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!
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.