The Race for the 2018 Hart Trophy

8 Great Choices – But Only 1 Can Be MVP

With the NHL regular season now at an end, I think we can all agree it has been one of the best in recent memory. If the brilliant debut of the Las Vegas Golden Knights wasn’t enough, maybe it was the play of breakout stars, Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brayden Point. But, the NHL is a stars league, and it is always at its best when its stars are shining bright. And this season is a prime example. When superstar Sidney Crosby is playing up to his expectations and is 10th in the league in scoring, you know the league is firing on all cylinders.

It felt as though this year, all of the big stars were playing their best. So that leaves one question: who is most deserving of the Hart Trophy as the league’s regular-season MVP? The award is always contentious because of the letter“V,” for valuable, in MVP. But I’m not here to try and define value and who should win; I’m here to show that this is one of the most exciting Hart Trophy races in my lifetime. There are arguably eight players,  forwards in particular, that have a legitimate chance to win the award this year. Eight forwards who have arguably been more valuable to their team than anyone else. That is the important caveat: a player’s team success is almost always included in their chances at winning the award, so I will take that under consideration. Here are the reasons why, and why not, these eight are in contention for the NHL’s top individual honor.

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Scott Foster Custom Hockey Cards

Scott Foster made NHL history last week when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. He is the second emergency backup goaltender (EBUG) to be credited with ice time in an NHL game, and the first to be credited with making a save. Actually, he made seven saves, including stops on a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot and a  shot by Paul Stastny from the slot. 

Last season, Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager Jorge Alves suited up as an EBUG for the ‘Canes, played a mere 7.6 seconds, didn’t face any shots, and yet got a bunch of official hockey cards made by Upper Deck. Meanwhile, Eric Semborski was coincidentally an EBUG for the Blackhawks last season, and got two digital trading cards from Topps, though he didn’t play in the game. 

So, where are the Scott Foster hockey cards? The guy actually appeared in an NHL game, which is the minimum criteria for getting an NHL card. Heck, he even used to stuff hockey cards of goalies in his skates for good luck. Foster might get a card from either Upper Deck or Topps later this season. But to tide you over until then, here are seven custom Scott Foster hockey cards — one for each save he made in his 14 minutes of ice time. 

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Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

As the NHL season slowly slips away from us (because some of our teams couldn’t find the postseason if it was water and they fell off a boat), it’s nice to have Upper Deck around to remind us of the good times and the crazy moments like a high school yearbook. And much like a high school yearbook, even good photographers can take bad pictures. Let’s look at some now!

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Saturday is National Hockey Card Day

The popular Upper Deck program returns on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Don’t call it a comeback; it’s been around for years! Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day returns for 2018. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, collectors in the U.S. and Canada can get an exclusive pack of trading cards when they visit a participating retailer (U.S retailers here, Canadian retailers here.)

This is the 7th year that NHCD has taken place in the U.S., and the 10th year in Canada. For 2018, Upper Deck has upped the ante and added a few more cards to the mix.

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Box Break: 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey

While watching the Super Bowl last night, I opened a box of 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey. My attention wasn’t diverted for long, though, as a box of Black Diamond has only one pack. A few years back, Upper Deck changed Black Diamond from a mid-range set where you got numerous packs to a high-end set where you get one pack full of “hits.”

A box of 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey sells for around $165 USD online. A box consists of one five-card pack of Black Diamond, and one “bonus pack” of 2017-18 Exquisite, which contains one card. So, that boils down to roughly $27.50 per card. 

Is it worth it? Let’s take a look and find out. 

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Box Break: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 1

Ever since I started collecting hockey cards again in 2006, Upper Deck Series One and Series Two are the sets that I always look forward to. UD’s flagship hockey set, which as been around since 1990-91, has a great variety of veterans and rookies, is relatively affordable and always has excellent photography.

This year’s set is selling for about $73 USD online for a 24-pack hobby box. Each pack has eight cards. Upper Deck Series One was released in November 2017. I recently got a box, and finally got a time to post my break for your enjoyment. 

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Hockey Hall of Fame Inducts 2017 Class

(Note: I am now a contributing writer for Sports Collectors Digest. Here is an excerpt of my first article for SCD.)

The Class of 2017 received hockey’s ultimate honor November 13, when seven new members were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees included: Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Danielle Goyette. Those five were 2017’s additions to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s player category. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and longtime collegiate coach Clare Drake were this year’s addition to the builders’ category.

Excerpt from Sports Collectors Digest, Vol. 46, No. 26, December 22, 2017. Article also published online here.

Selanne, who retired at the close of the 2013-14 season, was inducted in the first year of eligibility, while Kariya, Recchi, Goyette and Andreychuk had to wait some time before getting their due. All of these players had long and successful careers, either on the professional or international stage – and sometimes both. Here is a look at each player’s accolades that make them “Hall-worthy,” as well as some of their earliest hockey cards. 

Slow as molasses

“Nobody thinks I want to be a Hall of Famer,” said Dave Andreychuk at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “You think about just trying to play in the NHL, you think about just trying to make your team better. Lots of it is about who’s with you.”

Andreychuk’s coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, John Tortorella, once said that Andreychuk was “slow as molasses, but for some reason he gets it done.”

Tortorella may have been describing Andreychuk’s play – especially in his Tampa Bay years, when he was at the close of his career – but it could describe his wait for the Hall of Fame; it took a while, but now he’s in. 

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

You can smell the turkey cooking, you’re already gearing up for the assault of family members you haven’t seen in a year and still don’t want to, the air is getting crisp even in Carolina, and there’s a collective groan out of the Windy City as the Blackhawks are announced as participants in yet another outdoor game. Must be time to make fun of Upper Deck’s latest flagship set of hockey cards!

UD made it tough for me this year; almost every pack I opened had one card I could laugh at. I doubt they read these posts for the sake of tossing me a softball, but I piled up 36 cards out of one hobby box to poke fun at and I’ve pared it down to a baker’s dozen.

We’ll start with three really candid shots:

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Pros and Cons of Game Dated Moments

Upper Deck’s new print-on-demand hockey card set has potential & problems

Upper Deck debuted its new Game Dated Moments hockey card set for the 2017-18 season last Friday. Each week, Upper Deck will release between one and four cards in this set, based on what they deem to be the biggest news of the NHL from the prior week. Fans will be encouraged to give Upper Deck their input as to what moments they would like to see on Game Dated Moment cards, which are available to purchase on Upper Deck’s E-Pack platform. 

Upon first hearing about this new set, I was excited. I remember the 1996-97 Upper Deck Hockey set because the photos on those cards had captions that told you what was happening, and on what date the picture was taken. 

I also liked it when Upper Deck made Biography of a Season cards, though admittedly I have always had trouble finding those at my local card shops — only to have dealers try and sell me the same cards months later. 

These also remind me of those “Season Highlights” cards that were commonplace in the old Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets in the 1970s and 1980s. Most oldschool hockey collectors love those cards. 

Anytime hockey gets a new type of set, even if the idea itself isn’t particularly new, I get excited. Hockey cards are almost always overlooked, so I love it when they get the all-star treatment. 

But my excitement for Game Dated Moments has cooled off a little bit for a few good reasons. My outlook on this set is now mixed, with some positives and some problems. Let’s examine the problems first. 

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