Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walt and Me

When I was a kid, I loved playing hockey at the outdoor rinks. Having spent the first 14 years of my life in Thunder Bay, I had the chance to play hockey outdoors for about 4 months of the year. Some days we would spent 5 hours just playing hockey and the only breaks we would take are to shovel snow off the ice and then get right back to it.
I can still remember my greatest day at the outdoor rink. It was 1992 and we had been playing outside for a while when someone joined our game. He was a tall man; much older than we were and he was wearing what I thought was the coolest jacket in the world. It was a green satin jacket with a Devils emblem on the left part of the chest. I knew right away this was Walt Poddubny! I only found this out later, but he was at home in Thunder Bay recovering from another injury.
I can honestly say I don’t remember if he was on my team or the other team but that afternoon I was playing “in the NHL”. He skated with us kids for what seemed like hours and we just had some much fun making passes, poke checks and the odd “rub out”. I didn’t want to ever leave that ice but of course Walt would eventually leave and all us kids had homes to get to for supper and that ended our fun for that day. I would go back to that ice over and over again hoping to relive that magic but the chance would never come. I would eventually move away from Thunder Bay and play on different rinks but it would never match that day.
My parents went to a fundraiser not long after that game and they would come home with a few autographed items. My step-father bought himself a Darren Turcotte autograph puck (which I have now); a Guy Carbonneau autographed Montreal Canadiens sweatshirt and a small gift for me. The gift was an 89-90 OPC Devils team set which I found an odd gift because I had all those cards in a complete set already. However, when I looked at the cards, one of them was autographed. The autographed card turned out to be Walt Poddubny who was at the event. This card meant more to me than every other card in my collection at the time because I could say I played hockey with that guy….even though it was only for one afternoon.

Here is a picture of Walt's rookie card. I have one of these and it is my favourite of all his cards.

Here is the autographed 89-90 OPC card my parents got for me.

A little more than 2 years ago Walt passed away suddenly. He was about the same age as my step-father who also passed away suddenly the following year. It is always tragic to lose someone at such a young age. For a period of three years Walt was a dominate force in the NHL scoring 116 goals in the time period. But I will always remember him as the kind man in the green satin jacket who made a few kids feel like stars for one afternoon.

Here is link to a nice obituary of Walt with a recent photo prior to his passing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Joe Thornton

One of the things I like about ITG's products is you get a chance to get an autograph of an NHL star before they were famous. I had a friend who I met back in 2000 who went to high school with Joe Thornton. She went to school with him for most of her life and spent some time hanging out with him and got an autograph from him just in case he ever became famous. I think he was about 15 when he signed the autograph.

I was lucky enough to be given that autograph as a gift from her.

It is a promo coaster from his Jr. B Team. He played for them during the 93-94 and 94-95 seasons.

After playing for the Stars, Joe would then join the Sault Greyhounds and the rest is history.

As you can see his autograph has changed a little bit over the years but I think that happens from time to time as players transition from teenagers to adults.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ray Ferraro

Well I guess not every personality at TSN has their mail filtered. I received this gem in the mail about a week ago.

Ray Ferraro was a player who I really enjoyed watching play as a kid. He had amazing goal scoring abilities that were evident right from his junior days. In 83-84 he scored 108 goals for the Brandon Wheat Kings in a 72 game season. An interesting fact from that season was the second leading scorer on the team was Cam Plante who had 22 goals and 118 assists that season but, would never play more than 2 games in the NHL. I can't imagine how many of those 118 assists where to Ray. Another neat fact about that 83-84 Wheat Kings team is their number 1 goalie was Ron Hextall who really was the only other player on the team who would find long-term NHL employment.

Ray scored 20+ goals 12 times throughout his career in the NHL and even reached 40+ goals twice and would finish with 408 career goals.

Here are the cards:

1990-91 UD

1989-90 OPC

He signed both cards with red sharpie and numbered them 26 which he wore during his time in Hartford and LA. It took about 5 weeks to receive these back.

Friday, March 25, 2011

1990 Pro Set Hockey

1990 was the first time I ever opened a pack of cards. I had been interested in hockey for a couple of years but to that point I only ever did the Panini stickers and hockey cards were a foreign concept to me. One day my parents came home from somewhere and I had been baby-sitting my siblings when they showed up with a couple of packs of hockey cards as reward for watching my brother and sisters.

I sat down and looked at the package and saw :

The first card I saw in the pack was "Ray Borque" Needless to say the whole set of cards were full of errors when you can't even spell Bourque's name right.

I never completed the series 1 set, but I may try at some point in my life because the fact is now 20 years later I appreciate the set more now than I did back then.

90 Pro Set was my marijuana to card collecting. It was my "gateway" drug. Even though I never collected it much past 91-92 it lead to other sets and like many of you lots of dollars spent!

Recently I made a trade with Chris from and one card that was apart of our deal was the 90-91 Pro Set Promo Card. I felt I needed this card to help symbolize what got me into collecting and it is the second most valuable card from that set. The most valuable is the Stanley Cup hologram which is the holy grail for Pro Set hockey collectors. If you want to see it check out this link, Sal has a couple of those gems.

Here is the front of the card

Here is the back. Needless to say, Pro Set even managed to make an error on their promo card. They have an incorrect birth date and games played in the 87-88 season.

Over time, this set look a little better to me than it once did but maybe that is nostalgia setting in.

For all you collectors out there, what set got you into collecting?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gilbert Perreault

Gilbert Perreault was without a doubt one of the best players in Buffalo Sabres history and TSN ranks him as the 5th most talented player in NHL history.

For those interested, here is the total list

1. Mario Lemieux
2. Bobby Orr
3. Wayne Gretzky
4. Alexei Kovalev
5. Gilbert Perreault
6. Kent Nilson
7. Denis Savard
8. Pavel Bure
9. Jaromir Jagr
10. Pavel Datsyuk

So sending an autograph request to Mr. Perreault was a must for me. However when researching his address in some TTM forums I came across the fact that he charges for his autographs and all requests must come with $5. I wasn't surprised to some degree due to the number of people selling TTM's on eBay and I guess Gilbert just wants a piece of the action. I decided that it was worth $5 and the time to write a nice letter so I did just that. Three weeks later I receive the card below and a letter.

For starters, the autograph is beautiful. Totally worth paying $5 bucks for in my opinion and his choice of thin blue sharpie compliments his signing style.

The letter was a bit of a disappoint because as I opened it, it began "Dear Customer". Not the response I was expecting from the type of letter I had sent.

It turns out the rates for his autographs have increased from $5 to $10 and this letter was notifying me if I wished any more autos I had better come up with the money.

What are your thoughts on paying for TTMs and the letter I received?

If you are interested in writing him, you could chance it by sending a fiver, but it looks like 10 will get the job done.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What do you do when you have no playoff hopes?

Well last night's loss the the Bruins has sealed the Devil's post-season fate. It was a nice run, the Devils Army had some hope for a while, but last night's performance including 5 straight pk's ended any serious chance we had at playing for the Cup.

So with no team in the post-season, what do I do now? What do you folks do, when your team is no longer in the playoffs? I know Leaf fans talk about how next year is going to be different and the media in Canada supports that by endlessly looking at how the Leafs can sign UFA's which are long past their prime or are often damaged goods (see Lindros, Allison or Versteeg).

What I have done in the past is just picked another team to ride while the playoffs are on. In addition to being a Devils fan, there are a few other teams that I do like to watch and wish them luck if the Devils are out of contention.

The list looks something like this:

1. Devils
2. Blackhawks (Liked since '90, Belfour was the reason and I worshiped him until he went a little crazy in Dallas)
3. Kings (Since the '08 World Hockey Championship I have huge respect for Kopitar)
4. Oilers (They are fun to watch and I remember being a kid in awe of their fire power)

After the list is exhausted I usually find some team to support but it isn't ever the same.

So I ask, what do you do when your team is out?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Baseball season is just around the corner

It is less than 3 weeks until the start of the 2011 baseball season and I might be all in by the end of the month considering the Devils need to finish 12-2 to have a legit post season shot. The Tigers are looking decent this season and we may have what it takes to see post-season action as long as we can avoid our late season collapses!

I have not spent much time blogging about baseball and the main reason is I tend to talk mostly about hobby stuff and 20 years ago I had to make a decision. I had to decide if I was going to collect baseball or hockey cards. The question was put on me by my parents because they felt that it would be in my best interest to just focus on one or the other. So all these years later I wonder what my collection would have been like if I picked baseball? From looking at other blogs online many of you seem to balance the two or three sports easily enough. I think I am too invested in hockey to ever branch out and honestly I would rather a couple of hockey sets each season rather than just do one or two from each sport. Though, if my finances ever change who knows....

Despite missing 20 years of baseball collecting, I really don't have many regrets about my choice except maybe one. Even though I am a Tigers fan, I have always been an even bigger Randy Johnson fan and deep down I have always wanted a Johnson 89 UD RC. I am sure I could buy one, but I think I would much rather make a trade for one. If anyone out there has a mint one that they wish to part with for something off my trade list or something they are looking for let me know! I think my collection needs this card!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ebay Lot Purchase

Every now and again I like to look on Ebay and check out some of the lot sales. Often good deals can be had if you stumble upon an auction that is about to end.

I found an auction that had these four cards and I was able to win it for 75 cents per card (or 1.50 each with shipping) which you would be hard pressed to get these four by TTM for that price.

This card was the one that sold me. Adam Oates was an amazing centre and in my opinion should be in the Hall of Fame. He has been passed over the last couple of years but he will get his chance eventually!

This card is from the 09-10 Black Diamond Set.

The second autograph in the lot was Brian Gionta who is the current captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Brian had one amazing season with the Devils when he put up 48 goals and the Canadiens are hoping he will get there again some day.
This card is from the 09-10 Artifacts set.

This card was a nice bonus in my opinion as I would have paid 6 bucks for the first two cards easily. Marc Methot is the type of player ALL teams need. A good stay-at-home defenceman who is reliable for 20 minutes a night. He has Luke Richardson or Ken Danyeko potential but in the hobby world that means very little!
This is from the 07-08 SP Authentic set.

Lauri Tukonen was a first round pick of the Kings and he never really lived up to potential. He had an amazing U-18 tournament back in '03 but never found his touch in the North American game. He is currently in Finland and is playing for Lukko Rauma. I don't believe he will be back, but if he does, this card can only increase in desirability!!!

Like Methot, this card was also from the 07-08 SP Authentic set and has an on the card autograph.

Not bad for under $6 with shipping especially if Oates ends up making the Hall of Fame!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Return to Sender

How do you deal with rejection? This is the first time for me since I have started writing players. I guess it may have happened already and I just have no idea because my cards ended up in someone’s garbage can or something. But I do believe ignorance is bliss because while the cards are still “out there” I have hope that they may come back someday! Well hope ended yesterday for one request and that was my request to Craig MacTavish.

I am not sure if Craig does TTM’s or not, but I thought I would give him a try by writing to TSN. I wrote a letter and included just one card (his 86-87 OPC RC) in a top loader and mailed it off. Almost a month after sending out the request, I received my envelope unopened with about four “Avery” address stickers covering the TSN address and the words “Return to Sender” in red ink with an arrow to my address. If he wrote it I could call it an autograph, but I have a feeling someone at TSN filters out mail that Craig MacTavish doesn’t want to receive.

I guess for all the great returns, we must expect some return to senders!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Closer look at 10-11 Heroes and Prospects

Here is a look at the base cards from the 10-11 set. There are three types of cards in the set and they are Heroes, Prospects and Rookies. The layout of the set is to start with Heroes, then International Prospects, then Prospects from each league with rookies at the end of the CHL portion and rookies at the end of the AHL portion.

The complete checklist can be found here:

I was a little disappointed to see Hall and Eberle missing from this year's set but then again they have been included in the past and it is time to move on for ITG.

I like the look and design of the set, my wife on the other hand hates them. She actually felt the 10-11 Victory set looked nicer. The photography is no match for UD series 1 and 2, but I feel the design is clean and the backs are great giving it more of a meat and potatoes kind of set.

The heroes cards are simple, photos are a little grainy likely due to the fact that the source is likely from the 80's and samples of these guys in their younger days are not plentiful.

The back of the heroes give a little story about the player before they were an NHL'er.

Here is a typical prospect card. I really like this kid and I think Couturier has star potential. I know he won't be making it out of the top 10 in this draft which sucks because I was thinking he would have looked great as a NJ Devil.
As you can see on the back, his status is listed as draft eligible and there is a summary of last season's totals and a small blurb about him.

Omark is pretty exciting to watch and as you can see on his card it is identified as a rookie card. I think ITG gives this designation to any players that have never had an ITG card before. (that reminds me of the old FTC days!) I know they will never be recognized as true RC's but again that really isn't the reason why someone would collect Heroes and Prospects.

So what do you guys think? Is this set poorly designed? Where does it fit with other sets? At 90 bucks a box there are some expectations about base cards but does ITG make up for it with their hits?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

10-11 ITG Heroes and Prospects Box Break

This is the first time I have ever bought a box of an ITG product. Here is hoping I would get some first-timer's luck!

The box has 18 packs and there are 8 cards and 1 points card per pack. The box cost 89.99 plus taxes. I think the cost in the past is one of the reasons why I never purchased this product but seeing the quality of the hits in comparison to other products; I am looking to try something different.

Here were my hits in order.

Pack number 2 produced this gem. Matt Puempel is currently ranked #29 of the North American Skaters at this upcoming draft. He has 34 goals and 69 points in 55 games this season with the Pete. A hip injury has hurt his stock slightly as it will more than likely require season-ending surgery. These are limited to 120 copies.

This was an insert I was definitely hoping to pull. If you have seen my C56 post then you will know I love these little tobacco cards. After watching the Don Cherry Story I must say I will never look at Eddie Shore the same. If the movie has any accuracy at all, Eddie was a pretty sadistic guy. I will never forget him tying a noose around his goalies neck to keep him from dropping to his knees to make a save.

I am pretty excited about this card. Brendan Gaunce is going to be a high draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft. He was the 2nd overall pick in the OHL draft in the 2010 draft and is only going to turn 17 later this month. His brother Cameron is considered to be a strong prospect with the Avalanche. Not bad for my first autograph.

Here was my second game-used hit. These cards are limited to 100 copies each instead of the 120 of my previous game-used hit. Boone Jenner is an interesting name to say the least, but as a prospect he is a 17 year old who is eligible for this coming draft. He has 56 points in 55 games with the Generals which is a little lower than expectations going into this season but he should likely go in the 3rd round in the upcoming draft.

My second autograph is of Carolina prospect Zach Boychuk. With 2 WJHC gold medals to his resume, it is safe to say this kid is a winner. The Hurricanes are slow bringing this kid up but I think like wine he will age well and could very likely be a strong 2nd line centre.

Then in my second last pack I find a nice surprise. An Ethan Werek game-used gold jersey. These are limited to just 10 copies and the swatch is the nicest I have ever pulled myself. It is a three coloured swatch which bulges out of the card.
Ethan Werek was drafted by the Rangers in the second round of the 2009 draft. He currently is still with the Frontenacs and is averaging a little more than a point a game with them for the past 2 seasons. I have trouble gauging Rangers prospects because one minute they can be challenging for rookie of the year and the next minute they are buried in the AHL. Here is hoping he finds himself a home and makes a nice name for himself!

In all I would say it was as successful break.

Here is the summary

139 of 150 base cards
15 point cards
2 autographs
3 game used mem. cards
1 100th anniversary card
1 75th anniversary card (Jim Anderson)
1 Calder Cup Champions Card (Francois Bouchard)

If you can help me with my missing 11 cards please let me know I would like to try and finish this set.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bobby Smith and Edgar Laprade

On Monday I received two returns in the mail. The first was one I sent out at the beginning of Jan to the Halifax Mooseheads' head coach Bobby Smith. My very first hockey game I ever watched live was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota North Stars and that was back in 1991. Bobby Smith was in the lineup that night and he scored a goal for the victorious North Stars.

I sent him three cards and he signed all three with a turn around time of 55 days.

82-83 OPC Card

82-83 OPC In Action Card

The classic 90-91 UD Set
His autograph is pretty unique, signing both first and last name.

The second auto is from HOF'er Edgar Laprade. I currently don't have any cards of him but really wanted to get his autograph while I still could (he is 91 years old). I received this card 15 days after I mailed it out.

He spent all of his NHL career with the Rangers so I sent him this 07-08 Rangers checklist card for him to sign. I was hoping he would sign by the emblem (which I prepared for an auto) but he signed the back instead where there was more room. Unfortunately I didn't prepare the back so his auto must of smudged a bit when it was put in the envelope.

I will still treasure it anyway because he was born just outstide the city where I was born (Thunder Bay, Ontario) and he currently resides 3 blocks from where I used to live in Thunder Bay.

I hope to get his rookie card as a part of my Parkhurst Project.