By ALAN SNEL
It was a few weeks ago when Vegas Golden Knights fan Joey Totaro made a new friend in the lobby of City National Arena, the NHL team’s twin-rink training center in Summerlin.
Totaro, a 40-year-old Teamster who relishes collecting Golden Knights game posters, was chatting with a guy he didn’t know and explaining he was missing three or four of the 11-by-17-inch player posters that are handed out at home Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena.
Totaro’s mystery man then took a few moments to send a text and minutes later Golden Knights Art Director David Lopez appeared with three of each of the posters that Totaro was missing.
The mystery man with deep connections to the Golden Knights’ art director?
It was Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz.
Thanks to Bubolz’s poster contributions to Totaro’s collection, the fan who admits he’s nothing more than a big kid hunting for player autographs on those posters has a complete set of the collectibles protected in plastic sleeves tucked away in a $30 portfolio he bought at Blick Art Materials in Las Vegas.
“Bubolz was excited people were picking them up and collecting them,” Totaro said after Saturday’s Golden Knights practice at the $31 million training center and team headquarters.
“This is my entertainment,” said Totaro, an 18-year Las Vegas resident who has a three-year season ticket deal, paying $5,280 a year for two tickets. “This is date night for me and the Mrs.”
Collecting these posters at Golden Knights games has become a passionate art for Totaro and others, who have devised creative techniques to protect their posters during games from getting creased, mangled or soiled from beer spills. Here’s how Totaro pulls it off.
Others collect these posters to make money. Totaro said some guy picked up 27 Marc-Andre Fleury posters at the Dec. 15 Golden Knights game against the goalie’s former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the next day each poster was selling for $11 each on e-Bay. An LVSportsBiz.com look at e-Bay for Golden Knights game posters showed the collectibles were each selling for $6 to $14.99.
Totaro has a special technique to keep his posters crease-free at the games. After security banned him from bringing in a clear poster tube that condenses to only 18 inches, he brings two rubber bands to secure at least 10 posters that are gently rolled up and placed in a plastic bag to block any damage from spilled drinks during the game.
Sometimes, the outer poster feels the pinch of the rubber band.
“The first one is a sacrificial lamb,” Totaro pointed out.
On this particular day, Totaro was chatting with fellow poster collectors Roger Martin and Luc Roy.
“You’re here every practice, aren’t you,?” Roy asked Totaro.
Martin has caught the poster collecting fever.
“It’s their inaugural season and this is Las Vegas’ team,” Martin said. “And I was not even a hockey fan before they came. I attended only one NHL game 20 years ago.”
Martin recalled that when Bubolz, the team president, was ready to sign his poster, Bubolz’s wife told the club president to sign on the bottom of the poster to leave prime space open for player autographs.
Martin said the posters are a valuable commodity. The team has 15,000 on hand for home games and most are gobbled up, he noted. The team likes to feature a Golden Knights player on a poster when that player is skating against his former NHL team at T-Mobile Arena. Such was the case was Fleury battled his former Pittsburgh mates on a day that saw all the posters gone courtesy of many Penguins fans who snapped up the Golden Knights poster that game.
Totaro recalled collecting the posters to the three pre-season games played by the Golden Knights and was pleasantly surprised to see the team continue having them available during the regular season. Head coach Gerard Gallant was poster number one during the pre-season, then it was General Manager George McPhee for pre-season game two and T-Mobile Arena was featured in pre-season game three.
Totaro has signatures from 30 players and coaches on his Oct. 10 inaugural regular season home-opener poster. And one of his treasured posters is a poster of Chance the team gila monster mascot.
“That’s the holy grail,” Totaro said of the Chance poster. He noted there are only 200 Chance posters.
Totaro was trading posters Friday night after 10 p.m. at City National Arena.
He sent a message to LVSAportsBiz.com tonight explaining he was back it, trading posters.