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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2011-12 Panini Contenders hockey

Posted May 26, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated May 26, 2012 at 09:30 PM

It’s a great feeling when you open a box of cards and get more than what is promised. That was the case when I sampled a hobby box of Panini America’s 2011-12 Contenders hockey set.

Panini promises three autographs in a hobby box, which consists of 18 packs per box and five cards per pack. And while the box I opened did not have the huge splash cards like the four-signature booklets or the signature patch set cards, it did contain four autographs.

So I’d call that exciting.

If you’re a set collector, you will find it relatively easy to finish the 100-card base set. The box I sampled had 82 base cards. If you’re chasing a master set though, that number rises to 260. That’s because after the 100 base cards, you will have to finish off the Cup Contenders cards (numbered 101-150), Contender Legacies (151-160), Calder Contenders (161-200) and Signature Patch cards (201-260).

Three of the four autographs are Calder Contenders, numbered to 800: Adam Larsson of the New Jersey Devils, Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets. All three are signed on the card, as opposed to a sticker signature. That’s a big plus.

The fourth autograph card is also hard-signed — an NHL Ink Contenders Signature card of Ottawa Senators goalie Robin Lehner. This particular card is horizontal and Lehner’s photo is on the left-hand side of the card, giving plenty of room for a large autograph. 

The NHL Ink Contenders Signatures set consists of 70 solo autograph cards, plus 20 duals and 20 trios.

It was nice to pull a Contenders Legacies card of current Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman (numbered to 999), who is shown hoisting the Stanley Cup after his Detroit Red Wings won the title.

The other three cards also were numbered to 999—a Cup Contenders card of Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim) and Calder Contenders cards of Patrick Maroon (Anaheim) and Justin DiBenedetto (New York Islanders). Those cards also are numbered to 999.

The design of the base set is simple, with the top two-thirds of the card featuring an action shot of the player. The bottom third is a rectangular box that contains the player’s name stamped in silver foil, with his number, team logo and conference logo also included. The player’s number is set against a background of one of his team’s primary colors.

It’s a good-looking set, with clear, crisp production and photography. The autographs are not cramped on the card, either. And the possibility always exists for one of the higher-end cards. It’s a good risk.



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