Friday, January 18, 2013

Lightning Card of the Week - And Now...It Begins

Little Known Fact - Marty is the same size as Lord Stanley's Cup

2010-11 Certified Champions Martin St. Louis #17 297/500

I really, really like this insert series, I really, really like this card.  It's serial numbered, has a definite theme and the layout is fantastic.  I'm sure it's a happy coincidence, but I really like how the Lightning logo on St. Louis' sweater is centered right on top of the "Certified Champions".  Well done, Panini!

Watching a player, especially one on your favorite team, lift the Cup is really why we put up with all of the nonsense that the NHL puts us through.  It seems such a long, long time ago that the Kings had their victory skate.  Through all of the blustering, meditations, false hopes, gloom and doom we can finally get past the sniping at the podium and back to the sniping from the left face off dot (Stamkos shooots and SCOOOOOOORRREEESSSSS!)

It's been so long that someone asked me the other day what the Lightning gave up for Anders Lindback and my response was, "ummmmm a lot?"  (For the record it was 2 2nd round picks, a 3rd round pick, and the rights to Lightning Legend Sebastien Caron for Lindback, Kyle Wilson and a 7th round pick.) So I'm a bit rusty on my current Tampa Bay Lightning squad, but it will only take a few games for me to get back into the flow, so hopefully I'll piece together some sort of preview by the end of the weekend.

My one NHL protest will probably be buying my next jersey from a Chinese distributor instead of an approved NHL dealer.  That's right, baby - DAMN THE MAN!

Hopefully, the short season lends itself to exciting action on the ice as each team fights for every point available.  The last thing the league needs is a rash of injuries to major stars (I'm looking at you, Sidney).  If they're extremely lucky, one of the offensive studs starts off the season red-hot and garners some interest in a possible 50 goals in 48 games scenario. And hopefully for my fantasy team that offensive stud is Alex Ovechkin.

As for Mr. Saint Louis, I'm thinking he has a bit of a bounce back season as he spends the entire season on Stamkos' line (up-and-comer Cory Conacher seems to be penciled in as Lecavalier's wingman). It's no doubt that his career is winding down, but perhaps, with the extra time off, he can stave off Father Time for one more season.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Best Card I Got at The Card Show - UPDATE!

It’s update time!  If you remember this post (and I’m sure you do) then you know I received an extremely beat up Taylor Hall card in my box of 2012-13 Upper Deck Series I.  Well I eventually got around to gathering all of the paperwork needed to send it back to Quality Assurance to get it swapped out.  Their disclaimer said it would take about 6-8 weeks to process so I promptly forgot about it because I have the attention span of a squirrel.

Right after Christmas I received a padded envelope from Morrisville, NC.  I have never heard of Morrisville (named after Jeremiah Morris and located in the heart of the Research Triangle) so my first thought was that this was a late Christmas gift or some elaborate packaging for a credit card offer.  Imagine my surprise when I opened it on the table and out spilled:

Still weird to see orange and not have it be a Flyers card.

That’s right, an exact replacement of the card,down to the same color swatch, I sent in free of damaged corners or mangled sides.  But that wasn't all.  Right next to it was a bonus card:

It's like early 2000s card designs never left!

A 2012-13 Requisite Radiance card of Carl Hagelin.  I’m not sure if Upper Deck reads this blog, but they nailed two of my favorite things about cards – die-cut and shiny (if only they had put acetate on it!).  I’m not a fan of the background – kind of busy for my tastes, but still a nice card.

Even better, it was a nice gesture by a company that is a leader in an industry that all too often gets slammed for poor customer support.  Working in the hospitality business like I do, I've learned that it’s the unasked for gestures that really make a difference. I would have been perfectly happy if Upper Deck had just returned a clean copy of the card I sent in, instead by including the extra card makes me more likely to actually buy series II of this set and make a half-hearted attempt to finish the base set.

The process itself was relatively painless.  I went to the Upper Deck site and found the email address for Quality Assurance.  I exchanged a few emails and was assigned a case number which I popped onto the envelope and mailed off with the required documents. 

I’m glad that the guy at Pittsburgh Sports Cards took the time to write out a receipt when I bought the box.  At card shows it is way too easy to forget that step and then I’m sure things would have been a lot harder.
Since I dragged my feet a little mailing the card back I’m not sure of the actual processing time it took, but it wasn't more than 4 weeks. The cards came in a padded envelope and individually secured in penny sleeves and top loaders along with a typed letter of apology.  I really couldn't have asked for better service. 

As bloggers we’re quick to point out when things go wrong, so it’s nice to write a post where I get to point out some good things about a company.  So kudos to Upper Deck Hockey.  Good job!

Now let’s see how long it takes Topps to redeem that auto/relic card I sent in!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Lightning Card of the Week - Version 2.0 (Now with more Barnaby!)

The NHL is back and I am excited.  Yes, that means I’m a sheep. I’m part of the problem.  I don’t care. Professional hockey is my favorite sport and the fact that I was denied it for 3 months sucks.  So why would I deny myself even more of it with some damn, fool idealistic crusade of revenge that in the grand scheme of things doesn’t really mean anything?  Owners will still be rich and so will the players.  So I say, “Bring on the Pucks!”

In honor of the news that the boys will be dropping the puck again in about two weeks I’m bringing back the Lightning card of the week.  I know Version One of this project was shorter than a Blue Jacket’s winning streak, but that’s not my fault.  I got a job and that cut into my writing time! I got married and that cut into my writing time (not sure how, but I’m sure it did). I started working overnights and that cut into my writing time (well that one is kind of true).

So let’s start out with an addition to the personal collection.

Look how loose those chinstraps are - correlation to concussions?

2002 Pacific Riding Shotgun Vincent Lecavalier/ Matthew Barnaby

As a Lecavalier fan I’m half-heartedly collecting as many cards of his as possible. Around Christmas I was doing a little surfing on COMC and stumbled across this card.  What a perfect card to sum up the early-2000s Tampa Bay Lightning.  Their best offensive weapon paired with……Matthew Barnaby.

The back of the card notes that Barnaby’s “hard-nosed playing style” was brought to Tampa to play as Lecavalier’s winger. Which I guess is a good thing, because he surely wasn’t there to score.  In 58 games spread over two seasons he managed just 8 points with the Lightning (although he did rack up 167 penalty minutes).

Although it looks like Lecavalier had a hand in at least ½ of Barnaby’s 8 points so I guess they had some sort of chemistry.  From what I can remember Nils Ekman rounded out that power-packed line.  All of those points came in the 2000-01 season as Barnaby managed to go 20 games in 2001-02 without scoring a point before being shipped off to the Rangers for a Slovakian named Zdeno. Sadly his last name was Ciger not Chara (Big Ciggy did score 12 points for the Lightning before heading back to Slovakia).

Matthew Barnaby would continue to do Matthew Barnaby things for another four seasons before briefly being a tv commentator. He’s had a few run-ins with the law since he retired and has spent most of the last year or so off the radar apparently running some youth hockey training camps.

As for Lecavalier, he finally found someone to really ride shotgun for him as Vinny Prospal came to the team and within three seasons he had a Stanley Cup and a string of 30+ goal seasons.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

I'm Back Into the Swing of Things

Welcome to the new year, folks.  It's that time of year where everyone swears things are going to be different, and that this is the year things turn around.  Heck we survived the Mayan Apocalypse, the Fiscal Cliff and a baby-off between the Royal Family and the Khardashian/West Family - 2013 should be golden!  As for this spot of internet real estate - I will be getting it ramped back up as part of a larger, yearly initiative  I know I've said the same thing in the past, but I swear this time is different...just give me another chance, baby...I promise I'll change.
Humans who know me in real life know that every year I give something up.  There is no reason for it, I just do it.  In the past I've made it through years without soda, red meat, beer (otherwise known as the longest year ever) and in 2012 it was fried food.  Three-hundred-sixty-six days without potato chips, Cheetos, fried chicken, mozzarella sticks, doughnuts, french fries, steak fries, sweet potato fries, curly fries, bacon and cheese fries (see a trend), deep-fried Twinkies and various other sweet, sweet oil-drenched goodies.
It wasn't really all that difficult, just the occasional craving for Chik-Fil-a sandwiches, and the year turned out rather well.  Actually, 2012 was a banner year at the Chicago Estate.  The Duchess and I got married, I got a job, got promoted at said job and dropped about 25 lbs. Not sure if that is all related to giving up fried food, after the one thing I learned in Pysch 101 is that correlation does not prove causation.  I'm not kidding that's the only thing I remember from that class.  Well that, and the teacher really, really, really liked experiments involving mice.
So the number one question I get from Christmas to the New Years is "What are you giving up next year?"  (followed closely by, "Who are you choosing in your Death Pool", but that's a story for another time). The answer this year - nothing.  That's right I'm giving up giving up things. There was just nothing that came to mind when I was thinking about a 2013 challenge   Not that I put a lot of time into it since I really planned on the world ending in December (guess I shouldn't have spent January's rent money on hookers and blow), but when the choices came down to giving up bread (a challenge I've failed twice) and going vegetarian (not going to happen) I figured it was time to take a different track.
Instead of giving something up every day I'm going to do something every day.  Everyday, from now until December 31st, 2013 I plan on writing something.  Some of it will end up here on this blog, some might end up on a Tampa Bay Lightning based website and some will stay private.  Sorry, the epic novel I'm writing about cats taking over the world isn't quite ready for the public yet. Even if it's just a couple of paragraphs or a revision of something that i had previously jotted down I want to see if i can maintain a dedicated work ethic in regards to this writing thing.  Already it started out with a bit of a challenge as I started jotting these notes down at 11.55pm, but hey it counts.  
I also want to see if I get any better as a writer. I guess that actually is the number one goal. If I really dedicate myself to this craft, can i get better? Shutting down for about three months helped clear my mind (and the number of site visits on the ol' blog) and now I'm writing because I want to, not because I feel obligated to. Forcing myself to write through any blocks that I encounter throughout this year will probably be the most difficult part of the process, but who knows what it will produce.  Some of the pieces that I enjoy the most started out as nothing more than stream of consciousness ramblings.
There's also the part of my mind that wonders how many words I can actually write in 365 days.  I'm not sure if I'll publish a word count or not (this page is cluttered enough as it is, but I'll be working on that as well), but I'm sure privately I'll keep a rough estimate of the words that spill out of my brain-hole.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully I'll keep you all entertained somewhat throughout the year.
Oh, and I'll keep you posted on the whole Death Pool thing.....