Sunday, August 19, 2018

Upper Deck 2017-18 Maple Leafs Centennial Blaster Box Break

Way to market a set to kids who grew up in the 1990s, Upper Deck!

I was not going to buy a product from UD's commemorative 2017-18 Maple Leafs Centennial set unless it came at a huge bargain, but I decided a blaster box at $24.95 ($5 off) was a good enough deal for a little less than 50 cards, especially since I was guaranteed a numbered card in it that I could probably trade or try to get my money back on if gotten rid of wisely.

Let's see what I got...

38 base cards ranging from the team mascot Carlton to Hall Of Famers Charlie Conacher, Red Kelly and Grant Fuhr, including plenty from my youth (1986-95):
My favourite insert set has to be the Die-Cut cards, of which I pulled five: Jim McKenny, Red Horner, Gary Leeman, Ace Bailey and Auston Matthews:
A close second is this dual jersey card of Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown (of the Materials Duo variety):
Some cards honor Memorable Moments in Leafs history:
Others remember Trophy Winners past:
I pulled two Hockey Hall Of Fame players:
And one Retired Numbers card of Borje Salming:
... but NO CARD numbered to #99.

I'm not sure if these came on average per box or if they're guaranteed in the form of "floaters", but I didn't get one.

Still, there were decent pulls from a decent set that I'll rate as a 7.5/10. I preferred the numbers of autographs from the 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers set, and I thought the player selection was much better with the 2008-09 Canadiens Centennial set, but this one's still a winner.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

2018-19 Upper Deck Hockey MVP Blaster Box Break

I wasn't on the lookout for this, seeing as we're closer to mid-August than the end of the month, but when I came across a blaster box of 21 (20+1) packs of Upper Deck's classic 2018-19 MVP set, I jumped on it.

You'll recall past years had three more packs, for 15 more cards total, but I can live with that. You still get over a hundred cards for $30 (plus taxes, which comes up to just under $35 in Québec, so probably $25 in the U.S. and Canada).

The base cards are pretty cool, as can be seen below, and I didn't get a single double in the entire box:
I got three "Puzzle Back" cards, two of which I believe will form Nathan MacKinnon's card:
The other one probably belongs to Sidney Crosby, meaning both players would hail from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia:
I fell upon three Silver Scripts cards, none of which I will likely keep long-term:
I did get a bunch of rookie cards, one of which was of the "base" variety, of Dylan Sikura:
And (count 'em!) three Copper parallels, of Dominic Turgeon (Pierre's son), Joe Ricketts, and Adam Gaudette:
And there was one that it under the Player Credentials sub-set (i.e. Entry Level Access), of Ryan Donato:
And two players I'd take on my team any day in the "regular" Player Credentials sub-set, Jamie Benn and Brendan Gallagher:
Perhaps the coolest bub-set this year, though, is the 20th Anniversary Parallels, which takes the same picture and stats line as the regular-issue card but puts it in the inaugural 1998-99 MVP template, like these cards from Drew Doughty and Mathew Barzal:
Of note, the 20th Anniversary cards includes a blurb about the player on the back of the card that is absent from the base version.

As usual, this is far from a premium set, but its affordability makes collecting the base cards a perfect starting point for autograph seekers like myself.

I'll rate this one a solid 7/10.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Garry Galley: Three Autographed Cards

Garry Galley is a Montréal-born All-Star defenseman who spent most of his prime playing for two of the Montréal Canadiens' most bitter rivals, the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers.

He actually started his career with the Los Angeles Kings, though, having been drafted 100th overall in 1983; he then spent a year and a half with the Washington Capitals before signing in Boston as a free agent.

Playing behind Ray Bourque on the Bs, Galley was among the best second-pair defenders in the league, helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1989-90 and playing in the 1991 All-Star Game. He even scored an overtime winner against the Habs in Round 2 of the 1990 playoffs that was compared to Bobby Orr's classic 1970 Cup-clinching "Superman" goal.

In February of 1992, however, the Bruins took advantage of his high value and sent him to the Flyers with Wes Walz for Brian Dobbin, the similarly-talented Gord Murphy and the draft pick that became Sergei Zholtok.

The Flyers ended up very happy with the trade, as Galley had his two most productive seasons in the NHL in Philly, posting 62- and 70-point seasons in the City Of Brotherly Love. He would appear as a member of the Flyers in the 1994 All-Star Game.

Once again taking advantage of his high tgrade value, the Flyers sent him to the Buffalo Sabres for former Habs defenseman/scout - and current player agent of most Czech players - Petr Svoboda. His two full seasons with the Sabres stand as a perfect example of what the mid-1990s clutch-and-grab style did to hockey, as can be attested by his stats line:
from HockeyDB
It's not that Galley regressed, it's that the entire NHL stopped scoring because everybody was imitating the New Jersey Devils' trap system to varying degrees of success, creating what became known as the Dead Puck Era.

After that, Galley spent three seasons with the Kings before playing out his final year with the New York Islanders.

Nowadays, he lives in Ottawa, where he provides game analysis to Ottawa Senators games on local radio and colour commentary on CBC's and Sportsnet's coverage of Hockey Night in Canada.

He's pretty cool in person, which is how I got him to sign these three cards in blue sharpie, starting with this one of him wearing the Bruins' classic black uniform from my youth, on card #71 from Score's 1991-92 Series 1 set:
And there are two from the Flyers, with the home and away variations of their 1980s/1990s uniforms:
On the left is the orange (away) uniform, featured on card #156 from Fleer's 1992-93 Fleer Ultra set, while on the card shows him sporting the white (home) uniform, from Upper Deck's 1992-93 Series 1 set (card #319).

For each of them, he also added the correct jersey number - 28 with the Bruins, 3 with the Flyers - in a bubble below his signature.