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A one-of-a-kind hockey stick

How much is a hockey stick worth? If you're an NHL hockey player scoring a goal or two every game with an occasional hat trick (three goals in one game), you're earning millions and you would consider your hockey stick to be priceless.

But when you break that stick -- hockey sticks are broken in every game -- there will be a dozen more just like the one you broke, so your priceless stick is easily replaceable and that one wonderful, priceless stick you're using now is no big deal.

I heard an interview a short time ago featuring a guy in Canada who has a hockey stick that is a big deal. This stick spent 30 years just hanging on the wall of a barber shop. One of the customers saw it on the wall -- haircut after haircut -- and told his son about it. The son went there, got a haircut and saw the stick. The barber who owns it was about to retire so he was selling everything in his shop.

The customer looked the stick over -- it was certainly old and it looked interesting so he bought it for $1,000 (in Canadian dollars -- worth $980 American). Upon examination he noted it was all one solid piece of wood -- in a crude shape like a field hockey stick and it was hand hewn.

Once he owned it, he sent it to a laboratory where the wood was expertly examined as to age. The experts judged the stick had probably been carved in about 1835-36. Knowing all these facts, and doing some research on his own, he has determined that that $1,000 stick may be the oldest hockey stick in existence.

The first ice hockey game was played in 1877 under rules established by James Creighton, its inventor. If that's the case, what the heck is this stick? Going back before ice hockey, there have been variants of hockey for thousands of years. The work "hockey" comes from France in about 1527, in reference to a curved stick.

Aside from all that history, what is the guy going to do with that old stick? I got the impression from the interview that he's not a dummy and he's doing a thorough job of checking all possibilities. It's entirely possible he may have a million dollar piece of wood (in Canadian funds -- only $980,000 in American dollars).

The thing is, if it's worth that much that means somebody would pay that amount to have it. What's the point of having a crude stick worth a million bucks? If you sell it, the point is profit, but if you keep it or buy it at top dollar, why have it?

Why have a million dollar painting for that matter? Is it possible to get a million dollars worth of pleasure out of looking at a picture? If you got a bargain and got it for only $500,000 would you enjoy it twice as much or half as much? Would you enjoy having it if nobody knew about it, or had no idea how much you paid? What is the point of extravagance if not bragging rights?

If I lived across the street from a gallery where I could go, see and be inspired by a masterpiece of art or the world's oldest hockey stick every day, would I still want to own one of them?

Why do we collect things? How about the guy somewhere who has the world's biggest ball of twine -- does it have value? All you can do is sit and look at it.

What is it worth to be in the Guinness Book of World Records -- does it make you famous?

Things. We all love to have things. There is a supermarket for things we don't need and things we will never use. It's the flea market. Go there and buy something. Make someone happy -- make two someones happy -- the seller and you. By your transaction you will be helping to promote a more even distribution of things.