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Bloodstained hockey cards celebrate NHL enforcers; bad timing?

As you may have heard, the New York Times is doing a multi-part and multimedia package on the life and death of Derek Boogaard(notes), the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild brawler who overdosed accidentally on a mix of alcohol and oxycodone in May.

It's a comprehensive and brutal look at life as an NHL fighter, and not without some news: The Times reports that researches found evidence of the degenerative brain disease CTE in posthumous evaluation of Boogaard.

The CTE stuff, the summer of tragedy in the NHL, the concerns for player safety within the game … all of it has made some hockey fans reevaluate their feelings about hockey fighting.

Which is why a bloodstained hockey card set being released next year is either an incredibly courageous or ill-advised decision by In The Game.

Billed as "The Toughest Set To Collect in the History of Hockey Card Collecting," In The Game's "Enforcers" set will be released in mid-January 2012. From ITG:

Bob Probert was as tough as any player who ever laced on a pair of skates. He had an outstanding career playing 935 games over 16 seasons for Chicago and Detroit and accumulating 3300 penalty minutes including 231 fights. His battles on the ice against Wendel Clark, Link Gaetz, Stu Grimson and Tie Domi were legendary. Everyone has their own favorite Bob Probert fight. Bob Probert will headline the checklist of players featured in In The Game's — Enforcers. We will even have limited numbers of Probert autograph cards with Chicago, Detroit and dual autograph cards of some of his greatest battles. Bob Probert epitomizes what our Enforcers product is all about.

Each pack of Enforcers will contain five authentic autographs. There will be over 80 different Enforcers on the authentic autograph checklist including; Dave Semenko, Joey Kocur, Georges Laraque(notes), Dave Manson, Basil McRae, Rob Ray, Marty McSorley, Brad May(notes), Jim Kyte, Chris Nilan, and many, many more.

Each pack of Enforcers will contain five Base Cards. There will be four different subsets; Tale of the Tape, Record Holders, Bloody Battles and Tough Franchises in the 90 card Non-Memorabilia Insert checklist.

Bloodstained hockey cards celebrate NHL enforcers; bad timing?

Via Beckett, more on this set:

"Fighting in hockey is as old and important as the blueline," ITG wrote in a release. "It's the one event in a game that always brings the crowd to its feet and Enforcers will celebrate the blue-collar players who toil in the trenches and work to give the stars more skating room."

Again, the timing of this just seems … off, knowing where the winds are blowing on hockey fighting and given recent events.

For example, is there a Wade Belak(notes) card? Yes, there is a Wade Belak card.

Not to mention the obvious use of the late Bob Probert to push the series. We'd call it a shameless way to promote your product, but that would be ignoring how shameless a bloodstained hockey enforcer card set is in the first place.

Bloodstained hockey cards celebrate NHL enforcers; bad timing?

But shameless isn't always a bad thing. It's simply acting without shame.

Putting out a card set like this, in this climate, is a rather bold move. It's contrarian. It's a middle finger to opponents of fighting, its place in the game and the history of the men who fought in the NHL.

If nothing else, it puts the spotlight on their sacrifice for team and teammates, reminding new generations of fans what they meant to that era of the NHL.

Would you collect this set? If nothing else, we have a Christmas present for Adam Proteau.

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