Monday, December 26, 2022

Gifts n' Goals

While I was spending my blogging time on the Young Guns Chronicles, Alex Ovechkin was busy passing Gordie Howe for #2 on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list.

I'd share my thoughts on The Great Eight and The Gr8 Chase, but I'm already dishing out more NHL posts than anyone wants to read, so I'll skip that. Plenty of other topics to cover anyhow.

Just before Christmas I received a small bubble mailer from Dennis and a very surprising PWE from Gavin.

You've probably seen Gavin's 1991 Fleer creations pop up in your mailbox or on your blogroll. I received this Wade Boggs card almost immediately after reading this post. (There was another card included but I was instructed not to share.) The coin was a gift from Dennis, who also sent me two Whalers autographs:

And an Immaculate Collection Rookie Cleats card of ArDarius Stewart, which I'd requested from one of his tradebait posts.

I've added this to my updated Immaculate Collection tally, which you can view under my blog header. All of my pages have been updated, btw.

Since I didn't receive any sports card gifts from the family - not that there's a card shop nearby or anything - here's a few things I couldn't fit into prior posts, just to wrap up the 2022 collecting year:

I kind of planned an entire post around Mikaela Shiffrin, but Matt at Cards Over Coffee beat me to it. Great minds think alike, eh? It's cool to see another Shiffy fan on the blogs. (Is her nickname Shiffy? It should be.) Here are the scans anyhow. I picked these up earlier in the year:

Then I added these later in the year:

Now if I'm correct, this is 18 different Mikaela cards - not counting the Sports Illustrated single I wrote about before the 2018 Winter Olympics. But I guess not every single you see here is listed on TCDB, because they're only giving me credit for 16. Ah well. 

These beauties are headed for my Women on Cards binder, along with the Paige Spiranac singles I scooped up on COMC, non-sports celebs, and other great female athletes. While I'm on the subject...

Why doesn't Sydney McLaughlin have any cards? She's only the most dominant track and field athlete in the world. Get on it, Upper Deck!!

No, no... Sydney with a 'Y'. As in 'Y' hasn't Sports Illustrated for Kids included her in a set? We don't need you to make more Davante Adams or Bo Bichette cards!

One of my goals for 2023 will be to clear out the remaining 700+ cards in my trade bait box and flip them for some set fillers and other cards that fit my collection. I didn't get a chance to show off my final completed trade of 2022, and my 545th TCDB transaction overall, but here it is:

That's 1995 1st overall pick Ki-Jana Carter in the old Redslurs uniform, with a Packers logo in the top right corner as rare cardboard proof of his tryout with Green Bay. I could swear that Eric Dickerson was in Packers camp at the end of his career, but maybe he was just offered a tryout and decided to retire instead? [Editor's note: he was acquired by GB but failed a physical.]

Once I reorganize my boxes and binders I'll give you all a tour - perhaps in video form 🤔

My other goals for the upcoming year will be:
  • Make more progress on my 1956 Topps setbuild. With four more graded cards I'll cross two major milestones: 60% set completion, and 200 PSA-slabbed singles.
  • Finish at least five sets. I've got about 15 set builds near completion, and maybe ten of them are realistic. 2022 Topps and 1993 Diamond Kings will be trade targets for sure, along with 1990-91 Skybox basketball.
  • Start a new (non-card) collection. My inner child has been screaming at me to get back into Starting Lineup figures. I was so psyched to hear that a reboot was going to be released... but the price point was a major letdown. I've got a closet full of McFarlane figures I can't give away. Why would I spend $50 on a Luka Doncic figure when I can pick up 5-10 classic SLUs and relive my childhood?

Eight year-old me ripped the base off of Dave Righetti and Fernando Valenzuela, so I used some tape to stand them upright. Perhaps I'll share more about my SLU collection in a recurring series here - if there's interest?

My main objective is to spend less time on COMC/TCDB, less time sorting and acquiring cards, and more time enjoying what I've already accumulated. Because there is another kind of Chronicles to complete....

Thanks for reading!


Friday, December 23, 2022

The Young Guns Chronicles Part 3: Lockout to Lockout

Rising from the ashes of the lost 2004-05 NHL season, Upper Deck used its new exclusive license to produce 19 mainstream hockey card sets in 2005-06. Some were legacy properties acquired by the company - including Fleer and Parkhurst. Some were brand new products, such as Artifacts and the ground-breaking, game-changing, ultra-high end release The Cup.

And long ago somebody left with The Cup..

High-end and low-end releases alike were gobbled up by hockey card collectors. The perfect storm of an unprecedented labor dispute, an exclusive license, and a pair of generational prospects entering the NHL allowed Upper Deck to take full advantage of the "double rookie class." Unsurprisingly, the flagship series exploded in popularity and has produced two iconic rookie cards that currently sell for well over $1,000 each.

2005-06 Upper Deck
base set: 487 cards
Young Guns: 87 cards

Arguably the most popular modern hockey card set ever released thanks to a treasure trove of inserts and Young Guns rookie cards. Each series contained 200 base cards, though Series One had 42 Young Guns at the end and Series Two added 45 for a total of 87 rookies - Sidney Crosby's jersey number. Coincidence? (probably not.)
To sweeten the pot, Upper Deck added a "Where's Sidney?" Easter Egg hunt, prompting eagle-eyed collectors to seek out the Sidney Crosby logo on various items and websites in exchange for a Crosby prize pack

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry, Dion Phaneuf, Zach Parise, Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Ward, and Duncan Keith in Series One. Alex Ovechkin, Jeff Carter, Mikko Koivu, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Suter, Thomas Vanek, and Spittin' Chiclets co-host Ryan Whitney in Series Two. Yeah, this set was loaded.

Who's that guy? With that list of notable names it's much tougher to pull a dud from this set than usual. Still, unless you're building the set (or you're a hardcore team collector) it would be disappointing to chase Crosby or Ovechkin and end up with Jeff Hoggan, Barry Tallackson, Greg Jacina, or Timo Helbling. Obscure goalie cameos include Adam Berkhoel (9 NHL games), Dimitri Patzold (3 games) and Jordan Sigalet (one game).

Forgetting someone? If Upper Deck hadn't planned to produce exactly 87 Young Guns, perhaps they would have included Mark Streit and Pekka Rinne. Both players debuted in 2005 and were included in other Upper Deck issues such as SP Authentic and Ultimate Collection. Rinne in particular is a major reason I spotlight players who didn't get Young Guns rookie cards. 

Forgetting someone? (Part two) Was Mike Green's rookie card included in the base (non-YG) portion because the Capitals didn't have enough notable veterans to fill out the checklist? Or because four Caps Young Guns would have been overkill? Or because UD was determined to limit themselves to 87 YGs? 

2006-07 Upper Deck
base set: 495 cards
Young Guns: 95 cards

The '05-06 edition was a tough act to follow, but Upper Deck continued using their successful formula of 200 base cards in each series. This time, Series One contained 50 Young Guns while Series Two's YG pool was shortened to 21 to match Evgeni Malkin's jersey number. I'm kidding. (There were 45 rookies in S2.)

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Phil Kessel, Dustin Byfuglien, Paul Statsny, Anze Kopitar, Shea Weber, Travis Zajac, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Joe Pavelski, Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

Who's that guy? This was one of the few post-lockout Upper Deck sets I didn't attempt to complete, specifically because of the sheer volume of random obscure players in the Young Guns subset. For every Malkin, Kopitar, or Pavelski there are at least four guys like Martin Houle, Carsen Germyn, Alexei Kaigorodov, Masi Marjamaki, Konstantin Pushkarev, David McKee, Mike Card, and so on. I swear these are real players.

Forgetting someone? Upper Deck included those guys but they didn't put Ryan Callahan, Joel Ward, or David Backes in their flagship set? At least Backes had RCs in SP Authentic and Ultimate Collection.

2007-08 Upper Deck
base set: 500 cards
Young Guns: 100 cards

Okay, now we've arrived at the set that starts the tradition of 200 base cards/50 Young Guns/200 base cards/50 Young Guns. A perfectly tidy set size that Upper Deck should never fuck with. [Spoiler alert: they're gonna fuck with it.]

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrick Kane, Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Nicklas Backstrom, Tuukka Rask, Jonathan Toews.

Who's that guy? Upper Deck was stretching the 'Young' part of their title with Jaroslav Hlinka, a 31 year-old veteran of the Czech league who played for the Avalanche in 2007-08, then returned to play in his home country. 2004 lottery pick Lauri Tukonen (11th overall) played five games for the Kings before returning to his native Finland. Your obligatory Flames backup goalie is Matt Keetley, who made a grand total of two saves in nine minutes of NHL action.

Forgetting someone? Steve Downie debuted for the Flyers on December 5th 2007. He was included in Series Two. The next day, a 21 year-old goaltender from Milford, Connecticut made his NHL debut. Don't tell me Jonathan Quick missed the cutoff for inclusion. Upper Deck simply whiffed on this future Conn Smythe winner and two-time Stanley Cup champ. 

2008-09 Upper Deck
base set: 500 cards
Young Guns: 100 cards

Since there's no changes in set composition to report (yet) let's take a look at which teams have the most - and least - Young Guns rookie cards in each set.

Most Young Guns RCs: Blue Jackets (9)

Least Young Guns RCs: Blackhawks (0)

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Blake Wheeler, Jakub Voracek, James Neal, T.J. Oshie, Drew Doughty, Claude Giroux, Alex Pietrangelo, Steven Stamkos, Semyon Varlamov, Josh Bailey

Who's that guy? Every Young Guns subject in this set played at least three NHL games. Blue Jackets forward Adam Pineault played that many games in 2007-08. Goalie Dan Taylor did one better - but it took him ten years to earn his fourth (and final) NHL appearance.

Forgetting someone? Max Pacioretty made his NHL debut on January 2, 2009 - just missing the cutoff for flagship inclusion. "Patches" appeared in late-season Upper Deck sets such as SP Authentic, Ultimate Collection, and The Cup. Social media personality Paul Bissonnette (Whitney's co-host on "Spittin' Chiclets") debuted on Opening Night, but UD passed on giving him a Young Guns RC.

2009-10 Upper Deck
base set: 500 cards
Young Guns: 100 cards

A parade of top draft picks who quickly became NHL superstars increased demand for Upper Deck hockey cards and Young Guns in particular. (Kane wasn't one of them; I just wanted to show an Atlanta Thrashers card.) Collectors would have plenty more prospects to chase as the 2010s arrived.

Most Young Guns RCs: Avalanche (8)

Least Young Guns RCs: Hurricanes (0), Blue Jackets (0), Coyotes (0) Columbus must have emptied out the cupboard the year prior, going from the most rookies in the set to none.

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: John Tavares, Victor Hedman, Erik Karlsson, Jamie Benn, Ryan O'Reilly, Brad Marchand, Logan Couture, John Carlson, Braden Holtby

Who's that guy? Danny Irmen, Alexander Salak, Brian Salcido, and Kris Chucko played two NHL games each, but only Chucko was a first round pick -- by the Flames. Grant Lewis, Perttu Lindgren, and Riku Helenius each played one NHL game. Helenius, a goaltender drafted by Tampa Bay, was the only first-round pick of the three. Daniel Larsson (Red Wings) is the only dressed-as-a-backup goalie in the set who didn't see NHL action.

Forgetting someone? Not really. Perhaps Jay Beagle could have been included, but you can't fault Upper Deck for overlooking a fourth-line grinder who wouldn't stick on an NHL roster for a full season until 2012-13. This is why 50 Young Guns per series is a winning strategy -- no late-blooming prospects slip through the cracks.


2010-11 Upper Deck
base set: 500 cards
Young Guns: 100 cards

The 2010 NHL Draft was all about Taylor vs. Tyler. Seguin (the #2 overall pick) has won a Stanley Cup, but Hall (#1 overall) earned a Hart trophy as league MVP. Both players currently star for first-place squads and have a near-equal amount of career points. Upper Deck balanced their flagship set by including Hall in Series One and Seguin in Series Two.

Most Young Guns RCs: Devils (10)

Least Young Guns RCs: Red Wings (0), Canucks (0)

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Brayden Schenn, P.K. Subban, Nazem Kadri, Tyler Seguin, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nino Niederreiter, Robin Lehner

Who's that guy? No zero-game goalies in this set, but two netminders (Mark Dekanich and Matt Zaba) saw just one game of NHL action. They're joined by Jamie Arniel, who played one game at forward for the Bruins in 2010. On a personal note, I thought that Zac Dalpe was an obscure one-season wonder, and was stunned to find out that he is still active and is on pace for a career year at age 33.

Forgetting someone? Currently a Devils winger, Tomas Tatar debuted for Detroit on New Year's Eve 2010. Upper Deck included him in SP Authentic and Ultimate Collection but not flagship.

Forgetting someone? (Part two) Ducks rookie Nick Bonino appears in this set twice, with one Young Gun in each series. Was there a shortage of rookies to fill out 50 for Series Two, or did UD actually forget they included him in S1? And if they intentionally repeated a prospect, why would it be Bonino?


2011-12 Upper Deck
base set: 500 cards
Young Guns: 100 cards

The rookie star power dimmed a bit but Upper Deck's popularity marched on. Series One began with Winnipeg Jets - still pictured as Atlanta Thrashers - as the base cards appeared in reverse order alphabetically. (In case anyone was tired of Anaheim always going first.) The Young Guns portion does start with the Ducks and ends with Jets 2.0; Carl Klingberg is the first player pictured in the new Jets' uniform.

Most Young Guns RCs: Predators (7), Flyers (7). Of note, there were no Sabres Young Guns in Series One.. but there were six in Series Two.

Least Young Guns RCs: Bruins (0)

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Justin Faulk, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mika Zibanejad, Mark Schiefele, Ryan Johansen, Gustav Nyqvist, Roman Josi

Who's that guy? Lots of randos in Series Two: Mike Murphy, David McIntyre, Kris Freidheim, Stu Bickel, Carl Sneep, Cade Fairchild, and Bill Sweatt are among the names only hardcore fans would remember. Harri Sateri was included in this set but wouldn't appear in an NHL game until 2018. The Finnish netminder earned a second stint in the NHL (with the Coyotes) after a gold medal-winning performance in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

Forgetting someone? Andrew Shaw was omitted from the base set, but he was given a Young Guns card in the Canvas insert set.

2012-13 Upper Deck
base set: 250 cards*
Young Guns: 50 cards

Just as the flagship Upper Deck hockey set was settling into a nice, dependable rythym... another NHL lockout loomed. Did UD make the same mistake of advertising a 'Series One' when there would be no Series Two? Yes. However, because the 2012-13 NHL season was not cancelled, UD did add another 50 base cards - as inserts in that year's SP Authentic set. No Young Guns rookies were included in this extension.

Most Young Guns RCs: Bruins (5), Wild (5)

Least Young Guns RCs: The Devils, Penguins, Canucks, Capitals, and Jets were all shut out.

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Torey Krug, Tyson Barrie, Reilly Smith, Jason Zucker, Casey Cizikas, Chris Kreider, Jakob Silfverberg, Mark Stone, Jake Allen, Jaden Schwartz. A strong group considering Upper Deck held back several players who debuted in 2013 for another double rookie class in their '13-14 set.

Who's that guy? Minnesota didn't get much mileage out of their five Young Guns. Tyler Cuma, Chay Genoway, and Kris Foucault played one NHL game apiece, while Warren Peters entered just 96 NHL contests. (At least Jason Zucker is still active.)

Forgetting someone? Every qualifying rookie of note that was not included in this set was purposely held back for the 2013-14 edition. That set will start off episode four of this series, which will cover the ten most recent Upper Deck flagship hockey issues.



Thanks for reading, and Merry Christmas to all the trading card collectors out there!


Monday, December 19, 2022

The Young Guns Chronicles Part 2: Crushing the Competition

If you're new to this series you can read part one here.

Upper Deck released a 335-card flagship set in 1999-00, the smallest edition of their signature hockey product. Topps, Pacific, and In The Game were releasing far fewer products than Upper Deck - who owned roughly half of all NHL releases that season.

Six years and five seasons later, there was no competition. Upper Deck was granted an exclusive license to produce NHL trading cards as the league emerged out of the 2004-05 lockout.

Let's take a look at the company's growth over the first half of the decade, and the Young Guns subset's role in UD's domination.

1999-00 Upper Deck
base set: 335 cards
Young Guns: 8 cards

The return of Young Guns was a disjointed addition to an underwhelming set. The final 35 cards of Series One were short-printed. However, the Star Power subset seeped into the Young Guns section (or was it the opposite?) Just two of the subjects in the non-sequential Young Guns subset were true rookie cards - #1 overall pick Patrik Stefan and 11th overall pick Oleg Saprykin. 

Stars/HOFers/Fan Favorites in this set: Roberto Luongo, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin.

Who's that guy? Denis Shvidki was drafted 12th overall by the Florida Panthers in 1999. His NHL career lasted just 76 games - the fewest by far among the eight YG subjects in this set. Upper Deck doubled down on Denis, adding a second Shvidki single in the Series Two subset Prospects 2000.

Forgetting someone? Upper Deck's revival of the Young Guns brand highlighted lottery picks in what would prove to be a disappointing '99 NHL entry draft. The fourth-highest scorer from this draft, 212th pick Radim Vrbata, appeared in 1999-00 Topps sets but UD didn't include him in any of their products.

2000-01 Upper Deck
base set: 440 cards
Young Guns: 80 cards

Finally, we have arrived at the point Upper Deck's flagship hockey set and the Young Guns brand takes its current form. (Almost.) The Series One set is comprised of 180 veteran base cards, followed by 50 short-printed YGs inserted at a rate of 1 per 4 packs. Series Two contains 180 veteran base cards, followed by 30 short-printed YGs. All other subsets have been removed from either series.

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Dany Heatley, Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams, Scott Hartnell, Martin Havlat, Marty Turco.

Who's that guy? Damian Surma and Alfie Michaud played just two NHL games. Mike Minard entered just one NHL contest. But at least they made it to the show. Junior-age players could still receive rookie cards before making their debut, a practice that was soon abolished by the Players' Association. Three subjects in this set - Jeff Bateman, Marc-Andre Thinel, and Matt Zultek - never reached the NHL.

Who's that guy? (Part two) The idea of Young Guns is to highlight players at the beginning of their careers. Sometimes Upper Deck recognizes a longtime minor-leaguer who finally made it to the NHL after years of bus riding in the AHL or IHL. And then there's Greg Andrusak, who played nine games for the Maple Leafs in 1999-00 at age 30. It was his fifth (and final) NHL season.

Forgetting someone? Upper Deck could have filled out Series Two's shortened Young Guns subset with players like Shawn Horcoff, Andy McDonald, Mike Comrie, Johan Hedberg, and Ruslan Fedotenko instead of saving them for their Rookie Update product.

2001-02 Upper Deck
base set: 441 cards
Young Guns: 81 cards

We're getting off-track again. This Upper Deck set starts off like the prior year's - 180 veteran base cards, followed by a section of short-printed Young Guns. However, not all of the 51(?!?) subjects were rookies. Fifteen established stars received Young Guns Flashback cards. That was a deviation of the budding brand to begin with, but Upper Deck couldn't even get that right. 

If the idea was to "flash back" to a star player's early years, some of the photos contradict this concept. Roman Cechmanek received a Young Guns flashback card one year after he was a Young Gun. And the veteran stars are interspersed with the newbies - not grouped together at the beginning or end. 

And then there's Jared Aulin.

The NHL Players' Association closed the loophole allowing Upper Deck and other trading card companies to produce cards of players who hadn't yet played in the league. Aulin received a rookie card in '01-02 Upper Deck when he shouldn't have. The card was pulled early in production and replaced with... a flashback of veteran All-Star John LeClair.

Instead of learning from their mistake, Upper Deck leaned into it and produced photo variations for Series Two Young Guns - one set for hobby and one set for retail. So, in addition to producing two different cards for #220 and an odd number of Young Guns subjects (assuming both #220s count as one) every Series Two Young Gun has an alternate photo like the Pavel Datsyuk pictured above. 

And, once again, Upper Deck included just 30 YGs in the Series Two set, rather than the 50 and 50 that has become the standard today. No one even though to create an even 40-40 split back then?

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Aside from the players who were already NHL stars before 2001? Well, there's Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Erik Cole, and uh... Jody Shelley. Kovalchuk appears in the Series One YG portion (curiously at the end of the rookies block) and again in Series Two with a base card usually reserved for veteran players.

Who's that guy? Since Upper Deck was no longer allowed to produce cards of a player until he made his NHL debut, every Young Guns subject saw NHL action by rule. Sean Selmser, Stanislav Gron, and Greg Crozier played just one NHL game each, but this set is filled with several other obscure players with minimal major-league experience.

Forgetting someone? Stephen Weiss snuck into some 2001-02 Update sets after making his NHL debut on his 19th birthday, but it was far too late to be included in flagship Upper Deck. On the other hand, this clown could have qualified.

2002-03 Upper Deck
base set: 456 cards
Young Guns: 81 cards

Like the NHL and its Winter Classic series, Upper Deck took a popular new idea and turned it up to eleven. Subset cards, including Young Guns rookies, had been short-printed in the prior four flagship sets and inserted into packs at a rate of 1:4. That made completing a flagship hockey set challenging but doable.

In 2002-03, Upper Deck upped the ante and brought non-Young Guns subsets back. Fifteen Memorable Seasons SPs were inserted at a rate of 1 per 6 packs. Except...

The last 20 cards in Series One were SSPs, reportedly inserted one per box. Included in this block are the top two Young Guns in the set - Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg - plus ten other RCs and nine more Memorable Seasons singles, like Tony Amonte here. As a result, this is the most difficult flagship UD hockey set to complete by a wide margin. Anyone want to fork over $200 for a Sean Burke base card?

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Rick Nash, Henrik Zetterberg, Tim Thomas, Ryan Miller, Jason Spezza. Oh and this jackass is here.

Who's that guy? Sebastien Centomo and Cody Rudkowsky saw NHL action in one game each. Former Beast of New Haven center Greg Koehler earned a Young Guns rookie card with 46 seconds of ice time for Carolina. That was 46 seconds more than Flames goalie Levente Szuper, whose entire NHL statline is posted on the back of this card. The Hungarian goalie's inclusion in 2002-03 sets was allowed because he dressed as a backup for nine contests. 

Forgetting someone? Cristobal Huet was included in some 2002-03 sets such as Pacific Calder, Parkhurst Retro, and Be A Player. Upper Deck excluded him from their flagship set but included him in Premier Collection and Rookie Update. Craig Anderson (then listed as Andersson) could have been the last active player from the 2002-03 Young Guns class - if UD had included him in this set instead of Artistic Impressions or Honor Roll.


2003-04 Upper Deck
base set: 475 cards
Young Guns: 71 cards

The SSP experiment was quickly discarded, as Upper Deck retreated to the 1 per 4 formula and nixed veteran short prints. A slight interruption of the Series Two Young Guns block included three cards featuring the Heritage Classic (a precursor to the Winter Classic). These cards were not labeled as Young Guns but were short-printed at the same 1:4 odds and listed on the YG checklist closing out the set.

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal, Dustin Brown, Brent Burns, and Marc-Andre Fleury all appear in Series One. Series Two Young Guns include Ryan Kesler and uh.. Trevor Daley.

Who's that guy? Julien Vauclair picked up one 'plus' and one minor penalty with Ottawa in his only NHL game. Seamus Kotyk dressed as a backup goalie for the Sharks but never played. He's now a goaltending coach for Craig Anderson's Sabres. Brent Krahn also received a Young Guns card without entering a game. The Flames' goalie of the future as a top ten pick in 2000 finally suited up for his one and only period of NHL action in 2009 - with the Dallas Stars.

Who's that guy? (Part two)
Just so we're not completely focused on one-game wonders, tell me who this is:

Why, it's Mike Stuart of course! This Young Gun suited up for St. Louis three times, earning no points while committing no penalties and managing exactly one shot on goal. That's one more than you and I ever had, so show some respect for Mark Stuart here.

Oh wait, that's his brother. (Hello, You're forgetting someone!)

Forgetting someone? I'm not saying that adding Tomas Plekanec or Jason Pominville to a lackluster Series Two roster would have helped Upper Deck sell caseloads of these cards... but good God, this checklist is imbalanced.

2004-05 Upper Deck
base set: 210 cards
Young Guns: 30 cards

The collective barganing agreement reached in time to salvage a shortened 1994-95 season expired on September 15, 2004. Owners locked out the players the next day, threatening the 2004-05 season. With no resolution in sight, only four hockey card sets containing current players were released - Pacific's final flagship set and three Upper Deck issues: Ultimate Collection, SP Authentic, and a truncated flagship set.

To fill out the Young Guns subset, Upper Deck went Retro with another round of veteran legends. This time, the photos were more in line with each player's rookie season. Also, the award for oldest subject to be crowned a "Young Gun" goes to Lord Stanley of Preston, who received his rookie card as a seasoned 163 year-old.

Stars/Fan Favorites in this set: LOL. Next question.

Who's that guy? Brad Fast scored a goal in his only NHL contest. Brennan Evans appeared in two playoff games for Calgary in 2004 (what's with all the Flames prospects making this list?) They are the only two true rookies that appear in this set. Some non-playing subjects with less familiar names include Denis Brodeur (photographer/Martin's dad), Bob Goodenow (then-leader of NHL players' union) and Alexander Ragulin, listed as an "All-Star Russian Player" on his Young Guns card.

Forgetting someone? Sharks center Marcel Goc was included in three of the year's four current player sets. The only one that excluded him was flagship Upper Deck. Layne Ulmer, Mel Angelstad, and Garret Stroshein were the only other rookies included in 2004-05 sets. Along with Fast and Evans, those five players appeared in a total of nine NHL contests including playoffs. Meanwhile, Marcel Goc appeared in 699 regular season and playoff games over his 10-year career.

Upper Deck advertised this set as Series One, holding out hope that a resolution between the players and owners could save the 2004-05 season. If an agreement had been made, this set would have had a monster Young Guns checklist for Series Two - a complete inverse of the prior year's offering.

Instead, those rookies would have to wait until the 2005-06 season to make their debut. This backlog would create excitement around the NHL - and one of the most popular hockey card sets ever made.

To be continued....

Thanks for reading!