Tuesday 2 October 2012

1997-98 Donruss Leaf Hobby Box Recap

Waking up with a splitting headache isn't always the best way to rev up your Tuesday morning. 
The benefits of collecting cards from the 90s is the fact that I can pick up cards that I yearned-for as a child for a fraction of the price they were when they were first released.
Lately I've began to focus on completing a few of my incomplete sets from the 90s that I still have and love to this day.  When this box of 1997-98 Donruss Leaf recently caught my eye I just had to have it as it was a prime set during my collecting days as a pre-teen and hockey fan.
I think I enjoy busting a box of cards from the mid-90s just as much as any modern day product.  Love the players, the fun inserts and it's almost like I'm cracking open a time capsule. 
Patrick Roy #128, Jim Carey #71, Marc Denis / Checklist #105
Here's St. Patrick looking like a boss, the elusive former Vezina winner Jim Carey in Bruins garb and an eye pleasing card of a Marc Denis checklist card.

As far as completing the base set is concerned, I think I did pretty good.  I'm unsure of how many cards that I needed pre-box opening but when all was said and done the 'want list' was taken down to a minimal size of just 5.

#7 Martin Brodeur
#40 Jozef Stumpel
#50 Daren Puppa
#51 Petr Nedved
#75 Janne Niinimaa

Patrick Lalime #111, Felix Potvin #24, Kirk McLean #74
Lalime's mask design has always been a personal favorite of mine; cutest mask in NHL history?

I decided to choose a few of my favorite netminder cards from the break to showcase the base design.  A good example of the progress made from the box would be the fact that I needed all the cards above towards the set with the only exception being Lalime.

Vinny Prospal / Gold Leaf Rookie #, Alyn McCauley / Gold Leaf Rookie #
I also pulled two of these short printed Gold Leaf Rookies of Vaclav Prospal and Alyn McCauley from the box; the Gold Leaf Rookies subset consists of 20 cards with some future All-Star names in the bag.   They have a decent looking design in my opinion, fresh and simple.  The hue at the bottom representing team colors really adds to the appeal.

Prospal is still enjoying a career in the NHL as a member of the Blue Jackets.  McCauley had an up-and-down sort of journey through the league (injury plauged, couldn't produce at the same level as he had in the minors, Selke Trophy nod in 2003-04), hanging up his skates in 2007.  I had a Tomas Vokoun from this subset in my collection from years ago, glad I kept it around.

I still need 17 more of these pieces of cardboard to put a damper on it.

#148 Marc Denis [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#149 Boyd Devereaux [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#150 Joe Thornton [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#151 Sergei Samsonov [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#153 Erik Rasmussen [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#154 Patrick Marleau [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#155 Olli Jokinen RC [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#156 Chris Phillips [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#158 Chris Dingman RC [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#159 Daniel Cleary [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#160 Juha Lind RC [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#161 Jean-Yves Leroux RC [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#162 Brad Isbister [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#163 Vadim Sharifijanov [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#164 Alexei Morozov [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#166 Vaclav Varada [Gold Leaf Rookie]
#167 Jaroslav Svejkovsky [Gold Leaf Rookie]

Yikes.  What a tedious looking subset list to pursue.

Another short print subset, "Gamers".  Basically a a who's who collection of players in the league during that period.  Another 20 card subset injected into the 200 card base set.  I managed to pull 3 of these guys from the box and also had another 3 (Hull, Grettzky and Tkachuk) cards from this set in my collection.  Smyth and Brodeur are still hanging in there, each playing for their respected teams listed on their 97-98 cards.

Smyth spent 10.5 seasons as a member of the Oilers before being traded like currency during and after the 06-07 season; things came full-circle when he signed with the Oilers again in 2011-12.

Brodeur signed a 2-year deal with the Devils during the 2012 off-season so even if the lockout spoils the entire 2012-13 season there's a very good possibility we will get to see one of the greatest players between the pipes play again.

And well, Kariya - we all know how it went down for him.  There's no doubt in my mind that he would still be playing if it weren't for his unfortunate concussion issues.

#168 Eric Lindros [Gamers]
#169 Dominik Hasek [Gamers]
#170 Peter Forsberg [Gamers]
#171 Steve Yzerman [Gamers]
#172 John Vanbiesbrouck [Gamers]
#176 Mark Messier [Gamers]
#177 Jaromir Jagr [Gamers]
#179 Brendan Shanahan [Gamers]
#180 Jarome Iginla [Gamers]
#181 Mike Modano [Gamers]
#182 Teemu Selanne [Gamers]
#183 Bryan Berard [Gamers]
#186 Dainius Zubrus [Gamers]
#187 Patrick Roy [Gamers]

Another tedious laundry list of 'wants' for this subset.  Grueling.

Trevor Linden / A Day In The Life #191, #193, #194, #195
And to round out the set, surprise, another subset.  I didn't like this 'A Day In The Life' Trevor Linden subset back then and I don't like it now.  I guess the concept idea is there but I just don't enjoy hockey cards without the hockey.  Although I'm willing to guess that Brett from My Hockey Card Obsession would appreciate this subset much more than me.  I still need a few of these cards by the way:

#190 Trevor Linden [Day in the Life]
#192 Trevor Linden [Day in the Life]
#196 Trevor Linden [Day in the Life]
#197 Trevor Linden [Day in the Life]

There's also a mail-in autograph card #d/500 from this set, found one going on eBay last night for a very reasonable price.

Well that was the meat and potatoes from the box break - let's get to the...desert?  I think I did pretty good.

Sergei Berezin #66, Jaromir Jagr / Gamers #177, Trevor Linden / A Day In The Life #196
Fractal Matrix parallels - talk about spliting headaches.  These cards have either a bronze, silver or gold finish and can be either die-cut or not.   In a convoluted effort, the fractal matrix parallel concept split the 400 card set into nine different tiered levels of parallels, each with print runs that varied from as many of several thousand of some cards (mostly the Bronze cards) to less than a few hundred of other cards (In the Gold X subset). Cards were split into colors (Bronze, Gold and Silver) and axis (X, Y and Z).  Unfortunately, the designers at Leaf missed the boat and failed to create any notable markings to differentiate the X, Y and Z axis for all the cards in this set.

The Berezin card is a silver variation, Jagr 'Gamers' and the Linden 'Day In The Life' cards are gold (at least I'm pretty sure) - don't even bother to ask me which axis they each fall on.  All of these are for trade by the way as I have no use for them.  I almost wish the Jagr and Linden cards were regular base as it would have been more beneficial towards my set.  Hopefully I can swap these for a few cards that I need though.

And now for what I would undoubtedly proclaim as my biggest 'hit' from the Leaf box.

Wayne Gretzky / Banner Season #3 #d/3500
The 'Banner Season' inserts are definitely my favorite insert set from 1997-98 Leaf and pulling the best player from the set is an A+.  Was hoping to get at least maybe two of these from my box but I'll take the lone Gretzky.  These die-cut cards consists of a set of 24, each card individually numbered out of 3500 on banner-shaped canvas card stock.

Still need 21 of these 'Banner Season' inserts to complete the set as I have had Mike Grier and Steve Yzerman since I collected these cards in 1997-98.

If anyone has anything from this set, base or inserts - let me know.  Maybe we can work something out via trade.


  1. Awesome Gretzky at the end there. I totally agree that busting wax from your collecting heyday is often as enjoyable or more enjoyable than modern stuff.

    By the way, one seller on Sportlots has the 5 remaining base cards you need for just .18 each, and another seller has the four Lindens you need for under $1.00 total. Some decent prices on some of the other short printed subsets to be had as well...

  2. Great stuff! Makes me want to go out and get some more 90's boxes.


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