Record: The Chemistry was Just Right!

The story of the 1979-80 New York Islanders

“Dynasty” is a word that’s been tossed around in the hockey world a lot in the last decade. What does it take for a team to be a dynasty in the NHL today? Two Championships in three years like the L.A. Kings? Three Cups in six years like the Blackhawks? Two in back-to-back seasons like the Penguins? The fact that you can’t spell “dynasty” without “nasty” like the Bruins? 

While we ponder this, it’s impossible to deny teams like the Oilers’ winning five Cups in seven years, and the Islanders gobbling up four in a row in the 1980s were clearly dynasties. When the Islanders won their first of four straight Stanley Cup Championships, did they know they were on the precipice of greatness? I guess it’s easy to look back and think they may have had an idea that something special was just beginning to brew, but every team that lifts the Cup probably thinks they’re going to repeat the feat next year.

When recently digging through a local record shop, I came across this “audio yearbook” from 1980 celebrating the New York Islanders first Stanley Cup Championship.  Continue reading “Record: The Chemistry was Just Right!”

Review: 1993-94 Leaf Mario Lemieux Collection

When the 1993-94 hockey season started, the Leaf Trading Card Company entered into the foray and released several hockey card sets. The company chose a rather significant superstar as their spokesperson – Mario Lemieux. 

As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan in the early 1990s, it was exciting to see Lemieux heavily featured in all of Leaf’s promotional material. Given the health issues he faced the previous season, seeing Lemieux look so vibrant, and featuring him in his own 10-card insert set, seemed like a fitting tribute to my hero. 

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“The Penalty Box” by Dave Schultz

Dave “The Hammer” Schultz was many things during his hockey career: a Stanley Cup Champion, a Philadelphia Flyers legend and a member of the “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970s. No one would ever mistake him for the King of Pop or the Thin White Duke. Nevertheless, in 1975, Schultz released a 7-inch double-sided record called, appropriately enough, “The Penalty Box.”

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Box Break: 2017-18 SP Game Used

Last month, when ordering my box of Upper Deck Series 2 to make fun of, I also tossed in a box of SP Game Used since it was on sale. I actually wrestled with purchasing this item verses a box of Artifacts that were at a similar price point, both on sale. Eventually I gauged that the SPGU would have a better value in the promised “hits.” With only one pack per box, let’s see if that holds true…

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The Race for the 2018 Hart Trophy

8 Great Choices – But Only 1 Can Be MVP

With the NHL regular season now at an end, I think we can all agree it has been one of the best in recent memory. If the brilliant debut of the Las Vegas Golden Knights wasn’t enough, maybe it was the play of breakout stars, Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brayden Point. But, the NHL is a stars league, and it is always at its best when its stars are shining bright. And this season is a prime example. When superstar Sidney Crosby is playing up to his expectations and is 10th in the league in scoring, you know the league is firing on all cylinders.

It felt as though this year, all of the big stars were playing their best. So that leaves one question: who is most deserving of the Hart Trophy as the league’s regular-season MVP? The award is always contentious because of the letter“V,” for valuable, in MVP. But I’m not here to try and define value and who should win; I’m here to show that this is one of the most exciting Hart Trophy races in my lifetime. There are arguably eight players,  forwards in particular, that have a legitimate chance to win the award this year. Eight forwards who have arguably been more valuable to their team than anyone else. That is the important caveat: a player’s team success is almost always included in their chances at winning the award, so I will take that under consideration. Here are the reasons why, and why not, these eight are in contention for the NHL’s top individual honor.

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1991-92 Stadium Club Proof Card

When you collect for a long time, you begin to crave unique items that you don’t see all that often. I try to collect every Chris Chelios card that I can find, including offbeat stuff like this 1991-92 Topps Stadium Club proof card. As you can see from the comparison above, the proof (right) is bigger than the standard card. The proof measures 2-7/8″ wide by  3-7/8″ tall — 3/4″ of an inch bigger in both directions. There’s an interesting reason for this. 

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Book Review: Behind the Bench

What is it like to be an NHL coach during the biggest game of his life? What was going through Mike Babcock’s mind when the Gold Medal Game in the 2010 Winter Olympics went into overtime? What game-changing decisions did Ken Hitchcock make in Game Six of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals to help the Dallas Stars clinch the Cup? What tactics do coaches like Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma and John Tortorella use to motivate their players? 

Craig Custance, formerly with ESPN and currently with The Athletic, finds all this out in his new book “Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches.” He gets to know today’s best NHL coaches, how they got to where they are, and what they do to succeed. 

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Scott Foster Custom Hockey Cards

Scott Foster made NHL history last week when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. He is the second emergency backup goaltender (EBUG) to be credited with ice time in an NHL game, and the first to be credited with making a save. Actually, he made seven saves, including stops on a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot and a  shot by Paul Stastny from the slot. 

Last season, Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager Jorge Alves suited up as an EBUG for the ‘Canes, played a mere 7.6 seconds, didn’t face any shots, and yet got a bunch of official hockey cards made by Upper Deck. Meanwhile, Eric Semborski was coincidentally an EBUG for the Blackhawks last season, and got two digital trading cards from Topps, though he didn’t play in the game. 

So, where are the Scott Foster hockey cards? The guy actually appeared in an NHL game, which is the minimum criteria for getting an NHL card. Heck, he even used to stuff hockey cards of goalies in his skates for good luck. Foster might get a card from either Upper Deck or Topps later this season. But to tide you over until then, here are seven custom Scott Foster hockey cards — one for each save he made in his 14 minutes of ice time. 

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The Evolution of Baseball’s Goalie Mask

Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Dave Parker in 1978.

Note: Kyle Scully is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please give him a shout out in the comments below. 

Hockey’s greatest cultural contribution may not be the Stanley Cup or Wayne Gretzky, but the fiberglass goalie mask made infamous by Jason Voorhees’ in the Friday the 13th movies. From Jason, to The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Casey Jones, to the brazen thieves in Heat, Hollywood has an endless fascination with hockey’s famous headgear, but goalie masks don’t often appear elsewhere. However, 40 years ago, a goalie mask made a cameo appearance in a Major League Baseball game. Two decades later, it became a game-changer. 

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Buying Cards in the 1990s, Memory #4: The Hat Store’s Basement

If you grew up in Chicago and collected sports trading cards in the early 1990s, then you might remember that card shop in the hat store.

Yes, seriously. There was a card shop in a hat store — in its basement, specifically. Long before there was such thing as a Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, there was a Combination Baseball Card and Hat Store. This was the 1990s, after all, and sports cards were everywhere. 

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