The Tragically Hip Stole This from a Hockey Card

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Yesterday, Gord Downie, lead signer of the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, announced on his band’s website that he has terminal brain cancer.

Hockey is not often the subject of songs, but this sad news reminds me of a song by The Tragically Hip called “Fifty Mission Cap,” which is actually about a Pro Set hockey card issued during the 1990s.

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Box Break: 2015-16 Fleer Showcase Hockey

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Fleer is quickly becoming that go-to set that Upper Deck puts out when they want to infuse some 1990s nostalgia into the hockey card market. In the past, they released a set called Fleer Retro, which played heavily on 1990s base card and insert designs. The 2015-16 Fleer Showcase set is sort of their retro set of this year, with designs from two decades ago. A box costs around $110 online, and has 12 five-card packs. Here are the results of my recent break of Showcase.

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Box Break: 2015-16 Upper Deck SPX Hockey

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Coming out towards the end of the regular season was 2015-16 Upper Deck SPX, which has more or less been a part of the hockey collecting landscape since the 1996-97 season. This year, Connor McDavid — a.k.a. the guy who everyone wants a rookie card of — adorns the box.

SPX is geared more towards hit chasers, as building a complete set with all of the rookie cards would take a lot of time, effort and funds. This year, a box costs around $100 and has 10 four-card packs.

I recently opened a box and got…

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Box Break: 2015-16 Upper Deck Contours Hockey

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Contours is a new hockey set that came out towards the end of April 2016. It is a “hit-based” product, meaning that it is meant to appeal to those who like high-end game-used cards and autographed cards more than building large sets. A box costs around $100 and contains four five-card packs. Each pack is guaranteed to contain one hit. Here is what I pulled from a recent box I opened:

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Hockey and Superheroes: A Bizarre Team-Up

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“Captain America: Civil War,” the new Marvel movie comes out today, and oh man, am I excited. The movie features Captain America, who was my favorite comic book hero growing up. (Yes, I self-identify as “lawful good.” Deal with it!) It’s got Iron Man and Spider-Man and all the other superheroes we love.

My first-ever job was working in a comic book store, as a dorky, flannel-wearing teenager who spent his $4 an hour on comics and hockey cards almost faster than he could earn it. (Well, it wasn’t like I had many dates back then.) Today, I still collect hockey cards, and while I’ve cooled my heels on comic collecting, I still enjoy a good superhero flick.

Hockey fans who also like superheroes — or comic book fans who are at least tolerant of hockey — will be interested to know that there have been several notable crossovers between superheroes and hockey. Like ketchup on ice cream, hockey and superheroes is a strange combination that always had ridiculous results.

Here are six examples of hockey and superhero crossovers.

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Hockey Card Gamble: A Seduction of Hits…and Misses!

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Hey, who out there likes to gamble? Maybe take a little trip to Vegas, or just a friendly card game between buddies? I don’t mind it from time to time, and now I’ve found a way to mix my love of inked cardboard and the thrill of laying it all on the line: case breaks!

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No Stanley Cup, But Still a Great 2015-16 Season for the Chicago Blackhawks

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Patrick Kane won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer in 2015-16. This was the first time in 48 years that a Blackhawks player has won the trophy. [Photo by Lisa Gansky Photography]

The shock of the Chicago Blackhawks losing to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night has not quote worn off yet — at least not among the die-hard fans who didn’t want to even think about baseball until June. Surely, weren’t the Blackhawks supposed to win the Stanley Cup this year, becoming the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back championships? Alas, it was not meant to be. Game 7 was close. The entire Blackhawks-Blues first round series was close. But being close isn’t good enough when you are down a goal on the losing end. 

Still, let us not forget that the 2015-16 season was nothing to frown upon. From on the ice, to behind the bench, to the front office, it was a great season overall for the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are the top six highlights from the year that was.

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Every 1990-91 Hockey Card Set Ranked

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Twenty-five years ago, the hockey card market grew exponentially when three new companies — Upper Deck, Pro Set and Score — joined Topps and O-Pee-Chee, bringing the number of hockey card manufacturers to five. Not only that, but Topps issued a second set of cards, branded as Bowman, while O-Pee-Chee released a set called O-Pee-Chee Premier, giving collectors a total of seven hockey sets that season.

The year 1990 was clearly the start of the “hockey card boom.” No longer were hockey cards just the stuff of specialty shops; now every grocery, drug and convenience store carried hockey cards. Likewise, practically everyone saw hockey cards for their investment potential, hoarding cards of hot rookies as well as established players. The increased revenue even led to the NHL Player Strike of 1992. But overproduction, along with the decline of the market in 1992, led to 1990-91 sets plummeting in value.

Looking back a quarter-century later, it is easy to dismiss the entire 1990-91 season as “junk wax.” Yes, the companies printed tons of cards and flooded the market. Even 25 years later, you can find unopened boxes of 1990-91 cards for around $5 and complete sets for $10 or less. It is kind of sad that newer collectors can buy the cards from my childhood for less than what they actually cost during my childhood.

Just because those sets are “worthless” doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile to have in your collection…assuming, of course, that you don’t already have them. And maybe you don’t. Perhaps you are a newer collector, or maybe you didn’t bother with hockey cards in 1990-91. Today, you can pick up a hearty dose of nostalgia, history and rookie cards for less than what a blaster box costs.

That said, here is my ranking of every 1990-91 hockey set. Those of you over 30 can feel free to disagree.

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Score One for the Trainer

2006-07 Colorado Eagles card – Chris Porowski

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Most of us who collect can recall a great hockey card that shows a forward celebrating a goal or a goaltender making a save.  But great cards of the non-players — the coaches, GM, and other hockey operations staff — are far and few between. You might get a card of a coach just standing behind the bench. or a card of a GM giving that deer-in-headlights look. Nothing special, really. But this card of former Colorado Eagles Head Athletic Trainer Chris Porowski makes for a nice exception.

Instead of awkwardly smiling for the camera, or standing in the background, Porowski is shown helping a fallen Eagles player. Team trainers are the “first responders” when a player is hurt. Depending on the severity of the injury, seconds can matter and quick thinking is vital. So it is cool to see a hockey card that shows an athletic trainer doing what they are trained to do.

Also making this card great is the Star Wars-inspired logo in the upper left corner, which reads “2006-2007: The Eagles Strike Back.” This is based on the logo used for the second “Star Wars” film, “The Empire Strikes Back.”

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So, what were the Colorado Eagles striking back against? The Eagles were Central Hockey League champions for 2005, but lost in the second round of the playoffs in 2006. Thus, their 2006-07 campaign was about “striking back” and reclaiming their throne as CHL champs. And strike back they did; the Eagles won their second CHL championship in 2007.