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Friday, April 16, 2010

Had A Bad Day #3

3. 1992-93 Patrick Division Finals Game 7 - Islanders shock the Pens in OT - What does 56 wins, 119 points, the President's Trophy, 4 players with 100 points, 5 players with 30 goals, and a 17 game winning streak (which by the way, has never been bested) get you?


This was the year that Super Mario was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and he missed a ton of games (24 to be exact). If he played all year at the pace he set, he would have easily broke The Great One's scoring records for both points and goals. Not that it mattered that much, but it was also the year they traded one of my all time favorite Pens, Bob Errey to the Sabres for Mike Ramsey (third from the left in the top row of the picture.  He had 6 assists in the playoffs, but contributed little else to the team beyond that).  I'm not bitter about it though.  He is back with the team now, as a color commentator and analyst.

The Pens easily handed the Devils a 4-1 loss in their best of 7 series to open the playoffs and things looked great for Pittsburgh's chance to 3-Peat. The Islanders were the 3 seed in the Patrick going into the playoffs and in round one they took it to Washington, winning the series 4 games to 1.  The pending matchup looked to be a good one for the Pens against the Isles.  The Penguins had the regular season record over NY 4-3.  But as we all know, this is the playoffs and regular season records mean nothing.  The stars apparently aligned in a backwards, out of sync test pattern, pigs took flight, Satan (the real one, not Miro) strapped on his skates and the Isles took this to 7 games.

The game was a hard fought, back and forth battle that saw the Pens, as usual, outshoot the Islanders 45-20.  I still remember watching Kevin Stevens collide full speed with Rich Pilon, only to fall face first in a heap on the ice.  I thought he was dead.  So did half his Pens teammates on the ice, including Mario who quickly motioned for the trainers to get out there.  There was blood everywhere.  He was taken to the hospital right after that with a broken face.

Down 3-2, the Penguins pulled Tom Barrasso with about 1:00 left in the 3rd period.  In a frantic press in the Islanders zone, Larry Murphy stretched out to save the puck from going out of the zone.  He shot it toward the net and the mass of humanity in front.  It went through Rick Tocchet and was deflected off of Ron Francis' stick and went into the net behind Glen Healey.  3-3 with almost no time left on the clock.  These were the Cardiac Pens I had come to know and love.

But it all quickly came to an end.  With 5 minutes ticked off the clock in OT, David Volek took a shot from the corner and became the unlikely hero, stunning arguably one of the greatest teams in hockey history to not win a cup.  I think this was actually the last time the Isles won a playoff series that I can remember. Forgive me if I'm wrong.  Or don't.  This also ruined the "dream" matchup in the finals of Lemieux vs. Gretzky.  The Pens would have knocked of the Kings for sure but we will never know.  Montreal beat L.A. instead and won their 23rd Stanley Cup.

Mario Lemieux went on to win the Art Ross (Points Leader), Bill Masterson (Sportsmanship), Lester Pearson (NHLPA Outstanding Player), and the Hart (League MVP) trophies that year.  He also won the Sportsman of the Year Award at the ESPY's but I don't think anyone cares about those.  He would never hoist the cup again as a player which is why it made it that much sweeter when he was able to hold the cup (and have it at the bottom of his pool [rumor and innuendo, not really]) again in 2009 as an owner.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blog Bat Around - - "The $50,000 Shopping Spree"

So it is that time of year again when a seasoned veteran blogger, that being Gellman, over at Sports Cards Uncensored puts up his Blog Bat Around.  This time we are tasked with trying to unload $50,000 on Ebay purchasing the cards of our dreams.  The kicker is that you only have 15 minutes to accomplish the task.

After looking this over, I thought this was going to be the easiest task in the world to do.  Boy, was I wrong.  When you are limited to shopping for your hobby, you are usually pretty selective about the cards you try to acquire.  It takes time to look things over, do research, etc., etc.  15 minutes is hardly enough time to do much of that.  The purchases tend to become impulse buys and you may end up regretting what comes your way in the end.  But, with $50,000 of hypothetical Gellman Doubloons I thought I would take a stab at it.

I had two goals in mind here.  First, I was going to try to stick to a dozen or less auctions.  I figured that would give me about a minute or so each to decide if that was what I really wanted or enough time to move on to something else.  Second, I was going to go for quality and not quantity here.  Usually when I buy it is the other way around but in this case it was like gambling with someone else's money.  When in Rome, right?

Now, I am not the biggest supporter of graded cards.  I don't necessarily agree with thier practices and I hardly see the merits in having two dozen companies all doing the same thing differently.  I do, however, see where having a card graded can pay benefits in the long run with condition sensitivity.  I'm not necessarily going to argue over the difference between an 8, 8.5, and 9 on whichever scale we are using.  Most collectors couldn't tell you the difference either.  What I am looking for is some type of confirmation that they are in pretty decent shape.  I am not holding these as gospel, but they are a better indication than someone saying the cards are Excellent/NR Mint and when I get them they look more like VG-Ex.  That gives me an idea for another post too...

With my criteria in hand, I decided that I was going to go with a few for the PC and some vintage cards that I would never otherwise give a second thought to.  Cards that would normally seem out of reach for any Saturday morning collector like myself were now fair game.  I wanted to find some things that not only looked cool but had a story and were essentially pieces of history.  I suppose I should call this my entry into the Blog Slapshot Around.  Take a look and tell me how I did.

#1 Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby Upper Deck Artifacts Tundra Patch 1/1

Are there better combo cards featuring two of the greatest Penguin (NHL) players of all time?  Yes.  But this one just looks great.  It features the Reebok patches from their jerseys and is serial stamped.  Again, not a big fan of 1/1 cards because they are a bit too gimmicky for my taste but I couldn't resist this one.  It is a nice bridge between my Lemieux collection and a future Crosby collection.

$2,499.99 ($47,500.01 left)

#2 Mario Lemieux 2008-09 In The Game Ultimate Number Emblem 1/1

Another 1/1 Lemieux only this time, and ITG relic.  This is a number swatch from a #66 jersey, obvious by the giant "six" swatch on the card.  While not the best looking card in the world, I like to think this one tells a story and would be a good centerpiece to my collection.  You can see that ITG made 7500 cards for this set and this is the only Lemieux.

$5,000.66 ($42,499.35 left)

#3 65 Card Lot of Wayne Gretzky Cards from 1979-1989 all graded

This is the only multi-card lot in the bunch.  There are only a sampling of pictures above but you get the idea.  I had to go with this one because not only does it include both of Wayne's rookie cards in pretty decent condition, but it has the majority of his 80s cards in good shape as well.  I think all but 5 of them are graded higher than an 8 and only 1 isn't graded at all.  Never going to find all these gems in one place at one time in this condition.

$3,995.99 ($38,503.36 left)

#4 Gordie Howe 1951-52 Parkhurst Rookie Graded

The Rookie card of Mr. Hockey, himself.  Come on!  The guy's nickname is Mr. Hockey.  How can you not have this card as the cornerstone of your collection?  This is another graded card and is in pretty decent shape for being 60 years old.  Again, it's all about the history here.

$3,849.99 ($34,653.37 left)

#5 Lord Stanley 2007-08 Upper Deck The Cup Legendary Cuts Autograph 1/1

I think when you have an opportunity to own a piece of history that your entire sport is based upon, you take it.  Here we have a Legendary Cuts Auto of Lord Stanley. I can only assume that this says "Yours Faithfully" but I have no idea how you get Lord Stanley or Lord Stanley of Preston or Fredrick, Arthur, or Stanley out of that signature.  It looks like it says Judy or Katy.  You know, I only had 15 minutes here so I wasn't able to do any research.  So since this is hypothetical...let's assume this card is real.  And since it is "real", it goes into my cart.

$14,995.95 ($19,657.42 left)

#6  Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, & Wayne Gretzky 2007-08 Upper Deck The Cup Triple Autograph

Three of the top 5 players of all time on one card.  Three of the top 5 players of all time signatures on one card.  Here we have a grand total of 3911 Games Played, 5622 Points, and 1965 Goals (NHL statistics only).  You can't argue with that.  This one is numbered 7/10.

$5,000 ($14,657.42)

#7 Connie Smythe 1936-37 World Wide Gum Co. Graded

Another founder and builder with a trophy in their honor (Playoff MVP).  Conn Smythe owned the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1927-1961 and has the fortune of having his name on the Stanley Cup 11 times.  He fought in World War II and was instrumental in the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens.  Later in life, he oversaw the construction of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.  Smythe was a great man, of great character, who was never afraid to speak his mind and always stood up for what was right.

$5,000 ($9,657.42 left)

#8  Jean Beliveau 1953-54 Parkhurst Rookie Graded

The man with the most Stanley Cup victories, both as a player and as a team executive.  How many, you say?  How about 17...10 as a player and another 7 as part of team management.  Both a 500 goal scorer and 1000 point scorer, Jean was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972  Beliveau is arguably the greatest Montreal Canadian skater of all time.

$5,000 ($4,657.42 left)

#9 Lorne "Gump" Worsley 1953-54 Parkhurst Rookie Graded

The man without a mask.  Gump Worsley was one of the last goalies in the NHL to refuse to wear a mask.  He was asked several times why he didn't wear one, to which he responded "My face is my mask."  How can you argue with that?  While playing most of his career with the Rangers, a pretty pathetic Rangers, he had his most success as a Canadien.  He won 4 Stanley Cups with Montreal and became the first goaltender to go 11-0 in the playoffs.  He later went on to play for the North Stars.  Gump retired at third in games played and was the only player at the time to have won 300 and lost 300 (Cujo did it later in his career).  In his long career, he logged over 50,000 minutes of ice time which is the equivalent of about 35 days.  He went into the Hall of Fame in 1980.

$5,000 ($342.58 OVER BUDGET)

So I went over by $342 or so.  I could probably make that up by using the "Best Offer" option on some of these auctions.  I originally had 2 other cards here but they were graded rookies of two Steeler greats Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw.  Since these didn't really fit in with the rest of the hockey theme I decided to nix them from the batch.  That could have saved me some time to refine some of my other choices but I didn't realize I was over my budget at that point.

I think I came out pretty good on this one considering the time constraint.  If I had to do it over again, I would probably end up with 10 different cards but that is the fun part about playing the "What if" game.  Thanks goes out to Gellman for coming up with this difficult but fun task.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Still More From the Mellon Send Off

Here are some last pictures of the event at Mellon Arena.  It was a great night for sure.  Bring on the Playoffs.

Here come the pre-game warmups.

Fleury warming up.  This is going to be a great night...I can feel it.

The coach, Dan Bylsma.

The Three-Stars of the Game...

Sidney Crosby

Evgeni Malkin...and

The myth, the man (er, penguin), the legend...Iceburgh!!

One of the memorable characters from Mellon/Civic arena days is Elvis.  The background here is that Mike Lange, longtime Pens announcer, used to quip "Elvis has just left the building" after a game ending goal like a GWer or empty netter.  Eventually a costumed Elvis began appearing throughout the crowd at the Arena on game night.  Hopefully he will be carried over to the new home next year.

The Consol Energy Center directly across the street from Mellon arena.

If you never saw the video, it's worth a look if not for nostalgia sake.

Goodbye Mellon. Thanks for the memories!

Completely Random Ramblings

Since I don't have much time to post, I just thought I would let my mind wander in a random posting smorgasboard.

--So after going home last night from work, I did my normal routine as always.  Until I realized...there are no hockey games on for two days.  Oh, the humanity!!  Playoff hockey is here and I couldn't be more thrilled.  The NHL playoffs, in my opinion, are some of the best games played in any sport...period.  Go Pens!

--So if you believe all the rumors and innuendo (truth) about Upper Deck and their cancelling/postponing their release dates then you may be worried like I was.  When your primary collection is only produced by Upper Deck, you tend to get a bit nervous when the thought of no more product being produced comes to light.  Now, the latest is that UD is going to meet their hockey deadlines that have already been set.  Plus, I got this email this morning...

Congratulations DFG!

We shipped the following redemption(s):

RJ7WN67PJ 2009-10 Fleer Ultra Hockey Rookie Redemptions Tyler Bozak - #14 Gold

Please allow up to 10-14 business days for delivery. We hope you will enjoy your new collectible! For more information on Upper Deck products, please visit

Thank You,
The Upper Deck Company, LLC
So I guess that answers that question.  Although in 10-14 business days they could easily declare bankruptcy and disappear from the Nevada desert.  I'm just saying.

--Speaking of Upper Deck, I had sent in a damage claim to them in regards to my box of Champs I purchased at the Sun Times show a few weeks ago.  A couple of the packs that I opened had cards that appeared to be creased right across the top.  They were all in the same spot, too.  It almost looked like someone had taken a pack and tried to fold it.  At any rate, they responded to me after two weeks and said that I should mail the damaged cards back to them so they can either replace them or give me something of equivalent value.  I'm not really sure what "equivalent value" entails.  Anyone out there have any experience doing this?  I'd be interested in hearing any damage claim stories.

--The season is 7 games old and the Pirates are still under .500.  Is it time to crawl back into my baseball shell yet?  At least they have some base running capabilities.  They have 8 stolen bases so far and haven't gotten picked off.  That's more than we can say for the pitching staff, who keeps getting picked off.  As they pointed out on Yahoo Sports, "In an eerie coincidence, the Pirates’ ERA (7.47) through six games matched the model of airplane (747) they flew out of Phoenix for a three-game series against the Giants".  Go Bucs!

--There have been quite a few emails flying my way asking for commentary on the Sansmokio Holmes thing.  Frankly, I have none.  Am I heartbroken that he was traded?  No.  I am more upset that they gave him away for $24 in trinkets and some small pox infested blankets.  But nonetheless, I think it just goes to show that the Rooney family and the Steelers organization as a whole has no interest in dealing with his shenanigans.  The did the same thing with Plaxico Burress when he became a diva and now he wears stripes for the state pen team. 

As for our billion dollar pimp quarterback, that's another story.  I guess he isn't going to have charges pressed against him due to lack of evidence or something.  I'm no lawyer (but I play one on TV) but I do know a legal goldmine when I see it.  I'd trade my job to be on his legal team just to collect all the retainer fees.  If the league does nothing to reprimand him for his ill advised behavior, then the Steelers need to.  Sit him for a couple weeks with no pay and then move on.  That will teach Big Ben to keep Little Ben under wraps.  Go Steelers!

--I think I have more pics from the last regular season night in Mellon to post before all is said and done.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More from the Last Regular Season Game At Mellon

Here are more pictures from the last regular season game at Mellon Arena.  Most of these are of the inside before the game and during the ceremony at the beginning.  Over 50 members of the Penguins organization throughout their history were in attendance to celebrate that building.

Here is a shot from their seats.  There really wasn't a bad seat in the arena.  I remember having as much fun sitting on the glass as I did sitting in the last row by the roof line.  It was always a great night in Mellon.

Here is a great shot of the scoreboard hanging above center ice.  You may remember this scoreboard from such films as Sudden Death, starring Jean Claude Van Damme or more recently, She's Out of My League starring that dorky guy from the movie Knocked Up.  Not specific enough?  He was the really skinny one.

The ice got a little sick before the game.

The pre-game ceremony showed videos and images from the Penguins history and featured various players who have made an impact on the Pens organization.  I believe this is a shot of Syl Apps who was in attendance. 

Here is the video that played on the scoreboard.

The Pens logo at center ice.

I can't really tell who this one is but I think it's Crosby.

Here is a shot of some of the veterans as they lined up on the red carpet.  I wish there would have been more shots of this but that's ok.  I was able to record it as NHL network showed the whole thing.  Awesome!

Another shot of the red carpet event.

Jimerson in the house!!

--More later

The 2009-10 NHL Playoffs (Predictions)

I hate doing predictions on anything.  It doesn't matter what the sport is, I am no good at it.  Inevitably, whatever I pick is going to happen contrary to my initial reactions.  And yet...I keep doing it.  I can't even predict the weather correctly.  Today I said it would was sunny and 67. 

The playoffs are now set and we know what the match-ups will be.  I thought I would take a moment and give my prognostication just to see whether or not I keep my streak of being incorrect going.

First, the West.

#1 San Jose Sharks vs. #8 Colorado Avalanche - I am going to go out on a limb here and give this one to the Sharks in 4 games.  I think there is just too much power here for the Avs to have a chance.  I like the Avs.  I respect what they have done this year.  I just think the Sharks are a better team.  Sharks in 4.

#2 Chicago Blackhawks vs. #7 Nashville Predators - This one won't be easy.  The Hawks have some problems in the net and I think it will push this longer than it should.  The Preds don't have enough scoring capabilities to withstand much past an extra game or so.  Chicago in 5.

#3 Vancouver Canucks vs. #6 Los Angeles Kings
- This one is going to go the distance but in the end, I'm taking the Kings.  I just like what they bring to the table and I think they will find a way to make Luongo look like a fool.  Kings in 7.

#4 Phoenix Coyotes vs. #5 Detroit Red Wings - I'm going with the lower seed here too.  What a shock?  It is the Red Wings.  Let's all be honest here.  They are the hottest team in hockey right now and I don't think there is a team out here that want a piece of them.  Despite the tumultuous season in Phoenix and the shocking playoff bid, it comes to an end in the first round.  Wings in 6.

The Eastern Conference predictions.

#1 Washington Capitals vs. #8 Montreal Canadiens - Despite my general disdain for Washington and everything they stand for, they are the team to beat.  The Canadiens are not that team.  Caps in 4.

#2 New Jersey Devils vs. #7 Philadelphia Flyers - The Devils took the Atlantic with the Pens loss to Atlanta on Saturday.  I think their luck is running out.  The Flyers are going to make a big push as they tend to do in playoff time.  I think they will pull this one out, and quickly.  Flyers in 5

#3 Buffalo Sabres vs. #6 Boston Bruins - Here is my next bold prediction.  The Bruins have done pretty much everything they needed to do to get here.  They were in trouble late in the year because they weren't healthy and they couldn't put points on the board.  That has changed (just ask Carolina).  The Sabres best player is Ryan Miller, their goalie.  Not enough to win.  B's in 6.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. #5 Ottawa Senators - I'm playing my homer card here again.  I know the Pens are only one seed ahead of the Sens but they are light years ahead in the talent pool.  They have too many weapons on the ice and if Fleury gets into "playoff mode", he will be impenetrable.  Pens in 6.

Like I said...I suck at picking so if I get half of these right, I will be shocked.

Head on over to Capt. Canuck's site Waxaholic if you want to get in on a prediction contest for the playoffs. You can win stuff!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Recap Of the Last Regular Season Game At Mellon

So since I couldn't take part in the festivities last Thursday night in Pittsburgh, I have to live vicariously through my youngest brother who actually witnessed the game in person.  I made sure he took plenty of pictures so that I could share them with the world.  I have such power.  This is image heavy so it may take some time for it all to load.  The first set is pre-pregame.  Pics of the stadium, the players arriving,

First, in case there was any question as to what that domed structure was in the distance, that traffic sign provides a good label.

Fast approaching the Igloo

See, if you get there early enough, you can get a great parking spot.  The beam structure on the side (is that the side...technically it's a circle so there is no side) is the retractable roof mechanism.  I don't know how it works, it just does.

'Nuff said.  Hopefully we can just change the last two numbers and move it to the new marquee across the street.

Ruslan Fedotenko walking into the stadium.  My brother and sister in law always find a way to get back to the player entrance and get pictures and autographs from all the guys.  I am so jealous.

Marc-Andre Fleury trying to button his jacket that appears to be too small.

Eric Goddard on his way into Mellon.

Craig Adams heading toward the locker room.  Interesting choice of tie for the occasion.

The Russian Mafia...Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar before the game.

Brooks Orpik and Mark Eaton.  Is that a Slurpee or an Icee in Eaton's hand?

A white limo, the second of two.  Who was in this one?  10-12 Penguin veterans arriving for the opening ceremony before the game.

This is a shot of the commemorative ticket that was given out with admission to the game.  I want one.  These were made by the Wendell August Forge, the oldest and biggest in America.  The crazy part is that after they got the order, the place burned down.  They had to rebuild and still were able to fill the order.  They are all handmade pieces.  Even if you aren't a Penguin fan or hockey fan, this is a great example of some fine metal work. Here is a great video that shows how they are made.

--More to come.