It's time for another box break. I have held off long enough on this one and I'm not sure why. Actually, I went through all my "draft" posts and came up with a startling revelation. I start posts in droves and never really finish them. This was one of those posts. I think my problem is that my brain goes a million miles an hour and when something interesting pops up I start writing and then lose interest when the idea fades. I'm like the guy that gets distracted by shiny things. So enough about that. Moving on.
Upper Deck released their SP Authentic Hockey product about mid-April and I was lucky enough to get my hands on one the first day it hit the shelves. From what I have heard thus far, it's a good thing too. Upper Deck has started to roll out their "authorized dealer" designation and there are some interesting restrictions that go with it. Things like, no Canadian sales for a year, no re-seller sales for 90 days in the US, and other crazy stipulations. I'm not sure if my LCS has been designated as a dealer or not but I will most certainly find out the next time I stroll by.
This years SPA release is very similar to previous years in that the design is very clean and simple. The base cards feature an action shot of the player that has been cropped onto a white background. The top half of the cards feature the player in glossy print, while the bottom half is kind of faded out, almost like a mist coming off the ice. The right side has a stripe from top to bottom that features the players name, team name, and the SP logo at the bottom. The player number is sort of superimposed on the bottom section right outside the stripe. Again, it's a clean design without much flash or flair because the focus of SPA has always been in the "hits".
Each box should have at least 3 auto cards, one of which will be a Future Watch Rookie. There are also Future Watch Patch cards #'d/100 that have been falling 1 or 2 per case. The other autos can be found on the perrenial Sign of the Times set that features all the stars of the NHL, the Prestigious Pairings set, Immortal Inks which feature retired players and HOFers, Marks of Distinction, and Chirography. As a departure from a non parallel base set this year, Upper Deck also added Patch variations of the regular cards. Most boxes will also yield 1-2 HoloFX inserts and 2-3 SP Essentials, which are numbered /1999 but collated with the base set.
Oh, and before I forget, there are 24 packs per box with 5 cards per pack. Here are some of my box highlights.
I pulled the typical 2 HoloFX cards from this box. As you can see, I didn't do too bad with a Bobby Orr and the Drew Doughty. You can kind of see by the scan that these are hologram laden cards with a gloss that just doesn't play nice with a scanner. These look so much nicer in person.
These could have been worse as well. I watched a guy open a box right after me and he only pulled three of these and they were all, to use the Beckett term, semi-stars. I pulled 4 which technically beats the odds on the sell sheets. The Gordie Howe is cool because you don't get many Mr. Hockey inserts with him in the Whalers jersey. My only beef with these is the lack of color. I'm not sure why they used black and white with that blue faded side panel. They almost seem like there should be an autograph on the left.
And now for the meat and potatoes portion...
First, I pulled one Future Watch base card numbered /999. It was Patrice Cormier. Yeah...I know. I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. Moving on, again.
Ok, this was a little better. First of all, it is a "case hit". Second, it's numbered to 100. Third, despite the way it may look in all it's plain color glory, it's a patch. Fourth, it's a card of Casey Wellman...wait, that's not one of the positives. Casey played 12 games for the Wild last year and only 15 games this year. He is currently playing for the Aeros in the AHL. Anyone remember Brad Wellman from the Giants (baseball)? This is his kid. Whoopeee!! No offense to any Casey Wellman fans, if you exist.
Now we are talking. Here it comes again. The return of the man-crush. Another Eric Tangradi autograph. I couldn't have been happier to pull this after the disappointing break thus far. I think this is my 4th or 5th Tangradi autograph which most certainly means he will be traded between now and mid season 2011-12. The funny thing is that when you put these cards together, you can see a significant difference in his signing. That may be an interesting topic for a post...(there goes the brain again). These are numbered /999.
When it rains, it pours I guess. Here we have another in a long line of Thrasher prospects, Arturs Kulda. Kulda is another guy that may earn his stripes as a minor leaguer permanently. After being drafted as the 200th pick in the 2006 draft, he has spent only 6 games in a Thrashers lineup. He is a "stay-at-home" kind of defenseman that isn't afraid to mix it up once in a while. The only reason why I even know who he is is because he plays for the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of Atlanta. The games are televised in the Chicago TV market. Otherwise, I would have been clueless.
So that was it. A bit underwhelming for my taste. It's pretty bad when looking back, you enjoy the base cards more than the rest of the box. Especially for a mid-range box that is supposed to be known for the "hits". For me personally, if not for the Tangradi, the box was a dud. This years set was boosted from 100 cards to 150. That puts me about 39 cards short. I've got them posted on my Set Needs page.