The Online Stevie

March 10, 2006
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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Stevie Y received an standing “O” when he made his first appearance at Van Andel Arena almost four years ago.

For at least two unforgettable minutes, 10,834 admirers showered the Detroit Red Wings captain with heartfelt applause and appreciative shouts that no other athlete will ever likely hear in that building.

In response, the unassuming Steve Yzerman looked down at the ice for much of those two minutes — likely wishing the overwhelming recognition he was receiving would simply go away — before he abruptly raised his stick and quickly did what some might call a pirouette to acknowledge those who were veraciously acknowledging him.

Many of those in attendance that memorable night would probably be thrilled to know that Yzerman will soon make another first appearance. But this time he’ll show up on their computer monitors as part of a new online business.

Lucky Sports Management has begun offering an exclusive collection of official Yzerman-signed memorabilia. The enterprise is the brainchild of Derrick Luck, who has known the Red Wings’ certain future Hall-of-Famer for the better part of a decade.

“It was about 1995. Paul Coffey is a friend of mine and Paul played in Detroit. And I met Steve through Paul at a couple of practices and games, and we did a Warner Brothers piece together. From there, it just kind of grew,” said Luck from his office in Mississauga, Ontario, where the company is based.

Luck, who owns the company and is the firm’s president, became better acquainted with Yzerman after Coffey and Keith Primeau were traded to the Hartford Whalers for Brendan Shanahan and Brian Glynn. A few years ago, Yzerman agreed to let Luck promote his items exclusively in Canada. He recently extended that contract to give Luck the worldwide rights.

“We’re going to lead the charge right into retirement to be able to control and make sure that if someone does get a piece from us, it is real,” said Luck. “We try to provide first-class memorabilia to the consumer that wants to buy it.”

The business, Stevie Y Authentic, went online two weeks ago.

Beckett’s, which publishes the value of trading cards and players’ signatures, reported last year that the sports-memorabilia business was a $2 billion industry. With that much money changing hands, counterfeit pieces are readily being marketed to unsuspecting collectors as the real thing. To stop the sale of phony Yzerman-signed merchandise, the 22-year veteran player has authorized Luck to search for fraudulent items that bear his name.

“We take them off as fast as they go on. I’m the bureau member for e-Bay, which is the verify-rights owner. And we go on e-Bay and remove any items that are questionable, that are not signed by Steve, or are unauthorized by Steve,” said Luck.

A tip from Luck led the York Regional Police to arrest three individuals for allegedly selling phony Yzerman-signed merchandise at a store in the Vaughan Mills Mall, which is north of Toronto in Newmarket, Ontario. The trio has been charged with fraud, uttering a forged document and possession of property obtained by a crime.

“We’re not going to tolerate this any more. We’re going to show people that we’re going to go after them,” said Luck. “We take it out of the players’ hands and that’s what they want. They don’t want to go to court, but they also don’t want anyone getting ripped off.”

Prices for Yzerman-signed items range from $75 for a Stanley Cup bobble head to $469 for an authentic jersey. Luck also represents six other hockey players including Coffey and Eric Lindros. His Web site, www.steveyzerman.com, also has items signed by those players and others.

“We want to grow. We want to be the company that people go to, I won’t be shy about that,” said Luck. “I want to build this to be the best hockey memorabilia company in North America. But I have got some stiff competition.”     

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