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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Panini Sticker Albums...Need some help

I remember as a kid picking up the Panini sticker albums every year for hockey and baseball.  I never got into the football ones but was well aware of thier existence as my friends all tried filling those.  Of all the years and all the books, I don't remember completing a single one of them 100%. 

Fast forward about 20 years and now my 8 year old is hooked as well.  He had the last three years of hockey albums and the last two years of football.  The nice thing is that we usually get the books as a promotional giveaway from our LCS but the packs of stickers are generally scarce.  Sure we can go to Target or Walmart and find countless boxes of Cars, Spongebob, Justin Bieber and Bella Sera pony sticker albums.  We even occasionally find the football ones crammed into places on the trading card wall that they normally wouldn't be found.  But hockey...almost never.

Knowing this, I picked up a box of the stickers online for a pretty good price.  Panini sells them direct for a buck a pack, which is no savings, but at least gives a source.  I found them somewhere...I don't remember where though, for about $35.  Not a bad deal considering there are 50 packs in a box and 7 stickers per pack.  That should at least give the kid a fairly good start at filling the book with the chance at 350 stickers out of the 385 it takes to complete the book.

Well, in typical overly optimistic fashion, I once again underestimated the shear amount of duplicates that would be in one full box of these.  After all was said and done, he still needs 149 stickers.  Considering he would have been 35 short anyway if there were no duplicates, you can imagine how many doubles there were.  I lost track after 100.  I am guessing when all was said and done, there were about 120-130 doubles (triples, quadruples, quintuples, etc.), not counting the extra team logo you get on every multi-logo sticker.  Plus, we even took some of the foil "shiny" ones and put them over top the ones that weren't as an "upgrade". 

Now I realize you can purchase directly from Panini the missing stickers you need in batches of 40 (which I fully intend to do when all is said and done) but as of today, March 25th, the site does not have the 2011-12 album available (only last year).  So I am going to throw this out there to those of you in the blog reading/writing and collecting universe as a request to anyone that is collecting this book.  If you have doubles or triples or quadruples, etc. that you would like to help out with, or know someone that might, my son would be more than happy to repay the favor with some of his doubles.  I will have his list posted on my Set Needs page and it is also below here.  Thanks in advance.

2011-12 Panini NHL/LNH Sticker Album 
5 6 7 11 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 26 27 28 30 31 25 26 27 46 47 50 52 54 58 59 62 64 66 68 70 71 73 75 78 79 86 87 90 91 93 97 98 102 104 111 113 117 128 136 137 140 143 145 152 154 157 158 159 161 165 166 167 169 170 177 178 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 195 196 197 199 200 202 204 206 207 209 210 211 212 214 216 218 220 221 223 227 228 233 235 237 238 241 248 257 267 268 277 278 297 298 300 302 304 307 312 314 318 321 323 325 326 327 333 335 339 343 346 347 350 353 354 355 356 357 359 360 361 362 364 365 366 367 369 370 375 376 377 380 382

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pens vs. Predators: 3 Stars

The Pens played host to the surging Nashville Predators tonight at CES.  The Pens once again put up 5 goals in a scoring clinic, winning 5-1.  Some sports writers pitted this matchup as a Stanley Cup Final preview.  I am not one of those pundits however as I don't think Nashville is coming out of the second round.  Don't get me wrong, they are a talented team.  Now that they have Radulov back, they have the potential to make life miserable for a lot of other teams.  I just don't think their defense or goal tending are strong enough to get them all the way through to the end.  Purely opinion and speculation.  Feel free to disagree.

So tonight, James Neal continued his point scoring workshop by posting another 4 assists.  Malkin also scored twice giving him 45 on the year.  Cook scored again too giving him 17.  17 goals for Matt Cooke!!!  Unbelievable!  Here are tonight's 3 Stars...




PS:  With that win, the Penguins clinch a playoff spot.  Like there was any doubt that was going to happen.

Watch this goal.  It's disgusting!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This Is Just Unfair...I Love It (Penguins vs. Jets; 3 Stars)

These guys combined for 13 individual scoring points tonight in the Pens 8-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets in front of another sell-out crowd at CES in Pittsburgh. 

For those keeping score, that entails 5 goals and 8 assists.  Malkin now has 43 goals and 93 points as well as scoring his 200th goal tonight.  Neal now has 35 goals after tonight's hat trick and he added an assist.  And last but not least, Sidney Crosby has to have wiped the smirks off the cynics faces as he now has nine points in four games since missing 40 games with his concussion-like symptoms.  These are tonight's 3-Stars!! 

With Fleury in net, Winnipeg doesn't score 4 goals but he had the night off so rookie Brad Thiessen got the call with Brent Johnson still on the shelf with an undisclosed injury.  

I just hope this kind of scoring clinic can continue into the playoffs.  Long, into the playoffs.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Box Break - - 2011-12 In The Game Enforcers (part 2)

To continue the saga of my 11/12 ITG Enforcers box, I give to you the final installment of my box break.  Part 2 features the real "hits" of the box.  I previously called all the cards in the box "hits" because there were only 12 cards and the entire print run of Enforcers is limited in production.  So really, even though they are technically base cards they are still "hits" in my book. 

As mentioned in my previous post, each box of Enforcers contains 2 Game Used cards that could be from a number of insert sets.  The sets that ITG came up with for this release include Head-to-Head Combatants, which feature two heavy weight contenders that have squared off at one point or another; Instigator's, which feature those guys that tend to chip a little too much for the liking of the other teams; Tough Franchise Quads, which feature, of course, the same lineups of the Tough Franchise subset but with GU pieces of each player depicted.

In my box, I pulled...

The first card was a Head-to-Head Combatants card featuring Peter Worrell and Zdeno Chara.  This was the second card featuring Worrell that I pulled.  This is also probably the 5th or 6th Chara GU card I have now too.  The card features two plain black and white swatches but the design of the card is really well done.  These two tussled on a number of occasions, both while Zdeno was a Senator (as you see in the picture) and as an Islander.  Of anyone that could stand up to Chara, Worrell was it.  While Chara generally towers over everyone else in the league, Worrell was only 2 inches shorter and about 10 lbs lighter.  You can find a bunch of their fights on Youtube

The second GU was from the Instigator insert set and features Gino Odjick.  Again, this is the second card of player in the same box as Odjick was on one of the Tale of the Tape inserts I pulled before.  This is a nice large swatch that actually features two colors, although you can barely see the top corner of black peeking through.  The Chief was most certainly an Instigator in his day.  He played much of his career on the line with Pavel Bure in Vancouver and bounced around the league for a few years thereafter.  In his 12 years, he racked up over 2500 penalty minutes in regular season and another 142 in the playoffs.  He amassing over 200 in five different years with the Canucks, of which three were over 300. 

And now for the autographs.  A box of Enforcers yields 5 autographs that come from a checklist of about 80 different tough guys from hockey's storied history.  Here is my selection...

The first two were of John Wensink and Rich Pilon.  Wensink, shown here in a blue sweater (most likely Quebec) played in 403 NHL games from 1973 to 1983 and logged 840 penalty minutes.  He is probably remembered best for his fights where he would proceed to antagonize and challenge the entire bench of the opposing team.  He played with Terry O'Reilly and Stan Jonathan in Boston and helped make up a pretty feared core group of players.  He also sported a pretty sweet afro.

Pilon played 15 years, most of which for the Islanders and amassed over 1700 penalty minutes.  As much as I like the looks of this card, seeing Mr. Pilon brings back a bad memory.  The year after the two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh, the Penguins boasted the best record in their history.  They faced the Islanders in the now defunct Patrick Division finals.  It was game 7 of the series and it all came down to one stupid shot in overtime by David Volek that knocked Pittsburgh out of the playoffs.  But that's not what I was referring to. 

Pilon is the guy that unintentionally took out Kevin Stevens in the 1st period, knocking him unconscious.  Stevens went in for a check but was hit by Pilon's helmet visor which knocked him out.  As he collapsed, his face smashed into the ice behind all 6' 3" 230lbs of his unconscious body.  Very briefly, you could see blood pooling around his head on the ice. After that incident, Stevens had to have facial reconstruction surgery that required over 100 incisions and stitches, as well as metal plates being inserted to remold the shape of his face.  He came back the next season.  That's hockey.

The second two autos are of Willi Plett and Gerard Gallant.  Plett, here in a Flames sweater, was a late bloomer to hockey.  But when he finally got his opportunity in Atlanta, he started off as a scorer, believe it or not.  He even won the Calder in 1977.  But once he made his way to Minnesota in 1982, the scrapper side of him kicked in and he became a fierce tough guy. 

Gerard Gallant, or the Turk as he was known, was a much smaller guy at 5' 10" but he packed a big punch.  He played most famously on the line with Steve Yzerman in Detroit and racked up over 1600 penalty minutes from 1984 to 1995.  Just look at that face, ready to rip someone's head off.

Finally, the last autograph in the box was Garth Butcher.  While Butcher wasn't necessarily a big time fighter when compared to the others here, he was still a scraper on occassions.  He finished his career with over 2,300 penalty minutes after almost 900 career games.  Where he lacked in fighting prowess, he made up for in his ability to goad his opponents into taking stupid penalties.  He spent most of his career with Vancouver and was their career PIM leader until Odjick came along. 

Butcher was eventually part of that ridiculous trade with St. Louis, along with Danny Quinn, in 1991 for basically all the Blues' second line scoring aside from Adam Oates and Brett Hull.  They gave up Cliff Ronning, Robert Dirk, Geoff Courtnall, and Sergio Momesso and were never the same again.  The North Stars knocked them out of the playoffs in the second round and then went on to go to the Stanley Cup Finals that year.  (although they were destroyed by someone in that playoff...hmmmm, who was it again...oh, yeah...The Pittsburgh Penguins).

And that is it.  12 cards of some of the toughest guys in all of hockey.  If you ask me, I think this was a great value at about $5.00 per card.  As I had said in my original post, there aren't many autos of the guys featured here available in other products and you don't often get a chance to see these players in public appearances either.  As always, the GU pieces are large enough to be meaningful, as ITG constantly strives to achieve.  The designs are great and the production quality is second to none.  All this...WITHOUT AN NHL LICENSE!!!  You hear that Upper Deck?  Why can't you do a non-licensed product for other sports without screwing it up?  Take notes, people.  Geez!!

Enough about that.  I loved this product.  I will most certainly pick up more.  Especially if it keeps this price tag.  Although, I heard a rumor/truth that ITG was officially sold out of this product after about 20 days on the market.  Dealers still have it in stock, but for how long, I don't know.

If anyone is interested in trading for any of these, I would be more than happy to discuss.  Let me know.

Interesting note about Pilon...he is one of the two defensemen getting smoked by Mario Lemieux on the new statue in front of Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.  I posted the video the other day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Box Break - - 2011-12 In The Game Enforcers (part 1)

I'm just going to get this out of the way quickly...I love this set!!  There is a ton of controversy surrounding it because it "glorifies" fighting.  I say go cry to someone who gives a flying (bleep!@#$).  It celebrates the men that sacrificed themselves day in and day out to make an impact for the teams they played for, rarely, if at all, getting the recognition they deserve.  Although these aren't the first cards to feature the ice warriors, I applaud Dr. Brian Price and In The Game for making an entire set dedicated to those combatants.  With that being said...

I picked up a box of ITG Enforcers the other day as I was trying to get free shipping on a purchase from DACW but once I started, I figured, might as well get the free gift too. (which coincidentally was 2 boxes of 2010-11 Panini All Goalies which I will review another time).  I have wanted to check these out as I have seen many collector's break boxes and pull some nice, rare player autographs and memorabilia.  By rare, I don't mean serial numbered or anything like that.  I'm talking about players that are next to never included in any card releases in the modern era with GU or Autographs available as a regular inserted pull.  Guys like Peter Worrell, Rob Ray, Stu Grimson, Garth Butcher, Jay Miller, Marty McSorley and Chris Nilan to name a few.  These are the warriors of hockey, the thugs, the goons, the ENFORCERS.

Once a necessary "evil" on any roster, the job of the enforcer was to basically act as a body guard to whatever top scoring line, tandem, or individual star a team had.  If another player needed to be taught a lesson that their superstar player was off limits, then they dropped the gloves.  When the team needed a proverbial motivating kick in the ass, they dropped the gloves.  And each and every time, the hockey masses went wild.  The days of the enforcer have slowly began to dwindle as players have gotten bigger, stronger, and many stars pull double duty and fight their own battles.  Also, with the league cracking down on "extra curricular's", the role of the enforcer has been diminished.  This is why I was really interested in seeing what In The Game did with a set that features the unsung heroes of the ice.

A box of Enforcers is designed as a single pack box.  While the box is large enough to hold multiple packs (a la ITG Decades 80s or Enshrined) there is one 20 card slider box nestled in the center of the packaging.

As you can see by the box itself, there are 12 cards per pack.  Within each pack, there will be five autographed cards that feature the 80 different players chosen for the checklist.  There are also two game-used memorabilia cards which are broken out of one of the many insert sets, including, Dual Combatants, Quad Tough Franchise, Fight Straps, Instigators, 1/1 Fight Strap Dome Fastener cards, 1/1 Enforcer Nameplates.  And finally, there are five "base" cards that come from four different subsets including, Tale of the Tape, Tough Franchises in the 90s, Bloody Battles, and Record Holders.  For the ambitious, there are 90 base cards (not including the memorabilia or autos).

So since the entire box can basically be considered all "hits", I'll show all 12 cards.  First up we have the "base" cards.  I pulled...

Two of my base cards were Tale Of The Tape cards.  The first features Link Gaetz vs. Gino Odjick.  The second highlights an old school battle between Dave Schultz and Clark Gillies.  The cards show the date and place of the "altercation".  The backs feature what is basically a head to head breakdown of stats including all the basics like height, weight, age, and number of career penalty minutes.  There is also a small blurb about the fight.  Link and Gino fought on my birthday which is cool as I haven't noticed a game dated card before that featured that day.  In fact, they fought twice in that game.  The Hammer and Jethro went at it in their game back in 1975 too.  Gillies was a rookie at the time and trying to make it known that he wasn't going to back down from anyone, not even one of the Broad Street Bullies.  According to the card, Schultz "took a serious beating".  Awesome!

 The next couple "base" cards come from the Bloody Battles themed set which features a sketch drawing of a moment captured in time during an on ice fight.  These cards are just like the Net Brawlers that ITG put out a couple years ago in their Between The Pipes set.  The sketches look awesome and the card design plays real well with the "bloody" theme of the subset.

The first card I pulled features "the Legend" Jon Mirasty against Ryan Hand.  This is a minor league battle from 2006 from the NAHL between Mission de Sorel-Tracy and To Design de Saint-Hyacinthe.  Both guys went at it for almost a minute and when it ended, Mirasty skated away as the crowd cheered.  Doesn't the sketch of Mirasty look like Taz from the WWE?  Or does Taz look like Mirasty?

Here is the video of the fight (excuse the music dubbed over the sound).  

The other Bloody Battle was a fight between two NHL heavyweights...that being Tony Twist and Bob Probert.  This battle, from 1996, saw Twist jump to action after Probert took a shot at Igor Kravchuk against the boards.  For the first time, probably ever, Probert didn't even get a punch off.  Within a few seconds, they both hit the ice as the officials swooped in to take them both to the box.  The card makes reference to the fact that this was the "fourth, and final, battle" between the two of them. 

The fifth "base" card that I pulled comes from the Tough Franchise subset.  In my box, I got the Florida Panthers.  What a lot of newer hockey fans may not remember is that Florida used to be a rough team back when they were in their infancy.  The original roster had guys like Brett Severyn, Scott Mellanby and Paul Laus, who is the franchise's all-time penalty minute leader with 1,702.  In the 01-02 season, they set a club record of 1,994 PIM of which 354 of them were Peter Worrell.  In the last few years, Florida has cleaned up their game and they haven't had a player in the 100 range since 2006.

In addition to Laus and Worrell, the card also features Rocky Thompson and the late Wade Belak.

I'm breaking this into a couple posts since I am a bit long winded when it comes to these.  Did I mention that I love this set?!!

(to be continued....)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Some PC Pickups By Accident

So I've had quite a few opportunities, as most of you already are aware, to purchase larger collections from ex-dealers and collectors that have bailed on the hobby.  Most of them have been turned down but occasionally I lose my ability to make rational judgements and pull the trigger.  Piles, and piles, and seemingly endless piles of cards, cases, boxes, and albums have been piling up all around the house as I attempt to dissect that last large collection I acquired.

Of course if another one like this came my way, I would politely decline and walk away.  Of course I value my sanity and potentially my health (considering my wife could kill me in my sleep) so the logical answer is no thank you.  Of course that's why I failed to listen to those voices in my head and I went with my gut once again.

This time, it wasn't a 40 ft. moving truck full of stuff though.  It was just one box.  One, singular, unitary shoe box (not the kind that stores shoes).  One shoe box filled with GU and Autos.  A fellow collector was in need of some scratch since, like many of our friends and loved ones, has been out of a job for a while and cards don't pay bills or put food on the table.  So, as an act of humanity toward fellow man (and collector), I helped a guy out.  Plus...400 GU/Auto cards for well under a buck a piece isn't a bad deal. 

Eventually I will start to catalog them all and share them with the masses, but for now, I just wanted to share some PC cards that ended up being in there and I didn't know it.  Three in particular...

 2000-01 UD NHL Legends Legendary Game Jersey J-ML

It is always nice to be able to pick up a Lemieux GU on the cheap.  Usually when you see his stuff at a shop, online, or at a show, it is always priced at 4-5 times what I want to pay for it.  This one is quite nice despite the plain black swatch.  And a NHL Legends card is fitting today as Lemieux was immortalized in bronze on the concourse area outside Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh today.  They held a ceremony around noon and unveiled the statue which features Mario in his patented "split the defender" move which he made quite famous. Here is the video in case anyone wanted to see.

 2003-04 Beehive Beige Border Game Used Sticks BE-35

Honestly, until I opened this box, I was unaware that these even existed.  This set eluded me (although I do have some singles here and there) somehow.  Probably never seen it because I wasn't actively engaged in teh hobby or in procuring any more Jagr.  I was still pretty jaded at that point about him leaving for the Capitals for some beads and small pox infested blankets.

The cards look really cool, in my opinion.  The GU piece is of a game used stick that was cut down or shaved and die cut into the Beehive logo with the "Bee Hive" stamp across it.  They aren't serial numbered but considering that I haven't seen these at all, I doubt there are many out there (and if there are, they are probably in collections...just speculating).  These were issued in Beige Borders, Red Borders, and Blue Borders.

2000-01 Private Stock Game Used Gear #89

I have quite a few of these already but not the Jagr.  I've seen this with a black swatch a bunch on Ebay but I have never won the auction.  Now I don't need to worry about it anymore.  Too bad this wasn't the Patches version numbered out of 388.  Those were a much harder pull back in the day and I only remember ever seeing one cross my path.  At the time it was $60...way too pricey even then.  The card itself isn't very exciting.  It's kind of plain and unassuming but nonetheless, it goes well in my PC.