I haven't done an entry for The Ultimate Hockey Card Set yet this month, so it's about time I got around to one of these. Today I'm selecting card #211. Like the Steve Yzerman rookie that made the cut last month, today's selection wasn't too difficult, at least based on the 11,000+ hockey cards I've got sorted, scanned and added to my collection on Zistle so far.
There was one particular card that I had in mind from the outset, in fact it's the reason I chose to select card #211 next for the set. In the end, that card did indeed win out. In fact, it had only one serious competitor:
I'm a huge fan of 1974-75 Topps. I've been working on accumulating all 264 cards for at least a couple of years now, and after the quarter box haul I posted the other day am now just 27 cards shy of finishing it off. This particular card came into my collection back in the summer as part of my COMC Hobby Box (in the same "pack" as a card of the Fonz!).
Great photo that I believe depicts Don Marcotte of the Boston Bruins and Ron Ellis of the Toronto Maple Leafs in a struggle for the puck (can someone confirm this?). Truly a worthy runner-up.
As I said though, in the end I ultimately chose the card I had in mind to begin with:
"The Championship to New Jersey! The Devils Win the Stanley Cup!"
1995-96 Upper Deck is all about the photo, with very little going on in terms of design element. With Upper Deck's quality of photography being so high though, this doesn't bother me like it does some collectors. In fact, 1995-96 may very well be my all-time favorite flagship Upper Deck set.
This particular photo is among the best in the set. Actually, it may be among the best photos used on any hockey card in my collection. I think the expression on Martin's face really conveys how difficult (and ultimately rewarding) a journey it is to actually come out on top of the NHL playoffs. Talk about a great shot of Lord Stanley's Cup too! Hoisted above the ice in all its sparkling glory, you can see a reflection of the crowd in the stands, the ice, and even Brodeur himself within its rings. Hands down this is the best trophy out of the four major North American sports. I don't see how you could even make an argument against that? The Commissioner's Trophy? The O'Brien trophy (I've held this thing in hand in a suite at a Celtics game a couple of years ago, and I think it's the worst of the four)? Even the Lombardi Trophy, like the first two I just mentioned, is recreated each year for the winning team. This card belongs in The Ultimate Hockey Card Set for its depiction of hockey's ultimate prize alone.
The other thing I really love about this card is that it captures a significant and identifiable moment in time. I love the history of both baseball and hockey, in fact I think it's the primary reason I collect cards. To me, my collection is like a history of the game, written out on cardboard and stored in monster boxes in my office closet. Some "chapters", like the late 80's and early 90's, are fairly robust and deep. Other chapters, like the 1950's...not so much, but that's where there's the room for growth that makes collecting so much fun. Okay, I'm straying off topic here, but you get the point.
This photograph represents the end of the 1994-95 season, but it also represents a return to normalcy for hockey. A lockout had caused fans to go without NHL hockey deep into the 1994-95 season. In fact, maybe I should just call it the 1995 season, because by the time things got settled and the first game was played it was January 20th, 1995. After a shortened, 48-game season the playoffs commenced in the standard format and a few weeks later the New Jersey Devils managed to beat a stacked Detroit Red Wings team for the championship. Pretty impressive given that the Red Wings managed 70 points in the 48-game regular season, with a record of 33-11-4!
The Devils swept the Wings, Marty lifted the copy, and hockey was back...
This brings The Ultimate Hockey Card Set to 9 cards, which can be viewed here.
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