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2000-01 Topps Gold Label Hockey Review

Prior to this post, have you ever noticed that the title of every box break of mine has had the word “baseball” in it? Since those previous breaks had been exclusively baseball, there surely had to be a reason for it, right? You don’t see the word “baseball” in the titles of breaks done by say, Field of Cards for example. Why would I bother?

Truthfully, when I started this blog nearly 2 years ago, the intent was to make this a multi-sport box breaking blog. I planned to review older baseball, hockey, and even occasional football boxes. When I started blogging, I made it a point to put the word “baseball” in each title as I was new and people didn’t know what to expect of me. Since then, I’ve made sure to keep the formula of each title consistent with the rest. However, shortly into the blogging adventure, I dropped the football idea and had trouble finding good deals on old hockey boxes that I actually wanted to break, leading the blog to be exclusively baseball. I know that was an unnecessarily long intro so I’ll cut it here. Here is the long, long overdue debut of hockey to OSB…

Box Details: 24 packs per box, 5 cards per pack, $29
Baseball Card Exchange

Base set (Class 1): As was the case with baseball, in 2000, Topps fractured the Gold Label set into Classes 1, 2, and 3, with 1’s being the most common and 3’s being the rarest. The card’s Class is listed on both sides. On the front (click scan to enlarge), you’ll see it listed in the area hosting the nameplate and Gold Label logo. There are 100 short set cards followed by 15 shortprinted rookies, each numbered to 999. This structure is similar to the one used in 2001 Gold Label Baseball. This box yielded 64 short set cards (64%) with 22 doubles and 2 triples. Good grief. I also pulled 2 of the shortprinted rookies: Justin Williams (392/999) and Alexandre Kharitonov (206/999). These rookies are seeded 1 in 14 packs.

It didn’t hit me until after I scanned this trio of cards that I put Justin Williams next to Saku Koivu. For those that don’t remember their little playoff incident, read about halfway down.

Class 1 Gold (1:6 packs, numbered to 399): All cards from all 3 Classes are mirrored by a gold parallel with varying print runs. The Class 1 Golds are numbered to just 399, of which I pulled 4: Evgeni Nabokov (201/399 – reserving for Fuji), Brad Richards (131/399), Alexei Yashin (074/399) and Patrik Stefan (276/399).I chose not to include Stefan in the scan for two reasons: 1) I wanted to limit scans to 3 cards or less and 2) If you Google his name, check out the video results. Patrik has the puck and breaks away towards an empty net. Hilarity ensues. Yeah, you wouldn’t show his card either. Oh, and yay for bad Islander trades. Alexei Yashin was dealt to NY in one of the worst deals of the decade, giving Ottawa two future stars in Zdeno Chara and Jason Spezza. There will be more mentioning of crazy transactions from the Island later…

Class 2 (1:4 packs): Class 2 cards are a slightly tougher pull and fall at a rate of 6 per box. My pulls: Sergei Fedorov, Miroslav Satan, Mark Messier, Byron Dafoe, Jason Allison, and Valeri Bure.

For the longest time, I wanted Miroslav Satan to somehow end up a New Jersey Devil. And for the non-hockey fans, no, his name is not actually pronounced that way.

Class 2 Gold (1:7 packs, numbered to 299): Class 2 Gold parallels fall 3 per box and are numbered to just 299. I pulled 3 veterans, all with ties to New Jersey, and 1 rookie. My vets were Martin Brodeur (069/299), Brendan Shanahan (237/299), and Jeff Friesen (075/299 – not pictured). Score!! It’s not very often that I actually pull something I need for my PC, but that Marty was my favorite pull of this box. Class 2 Gold rookies are numbered to just 66 and fall just 1 in 219 packs! Once again, I had the pleasure (not so much) of pulling Alexandre Kharitonov (14/66). For the record, the Class 1 and Class 3 Gold rookies are numbered to 99 and 33 respectively. But you’ll see this later…

Class 3 (1:8 packs): Finally, Class 3 cards are the rarest and are seeded 3 per box. I pulled Steve Yzerman, Jaromir Jagr, and Jeremy Roenick.

All of my Class 3 cards came from the very last 3 packs of this box and talk about lucky! Out of a field of 100 random players, my 3 were Stevie Y (who was a no-brainer HOF choice and director of Team Canada 2010), Jagr (obvious HOFer #2), and JR (terrific player, but HOF worthy? Ehh, maybe not). Still, that’s 4,570 career points between the group.

Class 3 Gold (1:11 packs, numbered to 199): Here’s the last parallel, at least for now. Class 3 Golds fall about 2 per box. I pulled the 2 you see in the scan, plus a third I’ll reveal at the end of this review. Here we have Alex Kovalev (139/199) and Jeremy Roenick (137/199).

I don’t think there are enough background Rangers in this scan, do you?

Golden Greats (15 cards, 1:5 packs): Brett Hull, Joe Sakic, John LeClair

Pretty shiny gold. Here’s a prime example of how strange the collation of this box was. According to the odds, I should’ve pulled 5 of these. I got 3. It gets better though…

Behind the Mask (10 cards, 1:7 packs): Mike Richter, Curtis Joseph x2

Here are some more great looking inserts, but why did I need 2 of Curtis Joseph? Why didn’t I get 1 of the other 8 netminders I didn’t have instead?  Better yet, why didn’t Topps just replace Richter with another Cujo and minibip me? Sheesh.

Bullion (10 cards, 1:21 packs): Detroit (Yzerman/Shanahan/Fedorov) and Phoenix (Roenick/Tkachuk/Numminen)

New Generation (15 cards, 1:14 packs): Marian Hossa

Some of you may have seen the Bullion insert in baseball. In any case, each card features 3 core players from a given team. The New Generation insert comes off as green from the scan, but I’d say the color most resembles that of 2008 Spectrum baseball. Somehow, the card still looks decent and the player depicted isn’t too shabby either.

Gold Label Jersey (6 cards, 1:37 packs):
Peter Forsberg

As if all the Gold Label goodness above wasn’t enough, I managed to find a jersey card in this box. The box makes no guarantees regarding “hits,” but with jersey cards falling 1 in 37 packs and autographs (10 cards) falling 1 in 57, it seems likely that you’d hit one or the other. This Foppa was a nice hit. Hmm. There are only 6 cards to chase and one of them is my man, Martin Brodeur. I’m thinking I’ll put this little set together.

At last, the final card of the box. Remember what I said earlier about “crazy transactions from the [Long] Island” and that there was one more Class 3 Gold card to show? Well, here it is: a Class 3 Gold Rookie Rick DiPietro (16/33) of the New York Islanders. DiPietro, an All-Star 2 seasons ago, was the #1 pick of the 2000 draft (ahead of Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik, who happens to be the standout rookie from this set). Rick struggled mightily in his first year (3-15, 3.49 GAA), but after a couple of years of polishing in the AHL, found his permanent home in the big leagues by 2003. In 2006, following his first 30-win season, the Isles signed him to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract. Seriously. He posted career numbers that following season, but a surgically repaired knee and a variety of injuries have led to him playing a total of 13 games since the beginning of the 2008-09 season.

Anyway, the reason I chose to showcase this card last was because this falls into the “Why Couldn’t I Have Pulled This Back Then?” category along with my 2000 Bowman Chrome Rick Asadoorian and 1999 Bowman Chrome Corey Patterson rookie refractors. Not only was this a card of the #1 pick in the draft, but it was numbered to just 33 copies. That means virtually nothing today, but back then, this would’ve been huge. Heck, pulling anything numbered to 50 or lower was quite a feat. Class 3 Gold rookies fall only 1 in 438 packs!

Final Thoughts/Grades:

Collation: D
Wow, where do I begin? The collation was simply ridiculous. In some cases, it worked out in my favor. Instead of pulling a couple 1:5 Golden Greats, I found very rare Gold rookies numbered out of 66 and 33! In addition, I got 1 more Bullion card than I normally would. On the other hand, 37.5% of Class 1 base cards I needed came in doubles or triples and bip jokes aside, I got duped on an insert. As someone who likes to collate most base sets (and sometimes some of the small inserts) from the boxes he breaks, this drives me nuts.

Condition: A
Like I mentioned in past Gold Label reviews, these glossy cards tend to come from packs very clean though sometimes they’ll stick together in packs. This time around, I didn’t encounter very much of that at all, for which I’m grateful.

Pulls: A+
This box certainly wasn’t short on the starpower! Great names overall in this loaded box, but the Brodeur and SP DiPietro (and to a lesser extent, Forsberg) really did it for me. I got way more than I could’ve anticipated.

Value: A+
This was the first box of its kind I’ve seen in quite a while so I’m not exactly sure what these would normally sell for nowadays. For $29 plus shipping, it’s definitely worth a shot, but I’m not sure you’d be able to find it for that cheap elsewhere (in fact, Baseball Card Exchange no longer lists these for sale last I checked). For the record, this box came to me with original price tags of $130 and $107 scratched out with $29 placed over them. Hell yeah! If you do happen to find a box of this stuff at a price point you’re comfortable with, by all means go for it. Honestly, I can’t think of another break that was this much fun.

Overall Grade: A-

Technically, I guess those grades should average to a B/B+ or so, but who cares, it was one of my all-time favourite breaks.

A Huge, Huge Surprise!

I like to think of myself as a very generous person and I know that I’m not the only one in the blogosphere who thinks so. However, my generosity pales in comparison to that of a man named Tim, who left me a message a week ago claiming he had a “surprise” for me involving my favorite hockey player, Martin Brodeur. When I received this message, I was expecting no more than a few cards or an oddball item or something similar. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Three days after sending him my address, I received a small box in the mail. Inside was a note from Tim, stating that he had a lot of Brodeur cards that he had saved for a few years and that he wanted me to have them. Rather than sending me a few cards, Tim sent me a lot containing ONE HUNDRED cards, all of the New Jersey Devils’ goaltender. The card years ranged from 1992-93 to 2000-01. Below are some samples of cards that were brand new to my collection.

The lot also left me with several doubles that I will use for tradebait. Overall, my Martin Brodeur collection has now reached 631 different cards. Here are scans of some of the doubles from the lot.

Once again, thank you so much Tim for this wonderful package and for continuing to read my blog! You don’t know how much this had made my week.

P.S. If Matt my fellow Brodeur collector is reading this, I will e-mail you a list of duplicates shortly.

Last Week’s Mail

Last week, I had some of my best maildays in quite a while. When the boxes for the group break weren’t in my P.O. Box, these cards were. I was able to add about a dozen or so cards to my personal collection. Above are a few of the highlights (from right to left):

1995 Score Platinum Team
2005 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites Relics Rainbow (12/25)
1998 Donruss Signature Century Marks Autograph (0055)

A few quick notes: the Fan Favortes relic looks really strange in the scan. The “gray” bars at the top and bottom of the card are actually a dark red color. The card also has a refractor-like finish and is numbered to just 25. The Century Marks card has a print run of 100 and was one of my most wanted cards. Despite the fact that 100 copies are the quivalent of say 1,000 copies by today’s standards, these cards still go for quite a bit of scratch. A Tony Gwynn recently ended for $85. There are several others in eBay stores with price tags of $25/ea. per common player. I paid $36 for my Paul O’Neill card, which was a little more than my ideal price. Given the fact that these cards rarely pop up (and he was a Yankee during their last “dynasty”)  though, it certainly could’ve been worse.

The final card came from Dave of Fielder’s Choice. I already posted about this card on my other blog here, but I figured I’d post it here also (sorry for the weird cropping) because it features my favorite player and because Artifacts hockey isn’t nearly as much of an eyesore that Artifacts baseball is. I’ll save that rant for another time though.