The 2018 NHL Awards take place tonight. Seeing the same great players over and over win trophies and make boring speeches is fine and all, but what hockey needs is a little variety to its awards. So here are six all-new and exciting trophies that the NHL should give out to these six unique and interesting players. But the NHL is more likely to give Quebec its next expansion franchise than to acknowledge the feats of these guys. I guess that leaves it to me. So I present to you the First Annual Puck Junk Awards!
Embed from Getty Images
From the 1976 to 1989, there was a baseball player named Dale Murphy who was the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, for some reason. He was expected to provide much of the offensive support for a terrible team, and in return took a lot of money. After only one postseason appearance in 1982, the Braves finally wised up and dumped his ass onto the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, thus putting Atlanta on the road to an impressive stretch of Pennant wins in the National League.
Philadelphia, however, floundered like a seafood restaurant that has to hide its sanitation grade. Then the Phillies wised up and dumped him on the Colorado Rockies in 1993, lightening their load. Then the Phillies had a very memorable World Series run. But don’t weep for the Rockies; after Murphy retired they found their berth in the playoff in 1995.
When Topps launched its NHL Skate digital app at the start of the 2016-17 season, I couldn’t get enough of it. I constantly bought packs, actively traded for cards that I needed, worked towards getting all the reward cards and participated in numerous daily contests.
A year later, my enthusiasm for Topps Skate is all but gone. Yes, I still open the app once a day to collect my free coins, and will open a few packs now and then and try to get a few inserts. But I don’t even bother with the daily contests, nor do I try all that hard to get any of the cards. Here’s why.
OK, I will admit that the title is a lie. The Capitals and Maple Leafs played many games at the Montreal Forum — just never against each other at the Montreal Forum. But the card above states otherwise. What’s going on here?
Since the Washington Capitals entered the NHL in 1974, the team has been in the Stanley Cup Finals just twice: back in 1998 and now in 2018. And during the team’s 43-year history, there have been only a handful of offbeat Capitals hockey cards. Here are eight such cards of Capitals players that are so fun, strange or ridiculous that they just have to be shared.
The Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Finals in their very first season — and deservedly so. Numerous hockey “fans” — really, just blowhards with little hockey knowledge — have bemoaned that the Golden Knights are “too good” because of the “unfair expansion draft rules” and are basically being “handed the Stanley Cup.”
Most of us know that this simply is not true. Plus, as they say, haters gonna hate. Here are four myths that naysayers have clung to about the Golden Knights — and why each one is wrong.
“Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey” is the latest treatise by Ken Dryden, and a difficult book to categorize.
As the title implies, the book tells the story of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador, who died at 35 — but “Game Change” isn’t a traditional biography.
It explains how concussions and traumatic head injuries affect the brain, body and mind — but “Game Change” isn’t a scientific journal entry.
It also recounts how the NHL, over the past century, has reached its current level of violence and physicality — but “Game Change” isn’t a history book.
“Game Change” is more than the sum of its parts, and like its name implies, it may very well change the sport of hockey. Dryden, the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender and six-time Stanley Cup-winner, has written several other hockey books. “The Game,” Dryden’s seminal work, is widely-considered to be the best hockey book ever written. “Game Change” may became the most important hockey book ever written, as it thoroughly discusses hockey’s concussion problem — illustrating it with Montador’s biography — and how to fix it.
“A Century of NHL Memories: Rare Photos from the Hockey Hall of Fame” is a hardcover, high-quality book that looks at the National Hockey League over the past 100 years. Well, mostly. There are no pictures from the league’s first nine years, and the book is scant on photos prior to 1940, so calling it a “century” of memories might be stretching it a bit. But what this book does offer is a look at many great hockey photographs — some iconic and memorable, and some that have never been published before — from the Hockey Hall of Fame’s expansive archives.
March 3 was National Hockey Card Day, which has become an annual tradition for collectors in the United States and in Canada.
Sponsored by Upper Deck, National Hockey Card Day was started in 2009 in Canada and came to the United States in 2012. Hockey fans could visit a participating sports card shop and get a free pack of exclusive hockey cards.
The cards given out differ by country. The U.S. set focuses more on American players, while the Canadian set keys in on Canadian players. The cards were given out in five-card foil packs, and each set consisted of 16 total cards; the first 15 cards are found in packs, while the 16th card could only be acquired with a $10 purchase. Additionally, there were a few chase inserts.
Both the U.S. and Canadian packs had ten different Victory Black rookie cards of popular first-year players. These cards, numbered 13-22, continue the Victory Black set given away at the Fall 2017 Toronto Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo. Canadian fans also had the opportunity to pull five retro Young Guns reprint cards, while U.S. fans could find five Vegas Golden Knights cards. There were also long odds of getting an autographed card.
Retailers who spoke with Sports Collectors Digest noted that National Hockey Card Day had a positive effect on their stores. Some dealers put up posters advertising the event and emailed their customers, while others went all-out, with sales on hockey products and raffles for signed memorabilia.
“It was unbelievable,” said Jim Amerey, co-owner of West’s Sports Cards in Edmonton. “Lots of people. I can’t count them. We give away packs for three days because there’s a lot of people who can’t come on Saturday, so we do it on Sunday and Monday, too.”
“We did really well with it, but we also had some youth hockey teams come in,” said Steve Wilson, owner of Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, about 40 miles north of Chicago. “Some of the kids were here for the first time. And a week later, we’ve already seen some of them come back and spend some of their money, so that’s always a good sign.”
National Hockey Card Day was a hit in Las Vegas, home of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
“Saturday was pretty insane,” said Mark Hansen, manager of Legacy Sports Cards in Las Vegas.
“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.