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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey

I would hardly consider myself a Howe collector by any means.  In fact, pulling Gordie cards out of product over the last few years has been rather amusing considering Upper Deck has forgotten his name completely and has gone with Mr. Hockey.  So on this day, I thought I would take this opportunity to show off my meek Gordo collection.

On this day in 1928, Gordon "Gordie" Howe was born in a farmhouse in Floral, Saskatchewan.  Anyone that doesn't know of Gordie's achievements on the ice has either lived under a rock their entire lives or never once watched a hockey game (or even heard of hockey for that matter).  Howe is a pioneer in the sport and has been compared to the likes of Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth in their achievements in baseball (although that might be insulting to Howe).

Mr. Hockey, as he became known later in life, is the only player in NHL history to have a playing career that has touched on five decades.  FIVE!!  He was 52 when he retired from the game he loved.  Gordie helped the Detroit Red Wings win four Stanley Cups in 1950, 1952, 1954, and 1955.  He won both the Hart and Art Ross trophies 6 times each and played in 23 All-Star games.  You can wiki/google/whatever you want to know about him so I won't bore you with statistics.

Here are some of the most notable things that I remember and that you may or may not know about Mr. Howe...:

---He has the honor of having his name attached to a rare feat, especially in today's game.  A Gordie Howe Hat Trick is when you score a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.  Awesome!

 (I wish there was a better way to scan "shiny")

---I am not sure as to the validity of this but I was always told that he chose to wear #9 because that meant he got a better choice in the sleeping car on the train ride to away games.  I guess lower numbers chose first.  He started his career wearing #17.

---Most people know this but Howe was the anchor on the "Production Line" named for their scoring capabilities and as homage to the car industry in Detroit.  Along with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay, the "Line" finished first, second, and third in scoring in the 49-50 season.

---With all the talk and controversy about head shots, I say suck it up!!  Gordie fractured his skull during the playoffs in 1950 after smashing into Ted Kennedy of the Leafs.  He had to have emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain so that he didn't die or end up in a comma.  He returned the next season and won the scoring title with 86 points, 20 more than anyone else.

---His scoring ability was deadly.  Howe was ambidextrous and shot the puck both right handed and left handed.  Keep in mind this was back before the sticks were curved.  So really, he had no backhand.

---In the 1979-80 season, Gordie played alongside his sons Marty and Mark for the Hartford Whalers.  This was the first and only time that has ever happened in the NHL.  He also played with a very young Wayne Gretzky on the WHA All Star team against Moscow's Dynamo team.

    ---Speaking of the "Great One", I heard also that Wayne chose to wear #99 because he had always idolized Gordie Howe growing up and could not bring himself to take #9 in his honor.  Maybe he thought he was twice as good?...

    Happy Birthday to one of the architects of this great game that I love and one of the greatest to ever lace up the skates!!

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    Box Break - - 2009-10 Champs (cont.)

    Ok so I figured the scanner stupidity out and was able to get some better shots of some of the cards.  Since I already went over the break down in the previous post, I am going to show some of what came out of the box.

    First up are the base.  All of the base cards have a blue border.  As I already stated, they have the retro feel, kind of contrived, but still cool. 

    (Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Evgeni Malkin)

    There are also a few different colored parallels, including Turquoise, Red, and Yellow.

    (Scotty Bowman-Turquoise, Drew Doughty-Red, Ryan Getzlaf-Yellow)

    Each pack contained 2 mini cards.  There are also color back variations of these.  Some that were in my box included:

    (Marc-Andre Fleury, Bobby Hull, Brian Gionta - Blue Back Parallel)

    Some of the "chase cards" that were included were:

    (William McKinley - Historical Figures; Natural History Cards - Daspletosaurus, Aublysodon, Common Raven; Wonders Of the World - Palau, Paricutin Volcano)

    Here are my 4 "HITS" that I received.  Unlike some of the other breaks I have seen, I actually got three GU and one auto instead of two and two. Unfortunately, they are not the best, although the Robinson is kind of cool.

    Overall, my break came out close to what the sell sheet suggested.  I would have preferred 2 autos instead of the extra GU but that is ok.  The chase cards came out as expected with 3 HF cards, 2 WotW cards, and 5 NH cards.  Again, the mini's came 2 per pack and I did get the 1 parallel color back.  The other base color variants came out with 1 yellow, 3 reds, and 4 turquoise. Oh, and I also got this,

    along with 5 other mini rookies (1 more than expected).  It is my first Hedman from any product this year.  I like it.  Still not sure if I am going to put this together.  It would be fun but I have a feeling it will be expensive.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    My NCAA Bracket - - Gateway to a box break..?

    This is my only basketball post I think.  It will probably be the last, too.  It is just a segue to something bigger so I forgive myself. 

    So in the spirit of not talking about things depressing I thought I would share my NCAA Men's Basketball bracket with everyone.  This was a $5 pool at the office that had you pick all the winners of each round and then a tie breaker score for the National Championship game.  Pretty simple, right?

    Well as everyone knows, this year has seen more than it's fair share of upsets.  From underdogs performing the games of thier lives at the best moments to #1 seeds being dropped in the second round, this tournament has had everything.  Most people I have talked to have seen thier brackets busted in the first few rounds.  I have yet to meet anyone that had all final four teams picked exactly right, although I am sure there is someone out there.

    Getting to the point of why this is relevant...first or second place will yield me enough to pick up a hobby box of something.  If I was to count up the number of loses I picked, including the subsequent losses due to a picked team not moving forward to the next round, I come up with a 37-25 record.  Not too good in the grand scheme of things.  But, behold, the one and only glimmer of hope.  I picked the entire Eastern bracket exactly right.  Don't know how this happened but it did.  And for my efforts, I actually am leading the office pool.  If WVU wins, the title is mine.  If Duke wins, I will still come in second.  If the Western or Midwestern Conferences win, I think everyone might be screwed. 

    I was always a Penn State fan growing up but for the sake of my cardboard addiction...Go Mountaineers!!

    PS...Is anyone else experiencing image problems with Blogger?  I can't seem to get half of everyone's pictures to work either through my own page or theirs (if they are on Blogger).

    Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Box Break - - 2009-10 Champs Hockey

    Puck Junk beat me to it but I am going to post my Champs box that I got from the Sun-Times show a few weekends ago anyway.

    I didn't buy any Champs last year because I thought it was a little too gimmicky for my taste.  I did pick up a few Pens I mean, who wants cards with dinosaurs on them?  Well apparently a lot of people.  For those non-hockey collector's out there, I can only compare champs to the likes of A&G in baseball.  It has the old-time feel of the early 20th century cards and features a slew of mini tobacco-esque style cards.  The draw to these has been the variants on parallels such as different color combination's and back printing, as well as the chase sets including the prehistoric creatures.  I just always thought the chance at pulling a real live fossil out of a pack was a little over the top (I really meant fossil, not another Gordie Howe tribute card)

    Well this year was different.  Something about the previews Upper Deck released over a month ago caught my eye and I still haven't figured out what it was.  I decided that if I couldn't find the 1 box I have been looking for (ITG: 1972 The Year In Hockey) that this was going to be the one.  For $65 from the guys at Dave & Adam's Cardworld, I was on board. 

    20 packs/box
    5 cards/ pack
    2 Mini Cards/pack

    4 Autos or GU cards:
    • 1-2 Mini Signatures/box
    • 2 Mini Threads/box
    5 Mini Rookies (1:4)
    10 Mini "Chase" cards (Wonders of the World, Natural History, or Historical Figures)
    1 "Color Variation Back" Mini parallel
    8 "Color Variation" Regular parallel

    You can also pull case hits here that include 1 "Museum Piece" card that features those fossils and bones I already discussed, 2 Hall of Legends GU cards, 1-2 Mini Rookie Parallels, 4 Regular size Animal Icons, and 7 "Color Variant" Mini parallels.  Like I said, lots of stuff to chase.

    I tried to scan this stuff but there is something screwy with the scanner.  So here is a quick pic.  You can see the design of the base cards is blue with the washed vintage feel to it.  The players photo is bordered by the wicked step-mother "mirror-mirror" and there is a crossed-stick masthead, only at the bottom of the card.  I will say, I am not impressed however I do kind of like these.  They are probably my favorite vintage/throwback/retro set since Topps Heritage earlier in the decade.  Bobby Clarke in the first pack.  I guess this is another set with a bunch of retired superstars and HOFers.

    The mini's look very similar to last years and there are a bunch of different variations.  Here are the two that came from the first pack.  The nice mountainous landscape and terrain behind Brassard really does remind me of...Columbus, Ohio.

    I will post more of this one later.

    Tuesday, March 23, 2010

    The Downward Spiral...kind of

    Lidstrom trys to give Sid a little "how's your father"

    Not much to say about the Pens lose to Detroit at the Joe last night.  For the majority of the game, the Pens seemed to be playing sloppy, uninspired hockey.  For a minute there I thought I was watching the Bruins.  But I digress.  There was no shortage of the "Crosby Sucks" last night either.  Each and every time he touched the puck or even came near it, off they want.  I thought they had moved the game to Philadelphia and traded the Joe for food stamps there for a minute.  Flower played great, despite letting two softies float by.  If they are going to move me in this playoff run, he is going to have to be stellar.

    Bottom line...did we lose to our Western Conference rival Detroit?  Yes.  Was it detrimental to our winning the Atlantic Division?  Maybe.  Was it the nail in the coffin for a playoff berth?  No way, Jose.  That's not to say the game wasn't important.  This wasn't like a preseason tryout game or an early season positional game.  This was a playoff like atmosphere.  The two points for a win would have definitely helped push for the #2 spot in the East.  Jersey now has two games up on the Pens and is only 2 points back.  At this point, we are really playing for home ice advantage through the Conference finals. 

    For Detroit, this was a playoff game.  The Wings were two points ahead of Calgary, who has a game up on Detroit, for the 8th and final spot in the West.  They are in Full Metal Playoff mode, ie. bumping and grinding and sticking to you like fly paper in their "non-penalty" inducing interference kind of way.  I'm not saying there were bad calls, more like bad non-calls.  I haven't seen that much obstruction since I saw a fat guy get stuck in a subway turn style.  I'm not complaining though (CHEATERS!!!).  That is playoff style hockey.  They had the intensity and we didn't.  Fair enough.  Now STOP IT!

    The Great Ape in all his fashionable glory

    We get the Caps on Wednesday and I have a feeling this is going to be a statement game for Washington.  They are the team of destiny if you read Washington media.  They are built to win and to win now.  This would be icing on the Presidential Trophy season cake if they can go in at the end and wipe the ice with the Champs.  We are probably going to be without Malkin again so it is going to be no easy task.  Either way, I think we are in for a great game.

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Congrats to Selanne

    I know this is old news for many of you but congratulations are in order for the Finnish Flash who scored his 600th career goal last night against the Colorado Avalanche.  He joins 17 other NHL'ers that have accomplished this feat.  He is also only the third European born player to get there, along with Jari Kurri and Jaromir Jagr. 

    It was a fun goal to watch because after it happened, the entire Ducks bench lept to the ice and mobbed Teemu behind the net for a celebration.  It was great to see and I am glad the league allowed for this event to take place.  Prior arrangements had to be made by the Ducks organization to get permission to stop the game so that a celebration could occur. 

    For any non-hockey fans out there, Teemu Selanne was drafted 10th overall by the Winnipeg Jets (who are now the Phoenix Coyotes, who might soon be back in Winnipeg for all we know) back in 1988.  He scored 76 goals in his rookie season and went on to win the Calder trophy.  Only Selanne, and HOFers Mario Lemieux and Luc Robitaille have won the Calder and scored 600 goals. 

    Perhaps the best time of his career was when he was paired with Paul Kariya on the Ducks.  Even Selanne has said that, "Numbers-wise, I had my best years here with Paul and we helped each other so much. Not very often can you find the same chemistry that we had. It was amazing, and they were great memories.”  That they were.

    The first day of Hate Week

    Today is the first day of Hate Week in Pittsburgh.  What is hate week you ask?  Well for any hockey fan, it's the week where we play all the hated rival teams in the course of 7 days. 

    First up is the team everyone loves to hate, the Detroit Red Wings.  This is sort of a new rivalry since we sort of created it by being the best two teams in the league for the last two years.  Each of the regular season matchups between us has also been highly competitive and fun to watch.  The Wings are fighting for the playoff lives and are coming off a weekend where they won in overtime against their rivals Vancouver.  The Pens are trying to keep their division lead intact and make a momentum push into the playoffs.  Now is about time we should hit our stride.  Unfortunately, we are going up against who I think is front runner for rookie of the year in Jimmy Howard.  He has played awesome for the Wings, putting up a 2.32 GAA and a .924 SV%.  Here's some stuff for ya...

    Yes, that's Penguins coach Dan Bylsma fighting with former Wing Brendan Shanahan.

    On Wednesday, the feature game that they have been hyping up for two weeks on the NHL Network is the Pens against the Evil Capitals. I have grown to despise the Caps on a regular basis, although I forget that I don't like them sometimes because, to be honest, they are a fun team to watch. The two biggest stars of the NHL will be on the ice with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. I actually get tired of all the comparisons these two get. They are both amazing players to watch. Ovie has tons of individual awards to his credit but Crosby has the Cup. That's all that matters here. The Caps are arguably the best team in the NHL and are hoping for hardware at the end. With this being their last meeting of the regular season, chances are they will meet again in the playoffs.

    Finally, on Saturday, the Pens face cross-state douche bag dous-jour's, the Flyers. I love to hate me some Flyers. Regardless of how they perform or play, they are always viewed in my mind as a bunch of goons. Their team is made up of a bunch of faces on America's Most Wanted. Carcillo, Pronger, Hartnell, Giroux, Laperriere...the list goes on and on. Nothing would make me happier than a win here...except maybe 3 wins.

    The Pens magic number is 6!! If they win tonight, that would be down to 3 and if the Thrashers win on Tuesday, it would be down to 1. Barring global innihilation, I think we got this.

    Go Pens!!

    The Spoils of War - Card Show Review

    It was a battle on Saturday at the 40th Annual Sports Collectibles Convention at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.  Anytime you gear up for a card show it is like packing your bags for a long battle in the trenches.  I was armed with my Pittsburgh Steelers backpack filled with various lists, top loaders, and boxes so that I could hold my spoils.  After a quick breakfast and a shower, I headed out.  Here is my take on the show.

    First, there were tons, and I mean tons, of autograph opportunities.  I think I listed many of the autograph guests in my last post.  The only problem I had with it is the fact that many of them were charging well over $50 for a single item.  Don't get me wrong, there were quite a few signors that were under $20, but $60 for Chris Johnson?  $90 for Derrick Rose?  $250 for Emmitt Smith?  If you wanted them to personalize it or sign something other than their name, it cost extra.  Not to mention the photo op session that they charged for before hand.  Where does all this money go to?  Once the event gets paid for, and then the promoter, and then the autograph sponsor, how much does the athlete get?

    Second, with the popularity of Ebay,, Sportslots, and a plethora of other sportscard marketplaces, it still amazes me that "book value" is clung to like Linus to his blanket.  There were so many people walking around with a Beckett in hand.  It was almost comical.  I lost count of the number of dealers that relied on the perceived "book value" for pricing their cards.  If not for charging the exact price that is listed in Beckett, the majority of them at least posted the prices on the card so the casual observer would feel like they were getting a deal.  The worst instance was in the buying category, though.  I listened to countless numbers of collectors talking with dealers about buying.  Many of the dealers claimed they were buying and even had signs posted but I really didn't see much going on.  The only deals I saw take place were for vintage, condition sensitive baseball cards and some memorabilia.  In these cases, most collectors wound up taking a bath for the sake of walking away with something in their hands. 

    Third, what recession?  I didn't arrive there until after 11:00 AM due to heavy amounts of traffic driving around downtown Chicago.  That coupled with the fact that it was blizzard like conditions.  I can't understand how it was in the 60s three days this week and then it snows...but that's another story.  The convention center was packed with people.  Considering the parking for the center was $13 and the admission was $10, this was not a cheap show.  Pair that with the cost of autos and you have a very pricey Saturday afternoon.  I didn't see money hampering anyone there, including myself.  Yes, I spent more than I care to share and I saw many more like myself doing the same.  It was good to see the hobby is still thriving, if not sometimes in spite of itself. 

    My goals were to walk away with some player PC cards, a couple wax boxes, a set or two completed, and possibly an autograph.  Here is an idea of what I ended up with.

    • Player Collection Cards:  20+ Jaromir Jagr cards, 50+ Mario Lemieux cards, 4 Bill Guerin cards
    • Complete Sets: 7
    • Partial Sets: 1
    • Set Fill-ins:  70+ 2009-10 O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards, 15+ 2009-10 Upper Deck Hockey set (I am 1 card short!!)
    • Wax Boxes:  2007-08 O-Pee-Chee Hockey Hobby Box, 2009-10 Champs Hockey Hobby Box
    • Team Collections:  25+ Penguins cards
    • Game Used:  15 Game Used cards
    • Supplies:  1 box of 9-pocket pages

    Overall, it was a great show.  I haven't been to this show in many years and it was definitely better than I remembered.  It was nice to see so many collector's actively involved in their hobby.  Despite the numbers of people there, I somehow managed to run into Sal from Puck Junk at one of the tables that featured a larger hockey selection.  It is always cool when you get to talk with a fellow collector about a hobby that you share in common.  That is another reason why I love this blog community.  Regardless of what or how we collect, we all share that common thread and the passion for our hobby. 

    I should be posting some of what I ended up with over the next week or so.  I will also be posted my box breaks for the OPC and the Champs.  I am going on vacation from Wednesday until Sunday so my posting may be limited if not at all for those days. 

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Saturday Card Show

    As I already posted the other day, I am going to the Chicago Sun-Times show at the Convention Center in Rosemont today.  While I am not as bold as Sal over at Puck Junk as to Twitter the experience, I will be posting a recap of all the spoils of war after I return.  Hopefully triumphant...but my goal is to come back with 1 box (I have three on my mind), At least 1 completed set (I've got my lists fully loaded), At least 1 cool PC card for each of my player collections, and possibly a couple autographs.  I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl with anticipation right now.  It's like Christmas morning!!

    Off I go!!

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Results of Thursday's Main Event

    (I don't know where I stole this from but it is hilarious none the less)

    The stage was set.  All the hype and vitriole that the Boston media had inundated their fans with over the last 11 days was finally ready to boil over.  The Pens and Bruins faced off last night in what was anticipated to be a game full of fights, cheap shots, and general goonery.

    Did it live up to the hype?  Not really.

    The Pens skated out on the ice to a rain of boos from the partisan home Boston crowd and you got the feeling that it was going to get ugly real quick.  The puck dropped and there it....wait a minute.  Nothing happened.  Oh, Cooke isn't on the ice yet.  Ok, here he comes for his first shift and...

    There it is.  That's what we were all waiting for.  He was on the ice no more than 2 seconds after the face off when Thornton drops the gloves and they go.  I'm not going to lie and say it was a good fight.  It wasn't.  Cooke was beaten down and even after the refs jumped in to break it up, Thornton continued to pound on him.  He was no worse for the wear however and they both went to the box without so much as a whimper.  The crowd was elated at the fact that their enforcer finally exacted the revenge they have all been longing for and the frenzy was intense.  Short lived, but intense nonetheless.

    That was about it.  Kennedy scored making it 1-0 after the Pens stupidly took a Too Many Men penalty.  The first 6-7 minutes of the second period saw the Pens on a powerplay...well not a powerplay literally, it is just Boston couldn't get the puck out of their zone and Pittsburgh dug in for a session of target practice.  Ponikarovsky scored the second goal for the Pens in the second and Michael Rupp scored the third goal in the third.  Final score 3-0, Penguins.  Finally, Fleury stops 17 shots and gets his first shutout of the season.  I can't believe it took till March to get it.  Unreal.

    The only other highlight was this...a fight between Chara and Rupp which was more like an oak tree fighting a squirrel.  Chara has a 9 foot reach and weighs in at about 600lbs.  It's like Andre the Giant fighting, well anyone.  Rupp what.  Pens get a much needed 2 points as the Devils get dumped in overtime. 

    Chicago Sun-Times Sports Collectibles Convention

    Well it's that time of year again when the Sun Times plays host to the Annual Sports Collectibles Convention.  For anyone not around the Chicagoland area, each year the Chicago Sun-Times, along with various other sponsors host a huge card and collectible show at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL.  This years show is from March 19-21 and is featuring autograph guests from all over the sports world.  Anyone interested in scoring some autos of some of your favorite players would be in heaven at this show. 

    I have been to the National Show twice and this one three times.  I have to say that I have actually found more things that peaked my interest at this Rosemont show in the past.  I will definitely be going on Saturday.  I have already made out my shopping lists and have some specific goals in mind.  I'm also looking for some wax to bust so that should be fun.  While not a big autograph collector, there are a few guys I have my eye on.  I will definitely be showing off some of the things I pick up on the blog over the next week or so.

    If you want to find out more about the show, you can go here to check it out.  Maybe I will see some of you there.  Although I probably wouldn't know it if I did.

    For all you Graph hounds out there, here are some of the guests to temp your self-control:

    Lou Brock, Johnny Lattner, Bobby Hull, Ernie Banks, Luis Aparicio, Len Dawson, Dick Williams, Adam West (yes, Batman or Mayor West of Quahog depending on how old you are), Don Larson, Andre Dawson, Bill Buckner, John Riggins, Whitey Ford, Juan Marichal, Roberto Duran, Tony Rice, Michael Oher, Chuck Bednarik, Chris Johnson, Ozzie Smith, Keith Hernandez, Denis Savard, Percy Harvin, Jared Allen, Emmitt Smith, Willie McCovey, Members of the '72 Dolphins, Negro League Legends

    There are a ton more.  I didn't list them all.  Check out their site for a complete list.

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    It's Being Billed As The Most Anticipated Game

    • Regular season game during the March stretch...check.
    • Game featuring Olympic medal champions...check.
    • Game with potential playoff implications....check.
    • Eastern Conference rivalry...check.
    • Insane, fight-laden, Battle Royale style hockey game...I hope not.

    If you are a Boston fan, that seems to be what the media has been shoving down everyone's throats about tonights game at home against the Penguins.  Exacting revenge agains Matt Cooke is all anyone from Beantown has been talking about.  My only question is, how is this rational?

    You are playing for a potential spot in the playoffs.  The Law Enforcement Czar of the NHL will be in attendance at the game, obviously watching every single play with a careful eye.  Why risk losing players down the stretch for penalties because of obvious premeditated intent to injur?  For that matter, why risk an imediate penalty at all to give the Pens a powerplay and a chance to put points on the board?  Eveyone has to know that any retaliation for something that happened almost two weeks ago, no matter how awful it was, is going to get penalized heavily.

    I understand the anger and rage the diehard fans have at what happened.  If it happened to one of my players, I would be rightfully upset too, just as I was when Downie tried to break Crosby's legs the other night.  The sports writer media has been doing nothing but fueling the fire by posting things like thisOr this.  Or even this half-rational article here.  They even have a poll to see what the general viewing public would like to see the Bruins do to Matt Cooke...A) Knock him out of the game with a dirty hit, B) Drop the gloves and fight, C) Go after Sidney Crosby, or D) Do nothing because a win is more important. 

    It's playoff time, people.  I want to see a playoff style hockey game.  I want to see intensity, great scoring chances, great goaltending, and hard hitting.  I don't want to see WWE Smackdown.  That's on another channel.  Boston has one of the Original 6 franchises in the NHL with a storied history and reputation to uphold.  For the sake of your team and fans of the game, I hope you choose D.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010

    It's happened again...Blackhawks vs. Ducks

    As I type, it is still going on but...

    Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks just got creamed by the Ducks James Wisniewski.  Seabrook had checked Corey Perry a bit earlier and as retribution, Wisniewski took some revenge.  While Brent was behind the net, Wisniewski skated from the faceoff circle, full speed, directly into Seabrook.  He had his stick up in the air with one hand on it and left his skates to launch himself up into Seabrooks head.  I looked like it knocked him out as he dropped to a heap on the ice.  A fight ensued with Duncan Keith coming to his teammates aid and the trainer came out.  He was able to leave the ice on his own.

    It was a clear cut "message sending" hit.  Wisniewski had his stick up with no intention of playing the puck.  He was 30 feet away when he made his dash toward Seabrook.  He jumped up into Seabrook and hit him square in the head, no accidental or awkward positioning.  This was blatent.  So what happens to him....


    You know what?  This is no longer the players faults.  I don't blame the players anymore.  I blame the officials.  The officials are wrong.  This perceived crackdown on "headshots" is a joke.


    Cards from a TCN giveaway

    So over on Trade Cards Now, they had a box break for their members sponsored by Topps.  I guess the good folks at Topps (good is a relative term) decided to give TCN a box of Topps Unique Football to use for a "customer appreciation" break.

    Just like other trade boards, you earn cash credits that you can use for various things on the site.  This box cost 500 points per slot so I picked up 3 since I had yet to use any credits and have been on there since 2006.  With the exception of any $400+ cards, all cards would be yours from your pack.  Anything above that value is sold so that other merchandise can be purchased for additional breaks and the person who would have gotten it is compensated with a full hobby box of something good and a ton of cash points.  Plus they get their entry fee back.  Not a bad deal for a "free" break.

    It was on video...two parts...a 1/1 was pulled!! wasn't my pack(s).  However, I'd like to show some of what I got from the break and give my thoughts.

    Bottom line...these cards are a design abomination.  The base cards have a gray border that is textured like the leather of a football.  The player is off set to the right of the card and is overlayed onto the border so that it gives that typical, overused 3-D effect.  The color is printed with a raised technology which gives it that layered effect when you hold it at the right angle.  Other than that, they are plain.  Just plain.  In fact, they look like something that could be from the 80s or 90s.  Actually, the scan of the cards looks better than the actual thing.  Weird.  Up there was my one and only Steeler that was pulled in my first pack, Sansmokio. 

    The other issue is the parallels.  There are a ton of them.  They are all the same too.  Pictures are the same, design is the same, backs are the same except for the serial numbering.  The only real difference is the border color.  At 1:2 on average for the Red, I actually got one in each of my packs.  They are all numbered out of 799.  One day I am going to get my hands on a serial number card with the actual players number on it.  That would be a cool collection.

    All I know is that I am not going to be buying any of these cards.  If I happen upon them in trades or lot purchases, so be it.  Not a fan.  Not a fan at all.  Topps? make me sad. 

    Here was my one insert that was pulled.  A Unique Unis insert.  When I hear that name, I think, Unis...must mean it is a GU card, or maybe a pants swatch, or even a laundry tag....Why call it Unique Unis and not include a GU swatch?  It makes no sense.

    I received a total of 21 cards (3 packs).  I got 3 Red Parallels, 2 Serial Numbered base cards, 1 insert, and a total of 5 rookies (here are 2 of them, Pat White and Hakeem Nicks).  Not bad for only 3 packs.  I just now wish they could have been something different.