation to their gimmick table (where wrestlers sell anything from shirts to stickers to DVDs to promo pictures) that made sure they got food that night before or after their match. Think of it as making a donation to a favorite charity — except in this case, it’s not a generic charity where you aren’t sure where the money is exactly going, it’s a person with a goal or dream. Pocket Volcano (why did I never think of an awesome wrestling name back when I cared about such things?!) writes about this dilemma far better than I ever could in her blog, The Dangerous Queen.

Wrestling and (indy) wrestlers are great because there is a very loosely defined break between the “them” and “you” because wrestlers tend to understand that without a you, the fan, there is no them, the wrestler (be you giving them your money or cheering them on in their matches or, as is my favorite type of wrestler, the bad guy or the heel, and so booing them and telling them that they are like a vacuum cleaner and suck). This has given me a zillion memories from being allowed to see pictures (and a lot of them!) of a wrestler’s newborn son to getting phone calls iso that I might be sung to (a Fleetwood Mac song for those interested) all because either I was lucky enough to like the wrestlers who were not jerks (as just like in hockey and life, there are always the jerky ones or the ones you know that you shouldn’t tell all your secrets to) or because due to my relative cheerful personality, I tend to only remember the best parts of people.

In hockey, I’ve found that while it is sometimes a lot harder to find out when a hockey player is going to be doing an autograph signing, however, when you do actually find them, they are amazing.  Besides the aforementioned “Kevin Klein says, sure, let’s go to the prom!” very few hockey players ever seem to be annoyed at signings (this does not, of course, count if they are actually crying & bored on the inside).  In fact, the first time I saw Patrik Elias in 2009, as I was leaving the store that he was signing in, the security guard (who was either for the mall or the Devils) thanked me for coming!

In America as a grassroots attempt to take back all the Black Friday madness that happens the day after Thanksgiving at big box stores, that Saturday is known in some places as Small Business Saturday.  As someone who has always hated doing things only on the day that someone far way deemed “the” day to do stuff (i.e. the spirit of a Thanksgiving or Valentine’s can and should technically be any and everyday — you can be thankful any time and you can tell people in your life that you love them any day), I have a (very small) list of small hockey sports & memorabilia stores that could use your help on Saturday and any day of the year.

Much like comic book stores, record shops and other small “mom & pop” stores, I feel that hockey sports stores should have a day dedicated to them as they are a very important part of our community.  Many of the owners live in area that their stores are and some have been handed down from generation to generation.  Others not only sell sports/hockey memorabilia but also sell whatever the town’s colors are so that parents can buy their children hockey gear for their schools or for their teams.  This are the sorts of places that you should support as they are far more personable on many different levels than buying stuff on Ebay or merchandise that is already signed from some of the larger places that sell autographed merchandise.

Some of the stores are having autograph signings soon (or will be having more soon) and you could always google “(place you live) + hockey store” to find one near where you live to help support:

Sports Minded Unlimited [Facebook] of Warren, NJ has Adam Henrique this Sunday, Nov 30th

Buddy’s Sports Corner of Bergen County, New Jersey is going to have the Rangers’ Chris Kreider on Dec. 3rd

AJ’s Sports World of Vaughan, Ontario is going to have Doug Gilmour on Dec. 6th

Fan HQ in the Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka, MN has Zach Parise & Darcy Kuemper on Dec. 7th

Someone has all Detroit Red Wing Autograph signings [Facebook] in a group and the next upcoming is on Dec. 14th with Gustav Nyquist, Danny Dekeyser & Darren Helm

Main Street Sports of New Jersey is going to have the Devils’ Andy Greene and Michael Ryder on Dec 16th

Main Street Sports of New Jersey is going to have the Devils’ Cory Schneider & Dainius Zubrus on Jan 26th, 2015

Born and raised around the swamps of Northern New Jersey, 6 minutes away from East Rutherford and 11 minutes away from Newark (all with no traffic, of course), she is a giant New Jersey Devils fan whose greatest pieces of hockey memorabilia include a Patrik Elias Team Czech #25 shirsey, a Theo Fleury Calgary Flames action figure and a signed picture of Kevin Weekes smiling for the camera. She learned a long time ago that every Devils player that isn't Patrik Elias who she loves will probably be traded away, sent to Russia or just never get a call from Uncle Lou during contract negotiations and she has learned, after drinking a lot of Kool-Aid, that that is okay sometimes because Uncle Lou will always bring them back for the last year or so of their hockey life. Speaking of, she is also been one of the few women in the Bobby Holik Appreciation Fan Club since 1996 or so.

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