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Selling hockey cards helped pave his path to the NHL. Now, Georges Laraque has found a second life in the hobby.

In the early 1990s, Georges Laraque would sometimes offer his friends at school a deal they couldn’t refuse: a pile of the shiny, new Upper Deck hockey cards so many collectors coveted in exchange for their old cardboard that could be riddled with dinged corners, creases and wax stains.

Other times, the future NHL tough guy would make one-for-one trades, like when he swapped his 1990-91 Upper Deck Wayne Gretzky Art Ross Trophy winner card for a 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee RC ofThe Great One.

Laraque’s trading partners at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf in Montreal thought he was crazy to part with the premium cards.

“Nobody wanted the old cards.They wanted the Upper Deck, the new cards that looked great,” said Laraque, who became a partner in Ultime Sports Collection, a card store outside Montreal in Laval, Quebec, earlier this year.

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