Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 60 Cards - Hockey Style! - Part 2

Alright, the first 20 cards are behind us, time for cards 21-40. In this installment we've got Hall-of-Famers, nerdy eyeglasses, hockey's greatest trophy, stunned fans, a couple of good personal stories and we even see that the cultural fads of the 1970's leaked their way into the sport of hockey. Onwards and upwards...

#21 - 1975-76 Topps #30 - Stan Mikita - Stan's rocking his trademark bulbous helmet on this 1975 Topps card. To be honest with you, I'm not sure why I like this one so much, I just do.

#22 - 1971-72 Topps #20 - Phil Esposito - I think I had the scanner lid open by mistake when I scanned this one, gotta go back and fix that. This was an easy choice, as I mentioned previously 1971-72 Topps/O-Pee-Chee is one of my favorite hockey card designs. This card also came out when Esposito was coming off his best season ever, having registered career highs in goals (76) and points (152) in 70-71. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he's wearing plaid pants.

#23 - 2006-07 Parkhurst #87 - Willie O'Ree Autograph - Don't think this one needs much of an explanation. It's one of the few times I've gone out of my way to find and purchase an autographed card. Every good hockey collection should have a Willie O'Ree card.

#24 - 1968-69 Topps #123 - Tim Horton - This was a very recent purchase, probably the newest card added to my collection on this list. It's a prime example of "eBay patience". I watched this card up for auction with a $39.99 starting price, which I knew I wouldn't pay for it, and to nobody's surprise it went without a bid. The seller re-listed the card with a $29.99 start price, a little better but still unreasonable. Once again the auction ended with no bids. Probably frustrated at this point, the seller tried a third time with a $20 Buy It Now auction with the ability to make an offer. I bid $15 and the seller accepted. I chose to include it because I didn't want to ignore the Maple Leafs, an original 6 team, and the Hall-of-Famer and coffee giant is my favorite Leaf card.

#25 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #AW7 - Ed Belfour Award Winners Hologram - Much like the Lindros die-cut card in Part 1, this was chosen because it was an innovation in card production, something a little different that I liked at the time. Yes, I know Upper Deck had holograms the year before in the 1990-91 set, but have you ever looked at one? They're awful. If your lighting is poor you could spend ten minutes just trying to figure out who's on the card. They were much more successful the second time around.

#26 - 1990-91 Score #290 - Guy Lafleur - I know what you're thinking, it's a crime to feature Lafleur in anything but a Canadiens uniform. This was one of the first Lafleur cards I owned though and the one I recall most vividly. Since Lafleur had achieved much of his greatness before I was even born I saw him in a different light as a kid. He wasn't a league-leading scorer or multiple Stanley Cup winner. He was "that older guy with the long hair who doesn't wear a helmet". What can I say...

#27 - 2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Retro #574 - Bernie Parent - Ironically, I generally detest parallels, yet my favorite set from 2008-09 is just that, the O-Pee-Chee retro parallels. At one per pack this 600 card set still does pretty well in the secondary market and is an absolute beast to complete. Someday I hope to get there, I'm right around 400/600. How great is the photo on this one?

#28 - 1974-75 Topps #91 - Al Arbour - The man who would coach the Islanders to 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships in the early 80's, and the last NHL player to wear glasses while playing. Great card, why doesn't anyone do coach cards any longer?

#29 - 1988-89 Topps #51 - Darren Pang - This photo is a classic. Apparently Topps feels the same way, as it was included in their 2001-02 Archives set.

#30 - 1971-72 Topps #83 - Doug Roberts - This one has some sentimental value for me, as Doug was an instructor at the hockey camp I attended for a few summers as a kid.

#31 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #156 - Mario Lemieux - Choosing a Mario Lemieux card was tough, but I think this 91-92 Upper Deck card showcasing Mario with hockey's most prized trophy might be my personal favorite.

#32 - 1990-91 Score #331 - Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup Champions - Junk wax era perfection. Very few photos manage to capture a moment like this one does. Plus, the 1990-91 Score design, which can sometimes be downright hideous, actually compliments the Oilers logo and jerseys very well here. Not only that, but Mark Messier's lurking in the background, which makes me feel better about the fact that I omitted him from my list otherwise.

#33 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #170 - Dion Phaneuf - You could probably guess at my top 60 for quite some time and never come up with this one, but I think it might be my favorite card released since I got back into collecting in 2007. Bone-crushing hits are a part of the game, and in my mind are not featured on cards nearly enough. I mean can you think of many cards from the 80's, or the 90's for that matter, that depict a jarring check? What puts this card over the top for me are the reactions from the fans in the crowd behind the glass. You really get the feeling that this was one hell of a check, I mean look at this guy:

He certainly looks as though he just witnessed something grisly. This woman's reaction is even more classic though:

Look at the pure disgust there! Well done Upper Deck, that is one fine hockey card!

#34 - 1980-81 Topps #31 - Mike Liut Rookie - Liut was the Whalers goalie when I first began watching games in the late 80's, but I like this card better than any I could find where he's sporting the Hartford green and blue. I also wanted to point out what I think is one of the worst designs ever, the 1980-81 Topps/O-Pee-Chee "scratch-off" design. Using an object such as a coin to scratch off the black substance on the puck (much like you would a lottery scratch ticket), you would reveal the name of the player depicted on your card. All this has done for anal people like myself is forced us to find either all scratched or all unscratched cards for our set. My set is nearly all unscratched, but the handful of cards that are scratched bother me and are going to be replaced someday.

#35 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #293 - Peter Stastny In Action - I hemmed and hawed on going with Stastny's rookie card from 1981-82 Topps, but ultimately decided that it looked too similar to the Kurri rookie I featured in Part 1. Instead, you get this 82-83 O-Pee-Chee In Action card. The photo is much better anyway. I'm watching the Bruins/Thrashers play to a half-empty arena in Atlanta as I type this, and am wondering why the Thrashers can't be "relocated" to Quebec as the Nordiques. If I were commissioner...

#36 - 1979-80 Topps #38 - Wayne Stephenson - The second Flyer goalie card in this segment. I mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a good goalie mask, and this is may be the best mask featured on any card I own.

#37 - 1991-92 Pro Set French #101 - Wayne Gretzky Autograph - I think it's safe to say this is my single favorite hockey card. To this day it's my one and only TTM request, and receiving the card back was one of the highlights of my collecting youth. If I had to sell my entire collection tomorrow and could keep only 3 total cards, from any sport, this would be one of them.

#38 - 1972-73 Topps #7 - Playoff Game #6 - This card represents a significant game in Boston hockey history, the game when the Bruins captured their last Stanley Cup championship, over 38 years ago. Since the Whalers never even came close, I've never had the experience as a hockey fan of having the team I watch and root for win it all. The way the Bruins have been playing over the last week or so, I'm starting to think I'll be waiting a good deal longer...

#39 - 1979-80 Topps #103 - Gary Smith - I knew this one would make the list, it was one of the 5 or 10 cards I had already picked out before I even started looking around. Yes, this card looks ridiculous enough on its own, but to truly appreciate it you have to see Gary's card from the beginning of the decade, just 9 years earlier:

Amazing huh? Off the top of my head I can't think of a better set of before and after cards illustrating the effects of 1970's cultural fads on a hockey player. Can you? If so, I'm impressed!

#40 - 1967-68 Topps #38 - Glen Sather Rookie - We go back to the 60's to finish off this lot of 20. This was one of the most satisfying pick-ups I've had at under $4. It's a nice Bruins rookie to have in the collection, but to me it's equally great to have the rookie card of the GM and architect of the 1980's Edmonton Oilers dynasty.

I hope you enjoyed these, the final 20 cards will be posted tomorrow....

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Top 60 Cards - Hockey Style! - Part 1

As you probably know, Topps recently launched a website where collectors are invited to vote for the top 60 Topps baseball cards of all-time. It seems most collectors have some gripes with the cards Topps put up for vote, and it's hard to blame them. Recently, Night Owl (and I'm sure some other bloggers that I just haven't stumbled across) created his own list. It seemed only right that someone compile one for hockey cards, so I began scouring my collection to see what I could come up with. I'm going to break this into 3 20-card posts like Night Owl to make it easier for me to type up and for you to read.

A couple of disclaimers before we get started. First of all, these are my current top 60 cards from my collection. All of the scans are of my actual cards, if I don't own it you won't see it here. So, while I'd love to include a 1950's Parkhurst Gordie Howe, that's not a possibility (yet). Secondly, this is not a "60 Most Valuable Cards in My Collection" post. There are a variety of reasons a card would make this list. True, a couple of them are more expensive, iconic cards but a ridiculously goofy face is just as likely to get you into the top 60. Finally, and most importantly, I encourage your comments! Lists like this provide great fodder for argument, so let me know where you agree or disagree, I'd love to hear your feedback.

So here we go, cards 1-20 in random order:

#1 - 1990-91 O-Pee-Chee Premier #100 - Jeremy Roenick Rookie - When O-Pee-Chee released its inaugural Premier set in 1990 collectors went crazy for it. It had a few great rookie cards and a design that looked pretty impressive compared to what was provided by Topps and O-Pee-Chee in the 80's. It's held up better over time than probably any set from this year. If you don't believe me try finding a wax box for under $70.

#2 - 1987-88 Topps #83 - Bernie Federko - Probably my favorite card from the 1987-88 set. Bernie's facial expression is priceless.

#3 - 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee WHA #49 - Al Smith - Growing up a Whalers fan, I had to include at least one card from the team's WHA years. Al Smith's great mask made this one an easy choice.

#4 - 1976-77 Topps #100 - Tony Esposito - I wanted a Tony Esposito card to be included and this is one of my favorites, although there were 3 or 4 others I could've easily chosen.

#5 - 1962-63 Topps #55 - Ted Hampson - Ted here is one of my oldest hockey cards. This card has definitely seen better days but hey, it's almost 50 years old. Besides, that wretched lower left corner gives the card character.

#6 - 1977-78 Topps #75 - Cleveland Barons Team - I chose this card because for the longest time I didn't even realize that the Cleveland Barons were at one point an NHL franchise. Formerly the Golden Seals, the Barons lasted just two seasons in the NHL (missing the playoffs both times) before merging with the Minnesota North Stars. I wish Upper Deck would do team cards like this in their modern flagship set.

#7 - 2008-09 Upper Deck #128 - Nicklas Lidstrom - One of the more recent cards on my list. I think this is a great shot of the grizzled veteran on the bench. Lidstrom continues to perform at age 40 and is once again a part of early season Norris trophy discussions. Definitely one of the best defenseman of all time.

#8 - 1994-95 Upper Deck SP Insert #149 - Eric Lindros Die-Cut - These inserts were among the very first die-cut hockey cards I remember my friends and I getting. I would've traded just about anything for this Lindros back in the day, but as it stands I got it out of the quarter box at the local hobby shop not too long ago.

#9 - 1989-90 Topps #113 - Joe Sakic Rookie - 1989-90 Topps/O-Pee-Chee is the set I collected more than any other as a kid, and for quite some time this Sakic rookie was the most "valuable" card I owned. I had two or three of them and I thought I would make a killing one day selling my extra copies. I've learned quite a bit since then!

#10 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #99 - Wayne Gretzky Edmonton Oilers Leaders - This was a recent addition to my collection, pulled from a pack not too long ago. I think it's the perfect example of just how dominating Gretzky was during his era, and the fact that it's card number 99 in the set is a nice touch.

#11 - 1981-82 Topps #18 - Jari Kurri Rookie - The 1981-82 Topps/O-Pee-Chee design is definitely amongst my favorites of all time. There were many different cards I could've chosen from this one, but I settled on Jari Kurri's rookie. I remember this one vividly from my youth, Kurri looks more like a nervous little kid than a dangerous scorer.

#12 - 1977-78 O-Pee-Chee Glossy #5 - Ken Dryden - One thing you'll notice looking through my list is that I'm a fan of great goalie masks. Enough said.

#13 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #54 - Pavel Bure - The Russian Rocket was one of my favorite players as a kid. Terrible yet instantly recognizable card.

#14 - 1989-90 Topps #74 - Doug Gilmour - Another of my favorites from the 89-90 Topps set. I still have no idea why the background on this card is greenish/yellow, and somehow it took me years to realize there's a player's face in there.

#15 - 1977-78 Topps #134 - Mike Milbury Rookie - If you live in New England and don't know who Mike Milbury is, you're probably not much of a hockey fan. In fact, no matter where you live, if you follow hockey you've heard of Mike Milbury.

#16 - 1991-92 Upper Deck #47 - Mario Lemieux & George Bush - This card from the 1991-92 Upper Deck set is not something you see every day. In fact, I can't think of another hockey card off-hand where a president is pictured...

#17 - 1982-83 O-Pee-Chee #2 - Mike Bossy Record Breaker - As one of the best pure goal scorers of all-time, I had to include a Bossy card. I settled on this Record Breaker card, which celebrates his career season in 1981-82 (64 goals, 83 assists, 147 points). I know I've said this before but it's scary to think how many more goals Mike may have scored if he was able to stay healthy.

#18 - 1971-72 Topps #70 - Gordie Howe - What's not to like about this card? One of the best players to ever lace up skates on one of the best designs to ever grace a hockey card. Gordie will make another appearance later on the list.

#19 - 1974-75 Topps #169 - Kansas City Scouts Team Card - This one was picked for much the same reason as the Cleveland Barons card earlier in this post. I started collecting hockey cards in the 1989-90 season, and had a few cards as old as 1981-82, but anything from the 70's was a mystery to me. I didn't know about the KC Scouts until my second go at collecting more than 15 years later!

#20 - 2007-08 Upper Deck #208 - David Krejci Young Guns Rookie - We round out the first 20 with the proper Upper Deck Young Guns rookie of my favorite current NHL player, David Krejci. Every little thing this guy does on the ice has a purpose, his "hockey IQ" is amazing. You can really see how critical he is to the team when he misses time, I think if he hadn't gone down last year in the playoffs the B's wouldn't have choked that series away to the Flyers. Ugh...

Well, there's your first 20. Cards 21-40 will be posted tomorrow. What do you think?

Friday, November 26, 2010

On the Radar - 1988-89 Topps Hockey

One of my major collecting goals since I got back into the hobby has been to collect every Topps hockey set from the 1980's, from the 1980-81 set through the 1989-90 set. I have a tendency to get sidetracked and bounce all over the place though, so I'm only just now getting to a point where I have everything organized. Working my way backwards, I've already completed the 1989-90 Topps set. Next up would be the 1988-89 set:

The nice thing about the Topps sets from this decade is the manageable size of each set, with this one clocking in at 198 cards. Although I've had some of the bigger cards for quite some time (Gretzky, Lemieux, Hull rookie...), I had very few cards from this set until I picked up a huge stack of commons and semi-stars at the local hobby shop a while back.

I've finally got everything sorted out and into pages and my Want List is now up to date. I'm down to around 30 cards needed to finish the set. If anyone has any of the following available for trade please let me know!

23, 25, 26, 35, 49, 61, 73, 82,
102, 103, 104, 113, 118, 119, 123, 124, 130, 134, 141, 145, 147, 157, 160, 161, 166, 167, 171, 176, 179, 193

I've also got a healthy stack of doubles on the odd chance that anyone's looking to get started on a 22-year-old Topps hockey set!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Ultimate 2010-11 Upper Deck Hockey Pack!

I wasn't planning to build the 2010-11 Upper Deck hockey set, and I'm not sure that's changed, but on Friday night I did pick up one single pack at the local shop for $3 just to see how the cards look in person.

I've collected the Upper Deck base set for the past few years since I got back into collecting, but kind of got bored with it after last year's set. $3 gets you 8 cards, this turned out to be an extremely good pack:

#21 - Steven Stamkos - Can't get a much better first card than this. Stamkos is the most exciting young scorer in the league at the moment. After scoring a league-leading 51 goals last season (along with Sydney Crosby), he is leading the league in both goals and points so far this year.

#63 - Daniel Alfredsson - Alfredsson is still putting up good numbers as a 37-year-old. He's been good for about a point per game over his career and registered his 1,000th career point earlier this season.

#19 - Colton Orr - I have to say that these cards actually look really good. I was excited about collecting the Score set this year but these look so much nicer, although they are priced much differently in all fairness to Panini. I didn't purchase so much as a single pack of Upper Deck's baseball release this year, so this was my first real exposure to this design. I think it works much better with the hockey set.

#183 - Tuukka Rask - Every Bruins fan, myself included, thought Rask would be the man between the pipes the majority of the time for Boston this season, after he led the league in both Goals Against Average and Save Percentage last year. His 0-4-1 record over his first 5 appearances though, combined with the fact that Tim Thomas has been an absolute beast (10-1-1, 1.49 GAA, .954 save percentage!), have resulted in little playing time for Tuukka. He did post a shut-out in his last start against the Panthers on Thursday night. I love the photo on this card depicting Rask being presented with the NESN (Bruins TV broadcast) 7th Man Award.

#231 - P.K. Subban - Young Guns Rookie - I couldn't believe it when I shuffled Rask's card to the side and this one was revealed. Subban is causing quite a stir in the hobby, and in the media as well. Just last night on Hockey Night in Canada we heard Don Cherry as well as Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers commenting on Subban's lack of respect for the game. All I know is he looked pretty damn good against the Bruins last time they played. This card is consistently selling in the $30 - $40 range on eBay. I'm very tempted to flip this for some vintage hockey on eBay, since I have a feeling this card might drop a bit in value over the long run and don't plan on collecting this set, but I'm still not sure what I'll do.

#86 - Andy Greene

#36 - Joe Pavelski - After a phenomenal playoff performance, Pavelski has cooled down some but is still posting decent offensive numbers so far this year.

#46 - Tyler Kennedy

That wraps it up. I'd say that's about as good as I could hope to do with just a single pack of Upper Deck! The odds of purchasing just one pack and pulling a Subban rookie are pretty low to say the least. Stamkos and a nice Rask card put this one over the top for me.

That being said, I just don't need another set to collect right now. If anyone wants to trade me a Krejci that would be great. I might even pick up another pack here and there, but no hobby boxes for me.
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