Monday, February 29, 2016

RATE MY MASK - Ryan Miller

I haven't done one of these custom cards in a very long time...but a recent hockey game had me thinking about reviving the trend.

A couple weeks ago the Vancouver Canucks went "retro" by wearing their iconic skate logo jerseys for a tilt with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The Saturday night match definitely brought back fond memories of the 'Nucks and their heyday when Linden and crew went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994.

As much as I enjoyed seeing the new old threads, I thought Ryan Miller did a great job channeling his inner John Garrett.

Miller's mask definitely had a throwback theme and the bold red and yellow colors really punch against the black background.

It's a lid that might not have a lot of detail, but the impressiveness of it can most definitely be seen from all reaches of the arena.

Painted by long-time artist Ray Bishop, the classic 'V' shape harkens back to the old-school masks of the 70's with the likes of John Garrett.  Back in a time when team colors and bold, solid shapes adorned the masks (whereas today's intricate airbrushing can take away from the beauty of the design from a distance).

Garrett not only has a killer mask....but how about them jerseys!!

Miller's retro mask also has a hint of 90's backstop Kirk McLean both in shape of design and era.  But I like to go back to the 70's whenever I can.  Who can blame me.

In addition to the great bold colors used by Bishop, he fired up the instantly noticeable skate logo the Canucks used in the late 80's and into the 90's...which makes for some fantastic patch cards by the way.

The logo shows up of both sides of the mask giving it that symmetry which was common of the times.

I really like this mask and I think more goalies should adopt the big, bold colors.  While I can appreciate the intricate detail that goes into some of these designs, I can't help but think that the overly-busy canvas can take away from the fans' enjoyment of it.

And I feel that more goalies do have less detail - or at least find a better balance of the two.

The backplate shows Ryan's always used "Miller Time" along with the names of his wife Noreen, son Bodhi and dog Puck.

I think part of the reason why this mask works so well is because it went great with the rest of Miller's gear.

C' great do those pads look?!!

And I want the blocker and catcher.  You'd be the most popular guy on the street with those during weekend road hockey.

Great look.  I'm sure that it just makes the fivehole look even more enticing, but it's all about the look - right?

It's a shame that the Canucks couldn't do more during the actual game.  This season really does not harken back to their gritty, talented '94 squad that pushed themselves to a flimsy goalpost away from the Cup.

At the end of the day it was great to see a slice of vintage Vancouver hockey goodness and I hope that they continue the tradition next year.

I can't help but be a fan of this mask.  It goes right along the lines of what John Garrett was wearing back in the early 80's.  A real special time period in the history of Vancouver mask and jersey history.

4 out of 5

So now it's your turn to RATE MY MASK!!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

OPINION - Why I'm Not Blogging As Much

So I went to the Flames game earlier this week with a friend of mine and during the course of a pretty good tilt (if you're grading on the curve of games the Calgary Flames have played this year) the question came up as to why I don't blog as much.

It's a pretty valid question if you take a quick peek at my numbers over the past seven years.

Between 2010 and 2012 I was averaging 200 posts a year (that's a post every day and a half).  In 2014 I posted just over 100 times....granted I did have a summer hiatus, but still.  And last year was even quieter, the first time I didn't hit 100 posts over the twelve months.

This year so far I've been almost invisible.

So why is that?

I think it's a few reasons.  The current landscape of Linden cards is not great.  Yes, there's lots out there, but the cards are so low numbered and with high asking prices (especially when you factor in the brutal Canadian dollar exchange rate).  I've just passed over way more cards than I've picked up.  In fact, I've only made one ebay purchase since Jan. 1.  I'm definitely not inspired in that sense.

My scanner crapped out a little while ago and my computer is on its last legs (I've had this beast for a good 10 years now) and I find I don't spend as much time in my office upstairs.  No real excuse...but if I'm not actually present in front of the computer it does make it harder to blog.  And I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like a blog post without a picture is just a little less exciting.

So yes, I will share a couple pics in a moment.

I'm spending less money on the hobby than I have in a good number of years.  I don't feel like the interest in cards is dwindling, I think I'm just keeping things a little lower key while this economy is in the dumps.

There are times when I don't know what to say or share.  And this one really had me thinking.  Why don't I have more to say about this hobby?  Why don't I spend more time trying to come up with a "good take" or my perspective on things?  I have no answer to that.  And that revelation has made me want to improve in that area.

Lastly, I've been a busy guy over the past number of months.  Work has been a grind (although not nearly as much these days), I volunteered a lot with my niece, spent time with my nephew, escaped into a good book or caught a hockey game or two.  The opportunity to blog has not been as abundant.

And at the end of the day.....I don't want my blog to feel like a job or an expectation.  I've been really focused on keeping this fun and something that I want to do for me - as opposed to having the mindset of NEEDING to write for my audience.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's cool that you all come and check out  what I have to say and share (and I thank you for that), but I want to keep my blogging experience very close to me.  It's to give me more experience in writing, give me a bit of a kick in the rear with my organization and ultimately keep things fun.

What will the future hold?  Not sure right now.  I don't have any quotas that I've administered for myself but you can be sure that when the time is right for me to blog....I will.

Now, with all that said I feel the need to share a photo or two.  So I took a snapshot of my garbage can.

For reals.

It's my Ken Danby 'At The Crease' garbage can.

Actually it started out as a popcorn container I believe.  And no, I do not keep my garbage can on my side desk....I put it up there si I could take a nice photo (thanks for asking).

This painting of Danby's is such an iconic piece of art in my books.  I've got a framed print of it in my closet somewhere.  I don't know why I don't put more stuff up on my walls.  Seriously, why do I keep them bare?

But when I saw this container at a garage sale about 2-6 years ago I thought that it would make a real cool garbage can for my office.  It's the perfect size.

The bags I use fit nicely inside and it's robust enough to handle a little bit of abuse.

It's got the goalie on either side of it (if a cylinder can have sides) and this 30th Anniversary note in between.

For the .25 cents I paid for it, I'd say it was money well spent.

Speaking of cool garbage cans....I have a story.

I always have a story.

When I was a little kid we would visit my grandparents on their farm.  We're talking late-70's, early 80's.  I would always get to sleep in my uncle's old room since all of the other rooms were more "girly".

My uncle had neat stuff on his walls, a cool lamp and alarm clock, some collectible-type stuff in his closet - all of which stayed put when he moved out.  But it was the container in the corner that had me gawking.
This is not his (I grabbed it off the internet) but she looks just the same - even better condition than this one.

What a beaut.

I didn't even want to put garbage in it I liked it so much.

And this depiction of Jacques Caron is killer.  Even though there's no logo on the front of his sweater (no idea why), the pretzel mask is a dead giveaway in my books.

Everything about this garbage can spoke to me.

What I really liked about it was that it was "before my time".  When I really noticed this was at a time when Gretzky had exploded into the league, the WHA had merged with the NHL and the fibreglass mask was quickly finding its way out of the league - only to be replaced with the much less sexy helmet-cage combo.

Look at all those great vintage logos!  They don't' make 'em like that anymore.

For years I would always stare at this garbage can when I would visit.  I wanted to take it home with me really bad but just never could get the courage to ask.

It's been a long while since I've been to my grandma's place now, but I'm sure she still has it (she never throws anything out).  I was thinking of asking her now, but I just feel funny approaching her about it.

I think in some weird way I like it more that it's not mine.

So there you go.  Your collectible garbage can story of the day.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

OUTSIDE THE BOX - I Caved (It's A Neverending Struggle)

One of the biggest challenges I face when things are slow in my little hobby world is curbing the urge to spend when really I shouldn't.  Buying things "just cuz".  It can get the best of me at times and it did just that last month.

Fresh off of a relaxing holiday break, I ventured to one of the local hobby shops in town for their monthly trade night.  I had a gift certificate (which I got as a gift a few days earlier) to spend/splurge on some sportscard goodness.

Problem was that I couldn't really find anything that fit into my wheelhouse of what I was looking for.  Linden wasn't in that many products at the time and the ones he was in weren't available at the time.

So it was "outside the box" time.

One of the things I insisted on doing over my holiday break was to go and see the new Star Wars movie with my nephew.  I was so excited to share the big screen experience of this iconic movie franchise with him.  We both love the previous movies (good, bad or indifferent) and was anxiously awaiting this newest adventure.

Long story short.....we both give the movie a hearty two thumbs up.

Why do I mention this?  Well because one of the products I saw at trade night was the new Star Wars High-Tek offering put out by Topps.

I couldn't resist.

I bought a box, opened it up (hoping for a sweet signature card) and landed a nice sketch piece of R2D2.  A solid hit....but not the big home run I was hoping for.

So that was that in terms of my gift card.  But against my better judgement....I caved - AGAIN!!!!  It really is something I need to address this year.

So how did I do with pack #2?  Well, it was another sketch card...

...but I think I can feel pretty good about this one.

Queen Amidala herself, Natalie Portman.  Nuff said.

The back of the card says "one-of-a-kind piece of original art" and I couldn't agree more.  This is art.....and it's awesome.  The artist is Marcia Dye and in looking at some of her other sketch cards does incredible work.

The idiot in me has kept it in my trade box for a month and a half now as opposed to putting it up on ebay to sell.  I hate selling on ebay.  I'm hoping to trade it for a few sweet PC cards but that might be a longshot at best.

What I do know is that sometimes when I cave....things don't always turn out so bad.

But I still need to address it this year.  Ha.

Friday, February 19, 2016

LINDEN CARD OF THE WEEK - This Stick Does Not Work

I hate that my scanner crapped out.  It really doesn't owe me anything as I've had it for well more than 10 years.  It's been a solid workhorse and I knew that one day she'd be done.  That doesn't make it easier.

So bear with me and my subpar cameraphone pics for a while.

My Linden card collecting (as mentioned in my last post) has all but dried up.  On the market these days are a lot of the same ol' stuff.  My watchlist has rarely changed over the past few has the ridiculous prices being asked for some of these cards.

If something comes up that I need, I keep an eye on it.  More to just see if the items sells (and if so...for how much).  I've thrown a bid up here and there but really with no huge weight behind it.  Like I said, the dollar is just horrible right now.  A $30 card is going to set me back almost double that.  Not worth it.  Most of the time.

I did make one exception over the past few weeks.

Trevor Linden has been inserted into a number of products over the past few years.  In fact, it got to the point where the word "overkill" could've easily been used.  But lately his appeal seems to have died down.

Unless you are a brand named Leaf.

He's been constantly inserted into new products....and at a very high ratio.

Take one of the newest releases - Stickwork.  Thirty-five cards added to the master wantlist.


Most are 1/1 printing plates or 1/1 parallels which just makes me shake my head.  In fact, the most common Linden card on the checklist is numbered to 30 copies.

Really?  Who is this product geared towards?  Certainly not the player collector.

note: I just saw the checklist for Leaf Ultimate and the first few cards have hit the market. More of the same except they have sticker autos.  Stickers auto are BUNK.  Especially when you then limit the print run to 30. La-la-la-lame!!!

But I have kept my eye open and have snagged a couple of the easier cards (but only because the price was right) and one tougher pickup.

2015/16 Leaf In The Game Stickwork
Stick Rack Trio
#SR3-22 Linden/Oates/Gilmour Silver  /5

With just five copies of this tough parallel made I decided to put an offer in on the card.  It was agreed to and shipped off.  It's now sitting in my collection and.....well, that's that.

It's really not that much of an exciting card to look at.  Bland stick pieces (for such a low-numbered parallel), only Linden gets his photo shown (since Leaf can't get the rights to Oates or Gilmour I'm guessing) and the stick pieces inside the window just look slapped in upon close inspection.

You can see why I'm excited about Linden collecting these days.  Slim pickings.

But I've always felt that the chase is more fun than the capture so that's what I'm choosing to focus on.  It's not a race and I'm fully aware of the ebbs and flows this hobby provides.

Hopefully there's a little more flow coming down the pipe.

(That sounded horrible)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

HHOF AUTOS - Welcome Back And A Bernie

Holy cow has it ever been a long time since I've sat down at my computer here in my upstairs office.  I can't believe we've passed the halfway mark in February already.

So how is everybody doing??

Well....I can safely say that I'm still alive.  Ha ha.  It's been an odd year so far work-wise and at times it has kept me from really stepping back and smelling the hobby roses.  Not much to smell so far this year though.  My ebay purchasing has all but dried up due to the terrible exchange rate the Canadian dollar goes at these days.  Add to it the tough shipping costs cross-border and the routinely unrealistic asking prices for Linden cards on the block and the choices are easy.  Pass....pass....pass.

And that suits me just fine right now.

That said, I haven't been completely quiet in the ol' hockey card collecting world.  I've been going to the monthly card show and attending the local trade nights and that has definitely satisfied my thirst for the collecting world.

I hope that over the next few days I can show you some of the new additions to the various PCs I have and to start with I'll be going to my Hockey Hall of Fame hard-signed auto project.

Earlier this month I was able to complete a simple one-for-one trade to land the latest scribe.

Bernie Parent
(Inducted in 1984)

I've come across a few Bernie Parent autos since starting this collection but I've passed on trying to make a trade for one until now.  Either the card was demanding too much for my blood or was just not aesthetically pleasing to me (yes....I'm starting to get a little more picky with certain players).  I thought this card fit the bill nicely.

A good "negative space" for the signature, a nice photo from his playing days (although if I did have one beef it would be that I wished he was wearing his iconic mask) and a good product for signatures.

The card I gave up....a Sean Burke Upper Deck HG Glossy from 7-8 years ago that has been just sitting in my trade box for years.  A super-easy trade to agree to.

One step closer to my goal of 100 hard-signed autos.  I'm hoping to add a few more in this 2016 calendar year.

And hopefully more blog posts too.  I'm on pace for an ugly stat on that front.

Current Collection - 68 HHOF Autos