Panini America is doing some cool things with hockey cards these days. Earlier this summer, for instance, they released a series that incorporated game-used jersey laces from guys like Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier. But now they’ve gone and taken it a step further. Not satisfied by simply working with bits of jersey, they’ve also decided to splice in bits of game-used stick, and Ryan Kesler was one of the players to donate his lumber to the cause.
Kesler met the Panini America crew for the handoff on February 26 in Dallas, after a 3-2 overtime defeat versus the Stars. “In the 213 days since,” Tracy Hackler writes over at the PA blog, “that stick has been de-taped, estimated, expedited, sliced, diced, embedded, autographed and, just last week, hand-inserted into random boxes of 2011-12 Dominion Hockey, which releases on Friday.”
In this video, you can watch the entire process, from the moment Kesler gives up the stick to the moment Panini America brings it back to him in a box to be signed. Amazing stuff.
A word on the game preceding the handoff. As mentioned, Panini America retrieved the stick from Kesler just after a loss to the Dallas Stars. The Canucks led that game 2-1 until the final minute, when a dubious icing call led to a faceoff in their own zone. The Stars scored off the draw, then won the game 3-2 in OT. That’s why the Canucks look so choked when they’re walking to the dressing room in the video. It might also explain why Kesler can’t muster much enthusiasm during the passing of the stick. “It’s a cool idea,” he mumbles, wanting to be anywhere but there, “I think the fans are gonna be all over it.”
Cheer up, Kesler. You scored the game’s first goal.
Another thing that happened during that game: Vernon Fiddler’s impression of Kevin Bieksa sent Alain Vigneault into hysterics.
s/t to Sean Leahy.