So...the reason I collect specific players is because they played in the NBA. Or drove/crewed/owned in NASCAR. Or competed in the Olympics. Now I've added NHL to that.
Everyone...everyone who ever participated in the history of the sports I collect is my player collection.
Do I have favorites? Yes, of course. But I still collect cards of people I can't stand. I can't tell the history of the sport without them.
It wasn't until recently- late 2015 I think, not totally sure when but after I started Cardboard History- that I conceived the idea to have everyone who ever got an NBA or NASCAR card into my collection. Until the days of the internet I had no real way to know exactly who had cards. Now, with the Trading Card Database, it's easier to find out, and I did...I went through and clicked on every single name that did not appear in my collection. (it took several days). I know it's not perfect- some people didn't have listings yet, some people I marked as missing when I had them and present when they were missing, (I am only human, after all) and some have been added as I have expanded my scope of what counts as a card in my collection, but it's a very good baseline and gives me something to strive for.
Here's a little secret...I've begun collecting images of players who never got cards and plan to make my own...which I will count as part of my collection when/if I ever get them made physically. I don't really have the skills/knowledge of how to do that yet but I will either learn or bring in help.
When I run out of cards of different people to chase, or at least get to the point where I can't find/afford the cards of the people still missing, that will be my next project.
Of course, now that I've added the NHL to my collection, I have 100 years worth of players to chase! That's going to be a project that probably will keep me busy for many years. After all, I've been collecting the NBA for more than 20 years and the list of people missing is still about 400 people long.
Back to my favorites- everybody knows Elton Brand is my all-time favorite NBA player at this point. I began following him when he was in high school and originally began to track him due to the fact that he was local. (My family is from Peekskill, as is he). But he became my all-time favorite because of who he is. Just an all-around good person, one you could point to and tell your kids "this is a good role model, be like him". (Not that I have kids)
for NASCAR my all-time favorite is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Unlike most people I didn't jump on his bandwagon when his father was killed, I was a fan of his since 1994 and was not an active fan of his father, although once he was gone I realized that I missed his presence in the sport and I was indeed a fan. Dale Jr. just has a great personality, we like most of the same things although you could not pay me to eat a banana and mayonnaise sandwich, our favorite number is even the same...mine since before I even knew what NASCAR was, #8. We both like plastic models, we both love NASCAR history, we've both had a history of concussion, heck, we both even like blondes. We're pretty much what could describe as kindred spirits, I suppose.
Other favorites: Ernie Irvan, Rick Mast, Ted Musgrave, Jerry Nadeau, Martin Truex Jr. Darrell Wallace Jr.
I have to mention Wendell Scott here as well, even though I never got to see him race. I learned about what he accomplished, and what he went through to accomplish that, and it's inspiring. One of the greatest things I've ever done was create the Facebook group that led the charge that got him into the NASCAR hall of Fame...and also got me connected to his children Wendell Jr. and Sybil and grandson Warrick. I have not accomplished a lot of note in my life, but that...that is something I'm extremely proud of.
For the NHL, it's hard to say. I'm still so new to it. I heard them say on NHL Tonight last night that it was November 22nd, 2016 when the Golden Knights announced their logo, and that is the day I truly became an NHL fan...not even 7 months yet. But it's already become something that is present in every single day of my life, and will be, for the rest of my life. Honestly, it's moved past NASCAR for my #2 sport which seems hard to believe, but NASCAR has regulated itself into nearly irrelevance. I found that I ended up watching more NHL than NBA as the season wore on and that caused quite a lot of internal conflict...I felt guilty watching one over the other, regardless of what I chose to watch, and that is going to be a troublesome quandary for quite a long time, I suppose.
I'm still learning about all the players but Henrik Lundqvist has taken an early lead as favorite. The stoic earnestness just won me over, I suppose.
As I watch and learn more about the NHL, I'm sure I'll figure out more favorites.