Just a quick comment - That goal by Martin St. Louis in the shootout against Chicago tonight was sick. Just plain sick. Anywhoo...
Anyone who has been around here long enough knows that I accumulate a ton of junk. Did I say a ton? I meant a TON! I exaggerate a bit because it is not always junk but it's usually stuff I already have a boat load of and I keep getting more because I am a glutton for punishment. In my mind, that next pack is going to have those three or four elusive cards I haven't been able to get my hands on. 99% of the time, they are filled with doubles, triples, quadruples, what's the word for 12x's?
Sometimes I look back on a few of these splurges and realize that I could have easily cut out all the overkill and picked up a higher end box. But for a set builder like me that is far from being considered a "Hit" chaser, high end is usually out of the budget. Well with the return of Panini to the hockey market this year, I told myself that I would give their products a chance early on. As many of you know, I have been less than thrilled with their offerings to date.
The Crown Royale release is no stranger to the card market. Crown Royale has been around since 1997-98 in hockey when Pacific rolled this one out into their stable of products. Each year, the CR product could be counted on to provide collectors with a die-cut design that featured some type of crown shape (which was central to the Pacific logo) cut into the card. The cards are over the top when it came to the design and in the era of foil stamping and "novelty" cards, these were great. But like any good product, the manufacturers somehow find a way to screw it up. Many people thought Pacific would pick up the hobby slack that was left with the departure of O-Pee-Chee but it was short lived. Eventually, the Pacific brand was gone and we were left with only memories.
Enter the new, improved Crown Royale. Panini is taking a stab at reviving the product from it's regicidal death (yeah I made that word up). So I will just come right out and say it...I actually think they did a good job. The design is just like the original releases in the late 90s only in a vertical orientation rather than the more widely used horizontal. The base cards feature a silver crown that adorns the top of the card and is followed with parallels of gold (Premier Date), ice blue, red, and purple. Every case will yield 8 rookie autos #/499, 1 Rinkside auto #/50, 7 Heirs To the Throne GU #/250 or less, 1 Voices of the Game auto featuring a famous announcer #/100 or less, 1 Heirs To the Throne GU/Auto #/50 or less, and 3 Premier Date Signatures #/100 or less.
Here is the box breakdown: 4 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, each pack contains at least 1 hit. At anywhere between $85-100 per box, you have cards priced at about $5 each. Steep price to pay if you want to build a base set but this release isn't about the base cards. Without further adieu, here are the gems from my first high $/card box of the year.
Here we have Rick Middleton. This comes from a parallel set, er...insert set, umm...actually this is from the regular set. Like Artifacts by Upper Deck, the higher numbered cards come from subsets. Rick is part of the Regents as you can see here. These are numbered out of 499.
These are called In Harms Way. You can't really see that because it is in foil on the left there. These look much better in person than the scan can possibly show. It's a goalie featured set that, judging by the narrative on the back, these must be celebrating the highs and lows of patrolling the pipes in various pressure situations. Too bad mine was obviously put in harms way prior to packaging as there is a big nick in the bottom left corner.
Here is a Vinny from the Loyalty insert set. These are numbered out of 250 and feature players that have something that's a rarity these days in the NHL, longevity on a team. Lecavalier has been with the Bolts for 12 straight seasons. He's been there since he was 18 and now holds the TB record for points, games played, goals, and assists.
This was my only GU that I pulled and was a little disappointing after previously busting an ITG box. Not a bad pull though as Evander Kane has a ton of upside as a young player in the league. After being drafted 4th overall in 2009, he finished 7th last year in scoring for all rookies. This set is called Heirs To the Throne, which is tough to see at the bottom because of the gold foil. They are numbered to 250.
My first auto was this Bobby Ryan Premier Date. It's numbered out of 100 and features a gold/bronze crown on top. The dates are interesting because the few of these that I have seen all have the same date, December 14, 2010. I'm not sure what this means exactly. Maybe it's the day they slapped the sticker on the card.
My second auto was this on-card signature of T.J. Brodie. This is part of the Rookie Royalty subset and is numbered out of 499. Last I checked Brodie was playing for Abbotsford but I could be wrong on that. I know he was on a tear in the preseason as a rookie but I don't think the Flames kept a roster spot for him. Regardless, on-card autos rule.
Finally, the piece to end all pieces, and the sole reason why I think I didn't hate this box. The scan does no justice to how sweet this bad boy is. This comes from the Rinkside Signatures series and is a Scratching The Surface auto of Geno Malkin. This is my first Malkin auto I have ever pulled from any product and I almost flipped in my LCS when it was revealed. As you can see, the card is pretty thick and features a cut out space with a hockey rink. I will admit that this isn't the best specimen of a signature that I have seen by Geno. It's a little sloppy and looks like he rushed to get it on there but it is another one that is on card and there is no denying it belongs to him. The card is numbered out of 25.
Overall, I liked breaking this box despite it only lasting about a minute and a half. 4 packs per box is a scary concept to a set collector but I quickly got over my apprehension when I saw the cards and remembered how much I liked the originals by Pacific. It was cool to get three autos in a box this small but the Malkin really sweetened the deal. I would say this could be my favorite Panini set this year. What do you think?