Thursday, October 11, 2018
2017/18 Providence Bruins Set Review
I observe two seasons: baseball season and hockey season. I think I've mentioned on this blog that I moved from Philadelphia to New England last summer, and shortly after landing in Small But Mighty Rhode Island, I found myself spending time with a very nice librarian who has turned into a huge hockey fan.
Last year, my librarian friend and I went to at least a dozen games in leagues ranging from the AHL to the Hockey East. We took in games at 5 different rinks; Providence, Worcester, Boston College, Providence College and Boston Pride (NWHL). But I never really got the hockey card bug. Hockey is more an experiential sport for me (though at one point I did have a nice sweater collection that boasted a Mike Liut Whalers sweater and a Lanny McDonald Colorado Rockies sweater).
Back home, sure I grew up on the Flyers. And by the "Flyers", I mean the Rick Tocchet, Ron Hextall era Flyers. I grew up watching line brawls on PRISM before the league introduced the Third Man In Rule. So I bleed orange and black. And the last few seasons the Phantoms were in Philly were the salad days. In fact, I think I saw maybe the last dozen regular season hockey games played at The Spectrum and both first of those incredibly embarrassing first round games against Hershey. I have a great story about my buddy almost getting into a fight against Kjell Samuelsson during one of those playoff games, but that's a tale for another day. I was a great Phantoms fan. There were nights when we would go to Phantoms/Bears games in Hershey and the dozen or so Phantoms fans would out-cheer the home towners at Giant Arena.
But, the Phantoms moved out of Philly, and so did I. I have no real connection to the Phantoms anymore, they're no longer the Neil Little Phantoms. Hell, they aren't even the Jonathan Matsumoto & Pat Maroon Phantoms anymore. So, I did the previously unthinkable. I have changed my hockey allegiance. I am, almost sheepishly, a Providence Bruins fan.
In my defense, I caught every Friday night home game they played last year, and plan on doing the same this year. It's immersion therapy. The best way to learn a foreign language is to just go and be surrounded by people who speak the language, right? So here I am, surrounding myself with people who swallow their R's and call shopping carts "carriages" and rooting for the black & yellow.
See what happens when you date outside your expansion class? Bobby Clarke would rightfully kick my ass.
All that, though, is neither here nor there. This is a team set review. My first hockey set review, and possibly the longest post I've written. Thank you for letting me get all Taxi Cab Confessions with you out of the gate.
I picked up the 2018 Choice Providence Bruins AHL team set on opening night at Dunkin Donuts Center. There were a couple past seasons available as well. The set was wrapped in cellophane, standard fare for minor leagues, and I think it was $10 even at the register (my girlfriend picked up a couple things for herself, so I don't remember).
When I opened the set, the first thing I noticed was the paper stock. Very thin, very pliable, not card stock, more of a very thin photo paper. Not necessarily cheap like some other sets I've reviewed. But just not what I'm used to from a trading card. The design on the front does feel very hockey to me. The upward angle on the graphic elements I'm sure was done to convey some kind of motion, and the grey logo element at the very bottom I'm sure hints at carved up ice. But I think that bottom graphic element (that has the black/yellow/black bar with the player name & position plus the grey bit with the P-Bruins crest) are a little too bulky. I think that could have been done with a bit more agility to free up more real estate for the player photo, which I think is important for hockey because these shots are all being taken from distance of guys wearing helmets with visors. So the bigger you can make that front photo, the easier it is for the fan or collector to see the player's face. Also on the front is the P-Bruins pinwheel logo (which is cleverly appropriated from their Boston parent club, but with the B switched for a P).
I think that was an after thought. The majority of the photos are almost static. It's a lot of "getting ready for a face off" or "coasting after the whistle" poses. In fact, the only photo that has any action is the Sena Acolatse card which features Sena fighting an Bridgeport SoundTiger. The photos themselves are great. They are all very crisp and the exact same coloring, you can tell the same shooter took all the photos with the same camera rig using the same settings and the same post processing. It's nice to have that kind of uniformity in a minor league set. There's also a fair mix of white sweaters vs yellow sweaters. But I know the Bruins also wear a black sweater at home, as well as a blue military appreciation and their very popular Star Wars sweaters. As a promoter/marketer, I would want to see those special occasion sweaters in the team set because it could help sell those sweaters during this year's "off our back auctions". Plus, the Star Wars weekend was the only sell out I saw, and the barn was jam packed with kids.
The backs of the cards are very simple, but well done. A yellow back with black print features the player's name, number, position and relevant basic stats (height, weight, age, hometown, etc. Then there's a handful of facts about each player. That, I think is great. I would have mixed in some more human interest facts, but I like the trivia versus stats, because who really cares what Colby Cave's +/- was in 2017-18?
Bottom line, it's a well done set. Doesn't redefine the genre of trading card, doesn't embarrass itself. Absolutely, middle of the road, acceptable. Worth the $10 if you Put it in a drawer and wait for one of these kids to do some damage up the highway at the big building. Not a must-have set by any stretch, but you won't feel like you crumbled up your money and set it on fire, either.
Pro tip; if you go to a P-Bruins game, park in the south parking structure at the Providence Place Mall. Cross through the breezeway into the hotel, then down past the convention center. If you show up just for the game and don't bop around the mall looking for an Orange Julius, parking is free, and you're never exposed to the elements.