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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Next Best Thing

Since the current situation in the NHL lockout drama hasn't really changed, my need for some ice related news is at an all time high.  So, like any hockey fan, I turned to the next best thing.  That, my friends, would be my AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had been maintaining some semblance of normalcy with the optional workouts at the team's practice facility for about a month or so.  We all know that Malkin went to the KHL to play (joining former teammate and house-mate Sergei Gonchar) but Crosby, Kunitz, Dupuis, Neal, Cooke, Vitale, Lovejoy, and a host of others had been actively participating in team related skates.  That was until the CBA expired a few weeks ago.  While they still skated through the week, they were officially locked out by the following Friday.  Now, many players have scattered to other locations to participate in a variety of "charity" games and other events to maintain season conditioning.

Since the NHL allows teams to waive players with two-way or entry-level contracts, the Pens did so to many of their "younger" guys.  Those not claimed off waivers were immediately eligible to play for WBS.  And that's exactly what they are doing.

My PC player du-jour, Eric Tangradi, was one of those guys that was still on the "baby Pens" active roster at the end of last season.  Because of that, he is afforded the opportunity to start the year in Wilkes-Barre and hopefully get a chance to move up if the season starts soon.  But the interesting thing to me as I watch some video and read the reviews of this years training camp thus far is the depth we have on that roster, especially at defense.

Our players are a virtual who's who of big time defensive prospects and top squad guys that would easily be top two line d-men on any AHL team and there are also many potential NHL starters.  Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo, Dylan Reese, Joey Mormina, Simon Despres, Joe Morrow, Brian Dumoulin, Alex Grant, Carl Sneep, Philip Samuelsson, and Reid McNeill are all going to be battling for only a few spots between the AHL Pens and the ECHL Wheeling Nailers.  These guys are all in for a fight and it will be interesting to see how that shakes out in the coming weeks.

As for Tangradi thus far, he has become a veteran on a team that is stacked with talent.  My hopes are still high for him to make a roster spot on the Pittsburgh team if there is a season this year.  I could see him on a line with Crosby or Malkin easily.  He tallied a goal in this years Black vs. White intrasquad scrimmage last Sunday.  The black team, coached by another of my PC players, former Penguin Bill Guerin beat the white team coached by current Pens coach Dan Bylsma 2-1 in a shootout.  Also, Wednesday night was the opening exhibition game versus the Rochester Americans.  WBS won 4-3 with an empty netter late in the third period.

As a hockey fan, I say no problem (for now).  While the pace of the NHL games can't be matched, the AHL will fill in nicely as the next best thing in it's absence.  I will be following my 'farm' team, WBS, much closer than I usually do at this point forward.  I encourage all hockey fans to go out and support your local clubs too to get your hockey fix.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Trade Post

I got an email a while back from a reader that was interested doing a trade so I obliged.  Why wouldn't I?  This is what the hobby is all about.  Since I haven't done a trade post in quite a while, I figured now was as good a time as any to chalk one up on the board.  So if you are one of the many that hates Trade Posts...change the channel now. 

My new friend Shane offered up some trade fodder that included some Penguins as well as some set need love.  We are always in need of some set building love.  All he asked in return was some reciprocation on the set needs.  Let's do it.

First there were two 2012-13 OPC Retro Penguins.  We have Zbynek Michalek and Pascal Dupuis.  Matt Niskanen was offered up too but I already had one and I'm not greedy.  These put me two steps closer to the team set of retros.  

Next in the mix was another Zbynek Michalek.  This time it was a Pinnacle Rink Collection parallel from last years collection.  The Nufex material doesn't scan very well but this doesn't look too bad.  I thought I had this one too but after I shuffled through a box or two of Pens cards, I realized I must have been mistaken.

Next up was this awesome Crosby Rainbow card from this years OPC set.  I pulled a Crosby shiny a few years ago but now I don't have to for this years set.  I thought about putting together at least the Rainbow foil set of just the Pittsburgh players but I haven't decided for sure yet.  It is tough to track all these down sometimes.

There were also cards for some sets as I had mentioned.  Shane threw in 9 O-Pee-Chee cards from this years set.  He also tossed in 9 2009-10 Artifacts cards that I needed for my base set.  That was pretty much all we had discussed.  He had a couple others in there which I took a pass on and when all was said and done, I sent him 80 or so "commons" from the base 12/13 OPC set.  Based on that, it seemed fair to me. 

But then....


For those not familiar, this is a Marquee Legend Gold Variation Mario Lemieux #G6.  These are available one in every retail Hanger/Box Pack.  The traditional Rack Packs don't have these.  But there is a special box, quite similar to the Topps Baseball/Football Hanger boxes, that contain a cello wrapped pack of cards. Those yield these little beauties!  There are 10 cards in the set and they include the likes of Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Jean Beliveau, Eric Lindros, and Brett Hull.

All I know is, this isn't just some run of the mill parallel card.  Not to me it isn't.  Now I feel like the trade suddenly tipped in my favor.  Since I know Shane is a big Patrick Roy fan, I will have to have something sent his way to even this thing up in the near future.

Thanks a bunch, Shane!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Goodwin Hockey Champions

Because there hasn't been another release yet this year for hockey...that is 2012-13, and mostly because I was bored, I decided to get a couple blasters of 2012 Goodwin Champions with a gift card that has been eating a hole in my wallet.

I'm a sucker for retro themed sets and this one is intermixed with all sorts of players from all the major sports, NASCAR, boxing, golf, Olympic competitors, wrestling, etc.  But I am mainly interested in the hockey players that are intermixed in here.  I have heard there are somewhere between 16-20 different hockey players mixed into the checklist from the 1-231.  There are also a whole host of parallel versions, mini versions, mini parallels, and of course the memorabilia and autos.  I will say this now, I didn't get any memorabilia or autos but I did get some interesting cards.

I got a total of 9 different hockey cards in the box.  First we have the Eric Lindros featuring a baby-faced Lindros from the 1991 Entry Draft where he was picked by the Quebec Nordiques in the infamous decision that they made, despite Lindros' adamant stand against playing in Quebec.  He held out that entire season and basically forced the Nords to dish him to the highest bidder...Philly.  The did end up with Forsberg in the deal and about $15 million, but in hindsight, this was the death knell for hockey in Quebec.   
I didn't find the actual picture this was from but I found a shot from the event.  
See, there he is now with that awesome tie of his.  

Since these are all paintings or caricatures of the players, some of them are a bit rough in comparison to their actual likeness.  Take Mr. Brett Hull here for example.  I'm sorry, but he just looks a little drunk to me in that picture.  On the other hand, there is an excellent painting of Brian Leetch in a suit with a lapel flower at a podium in front of the American Flag.  This was from his induction into the hockey hall of fame. 


And the Luc Robitaille lacing up his skates on the locker room bench is a very good artist rendering of the Hall of Famer.  That one is as "old school" as you get with the wooden bleacher benches with the vents underneath.  Old time hockey for sure.

The next grouping features some interesting subjects.  First, we have Jonathan Huberdeau, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Florida Panthers.  He was named MVP of the 2011 Memorial Cup, leading his QMJHL team, Saint John, to the Championship.  He also led Team Canada to the Gold in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament back in 2010.  Huberdeau has yet to play a shift in the NHL but is surely going to make an impact on a Florida team with a lot of budding talent (I say that with much sarcasm). 

Next we have Captain Crunch himself, Mr. Wendel Clark.  He sports the ever-fashionable bloody eye in this photo.  I found the shot that this probably came from, although he is in a different pose in the painting.  All-in-all it is a pretty good wendering...get it, wendel, render. 


The next card I had no idea who it was at first.  I actually thought it was Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite (without the mustache).  Then I thought, "Why would Uncle Rico be in this set as "Uncle Rico" instead of as himself, the actor Jon Gries?".  To which my response was, "Why would Jon Gries be in this set?".  And then I though, "And where is his mustache?".  It was then that I read the heading and saw it was Mike Bossy, the Islanders Hall of Famer.  Now it makes sense.  That guy has four Cups.  FOUR!

Not this guy.  Mike Bossy.

Finally, we have the NHL discipline czar, Brendan Shanahan.  I'm going out on a limb here to say this one was taken after winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit.  He has the sweater already torn off and his pads showing.  He is sporting the playoff goatee.  And he is saying that he is number one.  On second thought, maybe it is the Dictator.