Sunday, January 31, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 1997/98 Valu-Net Phone Card

This week's Linden card has an Olympic flavor (as have a few of my posts recently). It was one card that I wasn't sure if it would ever be a part of my collection.

I guess first off, Trevor Linden was an outside shot at making the Olympic team to begin with. And if it wasn't for Rob Zamuner, Linden would be the guy everyone would be saying "Why him?". Linden was at a turning point in his career. Dwindling numbers in Vancouver, losing the captaincy to Mark Messier, being in the Mike Keenan doghouse and ultimately being traded to the New York Islanders. Trevor had a very strained few years in the late 90's.

All of that was lifted for a few weeks when he was named to the Canadian Olympic team in 1998. Gretzky's one and only attempt at Olympic gold (as a player).

1997/98 Valu-Net Olympic Phone Card
$15 version

Valu-Net was given the exclusive rights to produce Olympic hockey phonecards. I remember seeing the fullpage ads in Beckett magazine.

There were 3 types of cards you could buy, the $5 version (which are the most available cards out there), the $15 version (shown above) and I believe it was a $25 card (which I have never seen).

Now I'm not sure on the situation (as there is pretty much no information on the cards), but I think these sets were never released or only the $5 version made its way out to the public. The $15 and $25 versions never saw the light of day from a consumer's point of view.

I had seen the $15 versions pop up on ebay but it was at a 'once in a blue moon' frequency. The first few that came up went for good money. I kept patient thinking that eventually I would out-wait the demand.

Unfortunately, the supply seemed to dry up first. A number of months had passed by before another one of these cards popped up for sale. I was pretty pumped up to see it and made the decision to go after it.

I paid a little more than I wanted to for it, but I'm glad I got it. In the years since, I have seen next to none of these come up for sale and it seems like the well is pretty much dry these days.

I would be interested to find out if the third version was ever released (or even printed for that matter) as I would love to complete the trifecta.

For now, this card remains one of the more unique additions to my collection.

As a post-script, Linden held his own on the Olympic team. Even scoring the biggest goal for the Canadians that year. His tally tied the game up in the dying seconds against the Czechs (only to lose out in the infamous shootout). Linden's reaction to the goal (and bearhug from Brendan Shanahan) is a memory etched in my brain forever.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

BOX BREAK - 2004/05 ITG Franchises USA East

Now I don't normally "bust boxes" or "crack wax", but this past weekend when I was at the local card store to pick up some supplies, I decided to purchase a sale box just for kicks.

2004/05 In The Game
Franchises USA East Edition

I really liked the idea of this set when it came out 5 years ago. It's a retro-themed card highlighting the teams and players of that region (in this case the USA East) from days gone by all the way up to today.

There were two previous Franchises releases - Canadian Edition and USA West Edition and each were a 150-card-set. With this set being the third, the cards are from 301-450.

The teams featured include the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Washington, just to name a few.

It's a great trip down memory lane both in card design and player selection.

This box contained 24 packs with 5 cards a pack. I landed 117 of the 150 base cards which is not bad (I would have liked to have been a little closer to set completion, but I guess it is to motivate people to go out and search down the remaining few). I got no doubles - so no trading of extras.

Like I said, the card design is retro-themed. I like the idea, but the design just isn't quite there for me. It looks like a mediocre attempt at a retro series.

The player selection is cool, with some players I have never heard of. Other players are shown in some rare uniforms (like Jacques Plante as a Bruin, Tiger Williams as a Whaler and Wendel Clark as a Lightning....that sounded weird).

There are no non-memorabilia insert cards in the set (though I did get an oversized box-topper I guess that would count. It was an Atlanta Thrashers team card) and instead, there are autos and memorabilia cards inserted in.

There is one memorabilia card inserted in every 20 packs and one autograph card inserted in every 16 packs. So I beat the odds with one memorabilia and 2 autos.

There are also various versions of these cards that are more rare in numbers.

The Reggie Leach memorabilia card is really nice. It's a thick seam that is busting through the card. I quite like it.

The autographs though are what really sold me on this box. No stickers here. The players sign the card and there is tons of space for them to sign (although Gilles Gilbert needed to angle it....and by the way - love the penmanship!). I like the idea of an autograph book for a card design and I bet building the auto set would look really nice when completed.

You definitely won't see this player selection in any other release, so it may not be for everyone's liking. But I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

I'll have to keep my eye out for the Canadian Edition down the road.


Well, I was talking with a couple of the guys who are up against me in my hockey pool and they are pretty much ready to hand over the winnings.

A 112 point lead is all but insurmountable. Add to the fact that I've had the best January so far (by almost 50 points), it looks like there's no slowing down for me.

I would need a catastrophic bout of injuries - and even then it might be too late.

Martin Brodeur has been all-world in this pool. He's the leading point getter with 87 while Daniel Sedin (who was picked by the guy in last) has 78. The guy in third has 71 points. It's Ryan Miller who's my second goalie.

None of my forwards have been "lights out" this year, but I've been getting very consistent, solid outings night in and night out.

he injury bug is not nearly as big of a factor and like I said, I would need multiple season-ending injuries just to make it close.

I love hockey pools.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This past week, I did a "One Sheet, One Set" post on some International cards. One of the cards in that set caught my eye. It brought back some oh so painful memories.

The photo on it captured the moment perfectly and I thought it would make a very appropriate "Cardboard Photography" post. Enjoy.

1996 Semic Wien
#74 - Magic Moment

How many of you remember this moment? Peter Forsberg scoring what is known as the most celebrated goal in Sweden's hockey history.

The 1994 Olympic hockey shootout with the Canadians will go down as one of excitement as well as tremendous emotion.

I remember feeling bad for Corey Hirsch (the Canadian goalie) because I thought that it was a terrible way to determine the outcome of such an important hockey game.

How a game in the Olympics could be decided by a shootout is beyond me. I see no reason to go to a sudden death overtime format - like the NHL playoffs. Turning a team game into an individual competition is wrong.

I hope the IOC will one day make a change to that rule.

That said, the move Forsberg put on Hirsch has become a staple in the NHL shootouts. Everytime I see that move attempted, the play-by-play guy makes reference to Forsberg and his out-of-this-world move.

The overhead angle of this shot emphasizes a desperate goalie as well as the second before complete jubilation.

I love these 'moment-in-time' photos put on cards. Brings back strong memories.

Not always good memories though.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


This past week, Jean Beliveau was admitted to hospital after suffering a mild stroke. He is recovering and hopefully, in time, will be back to 100%. Get well soon!

Beliveau is known throughout the league as the "classiest" player ever to play the game. He was a very tough player to beat on the ice, but that competitive exterior was immediately shed one he stepped off the playing surface.

Beliveau has always had time for his fans. Signing autographs for one and all. A smile and at times a story will always follow.

I was thinking of a way to incorporate Mr. Beliveau into my blog this week and after looking through some of his cards, the idea snapped into my head.

This man's penmanship is flawless!

Without question, Jean Beliveau's autograph goes down as one of the nicest in NHL history. Smooth, legible and written with patience and purpose.

I started comparing his autograph to other players from his era, and found quite a few examples of quality penmanship.

Maurice Richard holds a close second in my eyes for nicest autograph. He's another who always took his time to sign his name. Take a second to appreciate it - it's a gorgeous sig.

Bobby Orr was quick on the ice, and his signature has a bit of "extra flow" to it, but as you can see, his name is still quite legible.

"The Big M" has a real nice autograph. Those longer last names just really shine when written out nicely. Must have taken a bit to pump those out for the fans, but well worth the wait.

Case in point. Perreault has an equally eye-catching signature. Purposeful and precise.

These were just a few examples that I found (and it didn't take me long to dig them up). Please note, not all the cards are mine. I did snag a few pics off the internet for example purposes only. I apologize if I borrowed someones photo without permission. I did not do it with bad intentions.

I wanted to compare the autographs of past players with the signatures of today's NHLers. The results were like night and day.

This card is the perfect example of two parallel universes colliding. The grace and structure of Mr. Hockey vs. the speed, flow and confusion of Henrik Zetterberg.

What was "Hank" thinking when he signed this card? Did he not see the gorgeous Howe autograph above? And what's with that squiggle at the end? Is that a pig's tail or what?

Oh wait.....there's more.

I think this card goes down as having the worst signature. He should be immediately suspended from any and all autograph signing. What's the point of putting pen to paper when that's the best you can come up with.

Another winner. I can't think that O'Sullivan is being bombarded with autograph requests (after all, he's a second line player for the Oilers). Terrible.

Even the superstars aren't immune to the crappy signatures. Alexander the Great looks rather bleak when critiquing his autograph. That said, I can only immagine how many times he's got to squiggle that one out in a day, a month or a season.

For a guy with fast hands, his autograph certainly matches. Back when he was a rookie, he had a more drawn out and legible signature. Not anymore. Too bad, I like him as a goalie....but not a signer.

Ugh. An "S", maybe an "s". That's all I can kind of make out in this one. These guys must get together and give each other lessons or something.

Another one where I don't really see any letters, just a bunch of scribbles. I've seen kindergarden kids with more legible handles.

I don't even know where to start with this one. What is it? A couple wavy lines and some divots in between. Nice. Worst thing is - he planned it that way. Brutal.

What has happened over the past 30-40 years to turn our hockey idols into a bunch of scribbly scraps? Is it a generational thing? Are they just short for time? A.D.D. or something? Maybe they just didn't learn how to write their name when they were growing up?

I hope that players (and people in general) rediscover the importance of this lost art.

Maybe I should be looking at it from the other side of the fence. The older guys were probably taught and re-taught the importance of penmanship. They probably wrote a lot more letters than the stars of today (after all, e-mail and texting is the preferred method of "written" communication these days).

It's sad though. The grace and flow of a gorgeous signature is becoming a rare breed, soon to be extinct.

Thankfully there are still examples of an era gone by.
Good on ya' Jack Johnson!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

ONE SHEET, ONE SET - 1996 Swedish Semic Wien

Wow! I hadn't realized that it has been 2 months since my last 'One Sheet, One Set' column. Let's fix that right now.

With the Winter Olympics less than a month away, I thought I'd take a look at a more international set. Ya know....change it up a bit.

1996 Swedish Semic Wien

This set was one of the few sets not readily released in North America that I was able to find with relative ease. I think it was a highly produced set (as it's not an overly expensive find), and is rather basic in its premise.

It's a 240 card set that highlights international hockey. Players from Olympic and World Championship teams.

As you can see, it had a drastically different look than the NHL sets out there at the time. Seeing the colors of Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Russia just weren't prevalent at that time.

There are no inserts or jersey cards. Nothing more than simple base cards. Sometimes, there's nothing wrong with that. That said, this release could have really created quite a stir with the addition of autograph inserts. For some reason, international autos have always had a huge appeal in the hobby. I don't really know why.

The front of the card reveals a very basic looking design. Almost too simple. No borders, no glitz, no flash. I'm going to give it points for that. Let the photo tell the story. Shots like this Lidstrom speak for themselves. Simple, yet effective. There is an above average photo selection for the set.

For a card front with next to nothing on it, you know something's wrong when it looks like the 'Wien 96' logo at the top is too much. Something smaller or simpler would have been better.

The name and flag at the bottom are again simple, but it works for me. The only addition might be the name of the country (for those of us not caught up on our flag identification).

The back of the card lends a little more disappointment for me. The layout just doesn't work. Is it a sideways card or a top-to-bottom deal? I appreciate that they use a different photo, but something a little more dynamic would have been nice - like an real tight closeup or something.

The name, team, position at the top are ok and the flag again works for me, but the sideways stats are a big bust. It looks like basic photoshop stuff and lacks flair or creativity. The logos at the bottom are a mess. I just think the whole layout of the back could be way more improved.

Overall, a nice set to build and a chance to see some NHLers in their country's colors. Unfortunately, for every Nicklas Lidstrom you get, a Dieter Hegen is soon to follow. I guess that's the price you pay for an international set.

I think given it's large production quantity, this set could be had for under $10. It might be slightly harder to track down, but might make a good chase for those bored with the early NHL sets.

I'd like to end the post by saying - GO CANADA!

3 out of 5

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 2006/07 UD Lucky Shot

This is a special Linden card in my collection....just received today.

It represents everything I love about collecting.

2006/07 Upper Deck Lucky Shot #VAN5
Arena Giveaway

These cards slipped by me when they first came out. A 5-card team pack was issued out at a Canucks home game and have been impossible to find on the secondary market.

In fact, I had never seen one single copy over 3+ years until it arrived in the mail.

It's a pretty basic card, meaning that there's no jersey or patch or autograph associated with it. It's not an expensive card (although I'd be willing to bet it would get some fair coin on ebay) and its design is nothing more than the regular UD base card design from that year.

About a week ago, I received an e-mail from a fellow Linden collector. The same one that has helped me out numerous times in the past. He simply asked if I still needed the card. He never mentioned that he had one, or wanting to work out a trade or anything.

Today I came home to find an envelope from this collector and inside was this card. I was thrilled. That, to me, is what I enjoy the most about collecting. A card worth a buck or two gets me that jacked up.

For a fellow collector to offer a card like this and asking for nothing in return is what I truly love about this hobby and my collection.

I have had the great fortune of meeting some awesome people who have a similar passion to my own. It definitely is a highlight to my collection.

Thanks Kevin!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The start of a new collection?

A while back there was a comment about cards showing players raising the Stanley Cup. Within a short time, I tracked down a great looking card of Lanny McDonald hoisting the cherished trophy.

Since that time, I have been thinking of starting a little side collection of players who are raising the Stanley Cup. Here's what I found at the card show I went to last weekend.

Ray Bourque

Dave Andreychuk

What I really like about these cards is that it captures a very specific moment in time - and a darn important one at that. The moment that every player work for and dreams of. I'm surprised they haven't come out with a full set of these yet.

Not a bad start at all. I'm going to keep on the lookout and post my future findings.

I think it's a great idea for a simple collection that's outside the box of player or set collecting.

Current collection - 3 cards

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK? - Or to the bike spokes!

Well, I was trying to pick a card for my Linden "Card of the Week" and thought that I'd dip into something from a ways back.

There are a ton of cards to choose from and a lot of them I really like. I was finding it a tough chore. That is until I hit this card...

As soon as I saw it - I knew it would be the next card to make the grade...or would it?

This card comes from the 1997/98 set that Leaf released. They did a 10-card subset called "A Day In The Life". It focused only on Trevor Linden and showed him at various stages of the day - his routines, etc. I thought it was really cool that Linden would be the one chosen for this subset.

The photos however tell another story.

I don't know about you, but a hockey card with a photo of a player at the computer reading a letter isn't what I had in mind for a "must have" card. Some of the shots in the set are downright ugly. There's one where he's sitting on a log at the beach just relaxing, one of him on the phone, one of him golfing (ooohhhh, bad memories) and one of him just reading. I guess that is an accurate depiction of what he does, but c'mon...these are hockey cards.

Still, it was a Linden and I had to have it. What made things even more exciting is that in addition to the 10-card set, there was a 10-card parallel set called "fractal matrix" (which is the one shown above) and is limited to just 1400 sets. On top of that, there was a 10-card "fractal matrix die-cut" set limited to just 400 sets.

That's 30 of these cards in my collection - and it took quite a while to track them all down.

A proud addition to my collection. Maybe I'll take this double and wedge it into the bike. It's a thicker card so it should make for a great sound.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TO THE BIKE SPOKES!!! - Paul Kariya

There are times in the hobby where companies try to inject some unique feature to "spice things up" in the industry.

Insert cards, pieces of jersey, autographs, 1/1's. The list goes on.

There are times though when these innovations create a card that is so undesirable that it makes me say one thing...


2002/03 Be A Player Signature Series Golf
Paul Kariya # GS-70

Where to begin....where does it end?

First, let me say that this was an insert set put out by Be A Player. This was one card in a 100 card set. A HUNDRED OF THESE. That's just nasty.

Looking at this card, clearly Paul is posing in some lighted room and I question if he's ever been out on a golf course.

Who wears jeans when they golf - especially if you're an NHLer? What, no golf shoes? Did you leave them at home?

Now I've played a few rounds of golf and I've watched my fair share of it. I gotta say that Paul's follow through on his swing is about as lazy as it gets.

That's right Paul - admire that shot. He looks clueless.

I love the background that he's plunked on. Is that a golf course or a close up of some army fatigues? My 8-year-old nephew could come up with something better than that.

Big beef - using the same pic twice. Gotta love that laziness. And I especially enjoy how the photos are placed so that golf club gives Paul a moustache in the closeup photo. It just looks terrible.

Slap a couple logos on it and call it a day I guess. The back of the card - not much better. This is just an overall swing and a miss.

Did I mention that they made a hundred different ones...A HUNDRED!!


Thursday, January 7, 2010

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - 2005/06 SPGU Triple Patch

Here is the one Trevor Linden card I have added to the collection over the last month - and it's a doozie!!

2005/06 Upperdeck SP Game Used
Triple Patch (Iginla/Shanahan/Linden) /10

This card came from ebay. I knew as soon as I saw it that it would either be mine...or some guy was going to pay through the teeth to get it.

With only 10 copies of this card out there (and knowing that almost half of them were already in the firm grip of various collectors' hands) I knew that this might be one of the last chances for me to grab this card.

I immediately threw a call out to another Linden collector to see where he stood with the card. I knew he already had one so I was hoping he would lay off on bidding. I was glad to hear that he was not aggressively pursuing the card.

I waited until the last minute to place my bid and was surprised that the final price for the card was a lot lower than what I was willing to spend. It's still one of the more expensive cards in my collection...but if I were ever to sell it, I'm pretty confident I'd make a nice little profit. Not going to happen though.

This card comes from one of the hardest sets to complete for my Linden collection.

There are 2 triple jersey cards /25 (one with Iggy and Shanahan, the other with Modano and Roenick), 2 triple patch cards /10 (with the same grouping of players), a quad jersey card /10 (with Jovonovski, Kesler and Bertuzzi) and finally a quad patch card /5 (with the same group of Canucks).

Insane cards to track down...more insane are the prices.

All that is left for me to pick up is the quad patch /5. Wish me luck on that one.

BEHIND THE MASKS - Quest For The Cup Itech Masks

Well, life is back to some semblance of normalcy. All signs of Christmas are packed away for another year, the World Junior tournament has come and gone (and what fantastic hockey it was) and work has beckoned me to return. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season.

While it might take me a few weeks to get 'caught up' with my projects, I thought I'd post a nice little set of cards that came in the mail today.

2003 Pacific Quest For The Cup Itech Masks
**set was pulled from release**

This set of cards were ones on my radar big time back in 2003. I was huge into goalie masks and was grabbing anything and everything relating to them.

I had heard that an upcoming Pacific set would be including inserts based on mask designs from a guy named Frank Cipra, an Itech artist and mask maker for the biggest names in the sport.

It was literally at the last minute that Pacific had to pull the cards from the set as there were legal issues with the showing of the mask designs. Even though an artist painted the masks, I believe that the ownership of the designs belonged to the NHL. Regardless of the issue, I was bummed that there would be no mask cards.

A few years later, I saw someone post the Dipietro card saying he picked it up in a trade. I was shocked to see it. A short time later, I noticed someone had the entire set. Probably the only person to own the entire 8-card set. I was in awe.

Fast-forward to December. I saw an ebay auction for one of the cards. And for (what I thought was) a reasonable price. I soon found out that the seller had all 8 cards. Already knee deep in debt with Christmas coming up, I ignored what my conscience was telling me and snatched them up.

They arrived in the mail today and I can honestly say that I am thrilled to have them.

They are slightly larger than regular hockey cards (they barely fit into a plastic top loader and I'm not able to use penny sleeves). They look like proofs (seeing as the seller had a ton of old Pacific proof cards from when they went out of business).

I really don't care. I've got a rare item for my goalie mask collection and I think they look great.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Life is slowly getting back to normal. I go back to work this upcoming Wednesday and the projects I have been working on for the last couple weeks will get shoved down the priority list a bit.

I have enjoyed my time off (I can't remember the last time I had over two weeks off at Christmas) but I will be happy to get back into a routine.

One routine for 2010 will be this blog.

Looking through the December posts, it's definitely a little thin for content. I'm looking forward to contributing more to this blog that I set up for myself and have some good stuff to post over the next bit. It's all about patience.

Patience though, is something that is severely lacking in the hockey card collecting hobby nowadays. I see it all the time. I peruse trading boards and am constantly bombarded with frustration from posters who are disappointed that instant communication, accessibility, compensation, delivery, satisfaction or all of the above isn't placed on their lap.

Some of the examples that have got me a little riled up lately include people who are not just frustrated about having to wait more than 2 weeks to get their item from ebay, Amazon or another trader - they decide to call the other person out in a public forum. They then play the "feel sorry for me" card along with the "this person is a terrible trader/seller".

C'mon! Just because a person receives a package in less than a week doesn't mean that ALL packages will arrive as promptly. Not every item you purchase online will arrive in record time. And during the holiday season - it slows down even more. Rather than complain about it in an open forum, why not inquire about it an a respectful manner with the other party. Airing dirty laundry in public always stinks.

Another one of my favorites is seeing a person whine and cry about how many cards they have to now collect of their player because the card companies have included him in all of their sets.

Are you crazy??? If you are letting someone else dictate what you are collecting - then you should get out of collecting now. If your collecting is getting out of control in any way, shape or form, you need to take a close look at why you are collecting. This is a hobby, not a requirement.

One that drives me batty is the ebay seller who decides to end his auction early in fear that his card isn't going to sell for what he was hoping it would.

Brutal! If you're going to put a card up for bids, have the decency to let the auction run its course. If you want to save a few pennies by having a low opening bid, then you run the risk of having that item garner little to no interest and therefore might go for said opening bid. If you want all of your cards to sell for big money, then start them off at an amount you would be willing to part with the item for.

On more than one occasion, I have been ready to place a bid only to find the auction ended early. I know for a fact that one reason is the seller wanted to get more money for the item.

News flash.....people often wait until the last few minutes before bidding on an item. I've seen cards go from $40 to $175 in a heartbeat. Sometimes you just have to be patient about it.

Note: I absolutely hate the practice of a person taking their auction down because it isn't selling for a high enough price. If you do that, please let me know so I will never bid on your items.

The one that gets me the most is "I that card - and I need it now!"

Why? Why do you need that card this minute? What will happen if you don't get it? The last time I checked, it isn't a race to finish. And what happens when you do finish?

I'm all for pursuing the cards you need. Heck, the chase is often more fun than actually acquiring the card. But I'm in no rush. I'm looking forward to collecting for a long time. I cringe at the thought when one day I put all of my collecting behind me.

Patience. Enjoy the hobby.