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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Strange Things...In a Monster Box...Bashan Imperial Stickers '96

I've purchased a variety of collections over the years from both collector's and dealers. In most cases, I've only kept the hockey cards and dumped the rest. Usually, boxes aren't sorted and are filled with all sorts of things. When I find the time, sometimes I grab a box and take a look.

Today's interesting find are these...


What we have here, in case you had never seen them before (as I hadn't) are 1996 Bashan/Shobtai LTD Imperial Super Stickers. This was a set licensed by the NHL and NHLPA for distribution in January/February of 1996 and could be found mainly in discount stores, mostly in Canada, but supposedly had a limited release in the United States (I haven't been able to verify that though). These were, interestingly enough, manufactured in Israel. Considering there wasn't any recorded hockey taking place in Israel prior to 1986, only 10 years prior to this release, it seems a curious export. But I digress...


The set contains a total of 161 cards which include 110 regular player stickers, 26 team logo checklists and another 25 Die-Cut insert stickers. 136 of the cards are part of the main set while the 25 die-cuts are numbered separately. The cards measure about the same size as regular cards, (as the manufacturer calls it, "Super Sized") unlike the Panini Album stickers most people are used to. In fact, there wasn't even an album made for these so I imagine they became stuck to lockers, books, walls, drawers, or anything else kids stuck stickers to back then.

From what I can tell, packs were sold for about a $1.00-$1.50 each and contained six stickers, including one die-cut.(48 packs in a box). Also in each pack was a stick of the classic, powdery pink gum that every collector loves. You can imagine that over time, the gum became stuck to whichever card it touched. I would think that many of the top cards in packs had to be trashed.


The front of the player sticker features an action shot surrounded by a white border. The player nameplate is located near the bottom of the card in black italic type on a orangish-brown rectangle (printing shades vary on these so orangish-brown was the best i could do). The front also features the NHL and NHLPA trademarks in the border and there is the brand logo either in the top right or left corner of the photo. The team logo stickers feature the 1995-96 team logo as well as a small sticker that features a facsimile signature of one of the players. The fronts of the Die-Cut cards feature players dropped in front of a background of all sorts of fireworks, stars, and explosions. They also include a small facsimile signature of the player on the sticker.


The backs of the player cards are kind of plain but what do you expect for a sticker? The corner has the typical "Bend and Peel" label while the rest of back the card number, player name, number, team, and position. There is also a brief Career Statistics section that shows overall stats of Games Played, Goals, Assists, Points, and Penalty minutes. The team logo stickers feature a checklist of the players featured in the set. The backs of the Die-Cuts feature the player name, the number in the sub-set, and a brief statement telling you to create your "dream team" of players by sticking them together on your mother's refrigerator.

I have quite a few of these with a ton more duplicates. Unfortunately I'm missing quite a few as well. If you are reading this and have any to trade, I'd be happy to oblige. Just another example of one of the many sets produced during the overproduction era of hockey cards.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The China Wall

If you ask any Maple Leafs fan who the best player has been for their franchise over the last 100 years, the answer will most likely be dominated by the great China Wall himself, Johnny Bower. The 11 year Toronto veteran passed away December 26th after succumbing to the effects of pneumonia. Today, the Maple Leafs are paying tribute to the late goaltender in a ceremony celebrating his life at the Air Canada Centre.

I'm not old enough to have seen Bower play but of the tons of videos I've watched, I don't recall watching a player with as much grit and guts. Frank Mahavolich called him a "workhorse" and that is exactly what you got with Johnny Bower. Punch Imlach said that Bower was the best athlete he had ever coached or seen in his life. His athletic ability and toughness was unparalleled, especially when you consider the time that he played in.

Johnny became the master of the poke check, developing the ability to launch his stick toward a streaking opponent, sometimes taking them out along with the puck. The great Jean Beliveau even once said that Johnny was the toughest goalie to deke against due to his signature move. His talents helped the Leafs to four Stanley Cups, led him to the All Star team in 1961, and helped him win the Vezina in 1961 and 1965. In 1969, he retired at the age of 45 (the oldest goalie in hockey history) after a knee injury took him out of the lineup. In 1976 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2014, he was selected #7 all time for the Maple Leafs and is also now a member of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players of all time. In 2016 his sweater number #1 was retired and put into the rafters of the Air Canada Centre. 

Johnny Bower is not only considered one of the best to play the game but also one of the best people to be around and one of the best ambassadors of the game. He not only served the great game of hockey, but also his country (by lying about his age during WWII...he was only 15), his community, and his family. He was a very humble man who never could understand why people liked him so much. Those reasons most certainly include that smile he always carried and the kindness he showed to everyone he met. Very few players that have taken the ice over the years have been as well liked, well respected and spoken as highly of as Johnny Bower. 

Lynn Patrick, former New York Ranger and long time Leafs executive once said , "if you don't like Johnny Bower, there's not much hope for you."

I don't have a ton of Bower cards (which I should change) although there have been many produced in the last 30 years as part of tribute sets, retro sets, or legends. I just wanted to pull out a few and showcase in tribute to the late, great netminder.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Dogfaced Daily Update

I decided to make an attempt to repair the "Dogfaced Daily" over there on the left side of the screen.  Many of you have used this as a jumping off point for perusing the latest hobby musings of bloggers out there in the past and if there are any of you that still come here, I wanted to get things in order.

After having gone through the list of sites, I realized there were a couple dozen in the feed that are either dead links or haven't been updated for over six months or more (like I can talk).  I have also voluntarily added about a dozen or so new blogs that haven't been there before.

If you have a blog that you would like to have added to the "Daily", drop me a line and I will add it.  I won't even ask for a follow back either because that's not what this is about.  I'm taking some small baby steps toward resurrecting this site and this is a good start.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the Flair Showcase Hot Shots of Brett Hull...there's no reason for it other than because it looks like fire and I'm really cold right now.  It's -11F or -24ish for my Celsius friends (wind chill is closer to negative "I give up on life"). 

2018 Winter Classic: the 10 Year Anniversary

Now that the 2018 edition of the NHL Winter Classic is in the books after a J.T. Miller OT goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 win over the Sabres, I wanted to give my take on the 10 year anniversary edition of the event.

This year's WC took it's pomp and circumstance to Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets.  Like any year the game has been played, there is always the unpredictability of the weather.  Cold temperatures, wind, snow, rain and fog are all issues that can pop up in any outdoor game in January.  Today was no different and despite the sun that shined overhead, the temperature was frigid (maybe not as frigid as Jeremy Roenick after jumping into the waters off Coney Island) and the wind was roaring.

This posed a problem for viewing the game on TV.  The shadows that were cast over the ice made it very difficult to view the puck or the players sometimes and this is coming from a die hard hockey fan.  I don't recall a year where this has been as much of an issue.  To complicate matters, the latest trend in broadcast sports (and the bane of my current existence) has infiltrated hockey as well and that is the "video game" viewing angle.  For those not familiar, think any of the NHL (insert year here) games.  The game play is from an overhead perspective to give the gamer a better angle of the ice they are trying to maneuver players on.  Makes sense when you have a controller in hand and are mashing buttons, attempting to propel good ol' JR down the ice for his 24th goal in the first period (at least while playing NHL 94...or NHLPA 93 if you had the luck of getting your hands on that one).

For a live event on television though, this isn't for me.  It's confusing.  It's obtrusive.  It makes me angry to be quite honest.  If growing the game and expanding your brand is your goal, and bringing in new fans is the way to get there, my opinion is that this doesn't help.  Maybe the "kids" like watching sports this way but I'm no where near there yet and I know others are with me.  When the biggest complaint from the casual fan or newbie strapping on their viewing skates for the first time is usually that they have a hard time tracking the puck on a live broadcast, Mother Nature made this a virtual viewing disaster.

If you watched and stuck around though, it was still decent hockey.  I think both teams fought hard, treating this game not as a worn out novelty but a grand stage game where the 2 points at stake actually mattered.  It wasn't as exciting as some WC games in the past 10 years but the OT battle was definitely fun to watch. Other than my critiques of the broadcast, here are a few other takeaways...

1.  I'm by no means an analyst but the Rangers would be so much better if they could stay out of the box; Other teams in the East would not allow that much power play time to go without consequences.
2.  Watching Jack Eichel...he's way too good to be playing for Buffalo.  He needs help and it's unfortunate he'll probably never get it.
3.  To NBC...great job limiting the Pierre factor.  Keep up the good work.
4.  It was nice to see them take the time to announce the USA Hockey teams; not just the men and women but also the sled hockey team.
5.  I had no idea Dick Enberg died and it happened over a week ago.  When your viewing habits include binge watching shows On Demand and through Netflix as well as endless cartoon shows, I guess it's no surprise though.

There have been many Winter Classic cards released over the years.  I thought I would leave a little montage here of some from my collection.

2012-13 Panini Prime Duals Winter Classic
Ryan Miller & Brooks Orpik

The card on the left was a promo card from the Toronto Expo while the Vanek came from the 2008-09 Upper Deck Winter Classic insert set.  This particular card has an error that was never corrected as it's missing the WC logo above the "HIGHLIGHTS" text.

2008-09 MVP Winter Classic
Wrigley Field
(While it doesn't feature any players, it's interesting to have a hockey card featuring a baseball stadium.)

 2008-09 OPC Winter Classic & 2008-09 Upper Deck Winter Classic
Sergei Gonchar & Ryan Malone
(It's interesting that "the snowy conditions created nostalgic feelings".  Indeed, they did.)

 2010-11 OPC Winter Classic 
Marc Savard
(apparently Marc attributes the Bruins win over the Flyers that year to the fans exuberant singing of Neil Diamonds' "Sweet Caroline"...seriously, that's what the card says)

 2010-11 Panini Contenders The Great Outdoors
Sidney Crosby
(this was an entire insert set devoted to outdoor games)

2011-12 Upper Deck Oversize Box-Topper Winter Classic
Evgeni Malkin
(These were inserted randomly into retail tins of Upper Deck cards.  This year featured both the Penguins and Capitals.  They came in a pressed plastic holder, which acts as a nice protective device.)