Thursday, December 14, 2017

State of the Union

Hey all, who knew as you got older the less time you'd have to blog about sports cards? Truth is I still think about them as much as ever and sneak time here and there to tweet about them but apart from that really the blog seems to have suffered the most. Life is good, coaching hockey, playing hockey and soccer, parenting and working all seem to flow together and in the end I daydream of cards I own or cards I wish I had and then the next day begins.

I still feel a little empty because I don't seem to have as much time as I'd like to record my thoughts or interact with some of my fellow collectors I only see on here so I am working at ways to try and spread my time a little more evenly to help include my comrades out here.

Today's post is how I stay connected to the hobby when  I am not at home and one way is by having a few cards at work. For someone who has 99.999% hockey in their collection, I have a large number (proportionally speaking) of baseball cards at work. I thought I'd share a few of the ball cards I have and share some of the others in another post at a later date. As some of you know, my all-time favourite ball player is Randy Johnson and at home I have his UD rookie and an Artifacts relic card. However at work I have a few other RJ Rookies which include:

1989 Donruss Randy Johnson Rated Rookie
While Randy looks angry or annoyed, I do like this card in terms of design and colouring. Perhaps the most visually appealing of the three I am sharing today.

What the card had going on the front didn't carry over to the back. Here is your standard Donruss backs this time in orange. I don't know loads about Donruss but it appears the back sides of their cards were pretty much the same year in and year out for a number of years.

1989 Fleer Randy Johnson Rookie
Here is happy Randy. This card exists in a few different variations depending on how much Marlboro one could see. I believe this is the most common version and thus worth the least. Still like the design of the front and it comes in a close second.

The backside is a mixed bag for me. I don't care of the design so much but it is probably the most informative backside of the three rookies.

1989 Topps Randy Johnson Rookie
This is thoughtful Randy. This card is pretty much as vanilla as 80's cardboard comes in my opinion. However, it seems to have a nice vintage look to it now but I imagine back in 1989 it had fewer fans than it might have now. I believe the same can be said for Bowman and OPC when it comes to hockey from roughly the same time period.

The backside was a bit of a surprise. A little more life back here and the black border is a neat touch. I do like the back of this card much more than the front.

So there are three cards I keep around my desk at work. I've probably looked at them all a hundred times and still give them a glance every now and again. I picked them all up in a lot deal on eBay probably 4-5 years ago and they've lived at work the entire time. I like that they are only at work and it makes them kind of unique in the sense that it's the only place I get to see them. I also like I only have a few cards at work so the ones that are here tend to get a fair bit of my personal attention. Strange? Yeah probably but that adjective probably has been applied to me on a number of occasions but I am willing to bet if you are reading this you probably might have a few cards stashed away or on display at your place of employment too. Am I right? Do you have any special work only cardboard that you have for the occasional mental break? If so, I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your patience with this blog!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tretiak Pads and Stick

Vladislav Tretiak has been a hero of mine ever since I read his book Tretiak The Legend. While I never had the chance to see him play live and his playing days were long over before I started watching hockey, I still to this day wonder how well he would have fared in the NHL during his prime. During his career he is the most successful international goaltender of all-time with 3 Olympic Gold Medals, 10 World Championship Gold Medals and 1 Canada Cup.  With that being said, there is no denying he had a great team in front of him for all of those wins and even many of their losses but fact of the matter is there is no doubt in my mind he is truly an amazing athlete and a hockey genius who has impacted the lives of many players including another favourite Ed Belfour.

My collection never reflected my passion for Tretiak and in the past couple years I have been fortunate to acquire a few more relics to my collection. Here are two that I haven't shared as of yet and are among my collection favourites!

08-09 ITG Between the Pads Super Sized Pads Vladislav Tretiak V-1of1
This amazing piece was released as part of the Final Vault and is perhaps one of the finest relic cards I have ever seen or owned. Having had a chance to touch his goal pads and feel the leather and history is truly fun in itself but to own it is even better. While I feel confident to say this likely isn't from his '72 Series Goalie Pads, there is at least a strong chance the pads were worn during a championship run which in itself is just fantastic.

14-15 Leaf Stickwork Game Used Goalie Paddle Vladislav Tretiak /40
My second piece I am sharing is a piece of his goal stick which does include some portion of the brand name. Tretiak used primarily two types of goal sticks during his career they were Montreal and Koho both of which were brown sticks with black writing so I don't really have any way of guessing which one of the two this might have come from but I at least can be sure the stick type was correct for the card.

That's all for today's post, I now have a PC of 4 Tretiak cards plus a few from the '72 Summit Series set that was released in the early 90's. I hope to someday maybe try and track down some of his rare and obscure cards but for now these are amazing enough for this collector. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Check out my BASEBALL cards

Well, where did the last 3 weeks go? Back at work again and now that things are in swing I realized; "Hey I have a blog, I better get back to putting up some posts." While I wanted to show off some completed sets in my next posts, finding time to scan them up properly and figure out how I wanted to share them has made things difficult so I decided to skip past them for a week or two and focus on some other trades, pick ups etc.

With that being said, I did also grab a few baseball cards with my COMC order and I am going to share them today.

Since my collection of baseball cards consists of a few Randy Johnson rookies, Randy Johnson relic and the 1987 Topps set it's safe to say there are lots of baseball cards I don't have. A few bloggers have been so kind to send me some Tigers cards over the years and I have always enjoyed looking at the different sets and players but there are a few that I would say I have always wanted. With this order I was able to get a few crossed off that list.

First up is Mickey Tettleton

I'd be lying if I said this card was always on my want list. Fact is I never knew it existed until I was on COMC. Growing up a Tigers fan in the early 90's there were a few Tigers who I really enjoyed and Mickey was one of them. I loved his batting stance and he provided the Tigers with lots of clutch hits and big home runs. The card itself is pretty cool and I like the design of the front and the back. It's even slabbed with a grade of 10 which makes this a junk wax gem to this collector!

Here is the back side. I actually didn't know that fact about DiMaggio which is a pretty cool addition.

Next up is Cecil Fielder

Growing up, Mickey was my third favourite Tiger and the award for my second favourite goes to Big Daddy Cecil Fielder. Given he has three rookie cards (not counting OPC) I had no idea which one to get but thanks to the saturated market I could land all three for the price of a Sidney Crosby base card it seems. First up is his Topps version. Looks like Cecil is taking BP. 

 The Topps card isn't too hard on the eyes. I don't love it as other years but it's decent and nice to see Cecil in action to some degree. His stats say he's 6 foot 3 and 230. I don't believe he finished his career with those numbers.

 Next up is the Donruss rookie. Here Cecil is in a game and it looks like he's just finished his swing and by the look on his face I can't tell if it was a hit or a strike. Regardless, of the three rookies this one is my favourite. Definitely an 80's looking card but reasonably well done when compared to the other two.

Less stats back here, but I love the colour and you get more in words than in tables. You also get his middle name which I am not sure if I had knew it before getting this.

Third up is his Fleer rookie. A bit of a throwback to when you had to share your RC with another face. Cory Snyder didn't drive the value of this card up at all which is unfortunate for Cecil but he at least is the reason why anyone would want this piece of art.

 Don't care much for the back side here. I am not sure what other collectors think when they compare these 1986 releases but for me personally I'd have to say Donruss > Topps > Fleer based on the Cecil cards.

For those curious, I would have to say from my childhood my favourite Tiger was Alan Trammell. Hope to add his RC and Auto to my collection someday but the beauty is patience pays off and I'm sure I will come across one in my travels someday. I did get one more baseball card and it would be the most iconic rookie card from my childhood.

 The 1989 UD Griffey Jr rookie is about the equivalent of the 1952 Topps Mantle for my generation. I saw many kids walking around with these cards in all sorts of shape and cases etc. After all these years with most prices dropping down to that of a dime a dozen, this one card seems to have managed to keep demand and supply in check. I always wonder how amazing he could have been if he had stayed in Seattle,  and maybe never hurt his hamstring. I want to believe 700 could have been in reach but I guess we will never know. Happy to add this iconic card to my collection.

Backside of the card for those like me who want to see both sides.

So there you have it, sorry I didn't get to my hockey sets but here are a few baseball cards I added and the reasons why I did. No idea what my next post will be, I guess it will be a surprise for both of us. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

So I Finally Decided To "Check Out My Cards"

I didn't just join the hobby and I haven't been living under a rock. Fact of the matter is, I live in Canada and I don't like buying credit before a purchase. Those two sticking points prevented me from using COMC for all these years. I have had an account for a very long time and did nothing with it. When I wanted new cards, I would trade, use Hobby Insider, LCS, Twitter or eBay and that always seemed to cover my needs. However, I have a number of partially finished sets and for my birthday I got a little coin so I decided what the heck, lets check this out!

Based on the amount of money I was given, I set up two goals. I wanted to finish my 77-78 Topps and my 79-80 Topps sets. I needed 18 cards for the '77 set and 9 for the complete '79 set. Thankfully there were plenty of options for nearly ALL the cards I needed and I could look at scan after scan and get the quality of card I wanted. In my case the both sets I wanted them to be as close to mint as I could find. I do say nearly all because there was one card I needed and there was only one available and man oh man did they price it that way too. All the cards I needed I got for very great prices except one 79-80 Topps Stan Mikita. The card was clearly an ungraded NrMt-Mt for sure and would probably book in the 2-3 dollar range given the quality. The ask, 15 dollars!!!!! I couldn't believe it. I wanted to finish these sets and when you factor in all the cards I needed, this was a huge barrier. I went on eBay and there were none too. What to do??

Thankfully I had a number of other cards from this buyer in my basket and they allowed you to make an offer. I made one and they countered and finally they accepted and left me with room to go beyond my goal which was nice. I also picked up another card which I will share in a different post.

Here is a look at some of the cards I needed.
When the cards arrived, they were in great condition much like their scans indicated and while I didn't pay for any extra packaging the cards were well packaged and exactly as expected. In all it was an amazing success and I definitely would consider using check out my cards again. My next two posts will be about my completed sets!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy the next two posts!

Monday, August 21, 2017

"Local" Card Shops: How to Run and Not Run Them.

Where I live in rural Nova Scotia, card shops are few and FAR between. In a 45 min drive I have access to exactly three. One is my favourite, the owner and I are friends and he knows how to wheel and deal. In the end he deals with quantity of transactions rather than trying to triple his investment off one card. If you are the kind of person who likes to flip cards he "leaves some meat on the bone" if you want to turn a profit and I have been fortunate to get deals and resell and get deals and enjoy the card as is in my collection. The next one is not really a card shop, more of a junk shop. But awesome junk and I honestly love the place and can spend years in there. The third is a shop that pretty much deals in packs and he keeps little to no inventory so I don't tend to go there much. In all three cases, you can wheel and you can deal with my friends place being the best of the lot. 

This past week I was in Toronto and really hoped to get to a card shop. Sadly the trip was so packed with things and the location of the one I did find wasn't too close I didn't get any chance to get there. I did stop by the Hockey Hall of Fame and got my pic with the Stanley Cup! I also saw the REAL Stanley Cup and many many many other cool things. I'll post some of those things up at a later date. I did see some pretty awesome cards at the HHoF too which I took a few snaps of as well. 

Since I wasn't able to get into a card shop but I was itching to look at some cool cards I decided to check out a shop in Halifax I had never been to before and have only heard things about. I walked into the store and I must say I was impressed. A very large shop with loads of space, immediately I got my hopes up. But as soon as I walked to the first display, hopes were dashed. Every card had a large white sticker on them saying those dreaded and awful words "Book Price". Yep, every card in the store's many display cases had those ridiculous white stickers and Beckett High price. Some did have "Sale Price" on them too but they would be like this following scenario: Let's say you have a Marcel Dionne card in VG-Ex condition. Now, when you read the book price on this card it's 150 dollars (IF THE CARD IS IN NrMT CONDITION). However, they in this shop feel the book price is the book price so they have it listed at book price of 150 which more accurately should have been listed at  45-50 dollars given it was no where near NrMT condition in the past 30-40 years. Then they had the audacity to list it at a sale price of about 90 dollars. To put this into perspective, on eBay a Dionne rookie graded PSA 5 definitely nicer than this card sold for 46 dollars Canadian. 

As I went through the store more and more disappointment, nice cards and insane prices. A pretty decent looking Toews The Cup Rookie... Books for $2000. They didn't for some reason list a book price this time but instead had a $6000 price tag on it. It wasn't even the best swatch I've ever seen on a Toews The Cup and they want 6 grand for it. The best part was I asked about the prices and they didn't even blink when they told me they are all as listed. They did have a display case with 25% and 50% off BOOK PRICE and they were pretty sketchy cards many barely even VG. I can certainly find way cooler ways to spend $6000 on cardboard. Perhaps a Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr rookie for starters. 

So I did what most sane people would do and that was leave. Sad and empty handed. But alas there are two other card shops in Halifax and I went to a different one and found some fun. This stop is half cards and have shirts and memorabilia. They have only one display case filled with cards all sanely priced. There was a nice Terry Sawchuk Memorial card from 70-71 OPC. It books for 60 in NrMT condition but it was sadly only in Ex condition. Price on the card....$20 dollars. What? Should'nt this be a 60 dollar card? At the other shop it would be but in the sane world it's a $20 dollar card. Real Book Price would be about $24 which is a very fair deal given how old and nice looking this card was. I was tempted to buy but I held off because I found something even more interesting for the same $20 dollars it would have case me for the Sawchuk.

1934-43 Group 1 Bee Hives!!!

1934-43 Group 1 Bee Hive Gord Drillon
 First up was the answer to the following trivial question (thanks to the card shop owner): Who was the last Maple Leaf to win the Art Ross Trophy? Gord Drillon 1937-38. While these aren't considered true hockey cards by some, they are to me. Especially if you consider 39-40 OPC as hockey cards. This beauty is at least 70+ years old and looks alright considering. Like most Bee Hives, this one has a beige border and features the same photo as his rookie card:

37-38 OPC Gord Drillon RC (not mine)
                                            Image result for drillon rookie card

Second up is this HOFer which I was particularly drawn to:

1934-43 Group 1 Bee Hive Walter Turk Broda
A blue border! I haven't seen many of these ever and did a double take at first given the subject, colour and price. This isn't the exact photo on his rookie card but still is a pretty cool shot if you ask me. Again, it's hard to say when this card was created but it could have been from any time between 1936-43 given that's when he was active during this production run. However, much like Drillon this card also looks like his 37-38 OPC card putting it in around that time line. 

So I know Bee Hive cards aren't as desirable as other cards from the time period and they tend to be more numerous because people kept them more but these two were purchased for the same $20 as the Sawchuk and more importantly for way less than more things at the overpriced card shop I went to first. I applaud the owner of D&M Sports in Halifax for having reasonable prices and I am sure if I wanted to lump a few extra cards in I could have struck a deal. In the end I have two more beauties and another shop I am proud to call my LCS even if it's an hour away. 

Thanks for stopping by, a couple more fun and card related posts coming up soon! I am curious, do many of you out there have this same problem where there are card shops that are run properly and others that are just foolishly run?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Hidden Behind a Wealth of Talent - Kasperi Kapanen

With the exception of a few random successes in the past 20 or so I would best describe the Toronto Maple Leafs as nothing short of a mess. As a devout hockey fan who also used to be a part owner of the Maple Leafs (MLSE to be specific), I know I was often left scratching my head at the way the franchise was being run. However, a few years ago, they gutted the team from top to the bottom and I know Lou isn't getting as much credit as Shanahan (and the Shanaplan) but I honestly believe Lou has helped change the culture and through smart trades of Kessel and a little draft luck the Leafs are now loaded with talent.

IF you dig far enough into the Kessel trade you will see young Kapanen's name was involved as well as a draft pick which turned out to be Sam Steel. However, the pick ended up belonging to the Ducks as the Leafs traded the pick to land Frederik Andersen first and then the Ducks drafted Steel after. While this will never make up for what Kessel cost the Leafs in the first place, it's still a decent return which brings me back to Kapanen.

16-17 Upper Deck Series 2 Kasperi Kapanen Young Gun

I really really hope I am wrong about this but fact of the matter is I am always a realist first and dreamer second. The Calder Trophy for top rookie could be an interesting race this year. I don't believe it will come down to an amazing battle like last year where Murray, Laine, Marner, Nylander, Werenski or Matthews could conceivably have won it had they been paired against a different crop of rookies (ie like 2013 etc) but I do think that Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick and Kasperi Kapanen will be battling some of the other rookies for the Calder. With that being said, I don't know if anyone will be Kapanen for the Calder. While he may not be as talented as the other top picks, he does have a few years of pro experience under his belt which will help and the depth the Leafs have now will ensure he gets some pretty good match ups against the other teams which he could exploit. I am going to go out on a limb and say he's my early prediction for the Calder though I am hopeful that Nico will come out on top in the end!

What are your thoughts? Any extremely early Calder predictions (Strome? Yost? Keller? Someone else?) Thanks for stopping by, my next post will be when I return and hopefully have some stuff about the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

08-09 Upper Deck Ben Bishop Young Gun

Goaltenders are an interesting breed and that is probably true regardless of sport. To be willing to have a collection of athletes pound/shoot/fire objects at you as hard as they can in the hopes you will miss often bring out the most interesting of volunteers who are suckers for punishment. Not only are goaltenders subjected to this, they also have to wear wins and losses like badges of honour or scarlet letters. I believe it is because of these job hazards you get lots of players who just don't cut it and disappear and so very few players in this position go on to have lengthy careers.

However, I also believe to some degree what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger and that is why many goaltenders tend to have their best years during the second half of their career or if you are looking at numbers, in their late 20's and early 30's. This brings me to Mr. Ben Bishop.

Ben is a player who had a tough season last year and I believe is poised to have an amazing year this coming season for a number of reasons. First off, he is headed to a club that grossly under-performed last year and has the fire power to be a Cup contender. Secondly, Ben is now 30 years young in age and I believe he has a few 40 win seasons left in the tank and the next couple years could potentially be his finest which is saying lots because he already won 40 games once and finished as a Vezina trophy finalist twice.

08-09 Upper Deck Ben Bishop Young Gun
As far as Young Guns go, this one is pretty lame. The photo is very plain and almost depressing. Ben hasn't had time to paint his mask yet and he almost looks like he finished up the second half of warm ups and is on his way to the bench. Couple that with the fact that this is my least favourite Young Gun design in the past 15 years you get a pretty average card. However, it's in Ben I trust and this time it's the person that makes this card cool and not the design or photo.

What are your thoughts? Are the Stars contenders again thanks to Ben Bishop? Or will he be revealed as a good goalie because of a good system in Tampa and will be exposed as a fraud in Dallas? I know he is a bit unlucky with the timeliness of his past injuries but hopefully those are all behind him and he will have a great 4 years in Texas. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Load of Legendry Lumber

The 1960's were the final decade of the Original 6 and the golden age of hockey. Expansion would happen in 1967 and change the game forever. With that being said, hockey is still amazing today no matter who you are and while fights are down and talent is up, fans in the 60's were spoiled with some amazing players including these 4 guys:

2017 Leaf Stickwork Decade Leaders Points 1960s /25

Four NHL legends who are all HOFers on one card is cool. Having a game used piece of them is even cooler. The only thing that would have topped this in my opinion is a signature or four. However, it's still a nice piece and I enjoyed landing it. Two neat bits though, first is who is the leader of these four for the decade called the 1960s? I don't believe I would have ever guessed it myself:

By a pretty large margin (41 points) the winner is Stan Mikita. What's equally interesting to me is Stan also had more PIMs than the other three and the most assists.

While the card itself just features for generic pieces of wood which would be it's loan downfall in my opinion, its a relatively low production run makes up for that a bit. Second neat fact is ITG originally made the card in 2014 and it was released by Leaf in 2017 as apart of their Stickwork release.

Anyone else out there have any of these cards? What are your thoughts? Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Hattrick of Nic Petans

The World Juniors each year are a showcase of the young talent around the world when it comes to ice hockey and each year I seem to walk away with a new player or two to admire. A few years ago, Nic Petan wore the Team Canada colours and just seemed to dominate the tournament. It was his second appearance and after finishing 4th in 2014, he helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal in 2015 by scoring 4 goals and 11 points along the way in just 7 games. 

Success in a junior tournament by no means dictates success at the NHL level but I do believe this young 22 year old player has the potential to be a very solid second line NHL player and given he's a member of a very young and exciting Jets team, the future could be very bright for both him and his club. Over the past couple years I've managed to pick up a few of his cards:

2015-16 Upper Deck Nicolas Petan Young Gun
While I Nic'd the scan of this one from the internet, I did pull one or two of his cards during my quest for a McDavid young gun. He didn't stalk me as much as Larkin or Panarin but each time I hit him I was pretty happy with the outcome regardless.

2015-16 UD Contours Rookies Nicolas Petan /199
 Contours was a product that meant to be a little premium and a little different but alas I don't believe collectors jumped aboard the product like Crown Royale fans used to and as a result you can find this product still for a pretty reasonable price. My LCS has boxes for 89.99. I picked this one up for $5 which I'd do all over again.

2015 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors Jumbo Jersey Nicolas Petan /199
 Game used Team Canada jersey? Yes please! I don't think this was from the Gold Medal winning tournament but then again I don't know for certain it wasn't. Either way, it was game worn by Nic Petan which is still pretty cool in a Team Canada game.

Nicolas Petan finished this past year by playing in 54 NHL games where he put up 1 goal and 13 points. Very modest numbers but he mostly was seeing bottom 6 time and support and I believe in time he could find himself higher up in the line up and as a result production will increase. In the meantime I wouldn't be surprised if we see 30 points from him in 2017-18 and more importantly I am excited to see what the Jets will be capable of this coming season after just missing out on a playoff spot. They did finish the season as the hottest team in the NHL with a 7 game winning streak so if that is any indication, look out Western Conference.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Non-Identical Twin McDavids

Two years ago when McDavid was on the horizon of his NHL debut, I am willing to bet it was much like the Summer of 2005. I don't know for certain because I wasn't back collecting again at that point but it would very much be my guess. I missed the Crosby insanity which is a shame because I could have lucked into a couple nice RCs without tanking my financial situation. But alas I didn't and I missed out and given recent trends that appears to be a permanent thing. However, it's all good in my books, I do have an MVP and Ultra rookie of the best player to play the game since Mario Lemieux and some might even argue he's better than Mario (I won't do that today).

I was collecting when #CollectConnor was a thing and I was fortunate enough when the dust settled to have 5 different rookie year cards of him. Today I am sharing the twins.

15-16 Artifacts
These two cards feature a few similar traits. Both are from 15-16 Artifacts, both are numbered to /399 and both are redemptions filled by me and reside in my collection. I was fortunate enough to get them well below the trending rates at the time but I am sure they might have been had for even better deals at the end of his rookie season when he failed to win the Calder and spent half the season on the DL. However, thanks to the success Connor McDavid had last season most of his rookie stuff has steadily climbed and in some cases even beyond the initial hype prices. Please excuse my "scans" they are actually from a photo I took with my dying camera as I didn't wish to put them on my scanner and risk damaging them when I tried to pick them back up.

15-16 Artifacts Rookie Jersey Redemption Silver Connor McDavid /399
 These redemptions came out very nice in my opinion. After seeing the base rookies I must admit I do prefer the redemptions even though they aren't an "official" rookie card. I lucked out into getting a blue and orange swatch which look fantastic with the rest of the card. No eBay 1/1s when it comes to my numbering but then again I never cared much about those anyway.

15-16 Artifacts Rookie Redemption Ruby Connor McDavid /399
The rookie redemption series come in a variety of different levels depending on if it's a jersey or a regular rookie redemption. Depending on your luck and or budget you can try and chase the rainbow if you wished but for me these two are plenty and perhaps one day I will pass one of these each on to my two boys so they can have a piece of the player who might be the best since ...

Thanks for stopping by, hope to have a new post very soon!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A new minor PC - Blake Speers

How many PCs can a fella have? Probably as many as they want or can afford to chase/trade for, but in my case I usually stop ones and start others and while Brett Connolly is big in my collection and I will always follow along, I've officially stopped chasing his stuff and will just enjoy what I have accumulated. As a result I've started a couple small PCs to replace BC with and Blake Speers is one of them.

I really enjoyed his efforts at the 2017 WJHC and he looked really good last fall with the Devils and actually made the opening night line up. I suspect he will make it again this year but perhaps will manage to stick it out this time for the whole season. He's a very tenacious player who does very well at both ends of the ice and has lots of speed which seems to be the direction the Devils are going with their rebuild which makes him a perfect second/third line player.

16-17 Upper Deck Blake Speers Young Gun
 What every PC needs if the card exists is a Young Gun version. I don't have the acetate version yet but they are out there. I'd be willing to make a trade for one if anyone has one to part with.

15-16 Leaf Heroes and Prospects Blake Speers Prospect Auto /80
 Also who could start a PC without an autograph of the player? This one is fun because it's him in a Greyhounds jersey and represents him prior to being in the NHL.

There you have it a couple to kick off a minor PC. I do have a couple more I will share but those will come at a later date! Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

85-86 OPC Kirk Muller Rookie

So when I was a kid just getting started into collecting, I always had an eye for "vintage". Of course the concept of time was still relative so for me anything that was older than 90-91 was considered vintage by my little developing mind. One card I remember distinctly on my want list was the 85-86 OPC Kirk Muller Rookie. It didn't book for much at the time 4-5 dollars and even today it still doesn't book for much $4.00 in the most recent Beckett Hockey Monthly. So when I was at a card shop back in like 1991, the same one where I shelled out 8 dollars for an Upper Deck Ed Belfour Star Rookie, I saw a Kirk Muller rookie for $5.00.

I still remember it like it was yesterday, it sat there in the display case in a 10 count card holder and the card had a bit of curl to it. Later in life I'd learn it's called the OPC curl and basically all the OPC card if left for a long extended period of time outside a toploader or other case it would start to curl on you a bit. So I brought my purchase home with me and was perplexed by why it had curled and figured that I could just flatten it out and shove it into a toploader and that's just what I did. However, in the process of flattening it I created a new problem and that was I damaged the card in a new way...wrinkles/ripples in the center of the card. I was pretty bummed out but still enjoyed owning the rookie card of the best Devils player ever (at that point) and over the years somehow that card managed to disappear.

Several years ago, I was able to build an 85-86 Topps set which got me another Muller rookie this time in Topps form. However, a hole was still there from my childhood and about 2 years ago I was at the LCS and the owner had a bunch of new stock which included a bunch of vintage cards and in there I found myself an 85-86 OPC Kirk Muller rookie in fantastic non-curled shape in the 3 for 5 bin. You better believe I left with it.

85-86 OPC Kirk Muller Rookie
While I always believed that we should have been the ones to get Mario Lemieux and it should be him in this jersey, things still worked out ok and in the end it would be a trade that sent Kirk Muller to Montreal that helped them win a Cup and eventually us win a Cup too. Glad to have you back in the fold Kirk and I promise to just leave you as is.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

73-74 OPC Billy Smith RC

Sometimes a mint card isn't what is needed in a collection, sometimes just having a nice copy is sufficient enough. While it is my hope to collect at least one set a year from 1910-present, I know that goal isn't too realistic. However, having some key single rookies is rather doable and one of the biggest from the 73-74 set without a doubt is Billy Smith! 

73-74 OPC Billy Smith RC
Not exactly an exciting photo of a goalie in action but it is perhaps a bit better than a studio shot of a goalie in his equipment sweating it out under the lights.

Here is the back side of the card. Interestingly enough, this particular year OPC used two different types of card stock one with a light back and the other with a darker back. This is a dark back version. Even his rookie card predicted that Billy doesn't mind mixing it up with players in front of his net.

While I am not a big Islanders fan or even a huge Billy Smith fan, I greatly respect his career and accomplishments and this card falls under the category of me wanting to own every significant player's rookie card in the history of hockey which is a massive under taking in itself and the best part is it's a project that will never end! Thanks for stopping by and until next post...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

13-14 The Cup Scripted Swatches Nail Yakupov /35

Nail Yakupov had a decent start to his NHL career. He was a finalist for the Calder and the future seemed bright. However, in the past year or two many fans are beginning to think he is just another Alexandre Daigle and are considering him a bust. I am thinking perhaps the right situation hasn't presented itself and given he is only 23 years old I want to believe there is hope yet. As I write this, no Canada Day signings have happened yet but I believe someone will sign this kid. Heck, I'd love it if New Jersey took a shot and perhaps we'd be rewarded with a solid second line winger.

Fact of the matter is he needs to change a bit, get a little tougher on the puck but with the right coach and atmosphere this kid's career is salvageable and there are a few teams that could do it for him. In addition to the Devils, I believe clubs like Tampa, Florida, LA or Vegas could benefit from a one dimensional scorer. Time will tell where he signs but regardless, I still wish Nail all the best and hope these past few seasons will be nothing more than a slow start and he will blossom into a 30-30-60 player I know he's capable of being.

13-14 The Cup Scripted Swatches Nail Yakupov /35
About a year ago I put a low ball offer in on this particular card and won it! It's a great looking card with a huge patch and you can actually see three colours on it. The auto is solid and I am pleased to have his number 10 on it to go with some of my other auto rookies of his where he signed them 64.

Thanks for stopping by and no matter where you are or who you cheer for Happy Canada Day / Happy Free Agency Day.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rest in Peace Dave Semenko

A part of getting older is you see people you are related to,  know, cheer for or at the very least heard of begin to pass away. 2016 was a crazy year for that in general and it appears 2017 will be one that isn't much different. It was recently announced that Dave Semenko best known for his days with the Oilers has passed away. While he started and left the game before I ever got to see him play, through video and stories including (Wayne Gretzky's Autobiograph) I got a chance to learn a little bit about him. I felt I learned enough and admired his career enough to write him a letter a several years ago. The result was a kind response including this autographed card.

I would like to pass along my condolences to his family and I hope he is at peace now after his battle with cancer.

I've Got Wood!

I am not sure if I will never stop laughing at such a stupid and childish phrase but I guess the day I do is the day I am no longer young at heart. Miles Wood is a player who I got very excited over during the pre-season and felt the future is very bright in NJ. While many of our kids were eventually sent back to junior and the AHL, Miles was able to get back with the big club part way through the year and what he had to show fans each and every night was just awesome.

Miles will probably never score 40 goals and he will never win an Art Ross but that isn't what we need from him. What Miles does do is skates like the wind, plays with an edge and can contribute one way or another each and every night. I feel he's got 20-30-50 potential and is very exciting to watch. He is everywhere when he's on the ice and isn't afraid to do what is needed to help the team win. I have seen enough from him this season to make me a fan and I've started a PC of his stuff too.

16-17 UD Ice Premieres Miles Wood Auto /299
This one is from the Upper Deck Ice set. All cards are acetate which makes them a little pricey to produce so you may not get the best bang for your buck in terms of quantity of hits but you certainly get loads in quality and these cards typically have strong value when compared to other brands in Upper Deck's stable. I definitely am going to try and gobble up some Devils The Cup rookies this fall and I assure you I will be trying to track down a Wood rookie no matter what!

10-11 Upper Deck Jeff Skinner Young Gun

Hockey fans like most sports fans can be too hard on athletes in my opinion and when it comes to hockey especially hard. When you look at football, or baseball chances are the athletes are in the early to mid 20 by the time they are a rookie and those few extra years can make a big difference when it comes to life under a microscope and the pressure of being a highly paid athlete. However in hockey, rookies are often nothing more than young adults who are 18-20 years old and perhaps new to the spotlight and pressures of being a pro athlete.

Let's take Jeff Skinner for example. Before you read any further or do any research, what do you think of? A player who had a good start and fizzled because of injuries? A player who just never reached his full potential?

Now, let's look at the Jeff Skinner I see, first of all he's only 25 years old! That's right, 25. Jeff can easily have another decade of hockey ahead of himself if he stays healthy. Truth is he did have a few concussions over a couple years early in his career but these past 3 years he's only missed 6 games in total. This past season Jeff scored 37 goals on a pretty weak Carolina team and was a huge reason why they were flirting with a playoff spot. His 37 goals this past year was good enough for 6th in the entire league. Over the past two years he's averaged over 30 goals a season and I truly believe the best is yet to come as he reaches into his prime. True 3 seasons ago Skinner's numbers were pretty pedestrian with him only scoring 18 goals and 31 points but the team as a whole was a disaster too.

After 7 NHL seasons Jeff Skinner has scored 20 or more goals 5 times and 30 or more goals 3 times. I believe he can easily reach 30 over the next 5-6 years and perhaps even has a 40 goal campaign or two in him. At 25 there's so much hockey left in this kid I am excited to see where his career will take him. As a Skinner fan, I hope I've convinced you the reader he is worth all the hype he once had back as a Calder Trophy winning 18 year old and might be worth grabbing a card or two of if you don't already have some in your collection.

10-11 Upper Deck Jeff Skinner Young Gun
Once upon a time his Young Gun would have set you back close to 50 dollars but now can be had for under 20 and I believe if he can show the world he's a consistent 30-35 goal a season player you will see those cards take a jump in value.

While I am trying to stand up for Jeff Skinner and his career, I know I am guilty of getting down on prospects who just don't mature as quickly as hoped or panic a bit when that sophomore slump trickles into their 3rd/4th season but patience will always win out with most of these kids because they are indeed humans like the rest of us and the game is a world unlike anything we live in.

Some other players who might be worth a look and some added patience are: Dylan Strome, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin and Jonathan Huberdeau.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and if you have a player you'd like to say still has star potential I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cooperalls and My Childhood Favourite Player

So the Devils got to pick first in an entry draft for the first time since they became the Devils back in 1982. Over the years they've had a few high picks including guys like Scott Niedermayer (Thanks Toronto), Bill Guerin, Brendan Shanahan etc. One player who was a very high pick was John MacLean who was drafted in 1983 and he went 6th overall. Yzerman, Lafontaine and Barrasso all were picked ahead of him and can't really judge those choices at all and Sylvain Turgeon and Brian Lawton happened to be the number 2 and 1 picks respectively and they may not have ended there on a re-draft. John was an excellent player in junior and in his draft year scored 18 goals and 38 points in just 17 playoffs games as the Generals would go on to win the OHL Championships that year and would fall just short in the Memorial Cup Finals. Despite the loss in the finals, John MacLean would still be named to the tournament all-star team.

1982-83 Durham Police Oshawa Generals John MacLean
Here is a card that was sent to me by Sal from Puck Junk which features a John MacLean from his draft year. These cards are larger than your typical card and are very well done. This card predates his rookie card by several seasons as Johnny Mac wouldn't get his NHL rookie card until the 86-87 season.

There is just so much to love about this card. The Titan hockey stick, the Cooperalls and the classic stopping/snow shower photo. Thank you very much Sal for a card I didn't have yet and greatly appreciate. John MacLean was my first ever favourite player and to get a card you've never even seen before of them is just down right fantastic!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

#UDRAK Upper Deck Random Act of Kindness

Surprises come in all shapes and sizes and more importantly types. Good surprises are always preferred over bad ones and I don't think I am alone in this thought. Sure there are some that don't like surprises at all but the world is full of all types of people and I am one that loves a good surprise once in a while. Just before Christmas, Upper Deck sent me a good surprise. It was a completely unexpected and entirely enjoyed. I came home from work one day and sitting on my deck was this box. It looked cold and in need of a good home so I brought it in and took this photo.

I truly felt fortunate receiving this wonderful act of kindness.

Inside was all this cool stuff! I loved the Young Guns shirt and a load of Devils and two boxes of Upper Deck Series 1 which I hadn't had a chance to break any yet. Here is a close up of some of the great things that were in my UDRAK package. 

16-17 UD Series 1 SP2 William Nylander 
A pretty awesome prospect who finished this year with a solid 22 goals and 61 points. A Calder winning performance in some years.

16-17 Upper Deck Midnight Adam Henrique and Damon Severson /25
Upper Deck sent me the whole team set and I have decided to showcase my two PC players I received from the set.

16-17 Upper Deck Victory Black Miles Wood
Once upon a time Victory Black were some of the scarcest cards on the market with a print run of 5. Lots has changed since 05-06 but they are still a pretty cool card to get via NHCD or a Card Expo. I was fortunate enough to get a Miles Wood and a Pavel Zacha.

16-17 Upper Deck Victory Pavel Zacha
Pavel learned a great deal in his first season. During times he showed some great flashes and I'm excited to see how the Devils and Pavel grow and improve next season. This card is a beauty, definitely one of the better Victory designs in the past decade.

12-13 Fleer Skybox Autographics Patrik Elias
You may remember this card from a previous post which featured my tribute to Patrik Elias. It was Upper Deck that sent me this card and given the legacy he had as a Devil it was a very nice inclusion.

2015-16 SP Game Used Patrik Elias
More Elias!!! There were a number of other Elias beauties including this card and the next one.

2015-16 Upper Deck Top Draft Pick Jaromir Jagr
What a great looking retro card. Love the 90-91 design and seeing a young Jagr sporting a deer in the headlights look and puffy mullet are key components to this card's awesomeness. While his time was brief with the Devils, it was nice to see him continue to be so successful.

14-15 Upper Deck Premier Jaromir Jagr /249
Another Jagr, this time from his days with my beloved Devils. I have said this before but I am a fan of the Upper Deck Premier product line. Perhaps even more so than The Cup.

14-15 Upper Deck 25th Anniversary David Clarkson Auto Young Gun /25
The collector I am from 5 years ago would have felt this was the best card he has ever been given. In those past 5 years, David left NJ, went to Toronto, and unceremoniously was shipped to Columbus. Chances are he will never play again. During that time I had lots of chance for reflection and healing from a move that stung me a great deal but meant even more to Clarkson as a person. I would say I am a fan once again but only of his time in NJ and that will be how I choose to remember him. This card definitely exhibits those days well and I love the photo of him during training camp which adds to the cards authentic feel. Thanks for a gem Upper Deck!

2016 Team Canada Wayne Gretzky Program of Excellence Rainbow
The Great One in his 1987 Team Canada uniform? Yes please! This series was like my personal 1972 since I was not in existence for the Summit Series.

15-16 Fleer Showcase Hot Prospects Trio O'Neill/Blandisi/Hrabarenka
A nice little trio here. I believe if we can keep Blandisi after the expansion draft, he will be a solid producer for the Devils organization. So much potential and hopefully his diving days are done.

15-16 SP Game Used Sergei Kalinin RC /51
Shame we lost Kalinin during this past season. He's a solid defensive forward who would be great for any bottom 6. Best of luck and hope to see you back in the NHL soon!

15-16 Upper Deck Ice World Junior Championship Robby Fabbri /1299
A nice little Team Canada addition here. Robby is a pretty solid forward and one reason why the Blues will continue to be a playoff team.

Upper Deck was so kind to also send along some boxes to break open. I am going to share some of the highlights that I discovered in the boxes. I was fortunate enough to complete a base set from the two boxes which is an awesome start!

16-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Steve Santini Young Guns Exclusive /100
Wow!! What a hit. While there were bigger names in the box, to get a Devils player is a fantastic outcome for me.

16-17 Upper Deck Signature Sensations Jori Lehtera
I was also lucky enough to hit a case hit on my second box! This is my second ever Signature Sensations I have ever pulled.

16-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Game Jersey Matt Duchene
I also hit a Matt Duchene jersey card. Nice sized swatch and I like the larger photo too. I'm hopeful this summer the Devils can land another scoring forward or two via trade. Eberle, Duchene or Landeskog would all be good outcomes.

16-17 Upper Deck Series 1 Young Gun Josh Morrissey
Other than my Exclusive, this is probably the most exciting Young Gun I hit. Josh had a very very impressive rookie season in Winnipeg and I believe he will be a fantastic defenseman for the Jets in future years.

16-17 Upper Deck Young Guns Canvas Connor Brown
I did also hit a Canvas Young Guns from Toronto. While it wasn't Mitch Marner, I did get both a base and canvas Young Gun of Connor Brown. Brown was a nice surprise for both myself and the Leafs this season. Brown hit 20 goals this year and added 16 assists. I am not sure what his ceiling is but I am guessing he hasn't hit it yet.

2016 Team Canada Nolan Patrick
Is this foreshadowing? I would be pretty pleased to see him in NJ.

2015-16 Upper Deck Series 1 Gretzky/McDavid SP1
A Gretzky/McDavid card? Oh my, thank you very much! Definitely one of my favourites from this amazing random act of kindness.

15-16 UD Ultimate Platinum Blue Relic Cory Schneider
The best for last? Depends on your taste of course but this is the most unique piece of the package!! Love the tag. 

Well there you have it, a sampling of my truly phenomenal UDRAK package. If you are reading this and are a sports fan, I hope you too are able to receive on someday as it's truly a cool experience and one that I don't imagine many companies do for their customers. What makes this package truly remarkable is I didn't even ask for it or sign up or enter any contests. It just showed up and the people at Upper Deck know my interests and just dropped a box of kindness on my lap. There were even other PC players in the package like Adam Henrique and Damon Severson which I didn't get a chance to share yet but will at a later date. One last time, thank you Upper Deck and thank you for stopping by. More posts to come very soon!