Hound Central lives on

As an update to loyal readers, Hound Central journals have chronicled hockey-hounding campaigns during the 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.

2007-08 season: Hound Central 3.0

2008-09 season: Hound Central 4.0

2009-10 season: Hound Central 5.0

I only hope they prove just as entertaining and useful.

I'd also like to bring to your attention a guide to hockey hounding in the Tampa Bay area. I've provided the basic information to get you started.


Hounding 2006-07: Season in review

Like any other sports season, my hounding efforts during the 2006-07 NHL season were full of peaks and valleys.

Sure, it was nice to add another 258 pucks to the collection, including a couple from some legends. It was educational, too, realizing that it's best to conduct the bulk of my hounding earlier in the season. And, at times, namely when the circus that's known as the Pittsburgh Penguins came to town, it was frustrating.

All in all, though, it was far from a disappointing season. Looking back, these are some of the more memorable moments, listed in reverse chronological order, of the 2006-07 season:

~ Ending the debate, for once and for all, that erasing is better than dusting.

~ Completing a set of goalie gloves (blocker and catching, for the uninitiated) signed by New Jersey's Martin Brodeur.

~ Pulling a pretty sweet auto jersey patch card of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.

~ Having more than 40 drivers sign a license plate the the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

~ Reaching 1,250 pucks when Tampa Bay's Shane O'Brien signed this pair of pucks.

~ Being stunned that Florida's Eddie Belfour would refuse an autograph request from a child.

~ Realizing that there is art within collecting hockey autographs.

~ By snagging four pucks, witnessing Boston's Zdeno Chara live up to his reputation as a willing signer.

~ Having Florida's Olli Jokinen sign the 1,200th puck of the collection.

~ Simply put, getting one from the Great One.

~ Being thankful that Tampa Bay's Marty St. Louis made a day for a little boy and his daddy.

~ Logging some major brownie points with my wife, Lisa, for getting an autograph from one of her favorite players, Nelson Emerson, on a day when the Los Angeles Kings' young players, including Anze Kopitar, stepped up for hockey hounds.

~ Helping create a little buzz for the RBK Edge system.

~ Forgetting for a morning that, as a Buffalo Sabres fan, I can't stand the Toronto Maple Leafs.

~ Putting a Pacific Exhibit oversized card of Montreal's Saku Koivu to good use on the same day that Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau signed a hat trick of pucks.

~ Having Anaheim's Teemu Selanne sign four pucks in one day.

~ Loading up on 20 autographed pucks from the hard-to-find Buffalo Sabres

~ Erasing a pretty crappy autograph from Washington's Alexander Ovechkin.

~ Having Tampa Bay teammates Marty St. Louis and Eric Perrin sign University of Vermont pucks.

~ Scoring Ottawa's Wade Redden for the 1,072nd puck of the collection.

~ Watching Ottawa's Jason Spezza make a kid's day.

~ Suggesting that Ottawa's Dany Heatley should spring for a new shirt.

~ Putting another Pacific Exhibit oversized card of Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk to good use.

~ Getting a chuckle out of the driving abilities of Tampa Bay defenseman Doug Janik.

~ Not only holding Mark Bell, then a member of the San Jose Sharks, to his word, but also being surprised that Tampa-area hounds actually identified rookie defenseman and Hobey Baker Award winner Matt Carle.

~ Believing I made the correct call between Philadelphia's Bob Clarke and Peter Forsberg.

~ Having Carolina's Cam Ward make a little boy's day.

~ Capping a busy day of hounding by bumping into former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk.

~ Renewing acquaintances, again, with Boston's Patrice Bergeron and some of his teammates.

~ Being the only people to catch the Dallas Stars and Mike Modano at the team's hotel before a preseason game.

~ Getting Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis to sign 2004 Stanley Cup champions pucks.

~ Future Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille taking time out of his retirement to sign a jersey.

What will the 2007-08 season hold? It's coming soon enough. And Hound Central 3.0 will chronicle even more additions to the collection.

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Told you so

As promised, hockey fans should begin seeing NHL replica jerseys popping up in retail establishments. With the league's move to the RBK Edge uniform system, last year's styles are, shall we say, old-school relics.

Over the weekend, I added these jerseys to the collection:

~ New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur road adult replica (embroidered name and numbers): $75
~ New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur home child replica (embroidered name and numbers): $50
~ Colorado Avalanche home adult replica: $42.50
~ Montreal Canadiens home adult replica: $42.50

But rather than assign these jerseys to the darkest corners of a closet, why not add them to your autograph stock.

I have no doubt that Brodeur will sign his jersey(s). And with Colorado and Montreal visiting Tampa Bay this season, I'll use them, in highly selective fashion, to snag some top-shelf players, say Saku Koivu and, if I'm particularly lucky, Joey Sakic.

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Well, I'll be

In case you missed it, the Tampa Bay Lightning has new ownership, including hockey guy Doug MacLean. What does this mean for the team, its fans and the handful of hounds? Who knows? This is a story that will be around for a few days.

I did hear during this morning's press conference about the deal that the team's new logo will be unveiled Aug. 25. There was also the mention of a possible third jersey for the 2008-09 season.

For the record, too, I could use MacLean on a couple of pucks, say Florida and Tampa Bay.



Too rich for my blood

I'd never begrudge anyone's financial ability to cull together a set of Upper Deck's ultra top-shelf 2006-07 The Cup release, but those who can will be the ones to decide whether it's worth the money. For $400 per four-card tin, though, you better.

The premium of this deep-pocket product is a bounty of autographed jersey patch cards. You'll get two per pack, including one rookie version, numbered, at the most, to 75, save for a number-specific rookie subset. There's even safety-deposit box 1-of-1s circulating: NHL shields, press plates and, get this, the nameplate off of a game-used stick.

I'll tell you what, though. there are some pretty sweet cards. Take another look at that Wayne Gretzky jersey numbers patch card. It fetched more than $440 in an eBay auction tonight. This Evgeni Malkin card? Try more than $650.
But for every gem, you're going to find others, despite their limited numbers (base cards are limited to 249), that will disappoint.

This product definitely appeals to a well-heeled collector. Speculators will take their chances, too. Me? I'm staying on the sidelines. Besides, $400 buys 200 pucks.

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Boys, I'm afraid, will be boys

By now, I'm sure you've heard that a couple of the Staal brothers got themselves into a little trouble during Eric's bachelor party. Now, I don't know about you, but any bachelor party worth its salt ought to involve the authorities. As long as no one was hurt, the disorderly conduct charges are society's equivalent of a roughing minor.

What bothers me, though, is that Jordan was charged with underage drinking. Sure, he's making an adult wage by playing in the NHL, but, at 18, he's still just a kid. All it takes is a mistake like this to ruin a career.

As role models to younger hockey players and fans, Eric and Jordan Staal have a responsibility to provide examples of positive behavior. Here's hoping that the boys learn from their mistakes.

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Follow the Cup

One of the many rewards that come with winning the Stanley Cup occurs when team members get to spend 24 hours with hockey's hallowed prize. This summer, the Anaheim Ducks are keeping the Cup company.

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St. Louis is a nice city

Having traveled to St. Louis a couple years ago, I'm pretty certain that Hannu Toivonen will enjoy his move. In some ways, baseball in particular, it will remind him of Boston. It's more quiet, though. Not so much hustle and bustle. And there's always the Mississippi and the Gateway Arch. Besides, Brad Boyes, another ex-Bruin, plays for the Blues.

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Latest looks?

With more teams breaking out new looks this season, thanks in part to the NHL's adoption of the RBK Edge system, this thread shows quite a few. Some, like the Pittsburgh Penguins jersey shown above, are confirmed. Others should be taken, as the site suggests, with grains of salt.

Some teams, too, are using the RBK Edge to introduce updated logos. San Jose is expected to announce its new look on Tuesday, though someone apparently has spilled the beans. Provided you can afford one, you can already buy, or at least preorder, the new Boston, Columbus and Washington jerseys.

For hockey hounds, all these changes mean one thing. Last season's look should start appearing soon on clearance racks or discount department stores. Just today, we picked up a youth Vinny Lecavalier CCM replica home Lightning jersey for $60. Now if he'll just sign it.

Editor's note: This is the 500th posting since Aug. 15, 2006.

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Summer chores

With all this time on my hands, it's a good idea to put away last year's bounty. This one, from the 2006-07 In the Game Heroes and Prospects, is one of the nicest. The swatch, a shoulder patch, comes from a Kelowna Rockets jersey worn by Tysen Dowzak.

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