Panini Really Captured The Spirit of the Thing.
By Sean McCafferty aka 30ranfordfan
If the play on Dickie Dunn’s immortal words in the title was lost on you, you probably won’t get. If you’ve never described a penalty as “two minutes, by yourself, you feel shame, and then you get free” you might roll your eyes as your read on. If the words “criminal element” don’t immediately make you think of Ogie Ogilthorpe, some of Panini’s best ideas this year were probably an afterthought for you.
If you’ve ever shouted at a friend, while he’s grabbing you a drink “none of that stinkin’ root beer!” I suspect you’ll shortly be nodding in agreement. If you’ve ever encouraged your rec-hockey team to play “Old Time Hockey” like Eddie Shore, you’ll understand where this article is coming from. If you’ve ever had a bus-ride with your minor hockey team, when Slapshot was played on the little TV screens, you might even wonder why it took this long for someone to made these cards.
When Panini began to announce their line up of releases for the 2010-11 Season,it showed that Donruss was one of the early season releases. That it would contain live rookie cards of some of the new season’s top rookies (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Seguin, amoung others) caught many people’s attention right away. With 6 Rated Rookies per box, this was the set that was supposed to be rivalling Upper Deck’s Series 1. Browsing through the checklist, my eyes lit up when I saw a name that was a little more obscure: Michael Ontkean.
Ontkean was part of the Fans of the Game insert set. The fact that he was included with other celebrities like Pamela Anderson, Justin Beiber, and Willa Ford, probably made him the most unknown of the small group. Who is he? He’s an actor. He’s had two fairly well known roles: Sheriff Harry S. Truman in the TV Series Twin Peaks, and Ned Braden in Slapshot.
Both the insert card, and the autographed parallel version shown Ontkean from a still shot of his famed movie roll. Pictured in his Charlestown Chiefs Jersey, these were cards I knew I must have. I purchased a couple of copies of the redemption card, each good for one of the autographed version, and other ten copies of the basic insert. Finally! One of the main characters in a movie that was released in 1977, this is the first time (that I know of) that any of the cast members had been added to a hockey card set.
The other exciting thing? I assumed that they wouldn’t stop with Ontkean.
The next batch of SlapShot themed cards came with the release of Limited, as part of the rookie card subset ‘Phenoms’, where long overdue rookie cards of Dave Hanson (‘Jack Hanson’ in the movie), and Steve Carlson (‘Steve Hanson’ in the movie) were finally made, more than 30 years after their NHL debuts.
In today’s hobby, most players that lace up their skates for an NHL game will end up with a Rookie Card. Both of today’s licensed manufacturers (Panini, Upper Deck) create large subsets of first year players, much to the delight of team collectors, and sometimes to the chagrin of box and case breakers. Back in the late 1970s, or early 1980s? Not very often.
Hanson played 11 games for the Detroit Red Wings back in 1978, and another 22 with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979-80. He also played parts of three seasons in the WHA, totalling only 136 games combined in either of two major professional leagues.
Carlson’s cup of coffee was a little bit bigger. He played 52 games with the Los Angeles Kings in 1979-80, and laced them up for another 173 in the WHA. Interesting fact: his time with the New England Whalers in the WHA, as well as the Edmonton Oilers, allows him to lay claim to being the only player in hockey history to be a teammate of both Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.
After the Limited release, I was eagerly anticipating the next run of SlapShot themed cards from Panini. It took until their final release of the season before we saw anymore.
With the first instalment of Panini’s premium release, Dominion, their creative team came up with a few real doozies.
Carlson and Hanson were once again included in the rookie subset, and once again they were autographed . Beautiful looking cards, I much prefer these to the Limited ones. They didn’t stop there.
In the ‘Pen Pals’ autographed subset, Panini included two more cards.
Dave Hanson was included in the duals portion of the set, with the second player signing it being his son, Christian Hanson. The younger Hanson is a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, having spent time with both the big club, and their AHL affiliate Marlies, over the last few seasons.
Then there was the triple that I’ve been waiting for, for a very long time. Dave and Steve were back on another card, but this time Steve’s brother Jeff was also included. Autographs of all three Hanson Brothers, one card. Love it. Limited to 25 copies. Absolutely love it! The price may not be too high – but since adding this triple autograph to my collection, it’s easily one of my favourite 10 cards (outside my Ranford collection).
Finally, the guys at Panini came up with what is (IMO) one of the crown jewels of their releases this year: A Paul Newman cut signature. Newman, of course, played the legendary role of player / coach Reggie Dunlop. He died back in 2008, so it was nice to see someone finally make a hockey card of this guy, even if it was a 1/1 that was way out of my price range.
Some of my absolute favourite cards from the 2010-11 season, I really hope Panini can follow these up with some more this year. I realize that any new slapshot cards will likely mean more Hansons, but I can’t believe I’m the only collectors who would love to add autographs of Dave ‘Killer’ Carlson, Denis Lemieux, or even Tim ‘Dr Hook’ McCracken to their collections. Autographs aside, a 30 (or so) card insert set featuring the more notable faces from the movie (I think) would be a hit!
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