I’ve wanted an Antti Niemi “XRC” for some time now. Even though Niemi had numerous cards during the 2009-10 season — recognized by Beckett as his true rookie cards — he did have a few cards released the prior season, like these two from the 2008-09 Be A Player Hockey set. There’s also a version without the jersey swatch.
Beckett recognizes Niemi’s 2009-10 cards as his true rookie cards. Why these count as XRCs, I don’t know. XRC is a designation for a rookie card that was released in some hard-to-get manner, such as a traded set, a mail-away or a redemption. I believe these cards were actually mailed out to redemption winners in 2010 — meaning that Niemi’s 2009-10 cards came out before these 2008-09 cards; though I am not 100% sure.
Usually, I’m not too fond of jersey cards, but these are of one of the heroes of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions. In the opinion of many fans, it was Niemi and not Jonathan Toews who should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the 2010 playoff MVP. I agree.
And the other Niemi not-a-real-RC-card is numbered 97 of 99 and has a white event-used jersey swatch, with just a touch of black at the top. I wonder if both of these swatches are from the same sweater…or from the same event.
The back of the card states that the “memorabilia” was worn in a rookie photo shoot. I’m guessing that Upper Deck had the players scrimmage, since all of Niemi’s early hockey cards show him wearing a helmet, as if he was in a game or at least a scrimmage.
OK, so the swatches aren’t game-used and they only show Niemi from the waist up. But I finally have Niemi’s “first” NHL card. After seeing this card offered between $15 and $30, I managed to snag these two in the same eBay auction for an absolute steal: $6.66 — and that included shipping. Once again, my patience has paid off.