Saturday, January 21, 2012

BOX BREAKS: 2011/12 Enforcers

Well, with all the hype and anticipation leading up to the release of In The Game's 'Enforcers' product, I told myself a number of weeks back that I'd give it a shot.

Even though there are no cards that I'm really pursuing for my own collection, I feel that it would be a fun break and it would give me a chance to gain some traders in hopes of landing a Linden or two.

2011/12 In The Game

Before I begin, I should say that I've already traded a couple cards away, so this is not really what I received in my box break. It was just a couple of the base cards as opposed to the auto or memorabilia pieces.

I had a pair of the 'Bloody Battles' cards. You can see an example of one in the piece I wrote back in December. And while I really like the looks of these cards, I had no problem trading them away since I received some nice stuff in return.

So the base cards in my 'box break' might feel a little thinner.

There are 12 cards that come in a box of Enforcers. 5 base cards, 2 game-used memorabilia cards and 5 autographs.

These 'Record Holder' cards might seem like an oversight, but upon closer look can really give you a glimpse of what the tough guys in the league have cemented into hockey's history.

It was the Oilers team of 1990 that hold the distinction of racking up the most penalties in a single game - 44 (26 minors, 7 majors, 6 10-minute misconducts, 4 game misconducts, and a single match penalty).

Immediately, I thought the opponent would be their 'Battle Of Alberta' rival, the Calgary Flames. But not so.

The LA Kings were on the receiving end, but they managed to dish out a bunch too. 41 penalties for the guys in black and silver.

Man that must have been a long game to watch.

Second looks are important when it comes to cards. This Chris Nilan selection is a perfect example of that.

Probably least known as a Bruin (80 games over two seasons late in his career), many of you might be disgusted by seeing 'Knuckles' in Boston colors. I know I was. But then I took a closer look at the card.

Most Penalty Minutes In A Game

It was in 1991 when Boston played Hartford that Nilan would set a record by receiving 10 penalties in a game. And he was kicked out of the game midway through the third period.

I look at this card and am more impressed that In The Game would take the time to track down an obviously tougher-to-find photo of Chris in a Bruins uniform.

That attention to detail is something that as a consumer I appreciate.

I gained a couple of these 'Tale Of The Tape' card in the trade I mentioned earlier. A nice concept that has a brief writeup on the back of the card as well as the boxing-style stats.

While not overwhelming, these are a nice subset in the base card product.

Of course, the real draw to this product are the memorabilia and autograph cards.

This two-color Terry O'Reilly card continues the run of Boston guys in my box break. It's a fair sized piece and I'm happy that I got someone from the 70's/80's era as opposed to today's game.

When I think of tough guys in the league, it's not long before the name Bob Probert comes to mind. He's probably one of the most sought after players in this release so seeing him on a dual jersey card (along with Tony Twist) is a welcomed sight.

Not the biggest fan of the design layout here, but I've seen worse.

Now on to the signature cards. I can definitely see this set being actively pursued by a number of collectors.

86 different autograph cards are included in this product - and not a single one of them a redemption (something In The Game demands of all its releases). A tremendous checklist.

Well, maybe not too tremendous to someone who isn't really well versed on his tough guys.

I know who Craig Berube is (he had a cup of tea with the Flames in the 90's), Paul Laus...the name kind of rings a bell and Jay Miller - another Boston guy.

I will say that I really like the design of these cards. Anyone who builds this set will have some really cool binder pages. Not only that, but the range of players included is pretty diverse.

You gotta give ITG points for that.

Garth Butcher. I was happy to see some Canucks love in my purchase. And even though In The Game don't have the authority to show team logos (which really restricts their photo usage), I really like the pic they chose of Garth.

Only Canucks fans love the yellow.

Speaking of yellow....did I get a Bruins 'hot pack' or something?

Actually, in addition to the Bruins, John played for the Blues, Nordiques (which I'm guessing this photo is of), and Rockies/Devils franchises. Although I do wish John would have been pictured in his infamous Boston garb.

The moment I saw this signature in my box break, I immediately reminisced about my encounter with Mr. Wensink when I was in high school.

I worked at a skate sharpening shop in town (actually owned by tough guy Tim Hunter) which gave me the chance to talk sports on an almost daily basis.

One day, out of the blue, this hulk of a guy walks in. I can't remember if he was travelling with a team that happened to be playing at the rink or if he was visiting someone or what, but I soon found out who he was from others in the shop.

When I heard the name John Wensink, I knew who he was. He played in that late-70's era for the Boston team coached by the legendary Don Cherry.

And believe it or not, he had a 28-goal campaign in 78/79....not too shabby.

I had the chance to introduce myself to him and stuck out my hand for him to shake. Never.....NEVER in my life have I ever received a handshake from someone with such a stone-like grip. It actually hurt.

All I could think about was how those huge mitts would have felt scrapping it out on the ice. To this day it still makes me shake my head.

In my moment of amazement, I forgot to ask him for his autograph. Well, 20-odd years later, I finally got it.

Overall, the box break didn't have the huge 'wow' factor (it hasn't been my week for box breaks) but that doesn't always happen. I'm glad I broke this box but with no cards or sets that I'm going to go after, it's unlikely I'll open any more.

But if you like your tough guys....give it a shot. There's some stunning cards in the product.

And for you John Wensink fans...

The end of the video made me chuckle. I have no doubt he wanted it to happen (and he'd have given them more than they'd want).


  1. how the heck did the biggest Nilan collector not see you pull that card of Nilan???????

    1. Bruins jersey. Must have been.

      Immediate dismissal on your part I'm sure.

      Would you still want it?

  2. So overall, did you think it as a good value?

    The autos are stickers, right? That is what stopped me from buying a box, although I almost felt obligated because of my blog.

    I've never heard of Laus but he played during the time I was out of hockey. Check out his 96-97 fight card:

    Some impressive names on that list. Although, I am a bit perplexed by the inclusion of Shjon Pedein.

    1. If I base it just on my box it wasn't worth it. I could easily use the money from the box and buy singles to 'build a better box'.

      But from the numerous box breaks I've seen, I'd say that there is good value for your money. It's a fun break and it's not a super high end product.

      I guess it all depends on what you are looking to get out of the product.

      The autos are stickers. But ITG does a nice job of working the sticker into the design of the card. I also really like the fact that there are no redemption cards. Only those players that returned their signatures in time are included in the product.

      Hope that helps.

  3. In the Game can't show logos, but aren't the logos often on helmets and goalie masks? I'm sure I've seen ITG cards with logos on helmets, haven't I? Why are they okay there, but not okay to show on the jersey?

    1. Excellent question. I've often thought of that exact question. My only guess would be that the rights on the helmet design are outside the jurisdiction of the NHL (even if there is a logo on it).

      Of course that is only my speculation.

      I'm just happy they don't have to go and paint over the masks like the OPC cards of the 1980's.