PSA Set Registry
Collecting "Sid the Kid's" Best Rookie Cards
by Kevin Glew
Sidney Crosby collectors could probably give you 87 reasons why you should pursue the Pittsburgh Penguins superstar's cards.
But the biggest reason is that No. 87, now more than a decade into his NHL career, is still widely considered the best hockey player in the world.
"You've got Wayne Gretzky, then Mario Lemieux and Crosby is the next one," said Frank Boutzis, who has amassed the No. 1 Basic and Master Crosby sets on the PSA Set Registry. "I admire him as a player; he's just so good. His list of accomplishments goes on and on, and he keeps his nose clean. You don't hear a lot of negative things about him, which I think is really good and is a testament to the person he is outside of hockey."
John Bradley, who owns the registry's No. 2 Current Finest Crosby Basic and Master sets, ranks Crosby in an elite class of athletes with Tom Brady and LeBron James.
"Crosby is going to go down as one of the all-time greats. There's no doubt about that," said Bradley. "You just don't see too many guys come along that are as special as him."
Mike Giobbe, who owns the No. 3 Current Finest Crosby Basic set on the PSA Set Registry, offers a similar assessment.
"He does everything well," said Giobbe. "He plays well in his own zone. Initially he was deficient on face-offs, but now he's terrific on face-offs. He can do everything."
Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on August 7, 1987, Crosby grew up in nearby Cole Harbour. He began firing pucks at the dryer in his family's basement when he was just two years old, and by the following year, he was skating.
Throughout his youth, Crosby dominated against kids older than him, and at the age of 15, his family enrolled him in Shattuck-Saint Mary's High School in Faribault, Minnesota, which is renowned for its hockey program. There he'd notch 162 points in 57 contests to lead the team to a U.S. championship.
His performance convinced the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Rimouski Océanic to select him first overall in the league's 2003 Midget Draft. And Crosby wouldn't disappoint with his junior squad, earning Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year honors in both of his seasons with the Océanic and leading them to the Memorial Cup Finals in his second campaign.
This cemented him as the world's No. 1 hockey prospect, and the lead-up to the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was deemed the "Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes." The Pittsburgh Penguins were fortunate to win the draft lottery and select "Sid the Kid" first overall.
"I was so unbelievably happy when Pittsburgh won the draft lottery that year," said Giobbe, a Pens fan since the late 1960s. "I remember I was driving in my car and listening to the news when I heard the Penguins had won the lottery. I was so happy I almost got into an accident."
An 18-year-old Crosby started the 2005-06 season skating alongside Lemieux, before an irregular heartbeat forced "Super Mario" to retire after 26 games. Crosby would still register 102 points to become the youngest player in NHL history to record 100 points in a season.
The following campaign, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound center tallied 36 goals and 120 points to capture his first NHL scoring title. He also won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and the Lester B. Pearson/Ted Lindsay Award as the top player as voted by his peers.
Not yet 20, Crosby was named the Penguins captain in May 2007, becoming the youngest captain in NHL history. His 2007-08 season was interrupted by a high ankle sprain injury in January, but he still racked up 72 points in 53 contests and propelled the Pens to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
Crosby exacted his revenge the next year when he collected 103 points in the regular season and 31 more in the playoffs to lead the Pens to a victory over the Wings in the 2008-09 Finals.
In 2009-10, Crosby proved that he could also be a potent goal scorer when he tied for the NHL lead with 51 goals. He finished the season with 109 points, but the Montreal Canadiens ousted the Pens in the second round of the playoffs.
That season was also interrupted by the NHL's participation in the Olympics in Vancouver in February, and if he hadn't already done so, Crosby cemented a permanent spot for himself in Canadian sports lore when he scored the game-winning, sudden death overtime goal for Canada in the gold-medal contest against the U.S. This goal is simply referred to as the "Golden Goal" in Canada.
Unfortunately, Crosby suffered concussions in back-to-back games on January 1 and January 5, 2011, which sidelined him for close to 10-1/2 months. He returned in the lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign to pot 56 points in 36 games. The following year, he suited up for 80 games and secured another scoring title and his second Hart Trophy.
In February 2014, he was named captain of the Canadian Olympic Team and led the squad to another gold medal. After Crosby's point total dropped to 84 in 2014-15 and he got off to a slow start the following season, many felt his career was on the decline. But a re-energized Crosby proceeded to top the NHL in scoring from December 2015 until the end of the season and inspire the Pens to an unlikely championship, their second Stanley Cup triumph in seven seasons. For his efforts, he was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
"What impresses me the most about him is how he reads the play on the ice," said Bradley. "He's just so smart on the ice. He's one of those guys that sees everything that's happening. He's a step or two ahead of everybody else. What he brings to the table is unbelievable. I mean, he has won everything. He's done it all."
"Crosby is a one-of-a-kind type of player," he said. "His stick handling ability is what dazzles me the most. He's a smaller player, at about 5-foot-11, but it's hard to push him off the puck - the way he controls the puck is probably his biggest asset."
Boutzis shares similar observations.
"He's a very strong skater and he can turn on a dime," he said. "And the other thing is, like Wayne Gretzky, he has such a high hockey IQ. He knows where everybody is on the ice at all times. He just knows and anticipates where his linemates are and where the defense will be. He's just so smart on the ice."
During the 2015-16 season, Crosby became the 10th fastest player in NHL history to score 900 career points. And not yet 30, his resume already includes four first-team All-Star selections, two Hart trophies, two Art Ross trophies, two Stanley Cup rings and two Olympic gold medals.
His success has helped him land endorsement deals with Reebok, Bell Canada, Tim Hortons and Gatorade, and he has also been very active in charitable endeavors in Pittsburgh and in his home country. He has twice been named the recipient of the Penguins' Edward J. DeBartolo Community Service Award.
"Not only is he a terrific player, but he just carries himself so well," said Giobbe. "He's such a great gift to the game of hockey and he's very friendly with the fans. It's always nice to root for someone who's also a nice guy."
With all of this going for him, it's not surprising that Crosby's cards are highly coveted. His rookies naturally command the most interest, and collectors can't see the value of them decreasing in the future.
"Unless he does something bad in his personal life, which I don't see happening, the value of his cards are going to remain up there because they're not printing any more rookie cards," said Giobbe. "Plus, he's still in the prime of his career and the Penguins have a good team, so they're going to remain competitive for at least two to five years. He's becoming an icon - he's already an icon in Canada and in Western Pennsylvania. So I don't see interest in his cards diminishing at all."
"For the last 10 years, I think he has been the face of hockey, and I do believe that over the next five years or so, he will continue to be just that," he said. "He'll always be the guy who scored the 'Golden Goal' in the Olympics for Canada. Every once in a while there's a dip in his career, but he seems to resurrect himself back to that lofty perch as the guy."
So what are some of Crosby's top rookie cards?
Here's a rundown:
2005 The Cup #180 - Autograph/Patch (#/99). This is the holy grail of Crosby rookies and the centerpiece of a trailblazing set that launched premium hockey cards. One, four-card pack was in each box of this product and it sold for around $500 when it was initially released. These packs sell for even more today; one fetched $821.11 on eBay in August 2016.
This rookie boasts an on-card signature, as well as a patch swatch, and was limited to 99 copies. A PSA GEM-MT 10 and a PSA NM-MT 8 are the two examples that have been graded by PSA. An ungraded example was being offered on eBay in September 2016 for more than $13,000.
2005 Upper Deck Ice #106 (#/99). It doesn't have an autograph or jersey patch, but the Upper Deck Ice rookie is highly sought after due to its full-length action photo, limited print run (#/99) and unique design. This card is made out of acetate stock.
"I can't tell you how many cases of the Upper Deck Ice I've opened and could not get a Crosby," said Boutzis. "They typically grade well, but they won't grade PSA 10 if they have any sort of surface issues. Yet in terms of corners and things like that, they do grade relatively well. It's hard to bend those cards because of the acetate stock."
A PSA 10 and a PSA 9 are the only two examples evaluated by PSA. Collectors can expect to pay in the $10,000 range for a PSA 10 example.
2005 Ultimate Collection Autograph #91 (#/299). Limited to 299 copies, this card exhibits a head-and-shoulder action shot of Crosby in his white Pens jersey on the top half of the card, followed by a bold blue, on-card autograph over a light background on the bottom. Of the 33 submitted, there have been 15 PSA 10s, one of which commanded $1,100.08 on eBay in June 2016.
2005 SP Authentic Autograph #181 (#/999). By today's standards, this card (with a production run of 999) is not limited, but with its superb photo of a young, helmetless Crosby, a bold, blue on-card signature and it being part of one of Upper Deck's most desirable brands, this card is considered a staple of Crosby collections. Of the 48 submitted, there have been 31 PSA 10s and 12 PSA 9s.
"Even though it's numbered out of 999, it's typically priced at over $1,000 [for a PSA 10]," noted Boutzis.
2005 SPX Signed Jersey #191 (#/499). The front of this card has several different features, including a piece of memorabilia, a small head-and-shoulder photo, two logos (SPx and Rookie Jersey) and an autograph. Limited to 499 copies, this card is coveted, but a little less so than some of those previously mentioned because it offers a sticker autograph. Of the 33 evaluated, there have been 13 PSA 10s.
2005 Upper Deck #201. This "Young Guns" rookie is Crosby's most renowned and widely collected rookie. The "Young Guns" brand has become one of the most highly regarded and anticipated annual releases amongst hockey collectors. The front of the Crosby card fashions a full-length action photo of the Pens superstar looking back while he's skating. And even though this card is not signed or serial numbered, it was printed in far smaller quantities than the base 2005 Upper Deck cards. Crosby was one of 41 Young Guns in the first series that year and one card from the Young Guns series was reportedly inserted in every four hobby packs.
Giobbe says interest in this card has picked up since Crosby secured his second Stanley Cup ring in June 2016.
"They [PSA 10s] were going for about $400, but now I see them up on eBay for $500 or $600," said Giobbe. "If you look at supply and demand, there are a ton of PSA 10s [407 as of November 2016] of that card graded, yet the price is still up there. There's a high demand for that card."
2005 Upper Deck Trilogy #211 (#/999). This is one of Boutzis' favorite Crosby rookies. Serial numbered out of 999, this card boasts another great full-length photo of the All-Star center. Boutzis says this card's surface is susceptible to scratching and it was challenging for him to get his PSA 10, which is one of only 18 graded.
2005 Ultra #251. This card boasts an excellent action photo of "Sid the Kid" eagerly anticipating a pass in his black Pens uniform. Though it's not serial numbered, this card is reportedly one of 21 short-printed rookies in the 2005 Ultra series. It's estimated that one of these 21 rookies was included in each wax box.
With that said, this remains one of Crosby's more affordable, obtainable and attractive rookies. There are 136 PSA 10s, one of which garnered $145.99 on eBay in July 2016.
For more information on hockey trading cards, please visit www.psacard.com/cardfacts/#1hockey-cards.
Please feel free to contact Kevin Glew at [email protected] if you have any additional information or comments. Thank you to Frank Boutzis for providing images for this article. Please note that the Population Report figures quoted and Set Registry rankings reported are those as of November 2016.
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