The name itself sends chills down my spine. Every year, the SPx box at my LCS sits there on the shelf, mocking me. It laughs hysterically, while thumbing it's proverbial nose in my general direction. I don't understand it's animosity toward me. I never did anything to anger it. I only wanted to love it like a son that I never had (in addition to the 2 that I do have).
I tell myself every year that I am not going to add the SPx release to my collection because all it does is make me sad. I have been burned time and time again on higher priced boxes of SPx that produce nothing more than a few minor or no-name star GU cards and a couple autos of long-shot prospects that you'd be hard pressed to find anyone other than their mothers that know their names.
Now here we are with the 2010-11 release of the product and it's like Groundhog Day. I stare at it, tell myself it is going to stay up there on the shelf, and end up walking out with it yet again. But this time, something is different. This time, I didn't get burned. This time, I came out victorious as the cardboard gods granted me a reprieve for all the years of abandonment. (How's that for a dramatic lead in?)
SPx came out back in February and is considered a mid-high end product with boxes ranging in the $100 range. This years design is actually a bit toned down from the years past with uber use of foil stamping and holofoil printing. Upper Deck brought back the Shadow Box case hits as well as all the previously popular sets like Flashback Fabrics and the Winning Materials dual and triple jersey cards. Also this year, the UD Ice brand has been relegated from a standard release to an insert loaded into all the SP products (they will also be in SPGU and SPA).
Here is the box breakdown: 18 packs per box, 4 cards per pack, 1 bonus pack. The box should contain 1 Auto Rookie Jersey, 1 regular Rookie jersey, 1 Winning Materials card, 1 Winning Combos card, and a "bonus pack" containing 5 cards; 1 Ice Premier Rookie and 4 Ice base cards.
Here is what I pulled:
I didn't scan any base cards. You can find shots of those here or here.
First was my regular Rookie Materials card of Alexander Burmistrov. I have to admit, I had no idea who this guy was when I pulled it. On the back, it is stated that it is not a game used piece, but one of the dreaded Event-Worn pieces worn at a rookie photo shoot. AB was drafted 8th overall by Atlanta in last years draft and has played 61 games for the Thrashers this year. He's got 17 points and 2 game winning goals. I read on his wiki that his first NHL fight was back in December against John Tavares.
Next up was this nice looking Auto Rookie Materials card of Jordan Caron. It's a sticker auto but still looks pretty nice on the card. These are numbered out of 799. At least I actually knew who Jordan was. He scored his first NHL goal at the start of this year against Marty Brodeur. Caron has played in 23 games this year and spent most of the season on the Bruins farm team in Providence.
A nice two-color Winning Materials jersey card of Mark Messier. It's always nice to pull legendary players as your jersey hits because at least you know they have made something of their careers. I think this guy was pretty good in his day.
Finally, something to brag about. This was my Winning Combos (Trios) card featuring Ray Bourque, Zdeno "Stanchion" Chara, and Brad Park. I'm not a B's fan but I respect their deep history and tradition being one of the original 6. I have also had an on-again, off-again love/hate relationship with Mr. Bourque there. I was always a Paul Coffey fan so #77 was already taken in my mind. Regardless, this is a pretty nice card, numbered /50.
Here are the three non-Hit cards. The first is a regular rookie card #/499 of Mark Dekanich of the Nashville Predators. Mark plays for the Milwaukee Admirals if I'm not mistaken. The second card is a Legends of Hockey Peter Stastny card numbered out of /999. Stastny was a 6-time All Star, the first rookie to top 100 points, had 483 career goals, and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not too shabby. The third card here sees a return of the SPx Finite cards with Nino Niederreiter. I've covered him before but you can definitely say he is a big piece to the future of the Islanders. It's numbered out of 499 also.
I opened the bonus pack at this point and pulled this Ice Premiere card of Matt Kassian of the Minnesota Wild. These are numbered out of 999 and are printed on Acetate so you can see through them. These have always been a coveted set since the days of the Crosby and Ovechkin rookies. The base cards I pulled were also killer with Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Mikko Koivu, and Marc Savard (I think). I can't seem to find where I put these.
Here is a bonus I wasn't expecting...another Winning Combos card featuring Marc-Andre Fleury and Jean-Sebastian Giguere. I'm not sure the connection between the two other than the hyphenated first name. But that's ok. This card looks awesome and is a great addition to my Penguins PC. I have never pulled a Fleury jersey from a pack before and this got me pretty fired up.
Normally, this is where I would end the post giving my synopsis of the box but I had one pack left and it was pretty thick. Not thinking positively, I figured it was a decoy card and I was ready to be done with the box. Why tempt fate anticipating something big since I already pulled that nice three swatch Bruins card and the Fleury dual jersey. I'm glad I didn't so that the impact would be that much greater.
Arguably the greatest card I have ever pulled from a pack. Alex Ovechkin/Evgeni Malkin Winning Combos Dual Patch card numbered to 15!!!!!! Perhaps you didn't hear me. I said, an ALEX OVECHKIN AND EVGENI MALKIN DUAL PATCH!!! Oh, how the scan doesn't do this card justice. The patches appear to be from the fronts of the jersey. The AO patch looks like part of the Capitals logo, possibly the dip between the "a" and "p". The Geno piece is clearly from either the bottom of the Penguin logo or from the Alternate "A" patch. It doesn't matter though. Two Big Hit Malkin's in a row, plus the bonus Fleury jersey made this by far the best SPx box I have ever opened, ever. This may even be the best box I have ever opened.
After that knockout blow, two of the other five guys in my LCS picked up boxes and didn't nearly find as good of hits in my opinion, although both had an extra dual jersey card. So if hits are what you want, I would actually recommend a box or two of these.