Monday, November 14, 2016


2016-2017 Hockey Season

I got a bit of a head start on the hockey season this year by purchasing the O-Pee-Chee set. Some of my friends believe that I am a little too old to be messing around with hockey cards. Thankfully, my wife has realized, after forty some years of marriage, that I am incorrigible.

I do not open packs of cards any more to complete sets. I leave all of that leg work up to my friends. In this case, it is Al Wood. He used to have the Quinte Card Shoppe in Belleville, and I know that many of my collecting friends still use him as a contact to pick up cards. To complete the set of O-Pee-Chee cards, by opening packs, I would have had to spend at least $ 1 000 on packs. I picked up the set from Al for less than $ 200. I also recommend visiting J & B Books in Trenton. They have plenty of “traders” to help you complete sets, and they will treat you fairly.

There are 660 cards in the set, a long way from the sets from some years ago. There were 264 cards in each set in the Sixties; they then boosted the number to 396. It stayed that way until the hobby went crazy with new companies, and all kinds of insert cards. Those things are still popular with many collectors. Not this guy, thanks.

I like the larger set because it does help me keep up with the game, to some extent. By this time in the season, there have been almost one thousand players lacing up the blades. Some of them have names that I cannot pronounce. Others play one game, then are returned to the minors, or back to Junior teams. Naturally, I focus on the cards of my favourite team, and also on the cards of former Belleville Bulls, and cards with a local connection to the Quinte area.

Mike Smith hails from the Napanee area, but has serious roots in Prince Edward County. Montreal's Andrew Shaw spends his summers around Roblin Lake, but he was born in Belleville. Justin Williams has had a long and successful career, with more than 1 000 games under his belt, in the NHL, but he is a Cobourg kid. My limited research tells me that there has never been a County-born and raised kid to ever play in the NHL. I do hope it happens some day, soon. I offer that as a challenge to County kids.

Former Bulls in the series include: Matt Beleskey, Matt Stajan, Shawn Matthias, Philipp Grubauer, Jason Spezza, and PK Subban. Daniel Altshuller had a very brief cup of coffee with the Bulls, and now plays for the Florida Everblades.

Alan Quine's card has me befuddled. It states that he was born in Belleville on February 25, 1993. Other sources indicate his birthplace was Ottawa. He did play part of a season for the Bulls, but indicates he was born in Ottawa. More research required.

It is a little disconcerting that the company lags way behind the trade transactions. Shaw played for the Hawks last year, and is pictured in his Hawks uniform. But he became a Hab in the Spring, on June 24th, long before the set was produced. Someone should send them a list of trades, so that they could “Photo Shop” heads on new uniforms!

There are 50 rookie cards near the end of the set, and these always garner plenty of attention. There is no Auston Matthews card, for the Leaf fans. That comes next year, the rule being that a player must get in a game in the pro ranks before they can release a card.

There are 15 “Season Highlight” cards, including # 601 Connor McDavid. Others in this group include: Jagr, Toews, Sedin, Stamkos, and Patrick Kane. Team checklists and “League Leaders” round out the set to the 660 number. Many of these are not necessary, but fill the bill.

We will make the trek across Alligator Alley a few more times this year to see the best hockey in the world: Senators, Oilers, Leafs, Hawks, and Habs. It is almost the same distance to Tampa Bay. That should be on the list, for a game or two. Seems to be a fine year to cheer for the Habs. As long as they don't have to face the Blue Jackets every night! Yikes!

James Hurst
November 14, 2016.

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