Most people sift through the clutter in their home and potentially find a collection of junk that might be worth a few dollars at a garage sale. Longtime hockey photographer Bruce Bennett spotted a box in his basement and discovered artifacts from almost four decades of hockey history.
He didn't hold a garage sale. He shared it with friends and family.
"I never considered myself to be a pack rat. I had a box in the basement that got bigger and bigger through all the years. Each giant envelope had a decade's worth of [press] credentials in it," said the photographer, who managed to keep each of his game passes from his storied career. "The idea that I always had in my head was to put them all in a picture frame. They would go on the wall and you couldn't see them up close and they would start to yellow and get tossed out."
After forgetting about framing his massive collection of credentials, some of which gained him entry into the greatest hockey events of the past 40 years, Bennett decided to assemble them online in a chronological collage documenting a career that started in 1973 when he would earn $4 a photo shooting games for The Hockey News. Since getting his start primarily covering New York-area NHL teams, Bennett has worked at 4,826 games, including 144 Olympic games and 30 All-Star Games in more than 50 arenas.
"It's nostalgic looking at these credentials and reliving some of these moments, especially the early days," said Bennett, who a few weeks ago was on assignment for Getty Images photographing areas around New York that had been damaged by superstorm Sandy. "It's interesting to look through and see how many historic hockey events I've been to through the years."
Placed in chronological order, Bennett's self-published digital scrapbook, which can be found here, shows the NHL's evolution with regard to media. The first several pages feature indistinguishable credential cards printed on small pieces of paper. As the years go by, many of hockey's most memorable games are documented on more intricate, laminated designs, many featuring Bennett's mug shot. It's all part of a fascinating evolution Bennett witnessed firsthand.
"To slowly page through them, [I can] not only see how my hair has changed through the years," Bennett said. "There are so many in here that evoke different memories of different events. For me, it's a good way to summarize my career."