Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Collecting Shoresy

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It’s hilarious. It’s profane. And — with apologies to “Slap Shot” — it may be the best representation of hockey culture ever captured on film.

“Shoresy,” the six-episode spin-off of the equally brilliant “Letterkenny,” is the story of a hockey lifer struggling to revive the flagging fortunes of his senior AAA hockey team. When the club’s general manager threatens to fold the franchise after the 20th loss of the campaign, Shoresy vows that they’ll never lose again. With the addition of four “Grade-A Canadian studs” and three tough Natives (“tough Native is redundant”), the Sudbury Blueberry Bulldogs set out to win back their fans with “run ‘em up, fill ‘em in” hockey.

The series, which airs on Crave in Canada and Hulu in the United States, has earned critical raves and has showcased the sport in a way that appeals to hockey die-hards as well as newbies to the game. For that, credit the cast of beauties, led by series star and creator Jared Keeso, who realistically bring the Bulldogs to life. Keeso, a former Junior B player who previously portrayed Don Cherry in a pair of bio-pics, surrounded himself with legit hockey talent for the show including three former NHLers and two legendary minor-league tough guys.

The best known of the group is Terry Ryan, who plays Newfoundlander Ted Hitchcock. Ryan was selected eighth overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1995 after an outstanding junior career that saw him score 50 goals and 110 points with 207 penalty minutes in his draft year. Though he never lived up to his potential with the Habs, his years in the game – including 12 seasons of senior AAA hockey – inspired his 2014 autobiography, “Tales of a First Round Nothing,” as well as a popular hockey podcast, “Tales With TR.” That media presence already had given his cards some legs beyond expectations.

“I’d had customers ask about (Ryan) now and then in the past couple of years, probably because of his book,” said dealer Rick Farrell. “He’s built that connection (after his playing days). He seems like a real regular guy … a guy you’d want to hang out with. Some people respond to personality the way others do to an All-Star season, like with (former player-turned-broadcaster Paul Bissonnette). It’s as good a reason to collect as any.”

But the interest has built noticeably because of “Shoresy.”

“People ask for his cards now and they start talking about the show,” he added. “It’s making an impression.”

One of the most compelling aspects of the series is the way it portrays First Nations characters. When Shoresy announces the team needs some toughness, the GM brings in three Ojibwe corrections officers named Jim.

Brothers Jordan and Brandon Nolan both spent time in the NHL. Jordan, a 2009 draft pick of the Kings, was part of two Stanley Cup runs in Los Angeles and another with St. Louis. He racked up 24 goals and 375 games in the Show before retiring at the end of the 2020-21 season. Brandon, New Jersey’s fourth-rounder in 2003, spent time in the minors and Sweden before finally making his NHL debut with Carolina in 2007-08.

Meanwhile, the third Jim, Jon Mirasty, became a legend battling his way through nine leagues, including the KHL. He tallied more than 2,600 penalty minutes over 463 pro games, and might best be known as a member of the 2004-05 Danbury Trashers, the United Hockey League club made famous by a 2020 Netflix documentary.

In just 25 games with the Trashers, Mirasty rang up a whopping 202 penalty minutes.

Their portrayals have resonated loudly with the Indigenous community.

“It’s awesome to see because the Nolans and Mirasty don’t have the biggest names in the NHL circles but, in First Nations communities, they are all very revered and looked up to by many people,” says Naim Cardinal, the curator of the hobby’s largest collection of Indigenous players. “Not many people outside of the AHL and KHL scene know who Jon ‘Nasty’ Mirasty is, but he sure made a name for himself in minor pro leagues.

And it’s awesome to see Jordan and Brandon get some light shone back on their hockey careers because they do so much for Indigenous youth through their speaking and hockey camps.”

The work that Cardinal mentions is subtly called out in the series. Brandon Nolan’s character is often seen wearing a cap that features the logo of the 3Nolans schools the brothers run across Canada along with their father, former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan.

The final member of the group is Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, who plays “rap singer” Dolo Diaby. A third-round pick of the Nashville Predators in 2013, Diaby spent six fractious seasons in the minors – the series uses actual 2019 footage of him climbing the glass to fight a fan who’d made racist remarks while playing in the LNAH in episode two – before focusing on his hip hop career under the name JoDolo. Those real-life aspects were written into the character after Keeso discovered Diaby’s background.

“My music is used in episodes two and six,” Diaby told ComingSoon.net. “I feel really blessed.”

While none of the actors had Hot List-worthy playing careers, interest in their cards has risen since the show premiered. Because of their relatively low profiles, most of them fall within anyone’s budget. At the same time, there are some tough regional or foreign issues that add a real ele- ment of challenge to anyone pursuing a Shoresy-themed PC.

Mirasty’s KHL issues can be tricky to track down, while team-issued sets from the minors like Diaby’s Milwaukee Admirals single will require some advanced networking.

NHL cards of the Nolan brothers would be the easiest to acquire. But while casual fans might gravitate to their RCs, Cardinal suggests another target.

“I think the coolest, under-the-radar card of the entire group would be the 2012-13 Upper Deck Day With The Cup (#DC18),” he said. “It shows Jordan Nolan holding the Stanley Cup over his head in front of the Rick Nolan Fire Station in their home community. That is a super tough card to find and, after speaking with Brandon, it is special to the family because that fire hall is named after their uncle.”

Whichever player you pursue, you can put together a collection that’s just like a good stick: unbelievable.

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