One hundred percent of NHL players will tell you that their top goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug over their head, skate around in a circle screaming, and wondering who they’re gonna spray first in the face with champagne. OK, cool squad goals bro. I can say 100% because Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are playing in the KHL these days, and they only give a damn about money. The second goal for every player is to make the playoffs; just to get that extra patch on their jersey and at least play some late-April hockey.
Now that Ron Hainsey’s Ultimate Ironman Streak of playing so many seasons on so many bad teams — and having made his tee time on the golf course by April 15 — is over, let’s look at the top eight players currently in the NHL who have yet to make the playoffs and could take up Ron’s mantle of misfortune:
S’up, Puck-Bunnies and Skater Dawgs! Here’s your Southern Home-Fry coming attchu with another Best of the Worst. I picked up my first box of 2015-16 Upper Deck Portfolio and I LOVED it! I mean, for the most part. Photography-wise, these are some of the best and most-candid shots outside of Upper Deck Series One and Series Two. But that means there are some awesomely BAD shots to make fun of, so let’s dive right in.
The National Sports Collectors Convention is returning to Chicago in one week. Held annually since 1980, The National is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, with over 600 tables and more than 300 dealers selling sports cards, autographs, apparel, and anything else sports-related that you can think of. Fortunately, The National is five days long — starting on Wednesday, July 26 and lasting until Sunday, July 30 — so you don’t have to do everything in one day.
If you plan on going to The National, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of the experience.
If you live in the United States, then you know how frustrating it can be to find hockey collectibles at your typical sports card show. In 10 days from now, The National Sports Collectors Convention — a.k.a. “The National” will return to Chicago, and it is anything but your typical card show. It is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, taking place July 26 to July 30, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
The National probably won’t have as much “puck junk” as the Fall Expo or Spring Expo, since those shows are in Toronto and feature a hockey-centric lineup of autograph guests. Nonetheless, if you are a hockey collector, you can still get a lot out of The National. I’ve attended this show when it was in Chicago in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and always enjoyed myself and found a lot of great hockey items, despite the seemingly endless amount of non-hockey memorabilia.
So, here is my guide for hockey fans attending this year’s National. Seek, and ye shall find.
Last weekend, the NHL held its annual Entry Draft in Chicago. It was considerably a weaker draft class than the previous two drafts, which were headlined by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in 2015, and then Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine in 2016. That isn’t to say that the 2017 draft class won’t turn out its share of NHLers; it was just not as exciting of a group.
Coincidentally, the same thing happened 25 years ago. The 1990 and 1991 drafts were deep. And the 1992 Draft? Well, it had Roman Hamrlik and Alexei Yashin. Oh — and Sergei Gonchar.
I will admit, after writing fantasy “do-overs” of the 1990 and 1991 NHL Entry Drafts, I was not really looking forward to looking back at the 1992 Draft. There were no 1,000-point or 400-goal scorers to come out of 1992. None made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. About the only milestone any of the players drafted in 1992 achieved was that seven of them skated in 1,000 or more NHL games. Even then, the NHL expanded from 24 teams in 1992 to 30 teams in 2000, so that probably had a lot to do with it.
It is easier and more fun to agonize over who should have gone first overall in 1990 — Jaromir Jagr or Martin Brodeur — with hindsight being 20/20 and all. But looking at a bunch of average players and trying to figure out which one is slightly better than the other…well, that’s the kind of challenge scouts deal with all the time. And I’m always up for a challenge.
Thus, below is my fantasy re-imagining of the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. There may be no marquee names, but some went onto exceptional careers, while others were good enough to play a long time in the world’s best hockey league.
And, with the first-overall pick, the Tampa Bay Lighting are proud to select…
A short while ago, my online retailer of choice offered a case break of 2015-16 Upper Deck Black, and I’m guessing the 30 spots were not selling as quickly as they’d hoped. It was the day of the scheduled break, most of the spots were still open and so they PUT IT ON SALE! A pretty decent chunk off, too. Since I had a little money to spare, felt like gambling and never owned any UD Black hockey cards before, I decided to buy a spot.
Time rolls around, the video feed starts and I see my name next to the Maples Leafs. OK, this is promising. Oh wait, they have to run the randomizer and shake up the teams. Shake, shake, shake….
Back in March, I wrote a long-winded opinion piece on how Upper Deck can improve their Series One and Series Two hockey card sets. But I hate to just wish for things; I want them to happen. So I forwarded my article to Chris Carlin, Upper Deck’s Senior Marketing & Social Media Manager.
Not only did Chris read my article, but he actually addressed all of my points. As collectors, many times we believe that the card companies can make what we think are a few easy changes that will make us happier. Well, it turns out that those changes aren’t always easy to make as they might seem — and they won’t necessarily make collecting better, either.
Here’s a summary of each point from my prior article, along with Chris’ response to each one. Maybe you will learn something; I know I did.
Y’all — that means “You All” for the Yankees — the hockey card market is getting out of hand. Normally I’d look at buying a box of Upper Deck Series One or Two to enjoy, save the hits, collect a few of the players I like, and entertain everyone with another Best of the Worst post. This past fall with Series One, I dragged my feet on writing that post because there weren’t a whole lot of crazy photos and I wasn’t super-inspired.
I also wasn’t too crazy about the price I paid for the box vs. the cards that I got out of it. Two out of three boxes didn’t yield a jersey card, and outside of a mildly-rarer Shining Stars Alex Ovechkin and one or two Young Guns that may or may not pan out, it was fairly hitless. I shopped around to buy that box online for $70-75; in a local shop it would have cost me at least $85 to $100! The same goes for Series Two which was released in March. Looking at the list of who is in that set and the likelihood of getting anything of value, I can’t say it’s worth the price of admission. There just isn’t much going on in there.
How long is too long when waiting for a redemption card to arrive? Six months? A year? Two years? More? My most recent redemption took nearly four years of waiting, followed by four weeks of nagging, but it finally arrived.
Recently, in my never-ending request to clear the piles of cards off of my desk, I found a redemption card that I had redeemed long ago. This was supposed to get me an autographed Akim Aliu rookie card from the 2012-13 Panini Limited Hockey set. I opened a box of these cards way back in mid-2013, registered the redemption number via Panini’s website, and then forgot about it. So did Panini.
Last month, 2016-17 Upper Deck Series Two was released in stores and online shops. Other than a few packs I bought to get a promotional card on National Hockey Card Day, I have avoided buying Upper Deck Series One and Upper Deck Series Two this year. Since 1990, Upper Deck’s flagship “Upper Deck” hockey card set was something I always looked forward to. It was usually the biggest and best hockey card set every year during that decade, and set the high-water mark in quality for the hobby.
But over time, Upper Deck Series One and Series Two have become somewhat…uninspired. Routine. Even boring. This year’s Series One Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist. Likewise, this year’s Series Two Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist.
Other than a little variation in the number of Young Guns, that has pretty much been Upper Deck’s script since 2005-06, and frankly, it is time for a change.
Don’t get me wrong. The cards themselves look great and are of high quality. But even if you ate your favorite food for a month straight, it will still get dull. So it is time for Upper Deck to spice things up and not just do what has been working, but to seek to make things better. Here are seven ways that would improve Upper Deck Series One and Series Two.