Hockey enthusiast who pays the bills as a traveling geologist. More of a lover than a fighter, he's a fairly cheap date; just ask his wife. He'd prefer to be outside in the rain that stuck in the office on a beautiful day.
This hockey card recently came to my attention, so of course I had to give it my spin.
File this one under good hair days. Gold Star Medals McGee back there is absolutely besides himself at the sight of Big Buff, being all footloose and fancy-free. He must be cut from the same cloth as Brian Burke.
While we all loosen our belts and pass on the leftover green bean casserole, like every NHL team that passed on Jaromir Jagr’s contract last season, let’s take a deep dive into the Upper Deck’s latest offering of fresh, hot hockey photography from the 2018-19 Series One flagship set.
Last week I dropped in to my local Target store to shop for leftover Halloween candy, to leave a few snakes hidden in the toy aisle and nab the latest issue of Cosmo (hair care tips, bro!).
I decided to swing by the cards to see if there were any overpriced Upper Deck tins I could sneer at, walk away from and feel better about myself for being a cheap skate. Now, most of the time, there are mixed boxes of random packs of sports cards; usually baseball, football, and basketball, but almost never hockey. Lo-and-behold! Target actually had some in an unassuming product called the Triple Deke Box for $14.99.
Not stopping to consider how bad of a name this is, I bought it anyway out of curiosity and it promised — PROMISED!!! — an autographed card and memorabilia card along with “3 Card Packs” and “1 Hobby Pack.” OK, so you mean four packs? Pictured on the box are three cards that you will never find in one of these things: autos of Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Mathews. While NOT promising this, the box did tease “Look for randomly inserted redemption cards for bonus items,” which are presumably rookie cards for current ECHLers who sell cars in the summer time. BUT LET’S TAKE THE DIVE!
Recently, I saw a brief write up on “success” of Upper Deck’s 2017-18 SP Authentic, in part because collectors are chasing Upper Deck’s buyback of Connor McHockeyJesus’ Young Guns rookie card. Not just because it’s his rookie card, but because they have also been autographed and numbered only to 97. Aren’t we lucky that McDavid doesn’t wear a jersey number like 2?
While there are more reasons to buy a box of these cards, like some handsome autograph and jersey swatch hits, these ultra-rare McDavid cards are fetching upwards of $3,000 at card shows. That’s like five times more than I paid for the Volvo I used to drive. Now, it is pretty exciting to pull a rare card like that from a pack; I was mildly excited when I pulled a McDavid Young Guns RC from a Series One pack a few years ago, let it lay around on my dining room table unprotected for two weeks, and then sold it on eBay for $150 so I could buy an expensive-ass bicycle seat (pun not intended), and Sal can hate me forever for not selling it to him. What-evs!
But should you purchase the card of a young player at such an exorbitant price? He’s got his whole career ahead of him, however long or short that may be.
History is generally cyclical. There have been other young athletes who have put up promising careers only to derail them due to personality issues, off-field antics, or REEEEEALLY poor decisions made when they play in some of the most stuffy, old fashioned, conservative sports on the planet. Let’s look at three such athletes.
S’up, y’all? Let’s look at another box of cards I wasn’t willing to pay full price for. This is another “four cards per pack, eight packs per box” hobby box which seems to be the going rate for products sitting around the just-above-C-note suggested retail price.
Upper Deck Trilogy Hockey has been around for a quite a while now, at least since 2003-04, and has typically put out some quality cards, with exciting hits above the Upper Deck Series One and Series Two bench mark. Have they kept the ball rolling this year, or have these cards taken a step back?
A lot has happened in RaleighWood with the Carolina Hurricanes over the past year. Caniacs were over the MOON late last year with the idea that some dude named Chuck Greenburg was seriously interested in finally buying our team from the curmudgeonly Peter Karmanos Jr. PK had previously won our team the Stanley Cup before firing all of his smart, hockey-minded adult sons who then sued him because he was using their inheritance to prop up the Hurricanes, and telling all of the fan to shut their yaps and be patient when it came to improving the team. Which he didn’t do.
So yeah, we were excited to have someone young, and passionate, very sports-minded, was probably gonna install a Lazy River in the PNC Arena, and damn we were so excited about having a new “dad!”
But Karmanos gonna Karmanos; and instead of patiently letting Chucky get together the money for the purchase, PK dogged him publicly to hurry up and then jacked the price up on him. If there was a local, low-budget horror film made about this, it would be titled, “Karmanos: The Hands of Fate.” Caniac Nation was livid at Karmanos for this act of selfish greed, but damned if he didn’t have ANOTHER buyer waiting the wings and we didn’t even know it!
Enter the Dragon Tom Dundon. Carolina exclaimed a collective “WHO?” before running to Google for info of what to expect. And there wasn’t much to say. All we could really figure out was that he made a metric butt-ton of money from a number of ventures, most notably for a sub-prime auto loan company and his only real financial connection to sports was being part owner to an indoor driving range franchise called Top Golf. Ok, so no Lazy River in PNC…we get a Putt-Putt? Still, he had enough money to call Peter Karmanos his Lil’ Bitch and got him out of the driver seat, so the guy was already our First Star for the month of December. In the half a year since, we’ve learned a lot about him and he is learning a lot about hockey.
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From the 1976 to 1989, there was a baseball player named Dale Murphy who was the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, for some reason. He was expected to provide much of the offensive support for a terrible team, and in return took a lot of money. After only one postseason appearance in 1982, the Braves finally wised up and dumped his ass onto the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, thus putting Atlanta on the road to an impressive stretch of Pennant wins in the National League.
Philadelphia, however, floundered like a seafood restaurant that has to hide its sanitation grade. Then the Phillies wised up and dumped him on the Colorado Rockies in 1993, lightening their load. Then the Phillies had a very memorable World Series run. But don’t weep for the Rockies; after Murphy retired they found their berth in the playoff in 1995.
“Dynasty” is a word that’s been tossed around in the hockey world a lot in the last decade. What does it take for a team to be a dynasty in the NHL today? Two Championships in three years like the L.A. Kings? Three Cups in six years like the Blackhawks? Two in back-to-back seasons like the Penguins? The fact that you can’t spell “dynasty” without “nasty” like the Bruins?
While we ponder this, it’s impossible to deny teams like the Oilers’ winning five Cups in seven years, and the Islanders gobbling up four in a row in the 1980s were clearly dynasties. When the Islanders won their first of four straight Stanley Cup Championships, did they know they were on the precipice of greatness? I guess it’s easy to look back and think they may have had an idea that something special was just beginning to brew, but every team that lifts the Cup probably thinks they’re going to repeat the feat next year.
Last month, when ordering my box of Upper Deck Series 2 to make fun of, I also tossed in a box of SP Game Used since it was on sale. I actually wrestled with purchasing this item verses a box of Artifacts that were at a similar price point, both on sale. Eventually I gauged that the SPGU would have a better value in the promised “hits.” With only one pack per box, let’s see if that holds true…