As part of a Black Friday order from Blowout Cards I purchased this box of 2011-12 In The Game Enforcers hockey:
is a unique set in that it focuses on the NHL's tough guys rather than
the scoring stars. It was a controversial release at the time
after the deaths of three such players earlier that year. Many of the
cards have blood-stained backgrounds and depict in-game action photos of
two players fighting - something that had been banned from traditional hockey card releases.
box contains 5 autographed cards (all hard-signed, no stickergraphs) 5 base cards, and 2 memorabilia cards. Instead of a sealed pack the
cards are contained in a 2-piece UltraPro plastic holder nestled inside
the outer box. This would appear to be safer (though at least one card
was slightly dinged) but it also reveals the top card.
I'm not certain that the "hit" is always at the top, but it was in this pack:
is a standard Combatants dual relic (there are red versions limited to
ten copies) However, the 3-color swatch of Georges Laraque's Oilers
jersey and the mesh on Wade Belak's Maple Leafs sweater are a cut above.
Many of the dual relics are multi-color and/or patch relics; In The
Game did a great job of keeping the swatches interesting.
standard Instigator jersey card of Capitals tough guy Dale Hunter.
Hunter is one of the most accomplished players featured in this set,
having amassed over 1,000 points over his 19 seasons in the NHL. More
notably for this set, Hunter is second all time in penalty minutes with
3,565 career PIMs - and was suspended 21 games (1/4 of a season) for
a vicious hit on an unsuspecting Pierre Turgeon in the 1993 Stanley
Now we get to the Band-Aid and blood splatter portion of the pack -- the autographs.
Russell was a first round pick of the Blackhawks in the 1972 draft. He
played over 1,000 NHL games and logged over 2,000 penalty minutes for
four teams, including the New Jersey Devils. Russell is pictured in the classic red and
green sweater from their early years in New Jersey.
May was one of the baddest dudes in Buffalo Sabres history, racking up
1,323 PIMs in just 425 games with the club. Unlike most of the other
pugilists in this product, May may be best known for scoring the game (and series) winning goal in a 1993 playoff contest against the Boston Bruins.
Back-to-back Buffalo Sabres - or so I thought.
At first glance it appeared that Denny Lambert was wearing this late 90's Sabres sweater - but he never played for the team
- which means this photo was likely taken during his two-year stint
with the Ottawa Senators. Lambert was the NHL's league leader in penalty
minutes in the 1999-2000 season, with a relatively tame total of 219.
Link Gaetz was part of the bizarre formation
of the expansion San Jose Sharks - in which the Minnesota North Stars
supplied half the Sharks' players, then replenished their roster by
participating in the Expansion Draft alongside the Sharks. Link's career
was short-lived, but he still holds the Sharks single-season record for penalty minutes with 326, set in their inaugural season of 1991-92.
Watson's 16-year career ended before I was born. Didn't know what
position he played or what teams he played for (he's pictured in a
Detroit Red Wings sweater), though his name sounded kind of familiar to
me. With the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1971-72, Watson led the league in penalty minutes with 212 - the lowest league-leading total until the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
You might notice that the autographed cards have blue or red backgrounds:
can't think of any reason for this (such as AFC/NFC in football) but
it's not a variation. As far as I can tell, all of the Link Gaetz cards
are blue, and all of the Bryan Watson cards are red.
That's it for the autos and relics... but there are still some hits in this box. Literally.
Bloody Battles base card featuring Sandy McCarthy and Bob Probert. The
back of these cards details the circumstances of the fight depicted on
the front, which is neat.
Franchise is one of four subsets in the base set - and my personal
favorite. This card features four of the toughest players in Vancouver
Canucks history, including legendary enforcer Dave "Tiger" Williams, who
scored a career high 35 goals in 1980-81.
Three more base cards, including the baddest Broad Street Bully of them all:
Schultz holds a lot of penalty-related records. This card recognizes
his 42 PIMs in a playoff game against the Maple Leafs in 1976. The
"Hammer" squared off against Scott Garland and Tiger Williams, in a
brawl-filled game straight out of Slap Shot.
have to be honest - this card stumped me. I didn't know if it was Wade
Brookbank or his brother Sheldon, and the only Islander named Gillies
that I could recall was Clark Gillies - who retired years before the
Ducks franchise existed.
The card back didn't help.
some sleuthing on hockey-reference.com, I deduced that the combatants
were Sheldon Brookbank of the Ducks and Trevor Gillies of the
card in the box... a Tale of the Tape card featuring Donald Brashear
and another Sabre bad boy, Rob Ray.
Looks like Brashear got the worst of
this bout, though the card back states that he "did some damage" so perhaps that photo was taken after a different
This post also appears on my blog The Collector. Thanks for reading!