Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Xmas to Me!

There is nothing better than posting a card on eBay for auction and lucking into two collectors who start a bidding war. Most collectors rarely experience this. I have to say that I've never been a recipient of this luck either. Until last week that is!

About three years ago, I purchased a few boxes of 2006-07 UD Parkhurst Hockey. It was a really fun product with 4 hard-signed autographs in each box. The product contained many Hall of Famers, hockey personalities, coaches, enforcers, and team captains. It's one of my favourite products of the decade. As with most autographed cards, I enjoyed them, put them in plastic holders and hid them away in a box.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the autos from the 06-07 Parkhurst set went for almost $300US. It was an Al MacInnis autograph which only booked for about $40. I checked out my cards from the Parkhurst auto set and noticed that the Denis Savard 'Captains' autograph card booked for $100. I thought I'd take a chance, put it up for auction, and cross my fingers.

Early on, interest in the card was minimal and I figured that I wasn't going to luck into the same good fortune as the MacInnis card owner. Other autograph cards from the set were selling in the $15 to $40 range and I figured that would be my Denis Savard card's fate as well... that is, until the final day or so.

I assume two set collectors were trying to put together the complete autograph set and both of them needed this card. I haven't followed the set but I have to assume that the Savard card was relatively rare although even though it books for $100, it wasn't listed as a short-print. Regardless, a bidding war happened! And I was the lucky recipient of $338US! A great moment for me. And a great chance to brag to people who chuckle when they learn I collect hockey cards.

As they always say, a card is only worth what someone will pay for it... and you just never know what you have in your collection! Good luck to the rest of you. Here's hoping you have the same fate as I did.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2006-07 ITG Heroes and Prospects Box Break

Well I'm back from the Fall Sports Card Expo in Toronto and I'll be posting some of my box breaks over the next few days. There were some great deals at the Expo and I bought a box of In The Game 2006-07 Heroes and Prospects for only $40. Normally, I might not have bothered but it was Sunday and I had $40 still in my pocket before I left. I'm very glad I stopped at one certain table and picked this certain box.

Not only did I pull a Top Prospects Jordan Staal Patch/Jersey but I pulled one of the best autograph cards available... a John Tavares autograph which books for $150. Currently the rookie scoring leader and the 2009 1st overall draft pick, this card is defintely a keeper for the personal collection.

Nothing beats the Expo... and nothing beats a hot box of hockey cards!

Check back soon for more breaks.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2009-10 UD McDonald's Hockey Cards

The fall/winter season just isn't complete without a visit to McDonald's for some Upper Deck hockey cards. They appeared at restaurants last week and I've made it there twice in the past few days. One day it was a McFlurry (although I asked for a Blizzard) and three packs of cards... the next time it was another McFlurry (this time I was more careful with my order) and another three packs of cards. As usual, packs are 99 cents and you are limted to three packs per item, although this isn't a hard and fast rule depending on the restaurant which you go to.

As usual, the cards are eye-catching. The set is not large and is focused on stars and players on Canadian teams. The cards have a layered-feel and are sure to please the kids and the more grown-up collectors.

In my six packs, I crushed the odds. I received 2 checklist cards (1:4 packs) and was lucky enough to receive a Goaltending Greats card of Marc-Andre Fleury (1:10 packs) and a Martin Brodeur In The Spotlight card (1:60 packs)

No doubt I'll buy a few more McFlurry's over the next few weeks. How can I not when it's a cheap and easy way to have fun with the hobby.

Monday, November 2, 2009


What starts a collection?
What ends a collection?

I've collected sports cards for 30 years. That's crazy when I think about it. Through those years I've always collected Montreal Canadiens. I've also collected sets and certain players. Some times the choice seems clear and obvious. Other times the reasons are random or unexpected.

As I mentioned, I've always collected Montreal cards. I have well over 10,000 cards featuring various Habs through the years. I never focused on a player until the mid-90's when I started putting more effort into a young Finnish player named Saku Koivu. I first saw him compete at the World Championships in 1993 and I was hooked. Over the years I collected as much of Koivu as I could but being the brightest star on a historic team meant numerous cards made each year. It became overwhelming. Last time I checked there were well over 2,000 Saku Koivu cards. It's probably higher now. The fact that I had about 450 seemed almost miniscule by comparison. I continued to collect his cards but in smaller numbers. Then the unimaginable happened... he did not re-sign with Montreal and became a Duck. Although I'll always be a fan and I'll continue to grab his older Montreal cards, I could never continue that collection on to another team.

In the effort to find another Montreal Canadien who was easier to collect than Koivu, I decided a few years ago to collect Andrei Markov. The best thing about Markov, in these days of numerous rookie cards from various sets, was that he only had one rookie card from 1996-97 UD Ice. He was also an unsung talent who had many fewer cards to collect. When I started my Markov collection, his rookie card was 10 years old but he still had barely more than 100 cards in the hobby. Talent rises and soon Markov became an all-star... then a two-time all-star... and gradually the face of the team. Now he is becoming a fixture in most sets. It's nice having more cards to collect but it's also more expensive and the chase is more difficult. But that's why I collect. For the adventure you find while searching for a treasure.

I have two other player collections... maybe I'll talk about them another time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Patiently Waiting

2009-10 UD NHL Artifacts is now live. I bought a box and received it today. Unfortunately, it will have to sit unopened for the next few weeks. I'll also accumulate a few boxes of UD 09-10 NHL Series 1 in a few weeks as well as one box of ITG Ultimate 9th Edition and one box of '1972 - The Year In Hockey'. These will all be packed into my suitcase and shipped up to the Sport Card Expo in Toronto on November 13th -15th.

For those who don't know, In The Game and Upper Deck both have booths at the Expo. They don't sell product there, but during the Expo, you can line-up at the booths and when you get to the table, you open your box of cards. When finished, the company representatives will take your wrappers and you will randomly receive a short-printed card made especially for the weekend. Some times it's an autograph, other times it's memorabilia. You can usually open one box per day at the booths.

I was especially lucky at the Upper Deck booth last year and received these cards on Friday and Saturday:

It's a great bonus for those who can make it to the Expo. It's great for the dealers too as it encourages more product to be sold and busted. I'm not 100% sure on the products which can be broken at the Expo as ITG has released their list but Upper Deck has not so I'm taking a guess on the Artifacts and the UD Series 1. Regardless, these boxes will be busted in a few weeks... free cards or not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Hey, I heard you collect hockey cards..."

Recently, while a group of people that I work-out with were out for lunch, one of the guys leaned over and said "Hey, I heard you collect hockey cards." Now I used to get my hopes up when I heard this statement. In the past, I would imagine finding a new hobby friend and someone to discuss the new releases and our old treasures. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 this just isn't the case.

My response has become standard now. "Oh yeah, cool. When did you collect?" Almost without exception, the response is, "In the early '90's." Then my heart sinks. I know that they're going to say that they've got all the good players and that they were curious what kind of value they have and where they might be able to sell them. It's my unfortunate job to tell them the facts and the hard truths.

As many of the collectors know, it's almost impossible to move cards from the early 1990's. Over-production by most of the manufacturers created a lot of short-term collectors and far too many cards to make any of them worth very much now. It's unfortunate that if you collected before 1990 and after 2000, things were pretty good. It was that darn decade in the middle.

It really challenges the pride I have in my collection and my hobby. So many of the early 1990's collectors learn that their collection is almost worthless so they assume that everything that I collect is without value too. And it makes it very hard to get them interested again. Corporate greed corrupted a potential generation of collectors. The hobby will always survive but it makes you wonder if it will ever really thrive again.

Here's a tip - Toss those cards into a shoebox and sell them for a low price at a flea market or yard sale... or just give a few thousand cards to the neighbour's kids. It's a chance to create interest, rebuild the hobby, and show that the collectors are the real good guys. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Sports Card Expo 2009 - Toronto (Update)

The autograph guests have been released for the 2009 Sports Card Expo in Toronto, Ontario. We've known for a while that Mario Lemieux and Gordie Howe would be the main draws but now we've got an update with more names. No doubt there will be a few more guests too as there are always a few surprises at the show.

November 13th, 2009

Larry Jeffrey (Toronto, NYR, Detroit - Age 69)
Any Item - $15.00

Pete Stemkowski (Toronto, NYR, Detroit, LA - Age 66)
Any Item - $20.00

Bob Pulford (HOF coach and player - Age 73)
Flat Item - $25.00
Premium Item - $35.00

November 14th, 2009

Gordie Howe (Mr. Hockey - Age 81)
Flat Item -$99.00
Bulky Item - $149.00
Premium Item - $299.00

Parker MacDonald (Former coach and player - Age 76)
All Items - $20.00

Bill Gadsby (Former coach and player - Age 82)
All Items - $20.00

November 15th, 2009

Mario Lemieux (HOF Superstar - Age 44)
Regular Item - $179.00
Premium Item - $299.00
VIP Premier Pack - $999.00
($50.00 inscription or personalization)

Pierre LaRouche (Former 50 goal scorer - Age 53)
All Items - $20.00

Monday, October 19, 2009

Awesome Card of the Week

From 1995-96 Upper Deck Be A Player comes this image of Luke Richardson biting through his hockey stick:

Not only an imaginative pose, this card features Richardson's autograph as well. A nice autograph from one of the game's toughest customers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

'Staches, 'Fros, and Bad Do's - Part II

In The Game's "1972 - The Year In Hockey" has done more than bring the stars from almost 40 years ago back to the forefront of our minds. It has also brought us style which we just don't see any more from the players of today.

Darryl Sittler, sporting an afro, Rick MacLeish, workin' that hair style, and Rogie Vachon, smiling under that feather-duster were all skilled and often selected as all-stars of 1970's and 1980's. They're often added as autograph inserts in today's products as well. Unfortunately, we rarely see them looking like this.

Pictures like these are one of the reasons I continue to collect cards from pre-1980. Seriously, how could you not? :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Real Sports Card of the Day

"1972 - The Year In Hockey" is loaded with interesting players, stats, and facts.

It's also loaded with interesting hair styles and large moustaches.

But best of all, it's loaded. Period. Lots of hits, hard-signed autos, and large jersey pieces from older stars and from players who have long been hidden.

And it's got Orr. Bobby Orr.

I was lucky enough to pull this:

1971-72 1st Team All-Star Jersey (white but a nice texture) - Possibly /10.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fall Sports Card Expo 2009 - Toronto

This year the National Sportcard and Memorabilia Expo will take place in Toronto, Ontario on November 13, 14, and 15, 2009. The highlights this year will include autograph guests Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux. Their autograph prices are expensive but they are two of the greatest NHL players ever. I had the honour of meeting Gordie Howe and getting his autograph at a previous Expo and I still consider it one of my most memorable experiences.

With hundreds of tables of autographs, jersey cards, inserts, and hard-to find items, the Expo is a must-see. Every sport is represented and lots of non-sport items and odd-ball items that you rarely see are there as well.

For more information, please visit

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Real Sports Card of the Day

The release of In The Game "1972 - The Year In Hockey" has revived my interest in my older cards and of players from that generation. Looking through some of my recent cards, I figured I'd share this beauty which features two Hall of Famers, one at the beginning of his career and the other at the end.

A dual auto/jersey In The Game Ultimate card of Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau. A cornerstone of my Habs collection.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Real Sports Card of the Day

My best pull ever. Probably never to be topped.
From a pack of 2007-08 SPA Authentic:

Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe.
Hard-signed dual autograph #/50.

I had already received the hits that I had expected. I was more than happy with the Marc-Andre Fleury Sign of the Times being my box hit. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

1972 - The Year In Hockey Review

"1972 - The Year In Hockey" from In The Game (Six packs)

ITG brings to the table "1972 – The Year In Hockey". This is the year that collectors selected in a poll carried out earlier this year by the company. The 200-base card set includes two retro checklist cards and features players from the NHL, the WHA and the Summit Series. Part of the base card set is a ten-card subset featuring the MVPs from each game of that legendary series and the tournament MVPs from each country. Also included in this set are cut signatures from celebrities and important people who thrived in 1972 such as Pierre Trudeau and Al Pacino.

The base cards bring a collector straight back to the 1970's. The haircuts, the moustaches, and even the font for the text. One of the best things about this set is the chance for new collectors to learn about hockey from a different era. The average collector will know many players on the base cards... but a lot of these players are unknowns to the average fan of today.

There are approximately 150 autographs (all hard-signed) in this set and numerous memorabilia cards as well. In The Game also brings back the popular Masked Men insert series as well as the He Shoots He Scores points redemption program which allow collectors to receive a special memorabilia card for every 200 points collected. I was fortunate enough to pull two hard-signed autographs and one Masked Men card in my six packs. Do I know anything about these players? No. Will I in a few minutes? Most definitely.

"1972 - The Year In Hockey" - A must buy! 18 packs per box with a solid chance at 3 autos and 1 jersey card per box... not to mention the hockey education that awaits.

Fleer Ultra 2009-10 Review

Fleer Ultra 2009-10 Hockey from Upper Deck (Two packs)

Yes, Upper Deck seems to own everything these days... even the time honoured O-Pee-Chee. But they have on great eye for design, especially for this years Fleer Ultra.

The base cards have a very sharp design as do the rookie cards which are inserted one in every four packs. As with products which appear early in the year, the rookie card crop is rarely special, although there is an opportunity for rookie redemptions which will no doubt feature players such as John Tavares, Cody Hodgson, and Victor Hedman.

Inserted within each pack is a gold medallion card which is a coloured variation of the base card. I was also lucky enough to pull a Ultra Uniformity jersey card of Marek Svatos of the Colorado Avalanche. Although the odds are one in every twelve packs, I was lucky enough to pull one in my two packs.

Overall, Fleer Ultra is an inexpensive product with a solid design and good player selection. The price range is at the high-end of the low-end market but I definitely enjoy it more than UD Victory or UD MVP.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Destroy a Card!

Seriously. Do it.

It doesn't matter if it's valuable or not (preferably one that is not valuable) :)

Just take that Mike Knuble OPC card from 2007-08 or that Benoit Brunet UD card from 1992-93 and crumple it up or tear it in half.

Too often, as collectors, we're consumed by carefully handling each card and placing it within plastic. We lose sight that it is a hobby, it's fun, and it's only cardboard. It's a weird feeling... but it's one that a lot of us really need to do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Real Sports Card of the Day

A few months ago I participated in the In The Game He Shoots He Saves Redemption Program which involved sending in 250 points from ITG's Between the Pipes. Every person who sent in 250 points received one of thirty dual jersey cards /20. The cards contained one jersey piece from two different goaltenders.... some great, some good, some with potential. Today, I received my prize. A dual jersey card of two of the greatest goaltenders ever! Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. Considering my recent ITG Made to Order Dual Autograph, it seems fitting that I was lucky enough to receive this matching piece for the collection.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Real Sports Card of the Day

While at the Sports Card Expo in Toronto, I was lucky enough to pull a Made To Order Dual Autograph from In The Game Ultimate 8th Edition. The list of potential autograph signers was impressive and I debated over a combination of Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Jean Beliveau, and Martin Brodeur before deciding on the goaltenders.

After a few weeks of deciding and about 6 weeks waiting for them to create the card, I received it last week. It's a 1/1 dual autograph of two of the best goaltenders ever... but I think they were low on Patrick Roy autographs so it appears to be a sticker auto and not the same as the normal autographs which are normally used on these cards. So while a phenomenal card, it isn't as aesthetically pleasing as I would have hoped. Still... a once-in-a-lifetime card that I shouldn't complain about. :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Branching Off - Annoyances

I've always been a collector of sports cards. Well, ever since I was six years old. So that makes thirty years of card collecting. It's always been 99.5% sports cards too. But lately I've been making a foray into non-sports cards. I've bought a little here and there over the years, a TV show I'm a fan of here and a cool movie there. But lately I've noticed some hard-signed autos of actors and actresses that I'm a fan of and thought, what the heck.

Now, I'm not a fan of the sticker autographs. I never use to care either way but over the past few years they just seem more and more impersonal. The companies could take those damn autographed stickers and put them on anything... and what happens in 10 years time... or 20 years time when the sticker becomes less sticky. So I've limited myself to hard-signed autos. But my other pet peeve so far seems a little more random. I find that dealers on eBay who sell non-sports cards send the cards they've sold in a very slow fashion. When I win a sports card on eBay, 9 times out of 10, the card is in the mail the next day and in my hands within about 5 days. With non-sports cards, 9 times out of 10, the card takes about 3 weeks to get in my hands.

An extreme example happened recently. I won two non-sports autographed cards on eBay on July 20th from the same seller. 12 working days passed and I still had not rec'd the cards. The next day I rec'd an email telling me that "Congratulations! Your cards have been shipped." Shipped!?!? It took him 12 working days, not including the weekend, to put two cards in plastic holders, toss them in an envelope, and send them off. Yikes! This is an extreme example but I must say my other dealings with non-sports eBayers aren't all that different.

In the end, I still want the cards. I'm a collector... it's what I do. And I'll always be a patient man if it gets me what I want. However, it doesn't mean I can't be a tad annoyed at the service. Luckily, they're not relying on tips.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sports Card Expo - Next Weekend

I will be attending my 4th consecutive Sports Card Expo in Toronto next weekend, May 1st-3rd. Today, I ordered an In The Game Ultimate 8 SuperBox from ITG Online which I will pick-up at their booth and break. Not only will it be an exciting break with the potential for personal collection-worthy cards, I will also get 3 redemption cards, one of which will be a 1/1.

I've been squirreling away money for the past six months so I'll have quite a few box breaks upcoming. It's always fun to be able to buy the boxes which you wouldn't normally buy. It's Hockey Card Heaven and you're surrounded by similar minded geeks. :) The hot pursuit of the 'whale' you need to spear for your collection. Chatting with experienced dealers and kids who are stunned by the sights. So many cards, so many boxes, so many cool things.

This year, the autograph guests include Jean Beliveau, Denis Savard, Pavel Bure, Al MacInnis, Paul Molitor, Justin Pogge, etc.

Six days away!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hit of the Month

I went to the local hobby store and bought 5 packs of the new 2008-09 SP Authentic hockey from Upper Deck. Since there were a few collectors in the shop who had been buying packs, I didn't expect too much luck as it was no longer a fresh box. I took my 5 packs and went home. On the couch, opening my final pack, I had one helluva hit. It kept me smiling for the rest of the night.

My first Bobby Orr autograph and definitely a keeper... even for a Habs fan.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

One Final Hit

It's nice when your favourite movie and your favourite hobby can cross paths. My two favourite movies are 'There Will Be Blood' and 'Trainspotting.' 'Trainspotting' is about a group of heroin addicts in Scotland. It's funny, it's tragic, and it's very quote-able. When breaking boxes, I've noticed that I've started to talk in a Scottish accent looking for one more big hit.

"All I need is one final hit to soothe the pain"

"One final hit to get us over this long, hard day."

"This was to be my final hit, but let's be clear about this. There's final hits and final hits. What kind was this to be?"

"I want a f$#%ing hit!"

"Better than sex. The ultimate hit."

Of course, in 'Trainspotting', the "hit" is in reference to drugs. But is card collecting anything less than a drug... and am I anything less than an addict?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Upcoming Hockey Card Release Dates

UD Champs: March 17, 2009
ITG Between the Pipes: March 26, 2009
UD SP Authentic: April 1, 2009
OPC Update: April 14, 2009
UD Ultimate: April 29, 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bar Refaeli

Not hockey card related.... but my oh my...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2008-09 UD SPx Box Break

The new Upper Deck 2008-09 SPx was released last week and I picked up a box today.  I hear lots of rumblings about a poor rookie class but I think that's foolish.  There are too many blue-chip prospects this year and 40 games don't make or break a career.

The SPx base cards aren't overly appealing.  They have a busy design which take away from the sharp, striking photography.  Too many lines, streaks and colours.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, I do like the SPx Rookies design, much better than last year.  The Winning Material cards fall somewhere in the middle.  They're somewhat geometric and give the effect of depth. 

Now on to the break:

The Hits:
SPxcitement - Patrick Roy & Martin Brodeur /999
Winning Materials Michael Ryder Dual Jersey (red/blue)
Winning Combos Rod Langway/Larry Robinson Dual Jersey (white/white)
SPx Rookies - Jonas Frogren /499
SPx Rookies Dual Jersey (blue/blue) Ryan Jones /1299
SPx Rookies Dual Jersey/Auto (blue/blue) Derrick Brassard /999
Winning Materials Radiance Dual Jersey/Auto (white/white) Rod Langway /25

Love the Habs.  Love the Langways.  Love the Brassard.
No complaints on this break.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Awesome Card of the Week

This is a classic card from 95-96 Pinnacle of former Washington Capital Olaf Kolzig.  How often do you see goaltenders without their masks on hockey cards... and how many of them spell their first name on their hotdog with mustard?

Expo Update

Well, the time for a useful and timely Expo update has passed.  Here are some random thoughts:

1.  Always wear comfortable shoes, bring a back-pack with supplies and snacks, and don't dress too warmly... it's normally room temperature whether it's November or May.

2.  Always look around for better deals.  Never take the first dealer as the best price.  I wandered the Expo on Saturday and saw 2008 SPx Baseball at three different tables.  One for $240, one for $160, and one for $100.  Guess which one I bought.  And imagine how sick I would have felt if I purchased the $240 box and saw the $100 box later.  I'm doubting that dealers allow for returns on unopened boxes.

3.  Prices change through-out the day and the weekend.  If something is too high on Friday, it might be lower on Sunday.  And vice versa on the hot products.  Some dealers want to move product on Sunday so it never hurts to make an offer, especially if you're buying more than one thing.

4.  The Expo Redemption Programs are fun and you get a nice bonus... but the line-ups can be tedious unless you have a friend with you.  However, it's a good way to meet fellow collectors if you are social.  My Upper Deck redemptions were less than special but a friend of mine lucked into a Wayne Gretzky auto #/5.  He was offered $600 on the spot.  (He turned it down)

5.  The autograph guests during the 3 days are numerous and span many sports.  It can be cheap or expensive depending on the player.  If you're from a place where you rarely see sports stars, it is a great opportunity.   I've had the pleasure of meeting Gordie Howe, Gilbert Perreault, Claude Lemieux, Kelly Gruber, Gillian Apps, and Phil Goyette.

6.  The more money you spend on food, the less money you can spend on cards!   :)