Friday, December 9, 2016

16-17 Artifacts Pavel Zacha Rookie /999

Continuing on the path of pairs, I have a pair of this particular card but rather than scan it two times and illustrate two different serial numbers I decided to just focus on one of them.

Year after year, Upper Deck releases the Artifacts brand early in the season and for me personally it's always a delight. The cost is usually around 100 CDN and what you get for your money is typically pretty solid. Before last year it was 10 packs per hobby box but now you only get 8 in a hobby box. In those 8 packs you pretty much are guaranteed a "hit" per pack. A hit in this case is essentially an insert, auto, game used, rookie/rookie redemption or a serial numbered card. For more discriminating collectors, you essentially get three game used/auto cards per box plus a rookie redemption so half your packs are going to at least make someone really smile. There are also some case hits including rookie signatures and other great value added items which make Artifacts loads of fun to rip.

What I love beyond all the hits etc, is the design that the base cards and rookies typically have year in and year out. I am going to focus on this Pavel Zacha rookie:

16-17 Artifacts Pavel Zacha Rookie /999
The design of the Artifacts rookies are usually very simplistic and easy on the eyes. The players are always the focus on the card and typically there are some foil accents added to the card. Each rookie is always serial numbered and they typically range from 699-999 depending on the number of rookies and if it's a live pull or a redemption pull. Even at 999 they are at least 5 times more rare than your standard Young Guns rookie. With that being said, not all collectors share my love of these cards and as a result they typically don't sell for more than their Young Gun counterparts and in fact are often a much more affordable alternative for collectors. For example, an Auston Matthews Artifacts redemption can be had for under 100 CDN on the secondary market meanwhile his Young Guns rookie will set you back more than 150 CDN typically. As much as this speaks to the strong following Young Guns rookies have, I also believe it speaks to the great value an Artifacts rookie has. Which rookie is right for you is entirely your decision. Budget sometimes says one rookie over another and sometimes a collector needs BOTH. What is neat to about some of the live rookies in Artifacts is the chance to get additional parallels like game used jerseys, patches or autos much like the Santini's I shared. 

Back side of the Artifacts rookies is equally easy on the eyes as the front. Very clean and easy design that isn't distracting in the least and you get a nice brief player write up as well as stats and a vitals. As you can see Pavel had a great start to his NHL career, this season has been a little less successful (a fair bit less than 2 points per game this year) but I have faith he will grow into an amazing two way player.

I really like the design of both Artifacts rookies and Young Guns this season and I plan on reviewing this year's Young Guns a little more closely in a future post. Thanks for stopping by, and I have a couple more different Artifacts Zachas to share with you another time as well.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Pair of Santinis

When the Devils drafted Steve Santini back in 2013 my thoughts immediately went to this guy.

Steve Santini is a magician, escape artist and a collector of the macabre. He was on a show called Deals from the Darkside where he would go and track down rare and unusual items from human history usually dark in nature. For example, torture devices, swords, guns and items tied to tragedies. I for one don't collect these items but I found the show fascinating and the history aspects were pretty cool and Steve did a great job sharing his vast knowledge.

Well safe to say by looking at him, he isn't a 21 year old hockey player. The Steve Santini the Devils drafted is a 6' 2" 208 lb defensive minded defenseman who won a few awards in college and represented Team USA at the World Hockey Championships this past spring. While he won't wow you with his offensive acuity, he is the type of defenseman that all championship teams need. Someone who will chew up 20+ minutes a night and win the battles for the puck in the defensive end. While Steve hasn't seen too much time with the big club yet, he will. These types of defensemen sometimes take a little more time to mature and I look forward to seeing him grow and mature into the shutdown defenseman I believe he can be. I think he has Mark Staal potential which will be a big help to a rebuilding Devils club. In honour of our two Steve Santini's, here are a couple cards I pick up in two separate trades.

16-17 Artifacts Gold Spectrum Steve Santini Rookie Patch /49
 When it comes to the New Jersey Devils in cardboard form, their patches don't get much nicer than these. Two great pieces and the gold foil shines wonderfully with this card. I might have over traded a bit to get this one but it was worth it for the patch quality.

16-17 Artifacts Emerald Steve Santini Rookie Patch Auto /35
This one is similar to the last but we lose one patch for a jersey and gain an autograph. Steve has a pretty unique auto using his S twice with his name. His signature is reasonably legible with it looking a bit like "Steve Satin" which could make for a neat nickname perhaps. I picked this one up as part of a twitter trade and Rene was so kind to send Steve along with a few other cards and some unexpected bonus card which I hope to share on here some day soon.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting the Steves. They wish you a great day and I do as well. The fun thing about a league with 500 players is there are always players like John Madden or Paul Martin who share their names with someone else famous. Does your club have one of these?

Friday, November 25, 2016

11-12 Crown Royale Mark Scheifele Auto Rookie

Some players are just like fine wine and get better with age. Of course when you are a first round draft choice and more particularly one picked in the top 10 sometimes teams and fans can get a little impatient with a player's development. Mark Scheifele is a player who seems to have always played ABOVE expectations and when it came time for the Jets to make their first selection in the 2011 draft, they surprised many by selecting Mark 7th overall. Going into the draft TSN had him ranked 12th below players like Sean Couturier and Dougie Hamilton. However, the Dale Hawerchuk connection I believe helped turn the Jets into believers in this former 7th round OHL draft pick.

In year 1 Mark Scheifele played in 7 games and scored just a single goal before being sent back to junior. Fans were understanding of the move for the most part and were warned he would take some time to develop. The following year the Jets decided that junior was still the best place for him and he tore up the junior rankings including a 41 point performance in just 21 playoff games. After that season, Mark found a home with the Jets where he managed to score 13 goals and 34 points as a rookie and then followed it up with 15 goals and 49 point during the 14-15 season. Last year was Scheifele's break out year and the league began to notice his offensive skills as he scored 29 goals and 61 points which was good enough for second on the team in points and first on the team in goals.

In what is now Mark Scheifele's 4th full NHL season, he seems to be pushing his game to the next level and is currently 3rd in NHL scoring with 23 points and is 5th in the NHL in goals with 11. While it is still early in the season and cold streaks will come, he is currently on pace to finish the year with 41 goals and 86 points which would make the Winnipeg Jets geniuses for drafting him 7th in 2011 because I am sure there are a few teams which picked BEFORE the Jets who might like a mulligan and a chance to pick him this time (I'm looking at you Ottawa and New York) could you imagine Mark Scheifele playing with John Tavares? I am willing to be JT would move to the wing to have MS at centre.

11-12 Crown Royale Mark Scheifele Auto Rookie
 While I have never really loved the die cut cards you get with Crown Royale, but I do love the on card autographs you do get with them. While this card isn't serial numbered it is still a pretty nice rookie of a future NHL superstar.

Here is the backside of the card. As you can see, Mark isn't a small lad and has time has gone by he has grown into that 6' 3" frame and now clocks in at 207 lbs which probably makes him much more difficult to stop now.

I have enjoyed the scoring race greatly so far this season at the 25% mark and can't wait to see how Crosby closes the gap and how some of the new comers to the top of the list fare as time goes by. Happy belated Thanksgiving to my fellow American readers and see you on the next post!

Monday, November 21, 2016

14-15 Upper Deck Trilogy Johnny Gaudreau Level 2 Radiant Blue Rookie Auto /225

Last week there were a number of stars that went down with serious injuries. I am not going to cry about the accidental ones because "shift" happens in the NHL and as long as players are going down due to hockey plays and not strange Ricky Henderson-esc stupidity then I can live with that. However, one of the injuries was preventable and I was pretty disappointed when I heard/saw the results of the Wild/Flames game. 21 slashes was the total count apparently and none drew a penalty and in the end Johnny Hockey will be Johnny Armchair for the next several weeks. I have played enough hockey and watched well over a thousand games to know that "taps" are apart of the game. But when you watch that one, it wasn't just random taps, there were players clearly targeting his hands and that is where I draw the line and am disappointed that nothing more was done. Heck, they care more about diving and crap like that which leads to a talented player having his hand/fingers (which is how he plays his game) broken. Truly sad in a time where the league has said in the last decade that they wanted to clamp down on dangerous plays etc.

You want to increase scoring NHL? How about call a few more penalties which will lead to power plays when this stuff happens and keep players like Johnny Hockey in the game and not on the IR.
Rant over, now time for cardboard!

14-15 Upper Deck Trilogy Johnny Gaudreau Level 2 Radiant Blue Rookie Auto /225

Over the past few season I have really enjoyed the Trilogy rookies and this is another example of a great looking card. This is a beauty in person and when the like strikes the foilboard background it is a rainbow of delights! Nice limited print run too with a legible sticker auto.

Here is the backside of the card. I again appreciate Upper Deck including stats and vitals on the backs of these cards. I don't believe the large congratulations is necessary and more could be done back here but in all still a great piece of eye candy that I enjoy as part of my collection. 

Thanks for enduring the rant and stopping by. What are your thoughts on all the players going down? Has your team been affected yet?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

08-09 Upper Deck Cory Schneider Young Gun

As a person who has been a Devils fan since 1987 I have been pretty lucky to have missed the very early years and most of the time the Devils had Martin Brodeur and some guy backing him up. Don't get me wrong, I love our history and I fondly remember Chris Terreri, Craig Billington, Rollie Melanson and of course Sean Burke. But, with that being said Martin was the man for so many seasons it is still even strange this day to look at our club with all of its players and see someone other than Marty in goal.

The past few seasons have been tough but one area where we still have been very blessed is in goal and I find it strange that internally I don't have this drive to try and grab up everything Cory. His numbers are remarkable and the games he keeps us in each night or even steals are just fabulous for the Devils organization which has lead me to ask myself, why am I not goo-goo for Schneider's cards? I honestly don't know why, but I do have a few of his autographs and game used cards and here is just my third Schneider rookie!

08-09 Upper Deck Cory Schneider Young Gun
The first Schneider rookie I ever got was one I pulled from a pack of OPC. Then about a year or two ago I picked up this auto rookie. I knew eventually I would cross paths with his Young Gun and alas I can say I have one and it's a very nice card when you see it for yourself. I don't think I really had "looked" at one until this one arrived in my collection. Looks like the Canucks were in town to face the Blue Jackets. I love the hovering puck!

So with this card in the collection, I don't want to say I am done with Cory but I don't see myself running out and trading the farm to add any more or saving up for months to try and buy a The Cup rookie. However, should someone offer me one for trade and the deal sounds right I just might. I guess you could call me a causal Schneider collector but I assure you despite that title, I am a big fan of what he has done for the club and hope that he will get us back into the playoffs!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

11-12 The Cup Keith Kinkaid Auto Patch Rookie /249

Countless pundits in the hockey world begin this season by saying the Devils will finish dead last. When I would read these articles I would just shake my head and think that their predictions were a little harsh and off the mark. For those of you that follow the game closely might even remember that on Jan 1st the Devils were actually in a playoff spot nearly 1/2 way through the season. Then our depth was exposed when Mike Cammalleri was injured and missed the rest of the season and Cory Schneider also went down with injury in March and missed 11 games. This isn't a team that I think would be projected to be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference the following season after trading for Taylor Hall.

Fast forward to 13 games into this season and the Devils are a respectable 7-3-3. True there are many more games to be played but we have managed to get that record thus far and really haven't shown signs of slowing down. The Devils have relied on a combination of timely scoring and great goaltending in particular from BOTH goalies. To do well this season we will need our young players to continue to develop and guys like Hall, Henrique, Severson, Zajac and Palmieri to continue to produce offensively. Last night was a great character win over the Buffalo Sabres which had the Devils winning 2-1 in OT after being down 1-0 early. Keith Kinkaid played very well stopping 25/26 shots on the road where the Devils have struggled a bit this season. On the year Kinkaid is a very respectable 2-0-1 with a 1.65 g.a.a and a .944 save percentage. He will be expected this year more than ever to get us wins if we are hoping to make the post season. In honour of his great start to the season, here is a little Kinkaid gem I picked up. 

11-12 The Cup Keith Kinkaid Auto Patch Rookie /249
As with all The Cup rookies, you get a nice on card autograph and in most cases you also get a patch from a player worn jersey and this one has the Devils three colours. As you can see, the photo has Keith sporting his Union College helmet and the number 30 which of course was his College number and in honour of his idol Martin Brodeur. Keith wears #1 for the Devils which was one worn by another great former Devils goalie....J-F Damphousse....just kidding (ok he actually did) but I am referring to Sean Burke!

Thanks for stopping by and putting up with a little Devils rant!

Monday, November 7, 2016

11-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Cam Talbot Auto Rookie /499

As much as I love buying single cards with a purpose or strategy sometimes it is nice to just break a box and see what lady luck has in store for you. A couple years ago, I bought two boxes of Rookie Anthology and did pretty well. One card I hit wasn't terribly exciting at the time but I always liked the look of the card.

11-12 Panini Rookie Anthology Cam Talbot Auto Rookie /499
Perhaps it's all the blue on this card that I was drawn to or just the nice design, either way I could never bring myself to want to trade it to a Rangers fan (had chances to do so). After I pulled this card and thought to myself, 'hey this is a decent looking card', I went onto Hockeydb to see who he even was and if there was potential for awesomeness in him. What I saw was pretty lackluster. Still I learned that we shared the same birthday so I figured what the heck let's put this in the collection.

Less than 2 years later Cam was proving himself a very capable backup for the Rangers going 12-6-1 with a 1.64 g.a.a and an amazing 0.941 save percentage. He would follow it up with another great season winning 21 games and that success had the Oilers believing in him and they made a trade with the Rangers to acquire him. Fast forward to this year and the Oilers are thankful for that deal because the 29 year old goaltender from Caledonia, ON is off to a 8-3-1 start with the Oilers and they could find themselves in the playoffs before this season is over.

I love how collecting can sometimes have you rooting for the oddest players for the oddest reasons and for me it was all because I liked the look of this card and we happened to share the same birthday! Have any of you had sometime similar happen? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

15-16 UD Exquisite Mikko Rantanen Auto RC /249

UD Exquisite is one of those value added insert sets that UD puts into their high end product much like they would do on occasion with UD Ice etc. They are a very nice card and when I saw a few out on the market I decided I might try my luck and see if I could find one. At the same time, I was reading lots of press about the potential Mikko Rantanen possessed and given the Avalanche are on the rise once again I could see his and the team's success tied together. In the end I was able to mix those two together and I ended up with this:

15-16 UD Exquisite Mikko Rantanen Auto RC /249

A great looking card with on-card auto and "Artifacts-esc" design. I've always like what UD did with their Artifacts product so going for this card seemed very natural with my collecting habits. His signature isn't the worst out there but apart from an "M" and a 96 the rest is up to the imagination.

Here's the back side of the card. Much like their The Cup cards, I see a good mix of stats and congratulations which is always appreciated by this collector. As you can see, Mikko is a large lad and I believe with him the saying "You can teach a player to skate and shoot but you can't teach a player to be taller" definitely applies to his potential. I think the sky's the limit and he could be as good as he is willing to work.

As time goes by, I can definitely see Mikko developing into a first line player and a 70-80 point producer. In recent days he has been called up and is practicing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon after injuring his ankle in the preseason and playing 4 games in the AHL.  Last season he lead the Rampage in scoring with 60 points despite only playing 52 of 76 games and finished 9th in league scoring. As we all know, AHL success doesn't always mean NHL success but I'm hopeful and am wishing Mikko the best of luck this season. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Wow, has it been 800 posts already? Let's celebrate with the best modern day card IMHO.

When I started this blog nearly 7 years ago, I didn't have much in the way of expectations. I thought I might share a few packs, a few finds and perhaps make a few trades. Instead I have exceeded all those expectations of myself and 800 posts and many new friends later I wanted to bring myself back to the point where my collecting really began.  1990-91 Upper Deck.

Modern day cards in my opinion really began in 1990 when there was a huge collecting boom and it wasn't just Topps or OPC as options. In those 26 years, so many different card companies have come and gone and many set ideas and designs have also succeeded and failed. I want to use this post to share my favourite card created since 1990 and perhaps call it the best card in the past 30 years.

1990-91 Upper Deck #241 Wayne Gretzky Promo
When I started collecting cards everyone was gaga for Upper Deck. The little holograms on the back, the insert stereograms and rookies galore were the draw of these cards. Even their "tamper-proof" packs offered something different than previous card companies products. This was a set to be "invested" into to. Time flies and sadly there are more Roenick and Jagr rookies to go around to all who want them and it wasn't exactly the investment people thought. Partially because the number of people collecting cards hasn't really matched what they were back then and secondly production run was probably a "little" higher than the demand. With that being said, I just remember going to store and seeing the 90-91 UD Low series box on the shelf and I would get butterflies in my tummy wondering who I might open in that pack. 400 cards made up the low series and another 150 were added to the high series. Despite all the packs I would open, one card on the box was never in the packs and that was the Wayne Gretzky promo. I remember seeing that card on the box and I thought, wow that is a cool looking card. Wayne in all black almost looked like he was part of "The Empire" and the look on his face is much like the Mona Lisa. Is Wayne smiling? What is he thinking?

The card had me hooked and when I saw the Gretzky in the pack, dressed in his white "home jersey", I was let down. Don't get me wrong, the regular base Gretzky is a nice card but I wanted my all black Gretzky. As time went by, I would add cards and complete both the low and high series sets. I can't remember the last card I needed to complete the high series but the last card I did need to finish the low series was Ed Belfour. Later in life, during my second incarnation as a collector I was able to land my Wayne Gretzky promo. In fact, I was able to pick up two!

What makes this card so perfect in my opinion is the front, there is no fault I could find with the card. It truly is a work of art that I hope to turn into a work of art and someday I hope to share the final product if all goes well! The backside is able to support my claims as well. The photo on the back shows a home game where Wayne emerges from a scrum/war which has John Tonelli being mugged by Dean Kennedy and Wayne leaving with what I believe are his eyes locked on the puck. I even love the view you get of Wayne's iconic Titan TPM 2020 and Daoust skates.

For the keen eyed, there is a small error on the back too which is just icing on the cake if you ask me as the notation for feet and inches are inverted and list Wayne as 6" 0'. Also in view on the back is the greatest regular season point total the NHL has ever seen 215 points in 80 game. When you combine all the factors above, and the fact that there are no "gimmicks", or swatches or anything added to this card, it is one of my absolute favourite cards of all-time and in my opinion the best card made since 1990. What are your thoughts? Do you have a favourite modern day card?

Thanks goes out to all of you who read my posts and an extra special thanks to those who comment and have reached out to me over the years to make trades or chat cards. All the best and here hopes I have another 800+ posts in me!  

10-11 Zenith Derek Stepan Rookie Roll Call Jersey

Normally I don't card too much for Rangers and steer clear of them, this particular one I grabbed because of what Derek did at the 2010 WJHC where he scored 14 points in just 7 games. He out scored Hall and Eberle along with many other current NHLers.

10-11 Zenith Derek Stepan Rookie Roll Call Jersey
Just a simple Nufex card that looks pretty cool in person. I wouldn't have spent 2 dollars on this card at all so thankfully I was able to land it for 1.50! This year Derek is off to a bit of a slow start but I feel he is due for a break out year and Ranger fans likely agree so best of luck Derek and hopefully you take it easy on my Devils!

Friday, October 21, 2016

13-14 National Treasures Adam Henrique Treasured Steel /5

Speaking of skates....I have a bit more of Mr. Henrique's skates and here it is!

13-14 National Treasures Adam Henrique Treasured Steel /5
This card is both thick and HEAVY. I am in awe of this card and every time I look at it I smile. The design on the front is very simplistic and while the absence of colours can hurt some designs, I believe it works really really well here. Just black, silver and white is essentially all you see here (with the exception of his face). I wonder if they ever considered a black and white photo?

My lone complaint is the blade is actually upside down and I would have preferred the curved part that touched the ice to be down. There is a plastic cover over the card for those wondering so you can't touch the steel directly.

Here is the back side of the card. Again a very simplistic and clean design. The red really pops out in the Devils emblem and the story on the back is a cool one. For those interested in a little extra reading, here is a blog post by Panini America which talks about this particular insert set. Thanks for stopping by, no more Henrique skate pieces next time, I promise!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sometimes you need to pick up a second copy of a card you already have...

Ok, maybe you don't need to, but have you ever done so? In the world of autographs, serial numbers and memorabilia swatches sometimes no two cards are alike and in this case that is definitely true which is why I went and picked up a second copy of this card:

13-14 Panini Prime Adam Henrique Prime Skates /25
So I guess of the print run of 25 I own 8%! My first one I picked up a few years ago when the product was first released and it featured just a black piece of his skate with no markings or writing. Then I saw this one a little while back and what a beauty. I love seeing the lace holes, my only complaint is the missing metal but what the hey, it's still very cool. Both cards are neat in their own way and together work very well in my collection if you ask me!

Thanks for stopping by and hope your NHL team is off the the start you were hoping for!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Thanks to Chris and the Joy of a Completed Set!

After all of these years (nearly 7...) I am still humbled by how cool collectors are out there and how willing they are to help each other out. I received a message about this card a little while back and after exchanging some info, it arrived in the mail just a few days later. 

1980-81 OPC #385 Richard Sevigny Rookie 
 Here is what the front of the card looks like.

Here is the back side.
Richard clearly was no Ken Dryden in terms of stature or ability but he still stood between me and a completed 80-81 OPC set. While I already had the Topps set complete, there were so many cool and important cards in the OPC set that I felt it was worth chasing. This card was the final card I needed to complete my 80-81 OPC set. The set I have which I will share at a later date is in very nice shape and to have my final card be a relatively low value card in great shape is a nice end to a project that started in some ways when I first bought my Pierre Hamel card and ended on a trade with a fellow collector some 25-26 years later.

Chris was so kind to also include some great Colorado Rockies team sets from the 70's as well which I will share at a later date. Thank you very much for this, I will be sending you an email in the next couple days which some card ideas to thank you and hopefully make you are happy as I was opening my package.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A mystery solved and major thanks!

SO about a month ago I received a package in the mail that I wasn't expecting. I hadn't bought anything and the package itself was of an unusual size. Of course my next thought is someone has been very thoughtful and sent me a package but when I look at the return address, it doesn't jump out at me as one of the usual "offenders".

Inside there were a number of items including a business card of a company I didn't recognize but upon further research they were affiliated with a company I bought stuff from before so I figured maybe they did some data mining and they were fishing for sales. In the end, I decided this mystery wasn't solved and I was going to put up a post asking for the sender to identify themselves so I could properly thank them.

Well time passes and one day out of the blue I get an email from my friend and fellow blogger Sal from and he asks me if I received the stickers in the mail. Immediately I thought, no I didn't get anything from you yet, am I to expect something and then I remember the mystery pack and ask him if he had anything to do with that. Sure enough Sal did which makes WAY more sense because the first thing I have listed is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received especially given my history of cheering for the New Jersey and how I selected them as my team (a story for another day).

Complete Team of New Jersey Devils players for a Rod Control Hockey Game
The 8 year old version of me would be in tears if I could have had this gift as a child. Sadly it came many years too late but that doesn't diminish it's awesomeness. The game is long gone but these stickers could potentially find themselves on a game before I die or at the very least an enjoyed part of my collection. I love the goaltender the most, it almost looks like Chico Resch. There was even a sticker for the puck which I can't remember if my set had one or not. I did have the deluxe version which had it's own legs and a clock/scoreboard at centre ice where you'd drop the puck through a hole in the top for faceoffs. 

Super Sticker '96 Martin Brodeur
No idea what set this is from or exactly how it was to be used. From what I can tell on the back there were instructions like it attached to some popout or something. The image of Marty and his signature are both die cut and could be removed which is pretty cool. The size of the sticker isn't much different than your traditional Panini sticker for those that are curious.

88-89 Panini Sticker Pack
The last item in the package was a pack of 88-89 Panini Stickers. I haven't opened the pack as of yet and am learning towards not opening it and just enjoyed it as is. The coolness of an unopened pack for me outweighs the potential success of hitting a rookie like Hull or Shanahan etc. I like seeing the shots of Mario at such a young age with so much of his HOF career ahead of him.

Well there you have it, I had a mystery and now it's solved. In hindsight I should have known Sal had something to do with it and to be honest I wasn't surprised when the connection was made that it was him but at the same time I am humbled that he would take some knowledge and go through all the trouble he did to make this happen. Thank you very very much, I don't ever imagine getting a surprise package beating the sentimental value contained in this one. Thank you :)

Thanks for stopping by, another nice package coming up in my next post!

Friday, September 23, 2016

15-16 Trilogy Signature Pucks Nikita Kucherov Auto

It is difficult in today's era to "miss" a rookie when you look at the sheer number of autos and rookies the card companies pump out with each set but sometimes a star slips through the cracks. One classic example is Jonathan Quick. Try and find one of his rookies, you will see a few out there and the prices are insane on them. Try and find his auto rookie and you will find none. The reason is he's in so few sets and some of those sets have very small print runs making it difficult to land his cards because there is so much competition for them. 

Nikita Kucherov isn't exactly at the same level, but his rookies are relatively limited and there are no auto rookies that were printed during his rookie year. What makes that crazy is you look at some of the other auto rookies from that particular year 13-14 and you are left wondering wtf? Kucherov was a second round pick so there were some expectations but both Panini and Upper Deck didn't track him down or include him in any of their autograph sets/subsets. Since then Upper Deck had him sign some Young Guns for their buyback set but it still isn't the same.

It would be two seasons before Kucherov's auto would be available in packs and even this one below was in there was a redemption. It seems the card companies aren't the only ones at fault as Mr. Kucherov might be difficult to reach too. When this redemption finally arrived I was pleased to see it as I have grown into quite a fan while following the Tampa Bay Lightning and the best part is we may not have seen his ceiling as of yet! After scoring 30 goals this past season, Kucherov light up the playoffs scoring 11 goals in 17 games. I honestly see him settling into a 35-40 goal and 75 point per season kind of player and when combined with all the other Tampa talent, this is a team that will go far. 

15-16 Trilogy Signature Pucks Nikita Kucherov Auto
The puck signing things started back in the old Sweet Shot sets and it looks like it's here to stay in the Trilogy sets. While I'd love to have an auto rookie, not having access to any true ones, this card certainly is a nice consolation prize. I like that there are no stickers here but I am willing to guess that he likely signed a pile of "pucks" and then they were glued into place when they arrived at Upper Deck. Either way, I still like this card and perhaps I will land myself a more traditional auto of Nikita Kucherov some time in the future! Thanks for stopping by, my next post will be a mystery I was faced with and recently solved thanks to a follow collector!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

09-10 SPx Brad Marchand Auto Rookie /799

With the win yesterday, Team Canada is on to the finals and if you told me this time last year Brad Marchand would be on the team I would have had two thoughts. Really? and Good for him! After this past season and the World Championships I would have been disappointed if he had been left off the roster because as much as I'd love to see the best pure offensive players Team Canada has to offer, we still need to work both ends of the ice and kill penalties. So far this tournament Brad Marchand has been excellent and completely deserving of his spot on the team and on the line with Bergereon and Crosby.

09-10 SPx Brad Marchand Auto Rookie /799
09-10 was the last season before Upper Deck would have a joint license with Panini so if you're an Upper Deck fan, there were plenty of options for Marchand rookies. I already had a couple before getting this one, most notably was my Young Gun. I used to have a Marchand auto as well but I traded that away for some HOF autos so I was hopeful that I would eventually land another and this was the one that came my way as a replacement.

Brad definitely has one of the more interesting autos out there with his number 63 the only legible aspect on this particular auto. Other times you can see Brad but his last name in my experience is more difficult to decipher.

As far as Marchand goes, I have been a fan of him to some degree since his junior days. I remember seeing him play for the Mooseheads and I would see him do things on the ice no other players would (with the puck) and of course he is still known for doing this other players wouldn't (without the puck). Seeing him have this success is nice being a Nova Scotian and I wish him the best of luck for the rest of this tournament and the rest of his career. He's truly a player in the mould of Claude Lemieux or Esa Tikkanen and when it comes to building a winning team, sometimes you need one or two of these guys. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

When you are done checking out this card can you pass the syrup?

I have posted a few Bee Hive cards over the years and while I will never ever chase this set, I do love the cards and have gone looking for a couple over the years. I have nearly all the Delvecchio ones except the one very very rare Group 3 one and now I have his former goaltender.

1944-1963 Bee Hive Group 2 Terry Sawchuk (Stick blade cropped)
The card isn't in mint condition but I would consider this very respectable and the backside is clean and adhesive free which is pretty uncommon given the fact many of these cards were glued into albums of some kind.

What is interesting about a set that spanned nearly 20 years is whenever a player got traded, they just slapped a new photo and kept pumping out cards. Terry Sawchuk had three versions come out during this set. One is super rare and is worth 4 figures and they other two have been produced in large enough quantities that their value is rather small compared to the significance of the player and the age of the card. Whether the blade has been cropped or not doesn't matter much to me because in either case I believe this was the photo used to make this card:

The photo of his rookie and the Bee Hive appear to have come from the same original photo which is pretty awesome in my opinion and adds to the cool factor of the Bee Hive card. Some day I hope to track down a nice Sawchuk rookie for my Parkhurst project and have both of these cards in my hand at the same time.

For those who have never seen these before, here is one version of the checklist that you would use to mail away for your Bee Hive "card".

The back side looks like this:

What is neat about the checklist is it would change and players would be added, altered or subtracted from the list as the years would go by. The source I grabbed these photos from claim it's from the 1962 Season. If you look closely, poor Terry's last name is spelled incorrectly as "Sawchuck". Definitely not the last time that's happened.

As far as my future goes with collecting this set I would like to add a few more players and perhaps a checklist before I would say I'm all done. Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull are must haves I believe and I wouldn't mind getting a few other players who were born in Fort William/Port Arthur aka Thunder Bay before I am going to say I'm done with Bee Hives.

Do you have any Bee Hives in your collection? Have you ever had the syrup? It's fantastic on waffles if you haven't tried it yet. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

11-12 Canada Vs The World or 15-16 ITG/Leaf The Vault Duncan Keith Auto

I've posted a few Vault cards on here and I don't even know what to call them any more. Lets just say it's a Duncan Keith auto and be done with it.

11/12 or 15-16 Canada Vs The World Duncan Keith Auto

Apparently this card has been sitting under a rock or in a vault for the past number of years and ITG/Leaf decided to let it out into the public after branding it with a V. I am more than willing to look past everything and just treat this as a cool card of an amazing defenseman who appears to be in a Team Canada uniform. Duncan Keith is also my son's favourite player and it's my hope to send out a pair of TTM requests to Mr. Keith from each of us seeing if we could potentially get another auto or two to add to this one.

Sadly as Canada is set to play the USA tonight, Duncan Keith is recovering from injury and pulled out of the World Cup which leaves us without a pretty amazing option on the back end. However, we do have depth at all positions which has been evident as we've been playing without Seguin, Benn, Keith and many other snubbed All-Stars. I want to wish Duncan a speedy recovery and I hope this season he is able to get back to the level he wants to play at and has continued success. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy tonight's game and this card! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Has it been 35 Seasons Already?

Back during the 1991-92 season, Upper Deck released a few 8.5 x 11 cards including this one below which is for Devils fans and commemorates their 10th anniversary in the NHL. I can't remember all the other cards released but as you can see from this one, fans at the Blackhawks vs Devils game on December 21st 1991 would have received one of these cards. I'm not sure what happened to any extras or if there were other ways to get this card but giveaways like these are always cool in my opinion. I looked the game up on Hockey Reference and it looks like they battled to a 1-1 draw.  

That was of course 25 years ago which would make this their 35th anniversary and I curious to see if the Devils do anything to celebrate that this season or if the rebuild means we will just continue business as usual and maybe have something worth celebrating in 5 years.

1991-92 Upper Deck Devils vs Blackhawks Commemorative All-Star Sheet /24000
What I like about this sheet is you get a bunch of cards pictured that weren't apart of the 91-92 Upper Deck Set. What I also love is they are in *All-Star uniforms and players like Walt Poddubny and John MacLean are getting a little love. This card was a must have for me and when I found it on eBay I threw a bid at it and was the only bidder winning it for 0.99 plus shipping! This card is now framed in my office since it is a blank back card anyway and will soon be hanging on the wall once I finish decorating my office.

*Worth pointing out, if you look closely at the photos, the colour of the players gloves gives you an idea which team they were actually playing for in the NHL during the time the photo was taken. Walt was with the Leafs for example or Stastny was with the Nords.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy Belated Birthday To The Devils Greatest Coach...

Leading all head coaches in Devils history with wins it's Jacques Lemaire with 276 wins in the regular season plus a Stanley Cup in 1995 as head coach. As much as I loved all the Devils Cup wins, the first one was probably the most memorable and important as it turned our franchise from a Mickey Mouse one to a legitimate organization. This past week was Jacques' 71st birthday and I hope he is having a good time as the Special Assignment Coach with the Leafs. 

2012-13 ITG Forever Rivals Autos Jacques Lemaire

Oddly missing from my collection for a very long time was Lemaire's auto. I have autos from pretty much every member of that Cup winning team except the head coach (perhaps a few others I really should check). I came across this about 7-8 months ago at the LCS when the owner said he got a huge binder of these in and was looking to move them. I'm sure I could have found a home for all of them but this was the only one I bought. Now that I have this one crossed off, it takes care of part of my HOF project with him and my informal "let's get all the '95 Devils autos".

The card itself is a nice on card auto in red ink. I don't have many red ink autos but given it's the main colour for the Devils and Habs I believe it's very appropriate to use it on this card. In all this was a very well done product by ITG despite no license. As the years have gone by I have been less and less into ITG for reasons I am not too sure of. Leaf seems to be running the ship and oddly I see less and less of their stuff in the LCS and in the media in general. Have you noticed that too? Or is it just where I live and it's more prevalent in the USA now? I'm curious to hear your thoughts and as always, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

13-14 Select Reid Boucher Cracked Ice Rookie

Shane from Shoebox Legends has had some posts over the years involving shiny cards and I am often loved seeing them and when I looked at my own collection I see very few. I decided to take matters into my own hands and track down a nice and shiny card which features junior scoring ace Reid Boucher. 

13-14 Select Reid Boucher Cracked Ice Rookie
These cards might not carry loads of value, the way the light catches the surface of this card makes it cool to admire and appreciate on some many other levels. I can see a complete set of these being a pretty amazing experience to flip through but in the meantime I'll enjoy this one for all it is.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Back Checking - 79-80 OPC/Topps Bob Sauve

So as most hockey and baseball collectors know, Topps and OPC for the most part have been siblings in the card world. Depending on the sport, one is more desirable than the other and Topps was the American thing to do and OPC was the Canadian. With OPC when it comes to hockey, you usually had a larger set, you traditionally got a dose of French with your card and the card stock was lighter in colour and the cards were often poorly cut.

In 1979-80 Wayne Gretzky's rookie year, both sets had some similarities and differences based on a few factors but in all the first 264 cards in the set were mostly the same. To accommodate the new franchises, Topps made a single card and OPC made several introducing fans to the team's logo and players in the set.

While skimming through my Topps and OPC sets I found a neat difference by accident. Check it out!

1979-80 Topps Bob Sauve
Here is the front of the Sauve card in Topps form. As you can see, the card is cleanly cut and the blue is very bright and other colours are clearly define as well . IF we were just looking at the front of the card, Topps always wins hands down.

1979-80 OPC Bob Sauve
The OPC offering isn't as easy on the eyes. The colours are more faded/muted and this card features a pretty typical off-centre cut that OPC was notorious for especially in the late 70's and early 80's.

1979-80 Topps Bob Sauve
Here is the back side to the Topps card, darker card stock than the OPC version below but what I want to draw your attention to is the comic. I guess instead of having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, Bob kept his on the posts but made a habit of cutting them off! As a math teacher getting ready to go back to work next week, there have been countless times I have had students measure "angels" when attempting trigonometry and I always make a point on how to correctly spell angles but sadly it still is often spelled incorrectly. Apparently this artist on this card had the same issues as some of my past students.

1979-80 OPC Bob Sauve
What I find cool about the OPC version is when they went to translate to French or potentially immediately following the Topps release they fixed the spelling on "angles" and it appears correct on this card. From what I can tell, I don't think they ever changed it on the Topps version so it would technically be an UER because from what I can tell the Beckett Hockey doesn't have it even listed as an error so for there to be two versions is pretty unlikely.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, it has been ages since I did a back checking post so hopefully you enjoyed its resurrection!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

83-84 Vachon Foods Wayne Gretzky

Today's post features a card that I found in my LCS about a year ago and was one that I thought I had seen before in my life but completely forgot about it and very well might have never seen more than once. 

When I first saw this card I am pretty impressed, I knew it was from the 80's based on a few obvious characteristics and when I looked at the back I saw a neat fact and that was it was from the 83-84 season. If you are a collector of hockey cards you should recognize that this card design is a tiny bit similar to a pretty important set from the 80's in particular the famous 85-86 OPC/Topps set which is home to Mario Lemieux's rookie. There are differences too which means that one isn't a rip off of the other but there are still enough similarities that made me wonder if OPC/Topps were inspired by this release. Either way, I loved this card and was able to walk out with it for well under the price of a blaster.

83-84 Vachon Foods #26 Wayne Gretzky
On the front you see a nice framed photo of Wayne in action and I find myself drawn right to the photo every time I look at this card. I love the Titan 2020 stick in the photo and the look on Wayne's face as he is preparing to either take a pass or steal the puck. The design on the bottom with his name and number looks great with the rest of this card.

Here is the backside and again you have a well designed card. No yearly stats but two write ups in Canada's official languages and vitals at the top. There really isn't anything I can complain about when I look at this card and I love that I haven't seen hundreds of these in my life which means they are at least reasonably rare.

While I am not typically a collector of cards from random and obscure sets, a Gretzky card from the 80's with a fantastic design was something I couldn't leave behind. Combine that with the fact that this card is pretty much as close to mint as the 80's have to offer at a price less than half of book I knew at the very least it would make great trade bait. However, even as I write this my appreciation for how cool this card is might have been keeping it for good. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My First Vintage Card Ever

As some of my long time readers know and new ones will learn, my first ever hockey cards came from a pack of 1990-91 Pro Set. More specifically, this card is my first card I ever got since it was at the top of the pack. What most of you probably don't know if for the first few months I was collecting I got a few packs here and there every couple of weeks but the bug really didn't set in until the season was underway and I was buying packs for myself. My step-father was beginning to get into collecting too and was buying the odd pack and single and we would swap and compare and I fell in love with the 90-91 Upper Deck Low Series and worked towards completing that set.

Every now and again I would go into an actual card shop instead of a convenience store and really get a chance to see some cards. Most in the display cases were cards from the 80's and many had price tags that weren't paper route friendly. However, one night I remember my step-father and I were out driving someone and he had heard some convenience store had a few singles in it and asked me to go in and take a look. At this stage my collection was all 1990's stuff and was pretty small in size, maybe a couple hundred cards at most and he didn't have any more than I did either. So I went inside and in a glass display case right by the potato chips and junk food were some cards. I honestly couldn't tell you which ones were in that case given it was 25+ years ago, but I did see one card that was very affordable and just spoke to me for some reason:

1980-81 OPC Pierre Hamel RC

It was one of the oldest cards in the case and I just thought it looked pretty cool. The price was 75 cents and having had more than enough change in my pocket it was a transaction I was pleased to make.

 Here is the back of the card and as you can see, Pierre wasn't exactly Ken Dryden. The card itself isn't even in that great of shape, but it was in one of  those card saver card holders and I was just happy to own an "old" card.  (As an aside, I actually have been trying to finish this set over the past couple years and am down to just one card!! I will share the set whenever I manage to get it. I decided to include this Hamel in my set which makes it a little more fun and personal.)

I would buy the card and come back outside and tell my step-dad there were some things inside so he came in and I can't remember if he bought anything or not. I would look at this card 100's of times over the coming days and eventually add many more older/vintage cards. Many of my friends would focus on trying to grab a Lindros RC etc but I will give the 11 year old version of me credit, I balanced my spending between pre-90 and post-90 cards which to be honest is probably how I still collect today.

While the internet has softened the value of the cards from the 80's and no one is retiring off their collections, I do love the design of many of these sets and the memories I have from collecting them. I specifically remember my step-dad and I going splits on a Rack Box of 1982-83 OPC. The box cost us $500 at the time which was a lot for a 12 year old to come up with half of but I did and enjoyed breaking that box. We each got a full set and I was allowed to keep all the doubles which I still have to this day and all are in near-mint condition or better (except the miscuts). Of course in hindsight the smart move would have been to never open the stuff but it was fun and it's an important set for that reason.

Anyway, this was one of those posts for my kids to read down the line and thank you for stopping by and sharing in my memory.

Do you have any recollection of your first vintage cards or did you happen to just collect when it was the "good old days"?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

On This Day 28 Years Ago....

The greatest player ever to play hockey was traded and eventually one of the most iconic non-rookie cards from the 80's was born.

For those who aren't in the know, Wayne Gretzky who was smashing just about every NHL offensive record was traded to the LA Kings for a number of players and draft picks and $25 million dollars. The key piece other than the money was Jimmy Carson who in all fairness was a fledgling superstar. Jimmy was the second overall pick in the 1986 and already had a 55 goal season in just his second year in the NHL. Alas poor Jimmy made the mistake of demanding a trade out of Edmonton after putting up great numbers in his first year with the club and his career was never the same after that.

Wayne on the other hand excelled in LA and made stars into superstars.

The above card is often known as the Gretzky sweater card in the 88-89 Topps set. What is most interesting about this card to me is it's place in history and it's place among collectors. Once upon a time, the 88-89 OPC and Topps sets were heavily coveted during the collecting explosion of the early 90's, I remember the Hull Topps rookie trading for about 50 dollars and the OPC pushing 150 dollars. However, thanks to the bubble bursting and the internet, many prices of 80's cards have dropped steadily over the past 20 years instead of increasing in value like so many envisioned and hoped for. What I find very cool is the value of this particular card hasn't changed and is actually the highest listed card in the 88-89 Topps set ($20 dollars). It's more valuable than a Brett Hull rookie, Brendan Shanahan rookie or even a Joe Nieuwendyk rookie. Wayne Gretzky's 9th year card is more valuable than each of those three Hall of Famer's rookie cards.

Here is the back side of the card.

What is also impressive is the Gretzky Sweater card is considered even more valuable than it's OPC counterpart.

 See anything missing on this card? Compare the two and look by the push pin!

OPC decided to run with a different photo than the Topps card and went with a posed photo of Wayne wearing his Kings jersey and forever changed the 88-89 release. Collectors appreciate Wayne in uniform but it seems that the Topps card from the news conference trumps this one and it's pretty much the only case in the 80's where a Topps card is more valuable than it's OPC counterpart (with the exception of the 89-90 sets where OPC was over produced). While I like the above card, the Topps card just seems so much more interesting and magical. It is almost a better representation of the most shocking trade I have ever experienced in my life.

 Here is the backside of the OPC card.

So where were you when the trade happened? Did you collect or try to collect these cards? Personally I remember the trade well and I grew to really like the Oilers during the 87-88 season because after the Devils got bounced I cheered for the Oilers to bounce the Bruins which they were able to do and while they would win again in 1990, the Dynasty was over and things were never the same again.

I have owned the Topps card pictured here since the early/mid 90's when I bought the whole set for 60 dollars which seems silly since they can be had for much less now but the years of enjoyment have been worth it! The OPC version is apart of my OPC set which I bought a couple years ago because I have a pretty big sentimental attachment to the set as a whole which I will hopefully share some day in another post.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and here's hoping we never see a trade like this again.....ever!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

08-09 ITG Ultimate Memorabilia 9th Edition Ultimate Auto Mates Silver Brodeur/Luongo /24

More slabbed fun! This time Marty has a friend in this Team Canada themed piece. While this particular combo didn't fare so well at the 2006 Olympics, Marty and Bobby did win at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and would eventually win a gold medal together at the 2010 Olympics thus making this card a little more cool and relevant.

08-09 ITG Ultimate Memorabilia 9th Edition Ultimate Auto Mates Silver Brodeur/Luongo /24

I love the fact that these two future Hall of Famers are joined together on this one card and this being a Team Canada card makes it a little more enjoyable for me as a fan and a collector since I didn't care too much for Luongo during his Vancouver or earlier years. Recently I respected his move back to Florida and am loving that he has helped turn them into a competitive club. The only draw back to this card in my opinion is it appears ITG used two different kinds of stickers on the autographs and that is a tiny bit distracting.

Here is the backside of the card. I do wish the Ultimate fact and Congratulations switched spots and there was a little more info on the successes they had as teammates but alas the Dr. has spoken!

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the slab tips, I will keep playing around as I have a few more slabs to share!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Best Brodeur Card In My Collection....

Been busy so far this summer with Daddy Daycare and marking provincial exams but I am pleased to be back posting again. Back in the fall I came across a card that made my jaw drop. True the card isn't licensed but there is so much to the card that I feel a photo would take away from the card anyway.

The card started off with a very ambitious price and slowly dropped and dropped. Eventually it got low enough where I contacted the seller and we arranged a very nice price on this gem!

Famous Fabrics First Edition Martin Brodeur Stick /09

I love the size of this piece and the prime location off the stick. Words certainly don't back my appreciation of this card. This was the stick style Marty used during his Olympic Gold Medal run in 2002 and his Stanley Cup run in 2003 so the fact that it could have come from any of those time periods makes it that much more special.

Backside with the authenticity statement.

If a picture says a thousand words, then I believe I am done this post, thanks for stopping by and hope you enjoyed the pics! Quick question, for those bloggers so scan slabbed cards, what methods do you use? I have had a hard time trying to digitize a bunch of pickups and have resorted to a camera but even then it presents challenges so I am open to any help out there!