Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?

He Isn’t the Senators’ Only Problem, Though

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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.

Why am I telling you this? Because Matt Duchene might be the next pro sports Dale Murphy. Continue reading “Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?”

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!”

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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Fruits of their Labor: Cam Ward and Tim Gleason’s Vineyard 36

Bonjour, Puck-Heads! Today we’re classying up the joint and looking at some hockey-related wines. Coming from the hands of 300-game-winning goalie Cam Ward and Olympic Silver Medalist defenseman Tim Gleason, Vinyard 36 is more than just an indulgent hobby, it’s a passion. Both Ward and Gleason get their hands dirty and are hands-on in the production of this very fine juice. (I have no evidence that they stomp on the grapes with their own bare feet, but I don’t have any evidence against it, either.)

On a lovely Saturday in early March, I was invited to a wine tasting hosted by Mr. Gleason here in Raleigh for a rare chance to try the literal fruits of his labor, ask some questions and get a better understanding of his post-hockey passion. Finding a bottle can also be difficult, since it’s a rather small operation. It’s no Paul Masson, but they don’t need Orson Wells shilling their wares anyway.

So where does one go to try a rare and unique vintage? Why, at a gas station, of course! Continue reading “Fruits of their Labor: Cam Ward and Tim Gleason’s Vineyard 36”

Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

As the NHL season slowly slips away from us (because some of our teams couldn’t find the postseason if it was water and they fell off a boat), it’s nice to have Upper Deck around to remind us of the good times and the crazy moments like a high school yearbook. And much like a high school yearbook, even good photographers can take bad pictures. Let’s look at some now!

Continue reading “Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey”

1979 N.Y. Islanders Christmas Album

The gift that keeps on giving…even though no one asked for it!

Happy Holi-Chris-Kawan-Hana-whatever! I’m back to bring you hilarious joy as you decorate the domicile or as you just get around to throwing out the rotting Jack-o-lantern with some quality throw back “puck juck” from 1979!

These days, a lot of our hockey teams produce fun little videos celebrating the time of year and thanking the fans; it’s nice — and awkward as hell. The Boston Bruins put out a spectacular video in 2013, the San Jose Sharks owned 2014 with their ode to Holiday Sweaters, and the awkward nod to capitalism thanks to the Calgary Flames in 2015.

But, before we had the interwebs to entertain us with these holiday greetings, what cheer would we receive from our boys? Enter the 1979-80 New York Islanders!  Continue reading “1979 N.Y. Islanders Christmas Album”

Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey

You can smell the turkey cooking, you’re already gearing up for the assault of family members you haven’t seen in a year and still don’t want to, the air is getting crisp even in Carolina, and there’s a collective groan out of the Windy City as the Blackhawks are announced as participants in yet another outdoor game. Must be time to make fun of Upper Deck’s latest flagship set of hockey cards!

UD made it tough for me this year; almost every pack I opened had one card I could laugh at. I doubt they read these posts for the sake of tossing me a softball, but I piled up 36 cards out of one hobby box to poke fun at and I’ve pared it down to a baker’s dozen.

We’ll start with three really candid shots:

Continue reading “Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 1 Hockey”

Card of the Week: Howe Awful!

2014 Panini The National VIP #43 – Gordie Howe

“Jim, I need you to write a Puck Junk post about a card I found,” Sal said to me recently. “And you’re the only one who can do it.”

“Uh, OK,” I replied.

So he sends me the Gordie Howe card you see above, and my first reaction was not good. (WARNING: It really was not good at all.)

When I was able to put my nose back on with bond and duct tape, I had so many questions about why this card exists in the first place. Continue reading “Card of the Week: Howe Awful!”

The Top 8 NHL Players Who Have Yet to Make the Playoffs

Keith Kinkaid (left) and Jack Eichel [Photos by Lisa Gansky Photography]
One hundred percent of NHL players will tell you that their top goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug over their head, skate around in a circle screaming, and wondering who they’re gonna spray first in the face with champagne. OK, cool squad goals bro. I can say 100% because Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are playing in the KHL these days, and they only give a damn about money. The second goal for every player is to make the playoffs; just to get that extra patch on their jersey and at least play some late-April hockey. 

Now that Ron Hainsey’s Ultimate Ironman Streak of playing so many seasons on so many bad teams —  and having made his tee time on the golf course by April 15 — is over, let’s look at the top eight players currently in the NHL who have yet to make the playoffs and could take up Ron’s mantle of misfortune:

Continue reading “The Top 8 NHL Players Who Have Yet to Make the Playoffs”

Best of the Worst: 2015-16 UD Portfolio

S’up, Puck-Bunnies and Skater Dawgs! Here’s your Southern Home-Fry coming attchu with another Best of the Worst. I picked up my first box of 2015-16 Upper Deck Portfolio and I LOVED it!  I mean, for the most part. Photography-wise, these are some of the best and most-candid shots outside of Upper Deck Series One and Series Two. But that means there are some awesomely BAD shots to make fun of, so let’s dive right in. 

Continue reading “Best of the Worst: 2015-16 UD Portfolio”