Tuesday, February 5, 2008
04-05 Upper Deck All-World
I'm not sure why, but I really appreciate ugly and ridiculous hockey cards. Maybe it is because while everyone chases down the latest hot rookie card, I can be just as happy with a bottom of the barrel common card that makes me laugh (and saves me a lot of money). This is why Upper Deck's NHL lock-out year All-World set gets two thumbs up from me.
The set's 90 base cards mostly feature NHL players with their European teams, with a few former European-NHL stars thrown in as well. There are a lot of stars included in the set, but the real star of this set is the garish jerseys these guys are wearing-- some of which would even make race car drivers weep. Among the worst offenders are the Swiss National League's, SC Bern and Zug; the Czech Extraliga's HC Zlin and Pardubice (it is nice to see Kappa clothing on someone who is not trying to sell drugs to me at the bus stop) and Finnish SM-Liiga's Jokerit Helsinki (though to be fair this photo is from the 94-95 lock-out, not that it makes that collar any less ridiculous).
I know that European teams make most of their money from sponsorships, which explains why it looks like they have the yellow pages printed on their jerseys, but surprisingly the team with the highest payroll in Europe during the lock-out, Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Super League, also had the best jerseys. These jerseys wouldn't even be bad for the NHL. It is definitely better than what Anaheim wears.
Five of my favourites:
#27 - Nikolai Khabibulin - Does he always look like this?
#44 - Borje Salming - This photo seems like it would have been from Salming's pre-NHL days, right? But all of his stats that I have found say that he only played for AIK Solna in the early-90's. Could they not afford good cameras, or is something wrong? European readers please let me know.
#55 - Hakaan Loob - He's missing his nice purple bow tie.
#78 - Joe Thornton - The best of the few action shots.
#87 - Igor Larionov - A classic jersey that will make you wish for the days of pre-capitalist European hockey.