Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hounding Report: Dallas Stars Ice Breaker, September 7

And so, it's finally here.

The start of September was always when you hit the ground running when I worked in the junior hockey world.  It's the same with the hockey autograph world.  I went to North Richland Hills to check out the Lone Star Brahmas and Odessa Jackalopes on Friday night and this morning, it was off to the Galleria in Dallas for the Ice Breaker.

This was my first time going to the Ice Breaker.  Arron had been out to a few before and said the 'graphing was usually pretty easy.  I got to the mall at about 10:15 and was immediately greeted by a fairly long line.  I hoped that 1. This wasn't the only line, 2. The other lines were close by, and 3. The other lines weren't this long.

Part of the goalies' line, taken 15 minutes into the event.
Fortunately, all of those were true-- there were more lines, they were shorter, and they were all close together.  They even handed out a map at 11 showing which players were at which table and where those tables were. I found another line that was significantly shorter and got in it, first stopping for a brief chat and trade with Big Anthony, a reader and commenter.  We finally got around to making a trade we agreed on a few weeks back, with me getting him a Leonys Martin and my Paul Konerko in exchange for a couple set needs-- Jason Arnott and Pierre Turgeon for the 2002-03 Topps Total set. Only 85 more to go!

Spending the next 45 minutes chatting with a few other Stars fans, everything started perfectly on time with our line's players arriving right at 11.  While my line didn't have the Tyler Seguin I was hoping for, it did have Sergei Gonchar, the Stars' newest addition, along with Antoine Roussel.  Gonchar was always one of the best signers when he was with the Capitals and Bruins-- I already had at least 17 cards signed by him, and added four more. I still have a good 20 or 30 unsigned that I bet will be done by the end of the season.  I didn't have any cards of Roussel, but fortunately the Stars provided photos of all the players in attendance and he signed one for me, personalizing it "To Drew" at the top.

Broke out the 2x2 notebook for this. Here's Sergei!
From there, I headed to the next closest line, which had Trevor Daley and Shawn Horcoff.  Horcoff did four cards for me as well.  Said he's really liking Dallas so far in the whole day he's been here-- a little warmer than Edmonton though.  I only had one Daley card left which he signed for me.

Horcoff. The zoom sucks on my old phone's camera
Alex Goligoski and Cody Eakin were next up.  I only had one card of Goligoski and none for Eakin, so I got each on one item-- Eakin of course being on the provided photo.  After their line, I quickly hit up the line of Rich Peverley and Brendan Dillon.  Dillon signed a photo and Peverley four cards. Now he may have just been joking a bit, but Peverley did ask if I was planning on keeping all the cards. I told him I was, that I have a box of 5000 signed cards in my apartment.  At least it's a better question than the "What do you do with these things?" that I've been asked a ton.

At this point, we were an hour in and I had gotten through four of the eight lines.  All that were left were Seguin-Garbutt, Lehtonen-Ellis, Robidas-Jordie Benn, and Cole-Jamie Benn.  Seeing as I already had Lehtonen, Robidas, and Cole (and possibly Benn), I figured I'd hit up the Seguin line.  It was long, but moving reasonably well.  Garbutt signed a photo for me and we talked a little Corpus Christi hockey, as he played there in the CHL and I had been through a few times in the NAHL.

Left side: the Seguin-Garbutt line. Right side: the Jamie Benn-Cole line.
A little on Seguin, he's not exactly known to be the greatest signer ever according to a number of reports. I put four cards on my board and hoped for the best, but was only expecting him to sign one or maybe to smear the hell out of them all.  You could tell he didn't really want to be there signing.  I said I was glad to have him here in Dallas and basically got a deadpan "Yep. Glad to be here." I put my notebook down and he looked at it with almost a little bit of a confused "WHAT SORT OF SORCERY IS THIS?!" look, closing it, looking at the front, and reopening it.  But, he signed all four cards in it. The line only took about 20 minutes to get through. Apparently he was a major dick toward a few other people according to a few other reports I read. Signing a photo for someone he said "Well, I know where THIS is going to end up."

I was planning on heading back over to the Cole-Benn line, but it had been cut off, so I figured I'd at least go for Robidas and Jordie Benn.  I only had a card of Robi, but the line was short so I figured I'd at least add another card and photo before calling it a day.  Breezing through the line, each signed their items for me and I figured that since there was still time, I'd head for the goalie line and hope for the best. Luckily, the line was still open.  The attendant actually said they had just re-opened it a few minutes before, so I was pretty good on my timing.  Making my way to the front, most fans were interested in getting Lehtonen and I think Ellis was a little surprised that I went for him and had four cards.  He signed each one.  He's in his second stint now with the Stars, said he was glad to be back once again.  I think he'll be great as Kari's backup.  The Stars need a solid one to rest him occasionally.

I got over to Kari and even before signing my cards, he handed me one of the signed photos-- a nice little bonus.  I told him I had family in his home land of Finland, though at the opposite end up around the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi and Kemijarvi.  He said "Wow, that's up there. Are they getting snowed on yet?" He signed all four cards I had in addition to the photo.

I figured since I was able to get in the goalies' line, maybe they would re-open the Cole-Benn line, so I quickly got over there.  The ropes were closed off and an attendant was standing there, so Ifigured my chances were slim. With a slightly dejected look, I turned to leave and she asked if I had been through that line, and I said no, it was the only one I missed. She opened the rope and said they could take a few more. Boom. Jedi mind trick. Except these WERE the droids I was looking for.

I only had two cards of Benn, and after posing for a photo with the guy in line in front of me he signed them.  I had four of Cole, all of which he signed while chatting with a fan who went to school in his hometown of Oswego, NY.

Overall, a highly successful day. Including the trade with Anthony, I ended up with 41 autographs on cards and photos.  I will need to restock on a number of players before Thursday if possible. At least before Friday. I still have pucks for Seguin and Horcoff as well as a number of others for future outings, hopefully for other teams.  For the record, the pucks I have here are...

Stars white
Stars black
Bruins (2; one for Seguin)
Oilers (Horcoff)
2007 All-Star Game (Briere maybe: he was MVP with a goal and four apples in the 12-9 loss)
Maple Leafs
Flyers (2)
Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup (Teemu Selanne, hopefully)
Kings (1988-98 logo)
Canadiens (John Ziegler signature on back, so 1977-1992)

Afterward I went over to Nick's Sports Cards to try to restock. Unfortunately they didn't have much to help me. I got some Jamie Benn cards and a jumbo pack of 13-14 Score (from which I pulled a Cody Eakin) but aside from that, not a whole lot. I stopped at Triple Cards in Plano last weekend and got a few there, but they were limited too. Hockey just isn't a big sport for collectors in Texas.  The owner at Triple did say he should be getting a lot in over the next few weeks. I might go by there again on Thursday afternoon.

I did luck out and find a pretty nice Marc-Andre Fleury card for 50 cents in their hockey boxes. It's a 2011-12 Donruss Elite Status, numbered 81/99.

I've mentioned before how much I like 'graphing hockey more than baseball. This event should show why. When even the (potentially) toughest guy signs four cards for you, it beats the hell out of the worst ones in baseball who just pretend you don't exist.

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