However, now that I've decided to start up a Blackhawks All-Time Roster Collection, that tune has changed.
The mythical land, finally mapped out
Plus, since the genesis of that idea, I have come across not one, but two full dimeboxes of hockey cards from which to build a steady base. I detailed my first encounter with the hockey province of Dimeboxdonia here; this second particular run-in occurred at the New Lennox branch of local trading card chain Baseball King.
For .10 a pop, there were actually three full boxes of non-Blackhawk hockey cards to be picked from. Luckily, since I accept any card of those who have played for Chicago's sports team, with preferential treatment given to those who are shown with the correct uniform, this was not a deterrent.
Let's review my findings from this surprisingly vast and strange land:
The first card to catch my eye was this Artem Anisimov, though you might not have been able to tell thanks to that ever-present chromium finish found on today's cards.
The only current Hawk of my bunch, this card shows the center before his involvement in the much-maligned trade of Brandon Saad to Columbus. In nine games with Chicago, he's scored 3 goals with 4 points overall - pretty effective when he's on the ice.
Next up, a couple of names from a recently bygone era, courtesy of a brand I quite enjoyed on the baseball side of things. I'm glad to see that SP wasn't limited to baseball; as a relative newcomer to collecting non-baseball, these (probably) common pieces of knowledge are new and exciting to me.
Fleury, the former Flames great, flamed out his long career with one controversy-filled campaign in Chicago (2002-03), which saw him involved in drunken brawls and substance abuse scandals. But, he was still a Blackhawk, no matter how short and ineffective his tenure.
Gilmour is another great for whom Chicago was just a blip on the radar; but, he stopped through the Windy City from 1998-2000 during the course of his 20-year career.
We have one more SP Authentic, this one featuring a player from a much more bygone era. Ted Lindsay might be more identified with the Redwings; but the Hall of Famer was traded to Chicago as a result of his spearheading an effort to unionize the players. His acquisition, along with Glenn Hall and the emergence of prospects you might know named Hull, Mikita and Pilote, represented a return to relevance for the franchise.
Lindsay helped to build the foundation that allowed the Hawks to win the Stanley Cup in 1961, the season after which he ended up back in Detroit. It was to be their last title until 2009-10 and you know how it's gone since then.
Speaking of which, here are a couple of men who played prominent roles in the dynasty of the decade. Campbell was only around for the first of the three Stanley Cup wins; however, he was a fan favorite and was tough as hell. He came back from a broken rib, caused by a dirty Alexander Ovechkin hit, in March in time for the first round of the playoffs, despite being expected to miss 7 to 8 weeks. That's a hockey player, right there.
Also, I absolutely love that ticket stub design from Panini Contenders - well done! As a primarily baseball collector, it's kind of weird seeing Panini products with actual team logos.
Andrew Ladd was another fan favorite, but he was traded away immediately after the first Cup win as a result of salary cap considerations. *Sigh,* such is the nature of this sport.
Antti Niemi was the surprise hero of the 2009-10 Blackhawks quad. After having spent the entire season as the backup to Cristobal Huet, Niemi was given the starting gig shortly before the playoffs began as a result of Huet's increasing inability to keep the puck out of the net.
All Antii did was post two shutouts and stop nearly everything that came his way, helping to pave the way for Chicago's first title in 40+ years. Unfortunately, as a result of his Tom Brady-like emergence from the shadows, he played himself out of the Blackhawks price range and he too was lost due to salary cap restrictions that off-season.
Again, major props to Panini for that ticket stub design; I will always love that motif on any card for any sport.
Kopecky was anoter key piece of that championship drought-quenching team; in 17 postseason games, he tallied six points, 8 PIM, one game-winning goal and a shooting percentage of 14.3%. He stuck around for the near-miss next season before departing for Florida.
Brad Richards was a mercenary for last years title winners. The former Conn Smythe Trophy winner was brought on to solidify the Blackhawks line. However, he was a bit cold, only scoring 12 goals in 76 contests. He's a Redwing now, having promptly moved on right after the season concluded.
Here we have last year's two big reinforcements. Antoine Vermette came over from Phoenix late in the campaign and promptly did nothing, scoring exactly 0 goals in 19 games. However, after being a healthy scratch in an early playoff game, a fire was lit underneath of him and he ripped off 4 goals and 7 points the rest of the way. Then, he went back to the Coyotes - I guess he's quite fond of Arizona.
Kimmo Timonen, on the other hand, was really a non-factor the whole way. After having lost a significant of time due to blood clots in both of his lungs and his legs, he was traded to Chicago almost immediately after his return. Clearly a shadow of his former self, he did nothing the rest of the way. However, the 20-year veteran was able to end his career with a Stanley Cup win - so, there's that.
A couple of big names who moved on just before the Blackhawks became a powerhouse. Havlat's Hawks tenure ended the year before in a nasty contract dispute. He was with St. Louis earlier this year after a successful tryout; however, he quickly left the team after only 3 games or so for unspecified personal reasons.
I will always remember sitting in the kitchen and scarfing down my breakfast before school, as the channel 9 news played in the background and I heard that the Hawks signed Nikolai. It's not because I was excited about the signing or that it was really all that significant of a move, I just thought he had a supremely cool name. Go ahead, say it a few times - you know you agree.
They weren't all significant names though, as these to OPC cards will attest to. I find it interesting that despite being depicted on the same team, the cards' colors are completely different. Interesante.
Brandon Pirri was around for a few years as minor league depth, coming up for a few games every year from 2010-14; so, while he was technically a part of a Stanley Cup winner, he was only there for a solitary, regular season game.
Meanwhile, I have no memory of Olsen putting on a Blackhawks uniform, though apparently he got into 28 games in the 2011-12 season. I mostly picked up his card because he shares a name with one of the neighbor kids who lived on my street as I was growing up. That Dylan Olsen was more of a soccer cat though.
Carter Hutton is another short-term player who I was able to uncover; he played in all of one game for the franchise, getting between the pipes and allowing three goals in a loss to St. Louis late in March of 2013. He's still with Nashville, serving as the main backup to Pekka Rinne, which means he doesn't get a whole lot of action.
While he may be a fairly insignificant goalie, I sure do enjoy this photo selection. Was the camera on the goal itself? That's a rather unique, in-game view of the most important position on the ice.
While I was able to walk away with a few more cards (I ended up with +/- 35 in total), these were my favorites of the bunch. At the time, the purchase nearly doubled my hockey card stash for less than the cost of a McDonald's meal - and these are much better for my health.
They might be shown with the wrong teams; but, when one is gifted with a chance to visit the hockey province of Dimeboxdonia, one does not quibble over such discrepancies. These finds will eventually be upgraded with cards of the proper duds, in due time.
In the meantime, I'll have to make sure that I keep my passport up-to-date, just in case I have the opportunity to visit this fleeting, magical land again.