Thursday, April 7, 2016

1995 Slapshot Images Ltd. Memorial Cup Souvenir Set

A company by the name of Slapshot Images Limited, which wasn't around for very long, produced a 110-card boxed set in 1995 to commemorate junior hockey's yearly Memorial Cup. The format of the Memorial Cup tournament has existed in a few different forms since it's inaugural year of 1919, and the current four-team format has been in place since 1983; the QMJHL, OHL and WHL are each represented by their championship-winning team, and a pre-determined host team/city from one of the three leagues adds the fourth. 

The four teams that participated in the 1995 "Chrysler" Memorial Cup were the Detroit Junior Red Wings (OHL), Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL), Hull Olympiques (QMJHL) and Kamloops Blazers (WHL). The Blazers happened to be the host team for that year's tourney, but would have played regardless as the champions of the WHL; the Brandon Wheat Kings were invited to play due to their runner-up status in the WHL. At tournament's end, Kamloops would win the Cup (the hosting city has won the contest nine times since the current format began in 1983). 

The cards that Slapshot Images produced for this event were packaged in boxes that were sealed with clear plastic and individually numbered on the fronts, with an total print run of 5,000 sets. Of the 110 cards found in the set, 100 feature players and coaches, four are team checklists, three are league championship cards and three are league season-summary cards. An extra card, which features a 1995 calendar and contact info for Slapshot Images in Kitchener, Ontario is also found in the box but is not part of the set.

Both the fronts and backs of the cards feature a color photo of the player or coach, along with a simulated wood grain background. Team names are prominently displayed along the front left borders, and a small Memorial Cup logo is found at each bottom right. Cards are numbered on the backs.

As would be expected, the set is loaded with future NHL talent. Hockey fans will be familiar with names such as Shane Doan, Chris Dingman, Bryan Berard, Peter Worrell, Colin White, Darcy Tucker and future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. Kamloops coach Don Hay and Detroit coach Paul Maurice are also notable names found in the set.

As much as I'd love to love this set, I'll go ahead and say I like it. Serial numbered oddball sets are always a nice addition to the collection, and this set fills an underappreciated niche that is mid-90s junior hockey. On the downside, the wooden background isn't as attractive as it could be, and the photo quality on the card fronts leave much to be desired; it appears as if many of the photos are grainy "stills" captured from a video monitor (we're talking about an analog, washed-out 1990s monitor as opposed to the ultra-high resolution 4K screens you might buy today). Regardless, I'm glad to own the set and believe one would be a great addition to any hockey collection. I'd estimate a current value of $12 to $25 for a sealed set, with the large range due to the fact that these sets don't show up for sale every day.

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