Saturday, November 22, 2014

15 years in the making

Many of you who read the $30 a week habit blog are well aware of my foolish fascination with various types of parallels.  Serial numbered or not, I've chased many of these ever since the mid 90's.

There have even been a handful of parallel sets I've liked so much that I have chased the entire set.  The 1999-00 Upper Deck MVP silver signature set is one of them.   Today, I finally acquired the last remaining card I've needed for a long time, Mike Richter.

I've been searching eBay for this card for the past couple of months (off and on), and the few copies that I did find were about $1-$1.50 apiece, plus about $3 shipping (most were from Canada).  I really didn't want to pay that kind of money just for one card.

Then I remembered a web site that many, many other people out there have used for a long time, but for some reason I have stayed away from. 

I decided to give it a try for the first time, and ordered the Richter along with 10 other SPs I needed to finish another set.  8 days after the order was placed, the cards arrived and I will say that my first foray into the COMC world was a great success.  

It makes me wonder why I waited so long.  Hopefully the next attempt at putting together a silver signature set will take less than 15 years....

thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's not too often you can pick up a Parkhurst card for 50 cents

Once in a blue moon, while surfing eBay, I pull up a list of all the card auctions that are closing soon.  I figure that if I troll for long enough, I'll find a deal or two that I can snipe. 

I happened upon this card one day last week:

Outside of a couple of Leafs cards from the last half of the 50's and a handful from the 60's, Parkhurst cards are something that I've shied away from because of the price tag.

I saw this card and was intrigued, especially since the opening bid was 50 cents!  I figured that I would throw a bid out on a lark, expecting that I would be outbid later.

Unbelievably, the 50 cent bid held and today I received this card in the mail.

A little bit of paper loss on the back, but definitely something that I was willing to overlook at that price tag.

I was skeptical that I would even receive the card; you know how it is, a seller gets a bid or 2 on a card and it ends up selling for far less than they expected, so they hold on to it and refund your money.  That skepticism ended this morning.


thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, September 14, 2014

No longer turning my nose up at Topps

I really don't know why for many years I didn't bother with Topps hockey.  It's pretty much the same as OPC hockey was back in the 70's and 80's, with the exception that the sets were smaller. 

What's even stranger is that I'm not actively trying to put any sets together from either the 70's or 80's (save for 76-77 OPC), so if my predisposition to larger sets is no longer in the way, what's the problem.

Well, I guess there isn't one any more.   At the National (yea, I know it's been over a month), I found a table with dime boxes full of late 70's and early 80's Topps hockey.

I went to work digging out the Leafs...

Some great names from that era here...Salming will always be one of my favorite Leafs, along with Sittler.  Vaive and Derlago from the Canucks really was a steal for the Leafs; Tiger Williams was the "fighting" heart of the team, and Jerry Butler was a solid penalty killer and 4th line player.  But the Leafs get Derlago, 4 seasons of 30+ goals, and Vaive who becomes the first Leaf ever to score 50 in a season.  I love that I now have a card of someone not named Gretzky wearing the number 99 in the NHL as well.  Paiement wore it in Toronto for 4 seasons between 1979-82 before being traded to the Nordiques. 

Fast forward to the mid 80's, the Leafs are in the middle of a decade long run of below .500 seasons despite having some decent talent on the club.  Rick Vaive and Steve Thomas both got a Leafs photo on their 87-88 Topps card even though they were traded to Chicago in September of '87.  Same goes for Derlago, as he only played one game in Toronto in the 85-86 season before moving to Boston for Tom Fergus. 

The 85-86 design is one of my favorites from that decade, I like the logo placement in the upper corner, with the players name and position in the bar on the bottom that features the teams dominant color.  87-88's design wasn't as thrilling to a lot of people; it kind of reminds me of a couple of 60's baseball sets with the team name in a circle. 

The 77-78 and 78-79 designs were from my early collecting years, and are still are a pair of my favorites.  Getting players such as Sittler and Salming for 10 cents apiece still makes me smile because if I had waited until November at the Expo to pick these up, I probably would have had to pay more to get them. 

Unfortunately the table that had these cards was at the end of my National trip, and the funds were starting to run low.  There was quite a few cards that I could have picked up and started a few Topps sets from these years, but I would have been able to start only one of them, and choosing which one would have been difficult since I like them all.

I guess I just had to find a bunch of cards at 10 cents apiece of my beloved Blue and White heroes to change my mind about Topps hockey.  

I guess I'm just weird that way...

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Welcome back MVP

I was always a fan of this set.  Back in the 90's it was a cheaper alternative to the myriad of other sets that were on the market, plus it had one of my favorite parallels ever, the silver signature parallel.

When I recently read that Upper Deck was going to resurrect MVP as a base brand again rather than an insert as it has been the past few years, I was happy.

Cheap cards, with a little something to chase, is right up my alley.

I bought a blaster while I was up in Canada during August, and when I amazingly spotted one in the card aisle today at Wal Mart, I quickly snapped it up.

The set consists of 300 cards, as it has in the past.  But now card #'s 201-300 are SPs, found 1:1 in hobby packs, 1:2 in retail/blasters.  That breakdown was a little disappointing, but not unexpected in today's SP driven card market.

The design is nice, although there may be a little too much border on the front for some people's tastes..

I think Upper Deck wanted to make sure that people knew that these cards were the MVP brand.  The logo/lettering appears twice on the front.

And twice more on the back customers are made aware that this is the MVP brand.  A little bit of overkill if you ask me.  Maybe a secondary photo on the back instead of the MVP logo would have enhanced these cards.

Also returning are my beloved silver script parallels.  I like the fact that they are distinguishable from the base set by the silver borders (along with the faux signature).  This blaster was very good to me, as I pulled 6 quality players.   This is probably going to be a chase set for me again, as I'm finally about to finish the 99-00 MVP silver sig set very shortly. 

Now, the blaster I bought in Canada netted me a Mikkel Boedker gold signature card.  I figured that I just got very lucky, since the gold signatures are #'d to 100.  Well, either I'm very lucky, or the gold signatures are in each blaster, because I pulled another one...

Love it.  Ryan O'Reilly, #'d 98/100.  In the past versions of MVP, I never pulled any gold signatures that I can recall.   Now 2 in 2 blasters?  Can my luck be changing that much?

Now this next insert I'm going to gush a little bit about...

The 3 stars of the week inserts are a fantastic idea in my opinion.  Not based on just guys who are young, or hot in the collecting world, these cards feature players that earned the 3 stars during a specific week during the NHL regular season.  

How many times are you going to see Taylor Hall, Semyon Varlamov and Max Pacioretty on a card together??  I don't recall seeing any kind of inserts like these in the past, and I'd love to see more of these in the future.  With 26 of these available (one for each week during the season), it's also an attainable insert set to put together.

MVP also has a colors and contours parallel set that is found in hobby packs that will drive team and player collectors a little more crazy as well. 

Sorry for the blurry image

No, I unfortunately don't have the Joe Sakic die-cut yet, but naturally as a Sakic collector I would love to have one for my PC.  A quick search of eBay shows that these have a bit of a wide price range so far; a lot of the commons going for about $2-$3, while a Bobby Orr purple die cut has a $40 BIN price tag on one auction that I found.

I'm hoping by the time the Hockey Expo in November rolls around that the price tag drops a bit, which I'm thinking it will since the 14-15 Upper Deck series 1 releases that week.

All in all, this has been a fun and inexpensive rip so far, and it just may replace my OPC chase this year.

thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The other half of the great card state

Not to be outdone by the 3 cards that Pat sent, Dennis from the Too Many Verlanders blog hit me up with a great PWE today as well.

A couple of Maple Leaf autos never hurt the cause....

I never dabbled much with the one auto a pack Be A Player releases from the mid to late 90's.  I've never been a collector that chases autographs, however I'm also someone who doesn't sneer at them when they come my way.

The 97-98 Leafs were not a very good squad, finishing with only 69 points and failing to score 200 goals during an 82 game season.  Derek King was third on the club with 47 points, and Alyn McCauley was a 20 year old rookie who accumulated 16 points.  While King only played one more season in Toronto before being traded to the Blues, McCauley went on to play 4+ more seasons in the Blue and White, becoming a solid 3rd/4th line player during the long playoff of 2001-02. 

These cards are great additions to my long neglected Leaf collection, and were a great surprise when I opened Dennis' envelope today.  Yes, Michigan was a great card state for me today...

thank you very much Dennis, these cards are greatly appreciated!!!

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Of course the first card I pulled out of a box at the National was a hockey card

Yes, even with all the cards I'll show off on the other blog in the near future, the first card that struck my eye and wound up in my collection is this beauty.

73-74 Topps Bobby Orr all star card.  For me, it was a steal at $8 and it is the only Bobby Orr card that I own.  Another thing that I noticed this year at the show was my tendency to pick up Topps hockey cards, which is the complete opposite of what I've done in the past. 

Maybe finding a gem like this was the encouragement I needed to start grabbing Topps....

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Another unique add to the Sakic collection

I never had seen one of these discs until a seller on Sportlots added it to my order a couple of weeks ago.

I cut off a bit of the top of the disc, but you can still see the Team Rivals designation.  This disc was released the year after the Panthers and the Avalanche met each other in the Stanley Cup Finals.  This particular disc was only available via redemption from jars of Kraft peanut butter.

Here's the back:

I looked through the checklist, which contains 72 discs, and surprisingly found that there were none that featured Wayne Gretzky.   Joe Sakic has a 2nd disc in this set that features only him.  I imagine that putting a set of these discs had to have been difficult back in the day, as they were released in several different Kraft products in Canada. 

Nonetheless, another great addition to the Sakic collection at a price that can't be beat.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, June 30, 2014

Adding pieces of the puzzle--right before the frenzy

I posted on the other blog about a PWE that Doug from the Dollar Store blog sent me.  The remainder of the cards in the envelope hit two of my hockey collections.

First, he sent me this years SP Game Used card of Joe Sakic.

I'm curious what the plans are for Burnaby Joe and the Avalanche organization as the free agent frenzy begins tomorrow.  I'm not too sure that the Parenteau for Briere trade was a step in the right direction for the Avs, but of course I have a tendency to be wrong when criticizing trades, so don't be surprised to see that trend continue.

Colorado's big name free agent is Paul Stastny, who has been rumored to be going to the blue and white, along with a few other teams.  Speaking of blue and white....

Doug also sent a couple of really nice base cards from the 2013-14 Panini Rookie Anthology set.  From all the scuttlebutt I've heard recently, James Reimer's days as a Maple Leaf are numbered, with Winnipeg as the likely destination. 

I almost wish I had taken the day off tomorrow to watch the going's on, but then I remember to a couple of years ago when I took July 1st off, and wound up watching all day as nothing major really took place. 

One of these days I'll have to start putting a Maple Leafs want list together.  It shouldn't be as difficult as the Jays list was, and it will give me a good starting point when I head to hockey shows down the road. 

Thanks again Doug!  I appreciate the cards very much...

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, June 29, 2014


What better way to come back from another 2 week layoff (I've got to stop that...) than to boast about a great lot of cards I scored off of eBay.  I had my eye on this auction for a few weeks, and when I finally came to a week where I had no plans for my card budget, I hunted through the seller's auctions and found another want list need that provided combined shipping and pulled the trigger.

Thanks to Priority Mail, 3 days later I had in my hand a 160 card lot from the 83-84 OPC set.  The entire lot cost me just under $20 shipped. 

The lot isn't 160 commons either.  Dale Hawerchuk, Guy Lafleur, and several other stars are in the lot.  This one card I took one look at and felt like I was in a time warp.

I would never have to even see the rest of the uniform to identify that mask with Mike Liut.  The elongated front with the triangle cut outs will forever be for me one of the most recognizable masks in hockey.  Maybe it is easily identified for me because there was no paint job on the front.  The only other goalie that I can remember that had a mask that was similar in shape to Liut was this fellow.

Very similar, except that Dion's had circles instead of triangles.  Dion's Penguin design is also very cool as well, incorporating the city's black and gold colors with the classic skating Penguin.

I couldn't remember if Liut played for any other franchises besides Hartford and St. Louis; I wound up using Hockey to check his career stats.  For the life of me, I cannot remember him as a Capital.   Maybe it's because he's wearing this mask instead.

Yes, it's Mike Liut, but forgive me if I believe that it isn't the same one I recognize from the picture above.  He's just not as recognizable to me with the cage/fiberglass hybrid mask. 

Thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, June 16, 2014

I have a thing for HOF jersey cards on the cheap

I've wondered in the past about how successful some players would have been had they not played on teams with Wayne Gretzky.  Naturally, the first player that comes to mind that benefited from Gretzky's greatness is his right winger, Jari Kurri.

Don't get me wrong, 601 goals is nothing to sneeze at.  And yes, the one season he played in Edmonton without Gretzky they won the Stanley Cup.  It does take some talent to have a 4 year run of 52, 71, 68 and 54 goals.   The one stat that jumps out during that 4 season run is his shooting percentage in each of those campaigns was over 25%, which is phenomenal.

Given all that, when I see a 2012-13 Artifacts dual jersey card of Finland's 2nd greatest hockey player for a measly $2.50 at a card show, it's a very easy pickup.  You'll probably see more Jari Kurri cards in the future here, as I do my best to rebuild the OPC lineup of sets between 1980 and 1987. 

thanks for reading, Robert

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Slacker---that's right, I'm a slacker.

2.5 weeks between posts.   Not a good thing when you're just starting out a new blog.  It's been tough staying motivated so far this summer, even on the main blog.  But I did manage to snag a few cards for a couple of hockey want lists this week.

A couple of six packs you could say.  

I'm 6 cards closer to completing the 2008-09 OPC set.  Man I'm dragging this one out!

D'Agostini has made a few stops since this card was first released.  He even had an 8 game cup of coffee in the steel city during this past season.  Speaking of 8 games, that's all that Kevin Doell played with the Thrashers back in 2008.  Enough to get him on a card!  Andrew Ebbett is another player who has bounced around, seeing action with 5 teams since he left the Ducks in 2009.

While those 6 cards are good, these 6 coming up I like even better.

I'm really hoping to build, over time, the OPC sets from 80-81 through 86-87.  I love each and every one of those sets, and piece by piece I'll have them in my collection at some point in the future.   I picked these up from one of my favorite Sportlots sellers for a quarter a piece.  I didn't know what to expect condition wise, but these are in great shape.  Even though I picked up 3 Leafs, and one former Leaf (Manno) in this group, the card I was most excited to get on the cheap was the Trottier.  The card is NM at worst, and for 25 cents was an easy add to my purchase on the weekend.

This is just the start of the purchase, I have a whole bunch more singles to show off soon.

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The itch

I won't bore you with the same story you probably already read over at the $30 habit blog.

But, I do have a bit of a contrast for you to what I posted over there.  The hockey purchase at Wal Mart on Saturday was a discounted blaster of Panini Prizm.   This was a shocking find, because I almost never see any discounted blasters of current year's product at the box stores around here.  So this was an automatic snag.

Now, I'm going to make a point here right away.   In the 8 packs, I pulled 4 rookies.

Now, I know 3 of these 4 guys (Schroeder being the only one I don't know anything about, yet).  To say I know them means that I've heard of them in passing during hockey shows that I watch during the season, both in the US and Canada.  So the familiarity in truth is small.

What really makes me wonder is this.   If I don't care for a product like Bowman baseball because of it's affinity for going heavy on prospects, why don't I have the same disdain for hockey products that include a lot of young players as well.

It doesn't make sense if you think about it.  Maybe it's because of the fact that I prefer hockey to baseball as a sport (1A vs 1B is really how they would be ranked).  It's weird, but true.

These dirty bastard blue parallels are still sucking me in.  Right now, they are my favorite parallel set from any of this years releases, in either sport.  It's going to be hard for me not to be sucked in to chasing these cards.   Very hard.

I also broke my streak of no hits in blasters, with a nice autograph of Sven Baertschi.

Sticker auto, what can you do?  The card still looks really great, and is the best pull out of a pack in quite a while.

Is anyone out there collecting Panini Prizm this year, hockey or baseball?  For me, it's really not a bad product, even though in my opinion it might be a little overpriced.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Despite the red, I had to have this card

I am still considering the Robert Morris card show last weekend a success for myself, even though I wound up with limited time to peruse the aisles.

There was one table that was offering 75% off of relic cards, so I dove in to see if I could find anything worth bringing home.

Even though the swatches on this card were red, I just had to have this card.

The Big M!!  Frank Mahovlich, one of the greatest Leafs of all time.  I love the look of the card, the picture is great, the script is a font that I enjoy reading, and it's limited to just 50 copies.

The price tag was even better.  $3.50

If I can find one of these with blue or white swatches, that would be even better.  None the less, this card becomes a nice piece of my Maple Leafs collection, which is something that I am hoping to grow a little bit more over the summer.

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The $5 show theme continues

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog, but last night at the Robert Morris card show, I picked up a few reasons to start posting.

For $5, I picked up a card that should have been in my Joe Sakic collection for a long time, but for some reason has eluded me.

The Topps version of his RC.  Beautiful card, corners are great and it's well centered.

For $5 I couldn't leave it there. 

From the same table, I found another $5 card for my Sakic collection that also has escaped my clutches.

During the labor dispute of 2004-05, Upper Deck decided to use established stars, retired players and a couple of coaches for their short printed Young Guns subset.  For me, the photo is pretty cool because it features Joe during his rookie season with the Nordiques (the #88 on his jersey is the giveaway). 

Still lots more to show from the show here, but I'll save those for future posts.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, May 4, 2014

1984-85 Topps Mike Gartner

Simple.  That's what this card is.  Nothing fancy, like most of the Topps/OPC sets during the 1980's.  Maybe that's why I really like this card. 

84-85 Topps #143

Even the back of the card is simple and easy to read.

Gartner is probably one of the most under appreciated goal scorers of my lifetime.   708 goals during 19 seasons in the NHL, 6th all time.  27 more as a 19 year old in the WHA with the Cincinnati Stingers (one of the greatest WHA logos in my opinion).   Mike scored 40 or more goals 9 times.  Add another 8 seasons of 30-39 goals.   Probably one of the most dependable offensive threats during the 80's and early 90's.

Why no hobby love for this guy?  Probably because he never won any hardware.   No scoring titles.  No Stanley Cups.  Never made a 1st or 2nd all star team.  All he did was consistently show up and put pucks in the back of the net. 

I remember picking this card up at a show in Canton, OH a few months back for 50 cents and thinking that it was a pretty good deal.  Maybe one day people will figure out how good this guy really was and his prices will climb.

Or, if people haven't figured it out by now, maybe they never will....

thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Shark Tank

I took a look through the 2nd half of a Sportlots purchase I had made last weekend, and among the hockey cards that were in the lot was this one.

1998-99 Pacific #102
A baby faced 19 year old Joe Thornton, then with the Boston Bruins.  I made me immediately think of the disaster that was the San Jose first round exit this year at the hands of the San Jose Sharks.

I heard the GM say that the coaching staff shouldn't take the fall for the demise of the team in the playoffs.  Interesting.

This team has been built to win for quite a while now.  They've made it to the 3rd round of the playoffs just one time in the past decade.  Every other season has been 1st or 2nd round exits.

With a team loaded with talent like this, you have to wonder when the proverbial "axe" is going to fall.   It doesn't appear that management feels the need to shake up the club.   It's going to be an interesting summer in San Jose, because I believe a shake up is needed, only the difficult part is where do you begin?

thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No noose is good noose

With 4:47 left to go in Game 6 of the series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, I began to have serious flashbacks to another series from last year's playoffs (Leafs - Bruins). 

After the major faux pas that he committed in game 4 of the series, I wondered what kind of pressure Marc-Andre Fleury would have been facing had the Penguins gone on to lose game 6.

2007-08 Ultra #39
I read all sorts of interesting articles after the game 4 collapse, and many people believe that even if the Penguins do  have a solid playoff run, that Fleury's time in Pittsburgh should come to an end.

I don't see it like that, and here's why.  It doesn't seem like it, but Fleury's been in Pittsburgh for a decade.  I don't know how to put this any other way, but Fleury's results are a reflection of how the team has been built.  Remember Grant Fuhr in Edmonton?  Fleury in Pittsburgh is the same, only different. 

Has anyone out there thought of Pittsburgh as a team that could totally shut an opponent down during the Crosby era?   I didn't think so.  The numbers aren't great as far as save percentage and goals against average, but take a look at this little tidbit.

Every season that Fleury has played a minimum of 60 games, he's won at least 35 in each of those seasons. The man is a winner.  Patrick Roy?  5 35+ win seasons.  Ed Belfour?  He has 7.  The one guy that he probably will not catch is Martin Brodeur, who has 12 seasons of 35 or more wins. 

Fleury and Pittsburgh will forever be entwined.  Whether Penguins fans like it or not, I can't see the team giving up on him after his contract expires next year. 

Give it some time folks, you will probably see at least 1 more Cup, if not 2, by the time Fleury and Pittsburgh part ways.

At least the noose around his neck has loosened a bit.   We'll see if the Penguins can keep their intensity level high for the remainder of the playoffs.

thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 24, 2014

An "abandoned" PC: Keith Tkachuk

Back about a decade ago, I actually had 3 hockey player PCs on the go, but as you all know the only one that I maintained over the years was the Joe Sakic.

One of the smaller PCs that I had was a guy that I really liked as a player, even though he never played for the Leafs (boy I wish he did though).  Keith Tkachuk was a no nonsense type of player, he could beat you on the scoreboard, or in the alley.  Twice in his career he had a season with 40+ goals and 200+ penalty minutes.   Great for your fantasy team!

I actually found the small collection of cards in one of the many boxes I was looking through over the past week.  There were only 44 unique cards, but they definitely represented the glitz that was the card craze in the 90's.  Needless to say there were lots of Pacific products in the mix...

Fair warning, do not adjust your computers, this next scan is quite loud!


Ahhh yes, the pride of the Pacific line.  That Revolution card in the upper right corner might be the loudest card that I own.  Kind of fits in with the jersey, doesn't it?

There are also a fair number of Tkachuk's that were horizontal...

The Pacific 2000 team leaders card in the lower right corner is one of my favorites.  The silver Coyotes logo looks really cool, and even though I've never been someone who believed that Phoenix should have a team, I've always enjoyed the Coyotes logos, past and present.  The Omega copper parallel of Tkachuk and Chelios is a pretty cool card as well, simply because by the time the summer of 2014 rolls around, this card could feature two Hall of Famers instead of just one.

Yes, I'm hoping that Tkachuk will get voted into the HHOF in 2014.   I think that 538 goals should merit him strong consideration, even though he never had the chance to raise Lord Stanley's mug during his 18 year career.   It is going to be tough, because there are numerous worthy candidates for induction. 

This PC is something that I've hemmed and hawed about restarting some day.  It's probably something that will have to wait quite a while, simply because of the large number of sets and collections that I want to complete.  Stay tuned, because with my fickle nature, you just never know.

thanks for reading, Robert

Monday, April 21, 2014

More early 70's goodness from Mark

I love these early 70's cards so much that anything I write probably couldn't do them any justice.

The Ellis is severely miscut, and the Ullman has a heavy crease that runs right through his mouth.  The interesting thing about the 3 different sets that Mark sent me?   Each set has only 1 action card.  All the other photos are posed.  I wonder if Topps did that on purpose?

The 73-74 set is another favorite of mine, although I've never been able to figure out if there is a rhyme or reason to the different color borders.  The Doug Favell airbrushing of his Leafs jersey is horrible, yet funny!  I love the Dave Keon card.  I'm sure that people out there who aren't Leaf fans may have a bit of a difficult time figuring out which player is Keon.  (#14 in blue just in case you were wondering...)

I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Toronto, and went to an Italian barbershop when I was a kid.  One of the reasons I loved going there?  They had a Leafs calendar on the wall.  The team card you see here reminds me of that calendar.  Without a magnifying glass, I can only make out a handful of players in the photo.  Ellis and Keon in the front row.  Ullman 2nd row center (A on sweater).  Darryl Sittler in the upper left.  Denis Dupere right below him (you can't miss that mustache).  Gord McRae, 2nd row far right, is the only goalie I know off hand. 

I was only 6 years old when the 73-74 season played out, but those are the earliest (and some of the greatest) memories of the Leafs I have.  Seeing my first game in the Gardens up in the Greys (nose bleeds), and loving every minute of it. 

Thank you for the cards Mark!  Brought back a lot of memories for me, and I love every minute of it.

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, April 20, 2014

1990-91 OPC added to the want list

You're going to see a few posts like this over the next few weeks.  As I continue the great monster box clean out and clean up, I'm going to add some of these 90's sets to the want list on the off chance that someone out there may have some cards that are taking up space.   Space that is probably better suited for cards that fit in their collection.

Here's a scan to jostle your memory if the 90-91 OPC design doesn't ring a bell...

This was the first of two consecutive O-Pee-Chee sets that contained 528 cards, larger than any other release from the company.  No one series set even came close to this size until Upper Deck started releasing O-Pee-Chee sets in 2006-07.

I need quite a few cards to complete the set, 166 in fact, but it's a cool looking set and I would enjoy finishing it.

More of these types of posts to come, stay tuned.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Saturday, April 19, 2014

I did get a little cheese with my whine, thanks for asking!

Benefactor  noun:
1.  A person who gives money or other help to a person or cause.

If you've been reading at all lately in the blogosphere, I'm sure you're aware of the gentleman who has been providing joy to a lot of collectors, Mark Hoyle.  Mark has definitely been a benefactor to a lot of people lately, including myself. 

Mark noted on my latest post that he would be sending some Leafs vintage my way to ease the pain.  Boy was I shocked when I opened the envelope.  Probably the favorite group for me was the '74-75 Topps cards.

I always loved the league and team leaders cards.  The Doug Favell leaders card was interesting because on the back it had the asterisk with the line "minimum 30 games played"   Favell only played 38 for the Leafs in 73-74, but still got the nod as the best GAA in the eastern division.  I also got a kick out of the Leafs having Denis Dupere as one of the two scoring percentage leaders, even though Dupere only played 28 games and scored just 8 goals.  Henderson should have had that space to himself; at least he played the majority of the season and scored 24 times.

Down the middle the Leafs were deep, with three of the greatest names in Leaf history featured above.  Sittler was the team leader in scoring with 84 points and 38 goals. 

The Leafs were the first team to bring Swedish players to the NHL, one of the two being Inge Hammastrom, shown on the top right.   Inge didn't fare too badly in his time with the Leafs, scoring 20+ goals in 3 different seasons.  The Ron Ellis card is the only action card of the whole stack, and it's a pretty good shot of him circling the net while Gilles Villemure of the Rangers appears to be clearing the puck away.   Jim McKenny played right wing and defense during his Leafs career, and only 10 games in Minnesota kept Jim from being a career Leaf. 

Rick Kehoe actually is more noted for his time with Pittsburgh, scoring 312 goals with the Pens over 11 seasons.  "Cowboy" Bill Flett has a nicely air brushed card for your entertainment; the 74-75 season would be the only one he spent with the Leafs, scoring 15 goals. 

Red Kelly is still the only NHL player in history to win 4 Stanley Cups with two different teams, winning 4 Cups in 6 seasons with the Red Wings in the early to mid 50's.  Red then pulled the same trick with the Leafs, 4 Cups in 6 years during the mid 60's.  I spoke earlier of the Leafs bringing Swedish players to the league, and there were none better than Borje Salming.  Salming finished 3rd in the Calder trophy voting for best rookie, behind Tom Lysiak and HOFer Denis Potvin.  

I think the only card missing that would complete the Leafs team set for me is the Lanny McDonald RC.  That will be high on the list of cards to acquire, maybe at the show in May I'll get lucky.

There's still more in the envelope to show, some great cards from the 72-73 and 73-74 Topps sets will have to be displayed for your viewing pleasure.

Thank you Mark, the cards are very much appreciated!!

thanks for reading, Robert

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Now that the collapse is complete, what's next?

I've done a lot of thinking about the Leafs lately, probably more than I really should be doing.  Despite what a lot of people say, I don't think that they are as far off from being a contender than people think.

Of course, I don't get paid the big bucks like Brendan Shanahan or Damien Cox, so my opinion is likely to be way off.  

First up, it's likely that this guy is going to be fired some time this week.

1990-91 OPC #51

I don't think that he's going to be a scapegoat for the team's failure to win down the stretch, because it really is his fault.   The team just cannot play defence.  Part of the blame for that can be placed on the talent that he was provided by the GM (more on that later this week), but the fact of the matter is this.  The coach has to teach.  There never appeared to be any kind of system in place to take care of the defensive zone. When the team loses 12 out of its last 14 games to sink like a stone in the standings, someone has to take the hit. 

This next guy has been the subject of a lot of talk as well.   Bad contract, under performing, etc etc.

2013-14 OPC Retro # 609

There's a couple of reasons why David Clarkson didn't perform well this year.  First, the 10 game suspension at the beginning of the season killed any momentum he may have had coming out of training camp.  Second, get this guy a pair of regular line mates, and let him go.  I think that if he had been on a line with Kadri and Lupul on a regular basis, that they could have performed quite well together.  Clarkson is a guy who likes to go to the front of the net on the power play.   Why didn't he see any power play time this season?  Yes, he had a lot of pressure on him with the big contract, but when you don't have a specific role for the entire season, it makes things tough. 

It'll will be interesting to see who the new coach is, and what he does to better utilize the talent of his players.  The rumor of Peter DeBoer taking over the club seems to be that, just a rumor. 

There also has to be a big shake up on the blue line as well.   The Leafs only have a couple of players that can actually play defence at a decent level, and this must be addressed in order to move forward.

It should be a fun summer in Leafland...

thanks for reading, Robert

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brendan Shanahan hired as president of the Maple Leafs

It's the week of former players being hired on as team presidents.  First, it was Trevor Linden in Vancouver, which for me made total sense.

As far as this guy heading up the Maple Leafs, I'm not so sure.

92-93 Upper Deck #122
What has me worried is that Shanahan has no ties to the Leaf franchise at all.  None.  The closest you could say that he's come to the Maple Leafs is having played in the old Norris division against the buds in the early 90's. 

We'll see what he has to say about the current state of the roster when he takes over the reins this weekend (as has been reported).  It will be interesting to see if he thinks the Leafs are just a couple of pieces away from starting to contend, or if another major shake up is needed.

I have a feeling it's going to be the latter.   Should be an interesting summer in Leafland.

Thanks for reading, Robert

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Box break: 2012-13 In the Game Between the Pipes

If you take away two things about me from my time spent writing on the blogs, you should know that:

1.  My preference is licensed over un-licensed products
2.  I have a hard time turning down a good deal.

When it comes to hockey cards, these two things can sometimes lead to internal conflict.   That's how it was when I spotted a great deal on a hobby box of 2012-13 In the Game Between the Pipes on the Dave & Adam's website.  For less than half the normal cost, I decided to give this product a try.

I was pleasantly surprised.

For me, the junior goalie cards are OK.  I don't know most of the players, but sometimes that's what is good about cards, you get a bit of an education.

One of the more famous junior teams in Ontario is the London Knights, and I found a history of the team here.  I haven't followed junior hockey in Canada on a regular basis since I was a teenager.   Maybe it's time to get back into it a little more.  Some of the logos and jerseys are fabulous.

Being a part time goaltender myself when I was younger, some of the cards that feature vintage masks are great.

History lessons are always good, so these cards that feature goaltenders from the original six days are a treat for me as well.

Even today's stars are part of the mix:

There's also no shortage of goodies in the box.   One of the more popular inserts over the years has been the Masked Men cards, and I was fortunate enough to pull 3 of them out of the box.

Naturally, the Felix Potvin becomes an instant favorite for me.  These cards scanned tremendously; they are really beautiful in hand.

As far as hits, I received 6 total.  The 3 autographs consisted of one junior player, and two goalies who had careers that lasted just under a decade apiece.

The names on the jersey cards I pulled were a lot more notable.

The dual jersey was of Ed Belfour and Brandon Whitney.  Whitney is a BlackHawks prospect, drafted in the 7th round in 2012.

The other two cards feature a goalie that earned his 300th victory this season, Henrik Lundqvist.

A great way to finish up the box. 

At $47, this box was a great rip.  The original price was over $100, which for me would be a bit too steep for an unlicensed product.  If ITG BTP was priced in the $70-80 range, I might be more tempted to pick up a box when it first comes out. 

I now know what everyone has been raving about over the years.  ITG does a great job for a company without a NHL license.  With Upper Deck owning an exclusive license by the NHL, it appears that ITG will be limited in what it can do for the foreseeable future.

thanks for reading, Robert