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Friday, January 3, 2014

The Obligatory 2014 Collecting Goals Post

You woke up this morning and said to yourself, "Self.  I haven't read enough of these Collecting Goals Posts on the Blogosphere yet this year.  Where can I find more?".  Well, self...here is another one for you to read.


In 2013, I bucked tradition and didn't bother to set any goals for myself.  Since the blog started in 2009, I always posted my resolution post sometime at the beginning of January, only to be disappointed by May, angry at myself by July, and basically fed up with my incompetence by October.  So last year I figured why torture myself (and my readers) with another in a long line of empty promises and goals I can't muster up the initiative to complete.


It's 2014 now.  A new year.  A new lease on life.  A new outlook on this hobby and how I want to participate in it.  So with that being said, here are my Collecting Goals of 2014.


1.  Just collect and be happy about it.


There.  That's it.  My one and only goal for 2014 is to just...well, collect.  Just collect what I like.  Just collect what makes me happy.  If I want to chase a player, I will do that.  If I want to waste money on a few retail rack packs or blasters, I will.  If I want to torture myself with a repack box in one of those awkward square jewel case thingys, I will.  If I want to attend a card show, I will.  If I don't feel like it, I won't.  If I want to trade with bloggers or other collectors out there, I will most certainly do that (and I do).  If I want to break with tradition and bust some hobby box of a trendy football or baseball card set instead of hockey, I will.


No more lofty goals this year.  No more getting down on myself for not completing 3 year old sets I've been working on.  No more regretting not picking up some diamond in the rough card I saw once but decided I didn't "really" need it.  No more kicking myself repeatedly when I plop down $100 for a box and walk away with $15 worth of nothing.  I'm done with all that.  I don't need a list of 10-12 things that I want to look back on in December of this year and say, "Boy did I screw this one up."  I have strong player collections, strong team collections, and a pretty good grasp on everything else.  I'm getting much closer to getting organized and with each box that gets "fixed", I feel that much more excited about this hobby and what it has in store for all of us in it.

Our hobby is the greatest hobby in the world.  It brings people happiness and joy.  It's amazing how 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch pieces of cardboard can elicit so many different feelings and emotions for so many people.  Memories of watching games, being at games, meeting players, seeing highlights, and just reminiscing are all packed into the scenes and photos on these things.  Too many times collectors start to lose focus on what is important and that is the fun aspect of things.  Hobby's aren't supposed to be stressful and meticulously painful to participate in.  I love my collection, despite the large amount of, let's call it "overkill" for lack of a better word, that I have.

I'll trim it down one day.  I'll sell off stuff I don't want.  I'll trade away stuff I don't need.  But I'm not going to stress about it anymore.  It has taken my the better part of 28 years to get to this point.  It's not going to change immediately overnight.  This is a lifetime hobby.  I don't need resolutions to keep me in it.  I'm in it for the long haul.

Ok.  I'm done now with my rant.

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope each of you can meet your 2014 Collecting Goals like I plan to.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

USA!! USA!! USA!!

Well it's now official.  The US Men's Hockey Team roster was set at the conclusion of the Winter Classic yesterday in Michigan.  I have a few comments about some of the guys here and I kind of took offense at some of the missing names but other than that, I think this is one of the best possible lineups the selection committee could have assembled.  Barring a disaster of injuries and the like, I think Team USA will be able to stand skate-to-skate with any of the teams on the Olympics.

Let's first look at the forwards:



Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Dustin Brown


Zach Parise, David Backes, Phil Kessel


Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan, Joe Pavelski


TJ Oshie, Blake Wheeler, Max Pacioretty


Derek Stepan & James van Riemsdyk

Ok.  First and foremost in all the picks for Team USA, there are big injury concerns.  I think over half the roster has dealt with or is still dealing with an injury from this year (I think Parise is still on IR?).  I won't go into all the injuries but just check the NHL injury report and you will see.

The first eight guys on this list get a pass.  They all have proven themselves, they have all shown they are more than capable at competing in International play, and they are all top US players that would probably make it to most Top 10 lists.  They are also all returning from the 2010 Vancouver team which, as we all remember, got beat by Sidney Crosby.

With that being said, I don't think the same thing can be said for the last five guys.  Blake Wheeler?  Really?  I guess I can see Oshie because of his skating ability and size as well as special teams play.  I can even see van Riemsdyk, considering his resurgence this year playing alongside Phil Kessel.  But Pacioretty?  Over Bobby Ryan?  Derek Stepan?  Over Bobby Ryan?


What happened to Bobby Ryan? How do you put together an Olympic team without Bobby Ryan on it?  I don't know.  This was my biggest gripe with the forwards.  I don't get that at all.  UPDATE 1/3/14:  And apparently I'm not the only one.

Now the D-men:


Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh



Cam Fowler, Justin Faulk, John Carlson


Brooks Orpik & Paul Martin

This collection of guys intrigues me.  The first four on the list are basically lock picks based on what we already know they can do.  I think the addition of Brooksie and Pauly, while solid, may not have been the best choices.  With Orpiks injury this year and Martin coming off a few himself, I'm not sure I want to see two pivotal Pens in extremely intense competitive play that doesn't go toward an NHL Playoff run.  Orpik probably got a pass because of his inclusion on the team in 2010.

What I can't understand here is why Keith Yandle or Jack Johnson weren't picked and can only speculated it was due to this season's play of Carlson and Faulk.  But I would take Yandle over Carlson any day of the week.  So what if the ice is bigger.  The recent memories of the committee members seem to be helping the bulk of the newcomers see their first Olympic ice-time in Sochi.

And finally, the goalies:


Jonathan Quick, Ryan Miller, & Jimmy Howard

I think these guys are mostly easy picks to make.  Ben Bishop got dumped because they thought he didn't have the experience in international play and weren't sure he would be solid, obviously ignoring his play for Tampa as of late.  Cory Schneider was a consideration too apparently but the committee obviously thought Howard gave them a better chance at winning if he was called upon.  I don't know if I agree with that necessarily since he hasn't been his stellar self this year for Detroit and he has dealt with injuries.  But, I really can't argue with the top two guys here.  For my buck, Miller is #1 with Quick right behind him.

What about the readers out there?  Any comments about any of these guys being included, not included, etc?  I'd also like to hear a few opinions from our rival team fans to the north.  I'm sure there are many.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Great 8 Pulls Of 2013

It's time to wrap up the year that was 2013 and ring in 2014.  What better way than to do another in a long line of ad nauseum Top 10 lists.  Hooray for Top 10 lists!!  But what's better than a Top 10 list?  How about a Top 8 list!!  Plus, as a double whammy, it's going to showcase more stuff in my collection and many people out there will consider it to be bragging.  Hooray for bragging!!

I was looking over some of my card scans and things I had posted to Twitter over the last year and decided to put everything together in one nice little package.  In order to qualify for the list, all the cards had to be obtained by pulling them from packs.  No single purchases, no trades, no "freebies".  Everything came directly from a pack or was redeemed from a card pulled from a pack and obtained in 2013.

Drumroll please!   Here they are (again) for your viewing pleasure.

8.


Back in March, I opened a box of 2011-12 Panini Rookie Anthology.  This little Rookie Treasures beauty was peering at me from inside.  It features two swatch pieces with one being dual-colored.  It has a sticker auto but isn't horribly affixed like some of these I've seen.  The card has cooled way off on the secondary market since I released it from it's cellophane tomb.  That's most likely because of RNH's play at the end of last year and his season ending shoulder injury.  He has come out pretty strong this year despite the misery of playing in Edmonton.  He has 29 points this season but his -10 +/- rating makes that a little rough.  Then again, not many guys on Edmonton can consistently play in the positives because of their horrific defense and goaltending.  Maybe his pairing with Taylor Hall and David Perron will help him get back into the spotlight.  I was offered a nice Benjamin Franklin for this card not long after I pulled it but decided to hang onto it.  


7.


This baby was pulled but has yet to arrive.  I haven't seen anyone with an actual redeemed card yet either so I imagine this might be something that doesn't show until after the season (if at all).  I would have rated it higher but since I don't have any idea what it is going to look like, it remains at number #9 on my list.  I pulled this from a box of 2012-13 Upper Deck Trilogy that I opened earlier when the season started.  Yakupov was supposed to be another in a long line of offensive weapons for the Oilers but has so far been a bit of a disappointment for Edmonton.  So much so that trade talk has been rampant and Nail has gone on record as saying that although he wants to play for Edmonton, he would be glad to go if they aren't happy with him.  He has only 14 points this season and averages just over 14 minutes of ice time per game and much like RNH, he is atrocious in the +/- department.  In addition to this one, I also pulled a redemption for a Tarasenko Level 1 auto as well.  I have not received that card either.  


6.


This card came from a box of 2013-14 Artifacts.  I usually open a few boxes of these each year but I don't recall pulling anything as short printed as this card (except a few one/one's a couple times).  It is numbered #/6 if you can see that in red foil there on the left next to Patrice Bergeron.  The other awesomeness involved here is the fact that all the guys are featured in their Team Canada uniforms.  They kept that consistent with the graphics and that makes for a much nicer design.  But by far my favorite is that they aren't just plain white swatch jersey pieces.  These are all fight strap pieces.  Excellent.  The player selection could be better but I'm not complaining one bit.


5.


My Christmas presents were very, very good to me this year.  I opened a box of 2013-14 Panini Select Hobby that was sitting nicely wrapped under my tree.  Despite my last couple boxes of this product that I was less than thrilled with, the third time was definitely the charm.  Nathan MacKinnon has come out in Colorado and made a name for himself, helping to put the Avs back into the NHL post-season conversations.  He has 21 points thus far this season and is a contender for the Calder.  This guy has been floating around the $100 mark much like the RNH card at #10.  I think as more of these hit, the price will surely start to dip but barring any injuries, I think MacKinnon is the real deal and will be a force in the hobby for years to come. 


4.


Sorry for the blurry scan but I think you get the idea here.  This was pulled out of a box of 2012-13 Fleer Retro Hockey.  It's a 1999 Retro Autographics auto card of Steven Stamkos.  Fleer Retro was an awesome set packed with value in the subsets, short prints, and autographs.  The boxes were a bit pricey when they first hit the streets but they eventually cooled off.  If you can get a box of them for under $100, do it!  You won't regret it.  This isn't the first Stamkos auto I have ever pulled.  It's the second.  But it's the best looking one.  This is the first full-sized card with his auto.  If it wasn't for the sticker, it would have been perfect.  But I won't complain too much about getting an auto of this perennial Hart Trophy and Richard Trophy candidate.


3.


I wanted to put this card much higher on my list because...well, just look at it.  I used to have a Dan Marino autographed 8x10 black & white photo from when I was a kid.  It featured him dropping back to pass, much like this pose, and was taking while he still played for Pitt.  In fact, that's when I received the auto because a family friend knew his parents real well and somehow I was the beneficiary of that.  Fast forward 10 years or so and that auto went missing, never to be heard from again.  It took me almost 30 years to replace it but I think this one will suffice.  I pulled this from a box of 2012 Fleer Retro.  It was a redemption card that came in a couple months ago.



2.


Not one.  Not two.  But three hockey HOFers on this card.  Back at the same show I pulled the RNH card, I picked up a box of 2012-13 Panini Classics Signatures for a heck of a steal at the time.  These boxes yield you an autograph in each pack, or six per box.  The best part, they are all veteran guys that have since retired, many of which taking their place in the HOF.  This came out of the box as a redemption card and I hesitated for almost four months before finally scratching away that silver foil.  Seeing this card now, I'm so glad I did.  This card looks amazing in person.  The autos are all fairly legible because guys of yesteryear actually take their time and pride in their signatures.  This is another card that generally floats around the $100 mark but I'm not sure this one will ever be pried from my hands.   




1.


And last but not least, the number one card.  I have opened my share of 2011-12 Upper Deck Parkhurst Champions.  In fact, I'm thinking it is somewhere around 5-6 boxes.  Well, the Black Friday sale at D&A Cardworld was too good to resist and I added this one to my cart just to help pad for shipping.  Boy was I shocked when this came sliding out of one of the last packs in the box.  Not only is this an on-card auto of Ray Bourque but it's one of the low production tiered autos from the set.  Almost all of the subject matter for the set has an auto but many are available much easier than others.  The Bourque is part of Group A which falls about 1:696 packs.  In my perusing online, I have yet to find one of these on the secondary market.  In fact, with the exception of a couple mini-group A's, I have seen nothing but group B-F autos available out there.  So considering this is pretty rare, I will most likely hang on to it for awhile.

I hope you have enjoyed this little trip down memory lane.  I certainly have since I can look back on these as not only the best pulls of 2013, but some of my best pulls ever.

Thanks for reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!