Thursday, January 31, 2013

RATE MY MASK - Al Montoya

With a new season comes a changing of the guard - literally.  It seems that there are some new residences for journeymen goalies, top prospect busts and those looking for that one last shot at glory.

What I love about goalies finding work in a new NHL city is that they immediately need to take care of the important things.  Most notably....a new paint job for the goalie mask.

What I've found odd is that while there are numerous resources for finding good quality mask pics, there aren't too many snapshots of these new (and impressive) lids.

But perseverance pays off in the end and I tracked down some photos of one of my faves this year.

Al Montoya had a bit of a resurgence last year with the Islanders.  But a crammed goalie locker room made Montoya the odd man out.  New York's loss is Winnipeg's gain.

I think he'll fair well playing for the Jets.  I hope he can get about 10-20 starts in this shortened season, prove his worth as a solid "1a" to Pavelec and maybe do some damage next year when they play a full 82 games.

But on to his new look Jets mask.

Known as the "Big Cubano", Montoya went with an Islander/sea motif with his previous club.  Staying with the "team theme" again this season, Al had a pretty aggressive looking cartoon jet take the main focus of his mask.

Painted by Bishop Designs, this mask really finds a nice balance of intricate detail and bold cartoon simplicity.

You can see the mouth and teeth completely envelop the cage of the mask (seems the thing to do these days).  The accentuated teeth really pop off the mask making it far more effective than some of the more subtle but scarier counterparts around the league.

Reminiscent of Brian Hayward's iconic San Jose Sharks mask of the 90's, Montoya's jet comes screaming out with smoking exhaust pipes coming out the side, a Jets logo on the forehead and a pair of very menacing eyes.

The backplate has Al's famous nickname as well as family initials surrounding a full shot of the fighter plane against a nice light blue.  This really contrasts the rest of the mask well.

A closer look at the detail on the mask shows some smoking bullet holes in the chin area mixed in with the rivets on the metal plane "body".  The name "Monty 31" is also on the side of his mask (won't be confusing this with any of the other guys on the team, eh?)

What I love most about Al Montoya's mask is that it is so recognizable - even from a far distance.  Too many masks these days are so intricate that you lose the effect unless you are right up close.  And I'm sure the pesky power forward from the other team could care less about the detail on a guy's mask.

Also, when the mask is being worn....the full effect of the mouth around the cage is seen.  Take a second look at the custom card I made for it.  It looks like Montoya's head is coming right out of the mask.  Very cool.

Hopefully Al gets to keep this mask for a little while.  He needs to find a home.

4 out of 5

Now it's your turn to RATE MY MASK!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I was doing my nightly ebay Linden search and came across what might just be the best base card I have ever seen.

I wasn't anticipating a card of his to be in this product, but I can't in the slightest bit be disappointed.

He's never had one of these and I'm really looking forward to chasing one down.

From In The Game's upcoming Heroes & Prospects release comes this DYN-O-MITE Medicine Hat Tigers base card.

I literally gasped when I saw it.  What a gorgeous card.

Funny thing is....I don't think I've ever seen that photo of him.  Pics from his junior days are rare enough as it is, but this just adds to the excitement.

I snagged this pic of the interweb so I am hoping the quality of the photo used in the card is a little better than what is shown here.  Even if it's not...I can't be too disappointed.

Big kudos to ITG!!!

Very exciting.

12 in 12 - January Review

I'm very happy with how January's book went.  I didn't feel rushed to finish it, I found some good quality time to read (and even got my nephew involved) and most importantly....I really enjoyed the book.

For those of you not in the know - I'm reading a book a month this year.  Sports books, biographies, whatever piques my interest.

This month it was a read that was lent to me by a co-worker way back last spring.  Yeah, I need a set-up like this to get things done.  And so I did.

January's book was Tony Dungy's story...

Quiet Strength
Tony Dungy
317 pages

Now I'm not going to go into the big long rambles that my '30 in 30' project  resulted in.  I'm keeping these reviews short and sweet.

For those of you who don't know, Tony Dungy was the coach of the Indianapolis Colts and led the team to the Super Bowl in 2007.  He was also the catylist for the turnaround in Tampa Bay, taking the Bucs from the league laughing stock to serious contender.  Quiet Strength really showcases the person Tony Dungy is both on and off the field.  If you want to read a good, compelling story that doesn't have any of the negative vibes of scandal or controversy - this is your book.

He was never the best football player on his team....but he was always one of the best team players.  He had a vision for how he wanted to do things as a coach....and he succeeded because he stayed the course.  He took inspiration from those he admired and respected and in turn became a person who many found to be a tremendous role model.

He is a very private person and has a very deep faith.  These tones are throughout the book and gives the reader insight to his decisions throughout his NFL career as well as his personal life.

He has had to deal with some very difficult times and he is pretty open and candid in this book.  As a person who doesn't do many interviews, he really peels the layers back and reveals that which is most important to him.

This is a very easy read and I found myself hearing Tony's voice in the words.  The only downside to this book is that it ends after his retirement from NFL coaching.  The book does not dip into his involvement with NBC's Sunday Night Football.  A very minor downside if you ask me.

4.5 out of 5  (a real strong start)

February's book...

Andre Agassi

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


On the same day that my struggle ended with one of the most frustrating transactions ever - EVER, I received a bubble mailer with a card that I wasn't sure I'd ever see come my way.

Not because it's a 1/1.....but because it's from a product that was rarely cracked.

A couple of years ago Panini released its Zenith product.  While it didn't get broken heavily, it did create some buzz to us player collectors for its super-tough "White Hot" parallel.

Numbered to just 25 copies, these cards were case hits I believe.  And when not too many cases are being sold, it makes for a tough find.

In fact, in the two seasons since the product came out, I've seen just one copy of this card.  And I unfortunately jacked up the price on another Linden collector (we had a malfunction in the ol' communication department).  I thought I'd be able to snag another one pretty quick - after all, the card is out of 25 (believe it or not....that's a big number these days).

Nope.  Nuthin'.  Dry as a desert.  Until earlier this month.  A copy popped up on ebay and I was stunned.  I put in a huge snipe and held my breath as the auction ended.  Not because I was hoping I would win the card, but because I didn't want to pay the top end price I bid.

Thankfully, I didn't.  In fact, I think I got it for a great price.

2010/11 Panini Zenith
#138 White Hot  /25

Note: These cards scan like crap.  They look a heck of a lot nicer in person.

This card was up there with the infamous MVP ProSign that I'll never find or the Topps Red parallel I'm destined never to obtain.  But it's one of the nicest "cross offs" I've had in a very long time.

What I really like about these cards is that Trev's donning the Montreal jersey.  He's got tons of Canucks love (obviously) but his insertion recent products as a Hab only has me wanting more.  Put him in the Fisherman jersey.  Put him in that ugly Washington 3rd jersey.

Just don't make any ultra high-end jersey/patch cards with that kind of stuff.  I want.....but not that bad.

Monday, January 28, 2013


It's been exactly two months since I won an auction for (what should have been) one of the nicest Linden cards to hit the pc in 2012.  And for the past two months I have been struggling with trying to get proper compensation for the damaged card that was delivered to me.

For those of you who don't remember.

Well, tonight was the night it ended.  Finally!!!

Earlier in the month I received a cheque from UPS refunding my brokerage fee.  I still need to get the government fees back from Revenue Canada (the forms are on my desk).  But the big chunk of money would be coming from the seller (or the insurance reimbursement....however you want to look at it).

From day one, the seller kept saying "Return the card and I'll give you a full refund".  That's all fine and dandy if there were other cards like this one out there that I could go buy.  But with this being a 1/1....I was looking for compensation.

Nope.  For a month and a half the seller either ignored my questions or just responded with the "Return the card and I'll give you a full refund".  It came to the point where I had to open a Paypal dispute.

Nothing.  No response for 10 days from the seller.  Then....all of the sudden he decides to escalate it to a claim (meaning Paypal will rule on the case.  He knew (as did I) that Paypal would say "Return the card and you'll get a full refund".

I was prepared to walk away out my money, but I would not relinquish the card.  The seller earlier this week finally offered a partial refund - a glimmer of light.  I made a counter-proposal that I felt accurately valued the damaged card.  No response.

So I woke up this morning bound and determined to finally put an end to it.  I issued an ultimatum.

I made one last proposal.  I felt it was fair for both parties.  I added that I would not barter and that it was a take it or leave it offer....that he had to agree to by the end of the month.

He agreed to it and tonight I received my partial refund.

While it's not exactly what I was hoping for, I can now look at the card and not be disgusted by it.

I just want to say that over the span of the past two months there have been numerous times where I have had to look at myself and ask "Have I done my part?"  There is nothing more important in resolving a dispute than communication.  And while it was a struggle (a HUGE struggle), I remained steadfast about being the one to communicate in an open, honest and respectful manner.

I have no doubt that it is for this reason that a mutual agreement was made today.

And with that......this chapter is OVER!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - A Nice Way To Wrap Up A Week

Man this month is going by quick.

From a hobby standpoint it has been a pretty solid one.  Not too busy...not too slow.  I've picked up some nice items for my Linden pc including some beauties I'll be showing off in a moment.  One card was such a surprise to find - it might just be the nicest one I've found locally.

I've been in the habit of going to the library once a week to do some reading (for my '12 in 12' project).  I've even got my niece and nephew involved.....very cool.  I'm right on track to finish the book next week.

I've been working on some of the customs that have been on the plate for far too long.  I'm looking to keep on that this weekend and hopefully can get one or two requests completed 100% over the next couple days.

I've also been scanning my traders - something that has been in dire need of updating.  I've come up with a pretty good routine that makes it not so tedious and not so difficult.  Even more boring than the scanning will be the documenting (I'm not really looking forward to that).

A pretty good start to the year if you ask me.

Now....on to the Lindens.

Three items to show off tonight.  The first comes from a trade - I love getting pc cards this way.  So much more fun than buying them.  It's tougher to trade for a few reasons.  Some Linden cards are very sought after so I can understand when people want to maximize their profit.  Lower-end Lindens are better for trading...but there aren't too many of them out there.

What I've done is purposefully hold off in buying some of these low-end items in the hopes of working out a trade down the road.  Score one for the good guys tonight.

2012/13 Panini Classics
#45 Classics Signatures

This base parallel auto completes the four card Classics pursuit.  Fun, fairly quick and not too expensive.  Exactly what I'm looking for in a pc chase.

The signature versions of this base card are exactly like their unsigned counterpart say for two things.  The auto (of course) which is hard-signed by the way and the card surface.  The signed cards have a glossier finish to them.

So be sure to check your auto cards from this set before you go buy one.  Having the player sign in person can lead to some unauthentic issues out there.  There is also a line on the back indicating the signed versions.

2011/12 Upper Deck SP Authentic
#49 Limited Auto/Patch  /25

This was a card on the wantlist for a little while.  I had passed over a few copies because of the single color patch (cards this limited should not have a one-color piece of jersey or especially patch in it....period).  I balked on a couple as well because the price was a little higher than I wanted to spend.

Well, my patience had me panicking a bit.  With only 25 copies of the card, the "supply" dried up while my "demand" grew.

When I saw this copy hit ebay, I thought about it for a bit.  The price was right around what I was looking to spend and even better....I knew the seller - a fellow Linden collector.

I contacted him and asked what his rock bottom price was and he shared what he paid for the item.  He said he'd be happy to sell it to me for about that price.  I paused slightly but knew that it was a good pickup.

It didn't take long for the card to arrive and I was pumped to see it.  And let me take a moment to say that it was one of the nicest packing jobs I've seen in a while.  Well protected, well packaged, even the name and address were protected by clear packing tape.  Thanks very much for that.

But it gets better.

This in-person autographed Esso Olympics card was included as a gift.  Man is it ever nice.  In fact, it's one of the nicest Linden autos I have.

A large surface to sign on and a solid sharpie swirl made this signature tops on the list.

Not much more to say other thank thank you very much Elliot for the kind gift.  It definitely made my day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

ARTICLES: Upper Deck Announces 2012/13 Cuts

Last week I posted some information about the NHLPA's decision to not include rookies debuting in the 2012/13 shortened season into this year's products.  Instead they will be part of a double rookie class for the 2013/14 product season.

Link to blog post

Well, today Upper Deck shared their plans for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.....well at least some of the plans.

Link to Upper Deck blog post

Gone are the following products for this year...

2012/13 NHL SPx
2012/13 NHL Upper Deck Series II
2012/13 NHL Ultimate Collection

I was surprised to see UD Series II take a hit, but I guess their Young Guns inserts would have been too depleted.  I was hoping for maybe some retro YG's or something.

Ultimate Collection is a hard-signed product so the turnaround to get that release together might have led to that decision.

What I am interested to see is how some of the content from those products is received by collectors when they act as inserts in other products.  Or will they be bonuses?

I'm also predicting that the Fleer Retro release will be a hit.  I don't know why...just a gut feeling.  I think the Jambalaya inserts will be a huge chase and a real throwback to old-style, long-odds insert collecting.  Curious too to see how the Metal Universe cards will be incorporated.

Fans of those 90's products will love the flashback I'm sure.

The one area that wasn't addressed by Upper Deck is the status of The Cup.  Normally a very late release (August/September), it will be curious to see how this product is taken to with the limited rookie inclusion.

I can't see UD canceling the release for the 2012/13's just too big of a product to halt.  But it will be a different beast for sure.

If I hear anything else, I'll be sure to update.

What are your thoughts on the "shortened" 2012/13 NHL hockey card season?  Has it affected your collecting?  If so - how?

Monday, January 21, 2013

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Social Signatures

Another nice addition to the Linden collection arrived recently and it comes from what was a very anticipated release (and insert set) but ended up being one of the bigger disappointments of the season.

Panini's recent 'Classics' product showcases some of the starts of yesteryear (I can't believe I just used that word) and I would have been shocked not to see my guy on the checklist.  After all, he's in some of their non-yesteryear sets (and in pretty strong numbers).

What I really like about 'Classics' is that there's a reasonable amount of cards to chase.  A base card, banner insert, base autograph and an insert auto.

Four cards - two are "throw-ins" when it comes to trades.  I like that.

While I'm still awaiting the base auto, the toughest (and most expensive) card hit the mailbox.  A cool concept if you ask me.

2012/13 Panini Classics
#20 Social Signatures

A cool concept....if the manufacturer and players would have seen it come to fruition.  Instead, this is nothing more than an autograph card.

It wasn't an overly expensive pickup and I knew that it was just a simple signature but boy could this card (and set) ever have been awesome.

I'm stumped as to why Panini wouldn't have the player write their twitter/facebook/whatever handle as part of their scribbling.  It would have been so much more impressive than having it typed on part of the card.

I guess that would have been asking too much.  You know there would have been one person who just couldn't complete the task.  As it is, there's a bunch of cards in the set that look this way.

But (if I'm not mistaken) there are a couple cards where the player actually writes his handle down.  Cool.

But unless all of the players do it in the set, it will just be a big missed opportunity.

Don't get me wrong....I like this card.  But it could have been so much more.

Maybe I should tweet Trevor about this.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 2006/07 Be A Player

Decided to do a little hockey card clean-up while I was watching the Flames game today.  My interest swayed more to the cards the further the game went.

Poor Flames.....and they think they can make the playoffs.

One of the things I was able to do was get a few of my 'One Sheet, One Set' pages in order.  I haven't updated it in a while and instead have been just filling box after box with cards that should be going into these pages.

It was a small dent, but a dent nonetheless that was made today and I thought I show off one of the new pages that caught my eye.

2006/07 Be A Player

This seems to be a pretty straight forward base set.  Consisting of 170 cards, it's not overly complex and not overly expensive.

What's odd (in doing some research) is that in addition to cards 1-170 there's a crop of 45 rookie cards.  This gives a complete set of 215.  Nothing weird about that.  But the card numbering has me fooled.

The base set is 1-170 and the rookies are 201-245.  There are no cards numbered 171-200 that I can find.  I have no idea why this was done.

The one sheet has a nice uniform look to them with a blue colored theme throughout the base set.  Let's take a closer look at the design.

The front of the card has an off-centre photo frame taking up most of the card front.  The frame is a distressed look that reeks of some fancy Photoshop filter.  The photo used is nothing spectacular.  No real action photos and is a three-quarter body shot.  The player is cut out of the background and that background is then tinted blue and made a touch out of focus. This really makes the player punch out of the card nicely.

The non-blue colored jersey are really nice against this card design.  But there are too many cards where blue is the jersey color and that just makes it too blue for me.

Along the right side you can subtly see five position outlines with the shown player's position being emphasized.  While it is something unique, I think it is a bit unnecessary.  It feels like it was done just for the sake of doing something different rather than doing something better.

The player name appears below the photo and uses a very simple font.  It works for me though and so does the dual color.  What doesn't work is the team name at the bottom of the card.  Too simple and uninspired.  And where's the team logo.  This card would definitely benefit from one of those.

The BAP logo takes up the lower right corner and is a pretty sharp crest.  The various blue tones that make up the background base is not too bad.  Some textural elements give this card some solid finishing touches.

The back of the card is definitely the weakest part of the design element.  Gone is the contrasting blues and we are left with just a hint of light blue along the left side.

Notice as well the same photo used again.....AND AGAIN.  Waste of space in my opinion.  The team logo shows up in the top left and is really just hanging out by itself.  Again, uninspired.

The vitals and tidbit are nice, but take up too much space.  You know what that means....something else is compromised.  One of the two back photos could have been axed and the wording re-worked to fill the back a little more.

Only 5 years worth of stats.  Lame.  Not much else to say there.  I'm a big fan of complete stats.  This card back really makes me feel short-changed.

The bottom quarter of the card is brutal. Say for the product name (I really like that companies have implemented this on their cards.  Makes it a lot easier to identify what the heck I have.

But the logos and mice type take up way too much space.  A definite lack of identifying what's important, what empty and what is needed to present a solid back design.

Overall though it's a pretty nice looking set.  Thankfully we admire the fronts of the cards more than the back.

Again, the checklist isn't anything to write home about.  It's a base set.  The top card is Ovechkin (there's no Crosby) and next in line believe it or not is Joe Sakic.

This could be a bargain bin base set that sits in the $5-10 range.  Base cards like these (if you can find them...nobody wants them) can be had cheap.  Like I said, nothing complex at all.

3 out of 5

'DID YOU KNOW' - Connie "Mad Dog" Madigan

Tonight was the first night for a new crop of players to skate in their first official NHL game.  And while this group of rookies won't see themselves on cardboard until the 2013/14 season, it's almost assured that they will get their rookie card made before this guy...

Connie Madigan.  This photo believe it or not was taken in his one and only season playing in the NHL.  He doesn't look like a rookie - in fact he looks more like a coach...or even general manager.  Boy times have changed.

But Connie does have a distinction that puts him into hockey history.

'DID YOU KNOW': In January 1973, Connie Madigan at the age of 38 years and 4 months became the oldest rookie in NHL history.

"Mad Dog" Madigan had a very strong minor league career, most notably with the Fort Wayne Komets and the Portland Buckaroos in the 1960's.

He was an 8-time All-Star and won best defenceman honors in 1966.  But he never got the chance to crack the NHL lineups.

In 1967, the NHL had its most notable (and important expansion) which gave many players the chance to break into the league.  During the 1972/73 season, the St. Louis Blues were hit with numerous injuries and ended up buying the rights to Madigan from the Buckaroos.

In January of 1973 he suited up for 20 regular season games as well as 5 in the playoffs.  Believe it or not, his coach (Jean-Guy Talbot) was just a mere 2 years older than him at the time.  It would be the only time he would see NHL ice.  The following season he was back with Portland and retired not long after.

Connie's short stint in the NHL didn't garner him an NHL hockey card.  In fact, it would take until this 2011/12 Panini Certified Freshman Signatures auto card to be released that Madigan would be rewarded with a collectible.

To my knowledge, it's his one and only piece of cardboard officially issued.

Currently, Connie still lives in Portland and was recently honored by the WHL's Winterhawks for his contribution to Portland hockey.

Oh, and just another tidbit.  He is also in the greatest hockey movie ever made - Slap Shot.  He plays legendary goon Ross "Mad Dog" Madison.

Now that's a pretty unique hockey career if you ask me.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

ARTICLES: 2012/13 Lockout Affects Upcoming Products

There was an announcement yesterday by the NHLPA's Adam Larry which basically addressed the situation regarding the 2012/13 rookie class.

"After discussions both internally and externally, including with many stakeholders within the trading card industry, we have decided to restrict the rookie class for the 2012/13 product to those players who debuted between the 2012 All-Star Game and the conclusion of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.  This means that all rookies who debut during the 2012/13 season will have their rookie cards appear in 2013/14 products."

Here's the link to the article on Beckett's website.

This basically means that there will be no new rookies appearing in any of the remaining products this season.  Only those who are currently in products (like Calgary's Sven Baertschi) will be the ones who represent the 2012/13 season as rc's.

Bummer for this year, but boy that could mean a pretty stacked rookie class next season with a double dose.

Sadly, this could really hurt the hobby in the sense that a lot of people have been anticipating some new product with a new crop of players.  Now they will have to wait an entire year before they get that wish.

I don't know how much this will affect the local hobby establishments as I can only imagine sales have dropped a bit since the lockout started.  With this announcement, a lot of returning momentum might have just been squashed.

And the news doesn't get much better....

Panini today announced their plans as a result of the NHLPA's announcement.

While they are excited about the double rookie class next season, they have plans to release only three more hockey products this year.

"...with one product launching shortly after the start of the NHL season later this week.  2012/13 Limited Hockey will be available at both retail and hobby stores in early February.  Limited will be followed by 2012/13 Rookie Anthology Hockey, available at hobby shops in early June.  The 2012/13 Panini America NHL/NHLPA product calendar will be rounded out with the highly anticipated return of Prime Hockey, which will be available at hobby shops in August."

Here's the link to the article on Panini's blog.

That means no Titanium, Dominion, Elite, Crown Royale, Contenders, etc.

Ouch.  That hurts.

While it will lighten the load a bit when it comes to the number of potential Linden cards I'm going to add to the wantlist this year, the complete cancellation of a number of products just can't be good for the industry.

I can understand some of the reasons for doing it though.  It would be near impossible to any sort of auto or memorabilia of rookies into the products with such a lightning quick turnaround.  Is it better to put the brakes on the products altogether or release what would surely be a substandard product.

People are patient, but I think this is the right thing to do.  It sucks for a lot of people but I can only imagine the buzz come this time next year.

Upper Deck has yet to announce their plans for remaining 2012/13 product.  What will they do with the Young Guns in UD Series II?  What will become of The Cup?  Will it be cancelled too?

Lots of news still to come I'm sure.  And without question will be a hot topic in the card shop and at the shows.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Trade Night Surprise

It's pretty rare when the monthly trader night yields any significant Linden pickups.  The odd base card for sure, inserts, an auto or jersey and every once in a while a "tough pull".

Case in point, this beauty of an auto from 2005/06 SPGU.  The card was a tough find to begin with seeing as it had eluded me for five years, but when it was pulled fresh from a pack right in front of me at trade night....I knew the guy wasn't leaving until we made a trade.

Well, tonight's happening trumps that - big time.

Upper Deck's high-end product The Cup has been a bit of a "love/hate" for me.  I really like that he's in an ultra high-end product because of some of the stunning cards made, but the dollar price associated with some of them venture into the ridiculous stage.  Even for a die-hard Linden collector.

One of the nicest was pulled in the store tonight.  I wasn't standing next to the event....but the head turns and the calls over made me realize something big was going on.

As I ventured over to the counter I could see the remnants of an opened Cup tin.....ouch.  Then in one fell swoop, this card was revealed to me...

2011/12 Upper Deck The Cup
Dual Honorable Numbers
#DHN-HL Brett Hull/Trevor Linden /16

Oh daddy!  I think I cringed more than anything.  Here was what would probably be the best opportunity to pick up a copy of this card - it's right in front of me - and boy was it ever nice.

The next challenge was to determine a fair price.  There's one currently on ebay and the price is skyrocketing.  Partially because of the stunning patches but also because it's the 16/16 copy and will command a premium.  I could care less about that.

There was only one other copy that had shown up on ebay and the end price was a little more reasonable.  The big question for me was "what is the maximum I am willing to shell out right here....right now for this card?"  It was a tough one, but I came up with my number.

The seller wanted a little more and I could understand that.  I even told him that the card would likely fetch that price in the open market.  Then again, maybe it wouldn't.  I have no idea.

I thought my price was fair and the other party agreed.  We shook hands and I went off in search of a bank machine.

The card is now safe at home with me and is one heck of an addition to the pc.  The signatures are awesome and the patch piece on the Linden is pretty cool (even for a somewhat small die-cut window....lame for a high-end product).

No question about it, this card tops the list of Linden pulls locally.  She'll be tough to beat.

And boy am I ever happy to cross it off the list.

Oh, by the way, I almost forgot....

I DIDN"T CAVE!!!!!!!

I was really disciplined at trade night tonight.  No impulse buys.  I'm saving up for ITG's upcoming 'Decades 90s' release as well as 'Ultimate Memorabilia 12'.  Both should destroy my pocketbook nicely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

PACK RIPPING - 2012/12 UD Black Diamond Group Break

Well, part two of my group break extravaganza is here....and if it's anything like part one - look out!

Trade night at the local card shop was full on hockey talk but thin on my wallet.  Not complaining one bit since I'm determined to be a bit more of a responsible spender this year.

But I couldn't resist a fun group break of this year's Black Diamond product.  Even though my guy isn't featured in the set, it's still a good way to get involved in a break at a minimal price.

Three teams for $10 - random draw on teams.




REALLY?????  C'mon.

Oh well, no time to whine, let's see how I did...

One box of the goods.  Oh yeah (and I didn't know this ahead of time) base cards are not included.  Whatever, not the end of the world.

Here we go...
and thank you.

While it's fun to participate (and it wasn't a ton of money), I think a closer look at what I'm getting myself into as opposed to just the obligatory "sign me up" is in order from here on out.

Better yet, I think I might be done with hockey card games for a while now.  Sticking to singles and trades.  That said, there's another trade night coming up tomorrow.....I'll try not to cave.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

PACK RIPPING - A Monster Of A Group Break

Well, it's either the laziness....err, I mean business of my unexpected work week or the sheer disappointment of the card scanning process that has made me delay posting these pickups.

For the last little while I have been checking out some of the group breaks posted online over at Cloutsnchara's Blogtv site.  They put on some nice weekend monster breaks and some very - VERY nice cards have been pulled.  It's been fun to watch and so when I heard of one of their big "year-end" breaks, I thought I'd dip my toe into the pool.

Alright, it's more like jumping off into the deep end....but still.

For those not in the know when it comes to group breaks, you pay for a slot (or in this case a team) and every "hit" from that team that comes from the subsequent pack rips go to you.

For this "Monster Break" there were 25 boxes of product broken.
11-12 UD The CUP x 2
11-12 Dominion x 2
11-12 Panini Prime x 2
09-10 OPC Premier
12-13 ITG History of Hockey
11-12 UD Ultimate
12-13 Artifacts
12-13 Series 1
11-12 Contenders
11-12 Canada vs the World
11-12 Between the Pipes
11-12 Certified
11-12 Limited
11-12 Titanium
11-12 Series 1 Tin
11-12 Series 2 Tin
11-12 Pinnacle
11-12 Enforcers
10-11 Decades
10-11 Zenith
10-11 Luxury Suite
07-08 Sweet Shot

A spot in the break was $154.

Now, after you pay your name goes on the list.  Team selection is determined by a random draw.  I received the 15th pick.  Right off the bat I knew teams like Edmonton, Pittsburgh and Colorado (the teams with the potential for the biggest pulls) would be out of the question.  But at spot 15....the Canucks might be available.  After all, some of those products have my guy in them - right?

As my luck would have it, not only were the Canucks there at pick 15, they were probably the best team available at that point.  Vancouver was mine.

Over the next hour and a bit, I anxiously watched as box after box were opened.  Let's see how I did.

The first box opened was 2011/12 Enforcers and I landed not only this sweet looking insert.....

but a solid autograph (player-wise......not quality of scribble).  Box one was clearly a great start.

Box two was 2011/12 Pinnacle and was minimal in hits as it was.  I snagged nothing (BTW, base cards are not included or sent in these breaks).

Box three was a tin of 2011/12 Upper Deck Series I.  In it was a pair of Lacks.  This Victory rookie insert...

and a nice Young Guns canvas card.  Another nice box break.  I was feeling really good about joining this group break and my anxiousness and hesitancy swayed over to excitement and anticipation.

Box four was an Upper Deck Series II tin and landed me this nice Cody Hodgson YG.  Because he is pictured in a Canucks uniform, he goes to the "Canucks" rather than the team he currently plays with - the "Sabres".

Five cards in the first four boxes.  What could be in store next?



Over the next half an hour and peeling through 11 boxes of product, there was not a single Canucks player highlighted.  Without question the vibe went from a pretty nice high to an excruciating low.

But then a slight ray of light.

This Team Trademarks of Daniel Sedin from the 2011/12 Panini Limited product got me back on track.  Right?

Not so fast.

With nine boxes left to open (and all of the "higher-end" kind), I literally had my fingers crossed that I would just walk away from this break "even steven".

History of Hockey - Nope

Ultimate - Nope

Premier - Nope

Prime - Nope x2

Dominion - ahhhhhhh....finally!!!

UGH!!!  A base card.  Thankfully CnC included numbered base cards as part of the "hits".  It lessened the blow (only slightly).

The last two boxes were the big ones - 2011/12 The Cup x2

Without drawing it out....I hit a pair of blanks.

All totaled, there might be $20 of Canucks cards shipped my way.  But the kind folks at CnC added a complimentary pack of cards.

These 2012 Panini Father's Day cards were a store promotion, with some long odds at pulling a nice auto of parallel.  Still, the gesture was appreciated.


That not only sums up the pack rip, but the group break in general.

Am I glad I participated?  You bet.  I realized that it's fun to watch, but my participation in them is over.  During most of the break, all I could think about was the nice Linden cards I could have invested in. But if you don't play, you can't win.

One and done for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - History In The House

What was supposed to be a nice relaxing week of no work, no holidays, no birthdays and no plans has been anything but.

I made the mistake of answering the phone and giving up some of my vacation time to head into work to put together a last-minute project.  What was sold to me as a "one day job" has drifted into four - and a couple hours Sunday will be the capper.

While I have a tough time saying "no", I almost regret saying "yes".  I've got next to nothing done here at home and a whole list of things to do.  Not how I was planning to start 2013.

Nonetheless, what's done is done.  On to hockey cards.

There was a nice, thick bubble mailer in the mailbox today.  Inside was a card that I've been anticipating ever since I purchased it.  It comes from a very "hotly debated" product and now I can see the goods for myself.

2012/13 In The Game Heroes of Hockey
ITG Buyback Auto
10/11 Decades 1980s  3749/4000

To my knowledge, this is the only copy of this buyback auto made, making it a unique addition to not only my collection but the Linden overall "big picture" Linden collection out there.

A lot of the buyback autos don't really appeal to me.  They come from ITG's early releases (when they had an NHL license) and unslabbed go for very little money on the open market right now.  I've seen one up for auction with an asking price of $45-50.

For me to fork out 30-40x what an unslabbed version goes for just doesn't work for me.  Even if the card is a one-of-a-kind buyback (which some of these are not).  I've been waiting for the price to drop on them, but so far the sellers are holding strong.

I've got time....and patience.  It's my new thing.

So why this Decades 1980s buyback?

As I mentioned, it's the only one in the product.  As well, this card was set up as an old-school auction.....starting at 0.99 cents.  I had a hunch the price would stay low (the product has been getting some volatile reviews).  Sure enough, the final price was less than what an unslabbed version of the card goes for.  That works for me.  Not only that, I really like the Decades autos.  A very sharp looking card (and set).

The product, History of Hockey, is a very unique one in the hockey card world.  It's a high-end price point and each pack contains four slabbed cards.  There's a rookie card (ranging from Joe Schmoe 1980's dude all the way up to Maurice Richard and Bobby Orr.....yes, authentic rookie cards of some of the greats).  There's a buyback auto (where ITG slabs an old ITG auto card and releases it in the my Linden).  There's a slabbed authentic autograph card (where a regular base card is signed by the player pictured....again ranging from guys that we've forgotten about on the fourth line all the way up to the likes of Ken Dryden).  Finally there's an art card (a handpainted card with a piece of memorabilia added....these are the cards that have been holding good value).

Four slabbed cards per pack.  A lot of the pack breaks I've seen have made me cringe....the price point is too much for me to risk potentially getting 2 or 3 cards that might not fetch even $10 on the open market.  That said, if one were to land one of the big fishes in the pond, it would definitely be "pull of a lifetime" material.

For me, I'll stick to the Linden cards in the product.  He has a rc, an authentic auto and a few buyback autos.  And I'm only picking them up if I can get them for a nice price.  This Decades card fit the bill perfectly.

Alright....back to work.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


This past weekend I had the pleasure of meeting a new Trevor Linden collector.  He discovered my blog and quickly commented (he included his e-mail address so I didn't post the comment).  I wrote back to thank him and we had a great back and forth chat.

It made me step back and appreciate just how fortunate meeting good quality people can be.  I love chatting cards.  I love chatting Linden.  I love just good all-around chat.

He asked if I knew of a place where he could get a full Trevor Linden checklist.  Did I?  I soon proceeded to e-mail the 26-page beast.  I think it knocked his socks off.  It was cool.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from my new Linden friend and maybe down the road we can do some trading.

The one card he mentioned was from the NHLPA charity 4-on-4 challenge game way back in the day.  One of my all-time favorite pieces of Linden cardboard.  I can still remember him being teamed with "Burnaby Joe" Sakic - and the magic on the ice they had....oh what a trade that would have been.

Anyways, I told him that I had another goodie from that series and I pulled it out of the dust-filled closet tonight.

Yup.  A signed 8x10 photo!

Only a Canucks fan would think this jersey is absolutely gorgeous.  It would have to sit on the top of the list of game-used jersey wants (if I collected gamers).  Maybe that and a nice Medicine Hat Tigers WHL top.  Either one would do.

I picked up this photo years ago when my Linden card collection was in its infancy.  I considered collecting 8x10's as well but gave it up when I noticed too much of a discrepancy in quality and way too much saturation in the market.

But this one's a keeper.  A unique time in his career, a very unique photo and a great reason to pull it out of the closet.

Thanks for the message Trevor.  Hope you enjoy the blog.  Be sure to comment anytime.

Monday, January 7, 2013

BEHIND THE MASKS - Some Trade Night Pickups

This past Thursday was the first trade night of the year.  With two monthly trade nights that I try to hit up as well as a local card show, I feel I'm pretty lucky to be able to go out and partake in these events as part of my hobby enjoyment.

I try to support these events because it gives me a chance to meet, discuss and pick up all things hockey and all things hobby.  For a number of years I've thought about the idea of not having these events to go to and it would be a very sad day should they no longer exist.

If there's a card show in your neck of the woods, be sure to spend some time at it (even if it's nothing more than window shopping).  And if there is a trade night at your local card shop, give it a try.  No harm in heading down with an open mind.

I'm heading into this year with a little more of a conscious attitude towards the money I spend on cards.  I'm going to try not to "splurge" on non-Linden items and really limit my impulse buying.

I did good my first week.

A card show on Saturday netted me nothing (but in all honesty I zipped through it as my nephew and I had other plans that day) and the trade night was not too much of a pocketbook dent.

In fact, I made a few trades.  Here are some of the results - goalie mask style.

2009/10 Upper Deck I
#NET3 Nikolai Khabibulin

This is from an insert set released a few years ago.  I don't know if I consider it a true "mask" set as the photos just aren't close-up enough.

That said, I'll gladly pick up singles if they are a nice cheap price or, in this instance, acquired by trade.

"The Bulin Wall" has a pretty nice lid and this Black Hawks photo is one that accents it.

2007/08 In The Game Between The Pipes
Mask Game-Used
#MGU-19 Peter Budaj

I don't normally pursue these mask/jersey pieces, but once again if a trade can be hashed out - I'll bite.

"Flanders" as he's nicknamed isn't too much of a hobby heavyweight so the asking price wasn't too bad.

It'll go in the goalie mask box with the other odds and sods.  Happy to pick another one up.

2011/12 In The Game Between The Pipes
Masked Men 4
#MM-46 John Vanbiesbrouck

Lastly, this die-cut mask card of "The Beezer".  One of the most recognizable masks ever and definitely one of the most popular lids of the 90's.  It's clean design and unique look really looks cool - even after all these years.

I also like the wire cage.  It's a unique look in comparison to the other masks out there.  The red "more square" look in the frame really makes it instantly known.  That's his mask.

I've said it before, but the die-cut version being given to the base cards set is a real plus.  For those of you not in the know....there are silver and gold versions (each more limited in print runs) that are not die-cut.

A nice touch.

Friday, January 4, 2013

LINDEN CARD(s) OF THE WEEK - Some Holiday Mail

Well, after spending literally hours on the phone with UPS, Paypal and eBay today, I can say that two of the three "card issues" I have been dealing with over the past month and a bit are finally over.  I have received a full refund and in my eyes, the transactions are over.

Sadly, the one that remains is the big one.  I can respect that with the holiday season upon us, people aren't as gung-ho or available to deal with these issues - I get that.  But a little communication can lead to far fewer headaches.  Currently, the seller and I are just trying to get on the same page.  Really, there should be no hurdles to jump over.  UPS has seen the damaged card, assessed and admitted it is damaged and has said they will reimburse the seller the money.  Once that refund occurs, the seller can refund me.  Why the delay?  I'm trying to figure that one out myself.

Hopefully I will have some good news regarding this over the next week or so.

On to better things.  Namely.......Linden cards.

The past couple weeks have brought in a few bubble envelopes with a nice variety of Linden goodies for the collection.  It's neat to get cards from a few different sets at the same time rather than a bunch from just the most recent release.  That can gives cards a little less "wow".

Here, you'll see a bunch of different looks.....much more fun.

2012/13 In The Game Superlative III
Game-Used Jersey
#GUJ-30 Silver Version (limited to 30 copies)

I'm really happy with this pickup for the big reason that I was patient to get a copy.  The silver version of this card is more common (yes....even at only 30 copies) and many of the offerings I had seen were only single color jersey pieces.

This card has a nice two-color swatch and it's a fair sized piece to boot.  What's better is that I got this one for less than what many of the single colored versions had sold for.  Patience pays off.

2012/13 In The Game Superlative III
Auto & Jersey 
#AJ-TL Gold Version (numbered 5 of 10)

Numbered to only 10 copies, I had already seen a handful go to other Linden collectors.  Worried that I might have "missed the boat" on this one, I was happy to see this copy show up in a traditional auction setting on eBay.  You see, a lot of cards sold online these days have fixed prices.  That can be a good thing at times, but can also be bad if you are looking for a steal of a deal.

With the other Linden collectors staying away from this card, I was able to land it for a very respectable price.  It looks just like it's silver counterpart other than the "Auto & Jersey" text in the top's in gold foil.


2011/12 Upper Deck The Cup
Base Jersey
#86 Silver Version /25

I'm not a big fan of plain white swatches, but when it comes to expensive Cup cards limited to just 25 copies.....I'll take what I can get.

The white jersey piece actually worked in my favor as the ending price was a little lower than its non-white counterparts.

That works for me.  I'm trying to pick up cards from the Cup product as cheaply as possible.  So far, so good.  That said, I don't have too many in the arsenal.

2011/12 In The Game Heroes & Prospects
Heroes Memorabilia
#HM-10 Gold Version (limited to 10 copies)

This is a card that I am thrilled to cross off the list.

Back in May, I picked up a copy of this card for a sweet price.  Sadly, unbeknownst to both myself and the seller, the card was damaged on the back.  Thankfully the seller worked with me to rectify the situation.  It was tough to send it back as I wasn't sure if I'd see another copy.

I was pleasantly surprised when this beaut showed up a few weeks ago.  I bid big because I didn't know if this would be the last one to see or not.  I won it for a very similar price as the other one.

It's now in with the others.  Happy to come to a great conclusion on this one.

2012/13 In The Game Forever Rivals
Forever Rivals Redemption Quad Jersey
#FEFR-40 Gold Version w/ Domi, Tucker & Corson (1/1)

Last but definitely not least is this great looking quad jersey piece from Forever Rivals.  Actually, it's from the redemption program In The Game had going on during the Toronto Fall Expo back in November.

In this redemption program there were dual jersey cards, quads and six piece cards.  Silver versions limited to just 19 copies have been somewhat available but the asking price is a little high on some but this is the first of the gold versions I've seen.

The way to obtain one of the cards at the expo, you had to open ITG product  at their expo location.  Not sure how many of these redemption cards made it out to the public, but these 1/1's  might be tough to come by.

The price was a little higher than I was hoping, but with a one-of-a-kind item it's tough to figure out where to draw the line.  I bit the bullet, hit the "Buy It Now" button and when I opened the envelope today I was completely happy.

I've got a few more cards on their way and I've learned of a couple big products sure to include Lindens so stay tuned.  It should be a really fun year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - Onyx? What's Onyx?

This past month has sadly brought about more than one negative transaction involving a Linden card.  Three in fact.  In all instances, the cards arrived damaged due to poor packaging.

It's a shame that it happens in the first place as I feel this is completely avoidable, but I do understand that it happens from time to time (unfortunately there's been a bit of a swelling of late) and my hopes is that in those instances, the two sides (myself and the seller) can work together to rectify the situation.

Sadly that's not always the case.  In my most recent dispute, the seller has resorted to name-calling, belittling and flat out bullying.  Going so far as to laugh at my past purchases and bring up the silliness that is hockey card collecting.

It's a shame that people like this exist.

Anyways, sorry for the mimi-vent.  On to brighter things.  One of my recent purchases secured yet another coveted 1/1.  And it definitely has quite the name.

I love the designations that card companies put on parallels trying to give these rare pulls some dynamic descriptions.  Gold.  Platinum.  Spectrum.  High Gloss.  The list goes on.

2012/13 In The Game Superlative III
Superlative Patch
#SP-30 Onyx Version (1 of 1)

Yes, it's the Onyx.  Sounds important right?  Well, it is the 1/1 parallel so I'd say it is.

In all seriousness, I could care less what fancy name goes next to these cards.  They could call it the 'Purple People Eater Parallel' and I'm still chasing it.

This is a real nice 4-color patch that I picked up with little resistance or competition when it popped up on ebay.  I like those auctions the best.

This card puts me at almost the halfway point of my Superlative chase.  Many of the cards remaining are really low-numbered pieces and just haven't shown their faces yet.

One at a at a time.  And let's hope they all show up undamaged this year.

12 in 12 - A Goal For 2013

I hope everybody had a safe and happy evening last night.  It was pretty low key for me.  I tend to hang out with family for the most part over the holidays and this break has been no different.

With Christmas, my nephew's birthday and now New Year's in the rear view mirror, I can look towards getting some stuff done before I head back to work in a couple weeks.

As for my blogging, it'll be status quo for the most part.  I've enjoyed what I've been doing - so why change it.

This year I will be introducing a new monthly feature.  Mostly it is to help me get back into the reading swing.  I was really pleased with how my '30 in 30' sports documentary venture went that I'm going to do somewhat of the same thing for books.

'12 in 12' will be a monthly reading goal.  One sports biography or non-fiction book per month.  I'll announce the book at the start of the month and do a quick write-up at the end.  I've got a few on the list so I'm hoping that posting here will keep me motivated to stay on track throughout the year.

First up is a book that I've been borrowing from a co-worker for far too long.  It's time to get it read.

Quiet Strength
Tony Dungy

Every time I listen to Tony Dungy on Football Night In America I find myself engaged in what he has to say.  He's such a smart football mind and has the credentials to back it up.  He's so soft spoken and seems like just a super-nice guy.  Demanding, but with a plan.  I will root for those type of people every day of the week.

This book was a recommendation from a co-worker who said I would enjoy it.  It shouldn't be a tough read.  I've got the paperback version and is 317 pages.

And with that, my year-long quest has begun.

For those who feel like it, find a copy and finish it by the end of the January.  You can get a better idea of my ramblings.

To good reading!