Merry Christmas 2017

Wishing all my readers, friends and fellow cardboard bloggers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope that Saint Nick is good to y'all.


2017-18 Parkhurst

While tying up the loose ends of my Christmas shopping over the weekend, I found myself in the aisles of Wal-Mart looking through the cardboard selection. I knew that I wanted to begin building the 2017-18 Parkhurst set so I promptly picked up three blasters and went on my merry way.

2017-18 Parkhurst is a Wal-Mart exclusive product that weighs in at 300 cards, 100 cards less than last years installment. Each team features several players and 47 total rookies. There are also three checklist cards in the mix. Parallels cover the entire set in the form of "red border" (1:3) and "black border" (1:12) variations.

Parkhurst gives collectors the first look at players who were moved during the off-season in their new colors. I'm still not completely adjusted to seeing Patrick Marleau play in a Maple Leafs jersey!

Yakupov is on track to have the best season in his career; which isn't really saying much as his career highs in goals (17) and points (31)  were set during his rookie season nearly five seasons ago. Everything after 2012-13 has been considered unfulfilling for a NHL 1st Overall Draftee. It's good to see him begin to show some signs of redemption with the Avalanche.

On the contrary to what I mentioned earlier, this is not the first card to feature Drouin in a Habs jersey (17/18 UD Memorable Moments).

There's nothing too special to mention in regards to the photography used in the set - much like O-Pee-Chee, the visuals spanning the entire base set is pretty standard.

Fans also get their first peek of the Vegas Golden Knights in action on cardboard through the Parkhurst set.

From the first and second blasters I was able to accumulate the better part of the base set, pulling card after card that I needed towards the checklist. I whipped through both blasters without unearthing a single double.

The third blaster on the other hand, well, I may have pulled a card or two that I needed in every 3-4 packs. It was brutal! I knew it would be bad but I didn't think it would be that bad considering I still needed about 70 cards.

In the end, after burning through 360 cards over the course of three blasters - I still need 57 cards out of the 252 card standard base set.

Out of the three blasters I pulled the majority of the Rookies featured in the set. The boxes were quite liberal in terms of the amount of Rookies distributed throughout. Despite that, I'm still looking to fill 12 empty spots in the prospect category.

The 10-card 'Blow The Horn' insert set is definitely my favorite from the product to chase; focusing on 10 of the biggest current names in the league and the excitement generated from putting the biscuit in the basket. I get a late-90s vibe from them, I like that.

I pulled a total of 6 amongst my blasters including a double of #BH-3 Patrick Kane.

Parkhurst International is a 24-card insert set broken up into several countries featuring three representatives per flag. Two current players and a retired star seems to be the chosen trend.

East vs. West takes a conference approach, highlighting eight players from each side.

The rookie class is exhibited through the 25-card Prominent Prospects insert set. Parallel versions include Green (#/399 - Blaster only), Red (#/199 - Gravity only), and Gold (#/99 - Blaster only). The limited Blue Autograph version applies signatures for 19 names in the line. Unfortunately you won't find any ink from top prospects Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick though as they are both signed to exclusive deals with Leaf.

The Nikita Scherbak, shown above, is a Green parallel #/399 - I'm hoping that maybe I can flip it and purchase something I can put towards this undertaking. Aside from the Scherbak parallel, I also pulled regular versions of Jon Gillies, Filip Chytil and Will Butcher.

For the $20CDN price tag, you can't argue with it. It's fun, affordable and there's an opportunity to pull some good value cards given the inclusion of autos from a decent rookie class. In general it's a nice set to build with the realistic possibility to complete the insert sets as well.

I now have a ton of doubles to trade so I'm looking to wheel and deal to further complete the set. Anyone else building Parkhurst?


2017 Upper Deck Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Set

Man did we ever get hit with a weather bomb yesterday. It began sometime around 11am and didn't let up until around midnight - 35cm of snow in total. It was our first blizzard of the season; the 1st of many I am sure.

I've been interested in getting my hands on a few packs of Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial cards from Upper Deck since their initial release back in November. I wanted to give it a chance despite some unfavourable reviews in regards to the product, more specifically the checklist.

Upper Deck failed to include such legendary Maple Leafs such as Mats Sundin, Curtis Joseph, Mike Palmateer and Tie Domi in the product. How can you leave out Tie Domi? Even the "greatest Toronto Maple Leaf"of all-time, Dave Keon, has just one card in the entire master set; a cut signature #'d /1. Tim Horton and Turk Broda, both premium players, take their place in the 100 Year Centennial set with just a cut signature #'d /1 as well.

The base card design is pretty standard and clean. It reminds me an awful lot like Artifacts in the sense that a similar formula is used in the composition. The front features the players name as well as the year(s) in which they represented the Maple Leafs.

On the back we have biometric identifiers and full stats solely from the seasons in which the player served as a Maple Leaf. Makes sense. Well, how 'bout that - ol' Vinny celebrated his 50th birthday just a couple of days ago!

There's a short print card inserted into every pack - they come in several categories such as 'Captains', 'Record Holders' and 'Hall of Fame' to name a few. The SPs expand the set from 100 (base checklist) to 200 cards.

Mike Gartner's initial stint as a Leaf was a stinger. After Mike Keenan became coach for the 1993-94 New York Rangers (Gartner's current team at the time), Gartner fell out of favor and was traded at the deadline to Toronto. The Rangers would go on to capture the Stanley Cup that spring.

Frycer was one of the few bright spots amid a frustrating decade of hockey for the Maple Leafs of the 1980s. Although many feel like Miro never did reach his full potential in the NHL, he persevered parts of seven seasons in the blue & white when the going got tough.

Check it out, die-cut parallels, fittingly in the form of a maple leaf - or something like that I suppose. I'll take a die-cut over the frequently inserted color variation parallels any day! Although the die-cuts have their own serial numbered color variations as well; Gold #/100 (Hobby), Blue Exclusives #/99 (Blaster), Green #/25. These unnumbered Blue die-cuts fall at a rate of about 1:2 packs.

Johnson was considered a hot prospect during his entry into the NHL with the Leafs. His impressive 15 goals, 47 points earned him a spot on the NHL All-Rookie team.

I'm going to end this post with a couple of SPs that I pulled from my pack purchases. Above, recently Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Dave Andreychuk, is spotlighted in the 'Memorable Moments' category of the short prints.

The reverse of the card highlights March 26, 1994 - Andreychuk scored twice during a game against the Nordiques, his 49th and 50th of the season. Andreychuk is actually the most recent Maple Leafs player to score 50 goals! And 1 of only 3 Leafs to hit the 50-goal plateau in franchise history!

"Killer" served as team captain from 1994-95 until into the '96-97 hockey season. He is the 15th captain in franchise history and enjoyed the best years of his career wearing the maple leaf. Not only was he a tremendous offensive threat, he played the game with a ton of heart and determination. I loved his grit and competitiveness as a kid watching him play.

I actually had the opportunity to meet Doug Gilmour at a signing event for his autobiography 'Killer: My Life in Hockey' last month. He was only booked for an hour but stayed for well over that time frame, signing items and taking photos with everyone who came out to see him.

If you're a Maple Leafs fan, go out and pick up a blaster and enjoy shifting through the cards over a beer or some coffee, whichever floats your boat; I prefer the later. It's definitely the type of set that elicits nostalgia.


2017-18 Upper Deck Canadian Tire Team Canada

Similar to the recent Upper Deck Tim Hortons sets, 2017-18 Upper Deck Canadian Tire Team Canada is another exclusive product to us collector's up North. Sold at participating Canadian Tire retail outlets for just a $1.99 per five-card pack with any purchase, these cards are quality for a good value.

The promotion started on December 1 and goes until December 28, 2017 (or as supplies last).

Similar to the annual 'Team Canada' oriented product released by Upper Deck in recent years - the set focuses on players who have suited up to represent the red & white during their hockey career.

The 2017-18 Upper Deck Canadian Tire Team Canada checklist consists of 160 cards in the main set which is comprised of 100 base cards, 40 base short prints and an additional 20 cards that are part of the 'Heir to the Ice' subset.

The fun doesn't stop there, this hefty promo set also includes several insert sets and parallels such as the beloved UD Canvas cards, acetate inserts, an OPC Retro set that highlights some of the all-time greats from the program and 'Vs.' - a collection of cards celebrating the top NHL players who represent other countries. Autographs, serial-numbered cards and printing plates can also be found amongst the product.

I enjoy the short write-up included on the back of the cards that pertains to the featured players special moment(s) playing for Canada during International competition. It's a nice little addition, you could possibly learn a thing or two from them.

I don't get to watch him play much anymore but I'm still a Taylor Hall fan and tend to pick up his cards when available. I have not seen many (if any) cards featuring him in a Canada jersey so I personally thought this was a rad one to pull.

Few would argue that Potvin was entertaining to watch between the pipes during the 90s. Although I don't recall him suiting up for Team Canada during the dead puck era of the decade. I'm assuming this shot was some sort of promotional work that was done. If you have a better idea, leave it in the comments.

Those classic '87 Canada Cup sweaters are one of my favorite Canadian international competition jerseys. A fairly simple design yet when you see them, you know their origin and immediately flashback to that 'Gretzky-to-Lemieux ' moment.

I've tried to showcase as many cards from the packs that featured various Canada jerseys from over the years. Here's Jarome Iginla sporting the unique black rendition from the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.

I still miss this guy. I'm going out on a limb and saying that this was taken at the 2004 IIHF World Junior Championships. Even though I'm a Penguins fan, it was nice to see him get the win against his former team the other night.

A trio of Hall of Famers hailing from the '80s/90s.

Arguably the best goaltender during the 1980s, Grant Fuhr, standing tall between the pipes for Canada at the 1987 Canada Cup.

Matt Murray has been getting the royal treatment when it comes to the cardboard - many releases appeasing collectors that feature the Penguins starting netminder and for very good reason.

I pulled one of the short printed 'Heir To The Ice' cards from my array of packs, Travis Konecny, not a bad name either. Enjoying a decent sophomore season thus far as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

As mentioned previously, Upper Deck inserted the popular Canvas cards in the mix. That texture is prevalent but it seems as if there wasn't much effort put into capturing that outstanding, creative photography that we've come to expect from Upper Deck's set within a set. Photography choice is a little disappointing, nothing I would consider a homerun; Shea Weber even has the same photo for both his base card and Canvas insert.

After all the wrappers had been torn and the cards had been shuffled - In terms of value, this O-Pee-Chee Retro Wayne Gretzky takes the cake. You can't really go wrong pulling a Gretzky.

I really like these cards and hope to continue collecting them - if I can complete the 100-card base set I'll be happy but I would feel pretty accomplished if I could also put the short prints together.


November 1994 Beckett Hockey Monthly

I've always wanted to purchase a Beckett Hockey Monthly magazine from the mid-90s and take a walk down memory lane.

A lesson in how to liven up a table of contents page; kick the magazine off with an awesome shot of Grant Fuhr circa Oilers era, literally buried in rubber.

The 1993-94 Hart Trophy winner as league MVP, Sergei Fedorov, was used to push 1994-95 Fleer Ultra was the hot new product on the market. This was Fleer Ultra's third consecutive release and a breakaway from the design that was used for the previous two installments.

Fedorov was given a special 'limited edition' 10-card insert set that was distributed throughout all pack types. There were also two additional Sergei Fedorov 'Performance Highlights' cards available only by mail when you sent ten '94-95 Fleer Ultra wrappers and $1.50 (to cover return postage) to an address listed on the back of the packs.

Laugh all you want but after viewing this ad I have a whole new appreciation and interest in 94-95 Fleer Ultra, especially the inserts - they look fantastic. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on those 'Ultra All-Rookie' cards; the words "ice crystal design" definitely intrigues me.

Also, I did a little research and can debunk the claim made by Fleer that Fedorov means 'collectible' in Russian. It actually means "God's gift" apparently.

Who better to feature inside a 1994 hockey magazine issue about goalie mask cards than John Vanbiesbrouck? A tendy who just so happened to wear one of the most recognizable and beloved goalie mask designs during the '90s.

The majority of the article reflects on Beezer's most recent season, at the time, his first in a Panther's uniform. It talks about how he became an ambassador of the game and  how much time he dedicated to helping expand and educate South Florida about the game of hockey.

Surprisingly, there's little in regards to hockey cards or Vanbiesbrouck's iconic mask; the article does acknowledge how his '93-94 Pinnacle Masks insert is the biggest 'prize' in the set.

I also wanted to mention, in the article it makes note that Vanbiesbrouck's rookie card (86-87 OPC #9) was the most valuable RC of any active goalie without a Stanley Cup championship ring - I wonder if that still stands today.

The main article in the magazine revolved around cards featuring goalie masks. Material was limited given the fact that there were very few hockey card sets based solely on goalie masks at the time but because of the overwhelming popularity of the '93-94 Pinnacle Mask and Leaf Painted Warrior's insert sets - various card companies had heavy intentions on rolling out similar sets to please the crowds.

Pinnacle would churn out a '94-95 version of the Masks inserts while Donruss had plans in place for a Masked Marvels set.

The popularity of collecting hockey cards that showcase goalie masks has not faded away as many collectors still chase cards from the previously mentioned sets from the past. Regardless if the card is from an actual mask themed set or just a regular base featuring a nice close-up of the protective device's design - a beautiful mask shot will never go astray.

A single page ad for 1994-95 Upper Deck! Really like that Wayne Gretzky SP 'Predictor' insert card shown.

Pavel Bure was a hot commodity in the hobby world at the time while Mario Lemieux was determined the coldest of the cold. Eric Lindros was apparently deemed luke-warm as he is found ranked at no.5 on both lists.

Paul Kariya had not played an NHL game yet and was expected to hit the ice with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the season opener ahead. It mentions how Kariya's sole rookie card (92-93 Upper Deck #586) had slumped due to his absence from the NHL - but they predicted that his RC and numerous inserts should return to prominence "if he makes the expected quick adjustment to the professional game." He made the adjustment.

According to the 'Ready for Flight' article, the Boston Bruin's were going into the season pinning its future on Blaine Lacher and Evgeni Riabchikov, both rookies at the time. The article goes on to tote them as being possible high interest players in the hobby. It's 2017, I've never heard of Riabchikov but Lacher on the other hand, to this day, has won a lot of card collectors over with his loch ness monster mask design gracing those pieces of cardboard.

A fun full-page ad from Muppets "Take The Ice" trading cards.

I wonder just how many of these places are still in operation, 23 years later.

What kind of price guide write-up would be complete without a few scans of the actual card prices! If you'd like to enlarge the images for your viewing pleasure, just click on the picture.

Alexander Kharlamov (son of the late Soviet hockey star Valeri Kharlamov) was a first-round pick of the Washington Capitals in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft but never did suit for an NHL regular season game despite impressive numbers in the AHL.

Before the Internet, finding out which hockey players shared the same birthdate as yourself wasn't all that easy. Sure, you could check the back of every hockey card that featured a date of birth or read the latest Beckett birthday tidbit.

By 1994 the Oilers dynasty team had completely dispersed; Gretzky was scoring goals in L.A. while Messier just led the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years, along with other ex-Oilers Adam Graves, Kevin Lowe, Jeff Beukeboom, Esa Tikkanen, Craig MacTavish and Glenn Anderson.

The article 'Edmonton Connection' reflects on just that - the Oilers dynasty of the 1980s as well as the New York Rangers recent Cup victory and the ties associated to the aforementioned Edmonton roster of days gone by.

I remember sorta liking Derek Plante as a kid for whatever reason. I think there may have been some hype built up around him during his first couple of years in the league and unconsciously accumulating Plante cards during this time didn't hurt either.

The majority of the article focuses on Plante's journey to the NHL, college playing career and his history of representing team USA during International competition.

The article references Derek Plante's 1993-94 Parkhurst and Donruss rookie cards as well as his inclusion in the Parkhurst 'Calder Candidates' insert set from the same year.

The back cover of Beckett always featured a full-sized image of a player much like the usual front cover of the magazine.
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