Saturday, March 28, 2009

Budget Card Store Run - 1986 Topps Rack Pack

The next item from my $8 card store run is the one I've enjoyed the most so far. I purchased two rack packs of 1986 Topps for the whopping price of $1 a piece. Each pack contains 3 sections of 17 cards each, for a total of 51 cards, plus one glossy all-star card (in this pack it was the Steve Garvey pictured above). For whatever reason my collection was completely devoid of 1986 Topps, and I figured this would be a great opportunity to pick up about 100 pack fresh cards for just $2. Here are some of the highlights from the first pack:
#5 - Pete Rose Tribute - The first few cards in the set were Rose tribute cards showing his cards from prior Topps releases.

#205 - Tony Perez Record Breaker - This is a really random card, Tony became the oldest player to hit a grand slam. Carlton Fisk and Julio Franco have since surpassed him though. Franco was 45 when he connected for one back in 2004!

#254 - Ozzie Guillen - I believe this is Ozzie's rookie if I'm not mistaken.

#326 - Kent Tekulve - Just an awesome card all around.

#355 - Lee Smith - Lee was in the midst of a run of 4 straight 30 save seasons for Chicago at this time.

#374 - Terry Francona - Nice cheesy shot of Boston's manager.

#400 - Rod Carew - This one pretty much speaks for itself...

#402 - Tom Seaver Turn Back the Clock

#487 - Bret Saberhagen - A young Bret standing in the old Yankee Stadium. It feels weird to write that...

#581 - Bruce Hurst - Gotta show any Red Sox cards.

#709 - Dwight Gooden All-Star - This would've been a great card to pull in '86. Doc was coming off of a Rookie of the Year campaign in 1984, and a 24-win Cy Young season in 1985.

#712 - Don Mattingly All-Star

#734 - Marty Barrett

#736 - Glenn Wilson - Awesome aviator sunglasses.

#749 - Ed Jurak - The third and final Boston Red Sox card. This almost looks like it was shot at dusk, but the sky seems fairly blue so I think it's just a poor shot.
Well that was worth the $1 without a doubt. I wish I'd picked up more of these. Grand total so far...$3.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Budget Card Store Run - 1991 Pinnacle Pack #1

The other day when I went out in search of a pack of Upper Deck Champs, the first place I checked was a card shop I normally avoid. The owner is just not as friendly as other shop owners in the area and he's one of those guys who apparently has yet to hear about eBay and thinks his cards are worth way more than they actually are, and refuses to budge on price. He does have the largest shop in the area though, so I figured he'd have some Champs, but I was wrong. I couldn't leave empty handed but didn't want to spend much cash as I knew it wasn't my last stop of the day. I decided to spend just the $8 in cash I had in my front pocket. I dropped $1 on a pack of 100 penny sleeves, and picked up 2 packs of 1991-92 Pinnacle hockey for $1 a piece. Did I overpay? Probably, but I loved these cards as a kid and have never found the ones I collected back then. Here's the first pack:

#107 - Derek King - New York Islanders

#102 - Shayne Corson - Montreal Canadiens - Well, he spells his name wrong in this Shane's humble opinion, but he's definitely sporting a serious early-90's hockey mullet.

#110 - Zarley Zalapski - Hartford Whalers - Pulling a Whaler out of the pack pretty much made it worth the dollar. When I was growing up in CT I knew a woman who named her cat Zarley as an homage to Mr. Zalapski. His name conjurs up mixed feelings with Whalers fans though, as he came to Hartford in one of the worst trades in NHL history, when the Whalers sent both captain Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson to Pittsburgh...
#154 - Keith Brown - Chicago Blackhawks

#157 - Sergei Fedorov - Detroit Red Wings - I would've been ecstatic to get this card back in the day. It was hard not to be a Red Wings fan as a kid in the early to mid-90's, and Sergei was one of my favorite players. Bonus points for what I believe is an "Original 6" Red Wings jersey depicted on this card. I actually like the backs of these cards almost as much as the fronts:

Only one year of stats shown, which is usually a minus. In this case I don't mind, as I love the cropped player photo against the black background and the short write-up on each player. I think the team logo looks good too.
#152 - Ulf Dahlen - Minnesota North Stars
#290 - Patrik Sundstrom - New Jersey Devils
#285 - Joe Reekie - New York Islanders
#288 - Randy Carlyle - Winnipeg Jets - The second team in this pack that is no longer an NHL franchise. I would love to see the NHL move one of the teams from the Southern US (like the Coyotes or Panthers) back up to Winnipeg.
#351 - Chris Winnes - Boston Bruins - Winnes was a local New England guy, who was highly touted but ended up playing just over 30 total games in the NHL. He basically became a career minor-league hockey player.
#336 - Kimbi Daniels - Philadelphia Flyers

#410 - Rick Zombo - Sideline - Pretty cheesy subset in which we get a preview into what each player's hobbies are outside of hockey. Does anyone care that Rick Zombo paints? I can't even tell what the hell that is. I'm sure Zombo is a great artist, I'm just not sure why this belongs in a Pinnacle hockey card set...
Well a good start so far to an $8 card shop run. Grand total so far: $2.00 ($1 for the Pinnacle pack, $1 for the penny sleeves).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Pack of Champs

Upper Deck Champs hockey was released earlier this week. Somehow this set flew completely under my radar. Now that I finally found a local hobby store with a decent hockey selection (bonus points for being located inside a local hockey rink), I decided to pick up two hobby packs in order to evaluate whether to sink $100+ into a hobby box. I posted the first pack on A Pack a Day yesterday, here's the second:

#64 - Nathan Horton - Florida Panthers - The Panthers are desperately seeking a playoff spot, they currently sit just out of the picture, one point behind 8th place Montreal in the East. If they fail to make it you have to wonder if they would've been better off dealing Jay Bouwmeester at the trade deadline in order to acquire some talent for the future (since he's likely going to walk at season's end).
#CT-DB - Derick Brassard - Columbus Blue Jackets - Mini Threads - I guess I should be happy pulling a mini relic card, but it resulted in this being just a 3 card back. Not to mention Derick hasn't seen any NHL action since back in 2008...

#81 - Rick Nash - Columbus Blue Jackets - This would've been a good pack for a Columbus fan (are there any of those out there?). Nash appears posed to set a new personal high for points in a season, as he sits just 2 points behind his previous high with 10 games to go. He's a big part of a Columbus team that actually looks like it's going to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Maybe there will be some Columbus fans out there after all after this season.

I like this stuff, I really do, but I'm going to hold off on a hobby box at the moment. You are guaranteed 2 mini signatures and one mini relic per box, but most likely they would end up being on a par with the Brassard card I pulled in this pack. At around $110 for 122 cards the price is just a bit to steep for me. I don't need another set to collect at the moment either, as I still need to finish O-Pee-Chee, UD Legends Masterpieces and Upper Deck Series II from this year. I'll probably try to pick up some cheap singles on eBay.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is Sakic Done?

I've started to wonder over the last couple of weeks whether we've seen the last of Joe Sakic in an NHL uniform. I wouldn't consider him under-rated by any means, but I do think a lot of casual NHL fans may not realize just how good this guy was. When I recently put his career statistics alongside those of other NHL greats the results were surprising even to me.

Joe is 8th all-time in career points, notching more than Jaromir Jagr, Phil Esposito or Stan Mikita. It's doubtful that he'll overtake Mario Lemieux for 7th even if he plays another season, as he sits nearly 100 points behind Super Mario. He has more points than any active player. In fact the closest active player (Mark Recchi) is trailing Sakic by nearly 250 points! He's scored over 600 times and recorded over 1,000 assists. Unless I'm mistaken only 7 players in NHL history have accomplished that. The other 6 are Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux. Pretty good company huh?

With the Avalanche out of the playoff picture I don't think there's any chance he will play again this year. At Joe's age, with a season away from the game and an unfortunate snowblower accident, do you think he's got enough left in the tank to lace up his skates one more time?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Now That's Better...Sort Of...

Ever since my first go-round at collecting hockey cards back in the late 80s, I've always wanted to be one of those lucky fans who makes it onto a card. This will probably never happen, but on Saturday I got as close as I've come so far. I was lucky enough to score some prime seats (first row!) to the matinee game between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders. While it wasn't the most exciting game ever, it was a great experience being able to sit so close to the action, and the Bruins got the victory for a valuable 2 points. Best of all, when Marc Savard scored what ended up being the game winning goal, the team gathered to celebrate right in front of us:

I'm the guy in the hat, clapping, circled at the left of the shot, and next to me is my brother. The quality of the picture isn't that great as it's taken from my TV screen, but you get the picture. So, while I will likely never make it onto a hockey card, this photo is good enough for now! I must've been one of the first so many fans to show up, as I was given this Bruins St. Patrick's Day hat by an ice girl at the gate...

The Bruins have done alright since my last post, taking 2 out of 3 games, although they did drop a tough one to Pittsburgh yesterday, blowing a 3-2 lead heading into the 3rd period. The good news is that the young offensive players seem to be starting to pick it up again...

Phil Kessel has been on fire the last 3 games. He lit the lamp twice in Thursday night's win against the Ottawa Senators, I saw him notch his 30th goal of the year on Saturday against the Islanders (he added an assist on Savard's game winner), and he added another goal in yesterday's loss. David Krejci seems to be on the rebound as well, with assists in two of the last 3 games. Hopefully these young scorers can keep up the pace.

Sunday's loss against Pittsburgh was a tough one to swallow. The Bruins were able to shut down the league's leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin, however they were hurt badly by two of Pittsburgh's trade line acquisitions, Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin. Kunitz undoubtedly endeared himself to Pittsburgh fans as he recorded a couple of goals and an assist. Veteran offensive star Bill Guerin (whom Bruins fans are all too familiar with) added a goal and an assist.

The good news for Bruins fans is that the team is getting a break in their schedule, and it couldn't come at a better time. They have just two games over the next two weeks. Hopefully Claude Julien will utilize this opportunity to provide some much needed rest to some of his big name and veteran players, most notably Zdeno Chara and goalie Tim Thomas. It seems as though the B's have decided that Tim will be their man between the pipes as the season winds down and the playoffs begin. He's been getting the majority of the action of late (in part due to Manny Fernandez' awful performance last time out.

What a great time of year to be a hockey fan!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's Go Bruins

As most NHL fans know, the Bruins got off to an absolute tear this season, propelling themselves into the #1 spot in the East fairly early on and holding that position ever since. A defense solidified by the addition of Dennis Wideman and anchored by likely Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara and the outstanding goaltending tandem of Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez was one of the best in the league, stumping opponents night after night.

The offense was sparked by Marc Savard and a fresh crop of developed talent including youngsters like Phil Kessel (who was competing for the league lead in goals in the early going) and David Krejci (whom I've posted about a couple of times before after he quickly became one of my favorite modern players). There was a stretch near the end of 2008 where the Bruins seemed almost unbeatable.

In recent weeks, as is often the case at some points during an exhausting 82-game NHL season, the Bruins have hit a rough patch. A really, really bad rough patch. A 4-wins-in-your-last-15-games rough patch. The defense has been solid, but not spectacular. The offense has all but completely stalled, even with the addition of veteran goal-scorer Mark Recchi at the trade deadline. Thanks to some awful play by Manny Fernandez the goaltending tandem has basically been replaced by Tim Thomas alone.

The Bruins host the Ottawa Senators tonight, a team they have dominated all season. With New Jersey threatening to overtake the B's in the East, they desperately need their young scorers like Lucic, Kessel and Krejci to net some pucks. Hopefully this David Krejci card will turn out to be a case of foreshadowing and he'll notch a couple of assists tonight. Go Bruins!

Monday, March 9, 2009

1991 Ultimate: The Worst Hockey Set Ever?

The Michigan State cards in my last post got me thinking about other odd-ball hockey sets I've accumulated throughout the years. There's one that sticks out in my mind as being one of the most terrible hockey card sets I own. In fact, it's so bad that I've actually kind of grown fond of it. I'm talking about the 1991-92 Ultimate hockey set. This 90-card gem was released to commemorate the recent first-round draft picks and was the first set ever released under the Ultimate brand. Not surprisingly, and unless I'm mistaken, it was also the last. Here are just a few examples of why this set is so terrible...
We'll start with one of the few cards I think actually has some merit. I'm a sucker for good action shots and this one is incredible. I'm sure Alek Stojanov was pretty disappointed to be immortalized in this way, the recipient of a picture perfect hip check. Don't worry Alek, nobody bought this awful set anyway. The photography is so bad in the rest of the set that it almost makes me wonder if this particular shot was staged.
I don't think the Ultimate brand was licensed by the NHL, so it looks like they basically gathered everyone together in the same rink I used to play in when I was ten, slapped on some jerseys with the word "Smokey's" on them (WTF?), and had a good old-fashioned scrimmage. The reason I chose to show this card of Niklas Sundblad is because his position is listed as AG. What the hell is that? I think it's safe to say this is the only hockey card I own that designates AG as a position.
Here's a good shot of the Smokey's jersey, if anyone out there knows what this is I'd love to hear it. Although the folks at Ultimate managed to label Dean with an actual valid position of center, they spelled his last name incorrectly (every hockey fan knows it's Dean McAmmond right?). This is one of many pieces of evidence suggesting the editorial staff at Ultimate was comprised of barely literate 2nd graders.
I think this Rene Corbet card speaks for itself...
Here's another shining example where proof-reading may have helped. If you're trying to start up a hockey card business you might want to avoid omitting a letter in the name of a major city in the country where hockey is perhaps more popular than anywhere else in the world.
There were actually some good players in this draft who went on to have long and successful careers in the NHL.
This is one of the worst photos I've seen selected for a hockey card. I'm not sure how long this event went on, but there was not a single picture of Kerry better than this one? I'm not sure what's going on in this shot, but it's actually at this point that the set starts to get really gay. I hope I'm not offending anyone, there's just no other way to describe it.
You think Peter Forsberg is ashamed of this card? I would be. I will never think of Peter Forsberg the same way again.
For some reason, towards the end of the set, Ultimate decided to throw in 10 cards showing the players off-ice, apparently photographed by the same gentleman who did my 5th grade school photo. I would've gone for the laser background if I were Pat Falloon.
OK, this is totally uncalled for. I have to say that if my girlfriend found this card I'd have some explaining to do. Was Ultimate trying to make a statement in the 12-16 year old female market? Because it didn't work.
I know what you're thinking, the cards of Pat Falloon and Scott Niedermayer in towels were great, but how about one with Pat Falloon in a towel and Scott Niedermayer leaning on him? Thank you Ultimate.
This is just an awkward shot of Niklas Sundblad taping a stick while glaring creepily at the camera.
The final card in the set, which serves no other purpose except to prevent the set from being an odd 89 cards in size, reminds us to face the future. As opposed to what? I'm pretty sure we have to face the future Ultimate, there's really no other option.
Well, I hope you enjoyed one of my favorite odd-ball hockey sets, and quite possibly the worst hockey card set I own. There's a whole lot of crap packed into this small, 90 card set. What's your favorite (or least favorite) odd-ball set?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trade with GCA

I recently completed a trade with Greg (aka GCA). This trade came to be when I commented on an A Pack a Day post where Greg opened a pack of 1990 Michigan State Spartans All-Time Greats cards. He had plenty of extras so I inquired about any hockey doubles. Greg actually ended up sending me all 26 hockey cards from the set. I love odd-ball cards and these definitely fit the bill. Here are 3 of my favorites, you can find the rest in the Zistle library...

John Chandik - I have no idea who the hell John Chandik is. I've never heard the name and to my knowledge he never went on to play in the NHL. I think Collegiate Collection might've stretched it a bit to fill the 200 card checklist, but I could very well be wrong. Anyway, this is a sweet card. A couple of things pop out right off the bat. The corner of the goal where the post and cross-bar meet is not rounded, pretty old school! Secondly, it's amazing to see how much goalie equipment has progressed over the years. Look at any modern goalie card and then check out this guy's skimpy pads and extremely tiny glove! Finally, I believe that is chicken wire instead of glass above the boards in the background. Classic!

Rod Brind'Amour - Believe it or not Rod is still playing for Carolina, although he's definitely lost a step and isn't having a great year. I think it's safe to say that this is the only Brind'Amour card in my collection where he's wearing a full cage on his helmet.

Doug Roberts - This one is a favorite for sentimental reasons. A great old-school photo.

Greg also sent along about 20 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee hockey base cards that I needed. I'm getting really close to completing this base set and I'm doing alright with the short prints and retro variations. It's a pretty overwhelming set so if anyone out there has any of this stuff and wants to trade please let me know.

Greg, thanks for the outstanding trade! It's always nice to trade with someone who actually has hockey cards to unload. The Michigan State cards were the coolest thing I've received in a while.

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