Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Top 30 NHL Players of All-Time: #28

The next two picks on my list were really really difficult to rank and I only knew they must be on my list. Many will think they need to be much higher and I probably agree with you. However, at the same time I feel they both may have been victims of just playing in an era with so many superstars.

#28. Steve Yzerman. Steve was a winner both individually and as a leader of a team. 3 Cups, Triple Gold Member and many other medals. He won the Selke, Pearson, Conn Smythe and Masterton showing he can do it all. Over 600 goals and 1700 points also prove his remarkable abilities. 

84-85 OPC Rookie

 How do you place someone so great on a list of other amazingly great players? I had a very difficult time with this. In the end I tried my best to weigh all factors. Offensively Steve was superb including a season I still am in awe (65 G, 90A, 155 PTS). For his career he's among all the elite (top 10 in all three offensive categories). As a leader he was also among the games best and perhaps as good as Messier if you ask me. Defensively, the man was top 5 in Selke voting 5 times and perhaps if underrated in any area it may be in this. He did an excellent job rounding out his game in the second half of his career earning him a spot among the greatest of the great and that's why he's 28th on my list.

So...why isn't he higher? One really surprising fact is Steve only was ever named to the year end AS teams once. I know guys like Wayne and Mario made it difficult for him to get the recognition he deserved but in the end I had to place him here and I hope to prove myself in the coming posts.

Thanks for stopping by, #27 is every bit as good as #28.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Top 30 NHL Players of All-Time: #29

Next up on the list and perhaps you may begin to get a sense of what I value or may not value from a player.

#29. Brett Hull. The Golden Brett lead the NHL in goals 3 times including an amazing 86 goal season. He was the 1991 Hart Trophy winner and he’s a 3x All-Star. One of the best pure goal scorers who was an underrated passer. 741 career goals and one of the most infamous Cup goals.

88-89 OPC Rookie

10-11 Limited Auto /49

What is the greatest single NHL season goal total? Many including myself would say it is Wayne's 92 goal season. That number was insane and to this day has never been broken. However, what would happen if you gave Joe Malone an 80 game season back in 1917-18? Would he have scored more? He did have 44 goals in just 20 games. However each era needs to be measured with a slightly different yard stick. Some statisticians try and do that by normalizing game numbers, average offensive output etc. When you take the approach that Hockey Reference does, you'd learn the greatest season is Brett Hull's 86 goal season in 90-91. 90-91 Wasn't as offensively open as some seasons in the 80's and more offensive than anything in the past 20 years but his numbers would normalize to a 78 goal season which is the highest by 6 goals over Ovi's normalized 72 goal season in 07-08. 

Hull was a monster when he played much like his father and he was indeed an excellent passer and decent all-round player who'd end up on some Selke ballots in 02-03. Brett lead the NHL in goals 3 times and is 8th in goals per game all-time as well. 

Personally I like him higher than Dionne as if I needed one more spot to fill a one game win all line-up, Hull is that difference maker who could take over a game or seal the deal on the PP. However, he did have his weaknesses too and as a result isn't higher on my list as well. 

Thanks for stopping by, #28 is coming next. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Top 30 NHL Players of All-Time: #30

For the past couple years, a friend of mine and I have spent lots of time making lists. We both really enjoy reading them which in turn awakes a challenge of making one yourself. The lists have varied from movies to music to sports. I am going to share some of my results on here starting with my current one, The Top 30 NHL Players of All-Time.

For this list, I made my rankings based on a number of factors and a primary focus of wanting to look back on my list in 5 years and feel it still has held up well. However, given stars like McDavid, Matthews, Kucherov and others, their impacts have been huge thus far but too small a sample size to ASSUME they will remain healthy and on the same projection they currently are on. I have also included cards from my collection to make this fun for myself. In addition, I've been sharing my list on Twitter which I have included what I have already said but have been able to add a little more insight on here because I am not faced with character restrictions.

If a player made the NHL they were eligible for the list and I also included their international resume as well so that I was comparing complete careers as a whole.

#30. Marcel Dionne. Marcel didn’t accomplish as much as most HOFers in terms of awards but he did pile up stats galore. Marcel averaged the 5th most PPG (1.31) in NHL history and was a 4 time all-star. In 18 years he’d only play 49 playoff games but he’d have 45 points there.

1971-72 OPC Rookie

1992-93 OPC Alternate Rookie Autographed

When I started my list I had a larger list of players who I felt would make a case to make the top 30. Some spots were easier than others but where you make a "cut-off" is both difficult and important as you are saying this in the minimum of what it would take to make your list. Yes Dionne's resume is not as great as others but hockey is a team sport and it speaks as much about him as it does as his circumstances.

I can't imagine leaving someone who had scored 731 regular season goals and 1771 points off my list. Marcel would top 100 points 8 times in his career, 5 times of those placed him in the top 3 in the league. Internationally Marcel would represent Canada a number of times and put up very respectable numbers on those occasions. For his efforts he'd win a Canada Cup in 1976 and three bronze medals at the World Hockey Championship at a time when Canada didn't send their best and Russia had a pro team participating.

Why isn't he higher? To be honest, he has done nothing wrong in his career but hasn't done enough to separate himself from the players above. Still I have him ranked higher than Joe Thornton, Guy Lafleur, Sergei Fedorov and many other HOFers. I believe that Marcel is a player who was excellent in a time when the league was rough and if you moved him to any other era he would have been just as successful individually as he was in his career.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

18-19 Upper Deck SP Evan Bouchard /25

Despite my previous post about the gamble with opening product, the truth is I still buy the odd pack here or there but much of what you will see has occurred over the past year and a half (and at a rate significantly less that I have at any point in my life). If I do buy a product it's usually where the cost is low or the promise of reward is congruent with my beliefs. One product that came out at the end of last year was Upper Deck SP. Not to be confused with SP Authentic.

The analogy that I will use is think of SP Authentic as Coca-Cola or Pepsi. It's the name brand flashy version of soda and SP is the RC Cola or Great Value version. Both have their markets and I personally think both are great. However, SP Authentic carries a pretty high pack and box price where SP can be had for much less. SP delivers some neat rookies and rookie parallels and offers a nice bang for your buck which had me drawn in. While they don't have the resale value of SP Authentic's Future Watch, I personally wasn't buying packs for that.

I bought a couple packs from my local Walmart and was fortunate to his this card:

18-19 Upper Deck SP Evan Bouchard Rookie Authentics /25

Simple SP Authentic inspired design here, sticker auto which is a detractor for some but not me. It's very low print run is one think all people can get behind. 

I love the back. Stats, vitals and a guarantee. Can't ask for much more.

Evan Bouchard was drafted 10th overall in 2018 and is considered a blue-chip prospect. He put together an excellent junior career playing for the juggernaut London Knights in the OHL and you can see his second last season on the back of this card. He'd return for more "seasoning" where he'd score 53 points in 45 games and another 21 points in 11 playoff games and another 8 points in 8 playoff games with the Condors. This past season he played all his games in the AHL and has put up a very respectable 36 points in 54 games which is good enough for a tie for second in team scoring and tops among their d-men.

This success is far from a given as many players who have done well in junior have had trouble translating it to NHL success, especially when a player has benefitted from other talent on the team. For example, Aaron Berisha scored 45 goals one season with the Knights (good enough for second just behind Christian Dvorak) would never get drafted, play university hockey in Canada before heading to Austria.

When it comes to Evan, I think he will make it to the point he will be an NHL player for good and a good one at that. He has the potential to be the best defenseman on the Oilers or at the best least their go-to offensive defenseman. When you add him with the weapons they already possess you get the feeling they could be as good as Sid, Gino and Letang were and still are. Time will tell but I do feel good about this prediction. Thanks for stopping by and see you next post.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

In The Game Really Had Game

Since 1910 hockey cards have existed in many different configurations and the evolution over the past 110 years has shown collectors many advancements. Are those advancements good ones? Since 2000 when In The Game made history but cutting up history for their 2000-01 Be A Player Memorabilia Set collectors and fans have had mixed feelings. As a whole, I'd say it has been positive as many more sets would feature "memorabilia" pieces embedded in cards and there is a whole culture of collectors who live and breathe "APRs".

There has also been cards on CD, virtual cards and many other different iterations. Autographs on card, on sticker and even pieces of table clothes and banners from special NHL events. Personally, I like some of the changes but there are many I can live without. However, for ever fan out there who dislikes much of this stuff, there are others who use products like e-Pack all the time and strive to complete rainbows and chase "Bounties".

I have become disillusioned a bit by the many products that are out there today which really are just repeats of other ideas that were lukewarm received at best the first time. Is it laziness in companies like Upper Deck or is it just a case where collectors really only care about the top 5% players in the league and the rest are nothing more than just filler cards? Once upon a time the jersey card was a chase card which was the result of truly beating some incredible odds. Today even low production numbered jersey cards from high end products leave you with a card that may be worth no more than a couple bucks on the secondary market. Collecting isn't necessarily about the money but for a fan of someone like Duncan Keith, what motivation is there to drop 200 bucks on a box when you could just by that card for 5 bucks on eBay? The answer is simple, gambling. The hope you could land the $1000 autograph or rookie that box is potentially hiding.

As a person who has always loved vintage, this has just confirmed for me that vintage cards are one way to keep my passion going when it comes to the hobby and there really is no shortage of very cool and very fun vintage sets out there. However, not all modern cards are junk. I also have found myself appreciating the many cards that In The Game has put out over the years (specifically from 2000-2015). So today I am going to share one such card.

2009-2010 ITG Superlative Vol 2 Milt Schmidt Patch SP /15

The front of this card is what truly makes this a winner and for what the back is lacking in my opinion the front is making up for it. You get a good photo of Milt on the front and you are coupling it with an amazing patch which you can completely picture where it came from on his jersey. What you don't see is loads of foiling and modern embellishments which you get on many cards today. 

 Here is the back side of the card. Very plain and while I'd love to see something about Milt or at least some vitals, you are treated to a write up explaining what you are seeing on the front of the card. Try and find that on most modern cards today. I have both bought and pulled cards which did leave me puzzled wondering what article of clothing or gear was my "player worn" piece originated as when it was on the player.

As I finish up this post I want to make something very clear, I am not shitting on any one company or any one collector. If there is something out there you like/love, chase it, collect it and don't let the opinions of others diminish your enjoyment of that pursuit. For myself, I have changed over the past couple years and while I still appreciate the memorabilia card, the need to own 30-40 pieces of a single player definitely isn't there anymore. With that being said, please keep enjoying your finds and successes and I will continue to do so myself and share them on here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Forgotten Records

If you were to ask the typical NHL fame, many would be able to tell you who has the NHL record for most points in a game. Darryl Sittler's magical night happened Feb 7th 1976 when he scored 10 points (6G, 4A) against the Bruins. Sure many have come close but no one, not even the Great One equalled this number.

In the AHL, the single game record has stood for so long even the Leafs have won a Cup or three since then. Art Stratton put up an impressive 9 assist performance on St. Patrick's Day 1963 against the lowly Pittsburgh Hornets. Despite his impressive point per game production (1.14 ppg) based on 766 points in 669 ganes, he'd never get much time in the NHL.

This takes us now to the WHA. The most point in a WHA game record belongs to Jim Harrison who matched Sittler with an amazing 10 point performance (3G, 7A) against the New York Raiders nearly three years before Sittler's 10 spot. Jim being no stranger to setting records apparently set a record (I discovered while researching background on this) he scored the fastest natural hattrick in WHL history scoring 3 goals in 24 seconds.

1970-71 OPC Jim Harrison RC

Jim would have a better NHL opportunity than Art Stratton as he'd see 324 games of NHL action compared to 232 WHA games. While his NHL production wouldn't match his WHA, he'd put up some fine numbers including a career high of 41 points in just 60 games with the Blackhawks during the 76/77 season.

What are some forgotten records that stand out to you?