Amazing surprise from John (Old School Breaks)January 13, 2009 at 3:11 am | Posted in Blogs, Hockey, My Cards | 2 Comments
Last Tuesday, January 6, I was at the RBC Center in Raleigh watching the Carolina Hurricanes beat the New Jersey Devils, 3-2. Later that night, I received an email from John, the blogger behind the awesome Old School Breaks blog and NJ Devils Cards. He asked me about the game and then he said “I was going through a tradebox and came across something sick that I think would look nice in your collection. I really want you to have it.” There’s no way that I’d ever turn down something “sick” for my collection, so I enthusiastically sent him my address and eagerly anticipated the arrival of this mysterious card. I received it in the mail from John today, and here it is:
That is an authentic game-used glove card from the best player in the history of the Hartford/Carolina franchise, and NHL Hall of Famer, Ron Francis! It’s the first game-used glove card that I’ve ever seen. The back of the card reveals that the glove is actually from Francis’ tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1990s. The card is from 2003 Upper Deck SP Game Used Edition and it’s serial numbered 72/99. This is an AMAZING card for a Hurricanes fan like me, and it immediately becomes one of the best hockey cards in my collection!
Simply stated, Ron Francis is one of the very best hockey players of all time. Although he doesn’t get the same attention as a lot of his contemporaries, he is 4th on the all-time NHL scoring list, only behind Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, and Gordie Howe. That’s some pretty good company! He’s #2 all time in assists (behind Gretzky), and #3 all time in games played. He also won 2 Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh and led the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002.
Ron Francis was by far the best player in the history of the Hartford Whalers, the team that eventually moved to Raleigh and became known as the Hurricanes. He played for them from 1981 to 1991, when he was traded to Pittsburgh. I always admired him and followed his career closely when I was growing up because I was born in Connecticut (though I moved to Rochester, NY when I was three weeks old). After the Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, they brought their former captain, Ron Francis, back to the franchise one year later in 1998. I moved down here in 2001 and started following the Hurricanes, and Francis quickly became my favorite player. He retired in 2004, and joined the Hurricanes front office in 2006. A little over a month ago, he was named the “associate head coach” and most fans assume that he’ll eventually replace Paul Maurice as the head coach. Simply stated, Ron Francis is the man for the Hartford/Carolina franchise!
The more that I think about it, the more it irritates me that Upper Deck didn’t include Ron Francis in the Legends Masterpieces set. There were many lesser players who have multiple cards in the set. Francis seems like a glaring admission. Just like in his playing days, he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves.
Anyway, I thank John a ton for sending me this card! I am on the lookout for a good Martin Brodeur card to send to him in return. John also sent a few other cards…
First, a card of Eric Staal, my favorite current Hurricane, from 2005-06 Upper Deck Ice:
The surface of the card looks and feels like ice that has been skated on. The card looks awesome. I’m not sure if the more recent Upper Deck Ice sets are similar, but if they are, then I might have to consider making it the second hockey set that I’m collecting (after Masterpieces).
Of course, John also threw in some “old school” Devil Rays, from sets that I missed during my years away from the hobby. Here’s former Devil Rays pitcher Ryan Rupe from 1999 Fleer Mystique:
The card is serial numbered 1934/2999, and even though you can’t really tell from the scan, it has a very shiny surface.
Next is Kevin “I was traded for Bobby Abreu” Stocker from 2000 Pacific Paramount:
It’s serial numbered 49/50, so obviously it is worth a ton of money today! The foil stamp also informs me that the card was produced on January 19, 2000, which apparently was the “premiere date” for this legendary set!
And finally, here’s Vinny Castilla, on a “United Nations” insert card from 2000 Upper Deck SP Authentic:
Castilla was a very good player for his entire career, with the exception of his stint with the Devil Rays (in 2000 and the beginning of 2001) when he completely tanked. This card is also shinier than what you see in the scan. Interestingly, Castilla is now the manager for the Mexican baseball team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.