by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
Typing in "hockey autographs" on EBay, you will find an autographed Wayne Gretzky rookie card listed at $5,999.99.
A signed Connor McDavid rookie card finds 57 bidders watching the clock for a $17,999.99 asking price
A Jose Theodore card, from 2003-2004, is hoping to land $123.95.
But for Marc-Olivier Daigle, a Theodore autograph remains priceless.
"I wanted to be like him (Theodore) when I was growing up," said Daigle, of Theodore, a former NHL goalie who was honoured with the Vezina Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy in 2002 and the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy in 2010, while spending majority of his career with the Montreal Canadiens. "I liked his style and I liked the fact that he was the last guy to beat on the ice. He had to make the big save to keep the lead."
Daigle, now into his second year as a goalie for the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) MacEwan Griffins, had the opportunity to meet "his idol" many years ago.
"I was maybe nine or 10 at the time and the Montreal (Canadiens) were playing the Pitt (Pittsburgh Penguins) and one of my dad's good friends (had NHL connections). It was pretty exciting. All of the Pittsburgh players were around their bus and were chatting, so I got to meet and get pictures and autographs from them...including Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux.
"Then we got to go into the Montreal dressing room and Jose was there. He showed me his gear and stuff and he signed the jersey I had brought with me."
Daigle, now 24 years-old, still has the signed Theodore jersey.
A stand-out net minder in his own right, having played Junior hockey for the Halifax Mooseheads (2011-2012) and Drayton Valley Thunder (2012-2015), before spending one year with the University of Alberta Golden Bears, Daigle is no stranger to signing autographs for young fans.
"I think it is pretty cool. You feel like you are a big shot because the kids want to have your autograph. They are excited to get your autograph on a paper even though, at times, they may not even know who you are. Yes, it is cool to give the kids that experience and joy."
A native of Delson, Quebec, Daigle played for the Halifax Mooseheads as a 17 year old.
"It was really cool as it was the first time that I was playing at a big stage and there were 13,000 fans at each game," recalls the 6-foot-1 stopper. "After each game there would be hundreds of fans asking for autographs and in the mall people would recognize us and ask for autographs. I also got to play with Nathan MacKinnon."
MacKinnon would be the No. 1 pick overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft going to the Colorado Avalanche; winning the Calder Memorial Trophy - Rookie of the Year.
Drayton Valley Omni-Plex would be Daigle's home-away-from-home from 2012-2015, suiting up for 118 regular season games, finishing with 47 wins, 51 losses and 11 ties while making 3,229 saves.
"Coming out of Quebec it was very different. Here you could go for the day to Banff or Jasper. I made a lot of good friends there."
Daigle was instrumental for the Griffins in their defense of their ACAC men's hockey title last year.
MacEwan placed second in regular season standings with 20 wins 7 losses 1 overtime loss with 105 goals for and 68 goals against, with Daigle dressing for 18 games with 13 wins and 4 defeats behind a 2.22 goals against average with a .922 save percentage.
In the 2017-2018 gold medal best-of-three series, he made 180 saves against the NAIT Ooks.
He was named ACAC First-Team All-Conference.
Of the caliber of ACAC hockey he said: "It is a very good level of hockey and it is very underrated. People do not know how good it is. Last year when we combined NAIT and MacEwan players and played the Oilers rookie team we won 2-0."
In this year's rematch at Rogers Place, the ACAC combination fell 9-1 to the Oilers rookie team, outshot 68-16.
"They had a really good team. They got to score on two or three power plays, so we shot ourselves in the foot taking those penalties," recalled Daigle, who was replaced by Brendan Jensen with 8:40 left in the second, having made 30 saves on 34 shots.
Daigle said he hopes to stay involved in the world of hockey after graduation following the 2019-2020 season, be it as a "professional player" or as "an agent or management in some organization."
One thing for sure. Where ever he goes, the signed Theodore jersey will follow.