The First Annual Puck Junk Awards

A.K.A. 6 NHL Awards We’d Like to See

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!  

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Why I Stopped Playing Topps Skate

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.

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That Time the Capitals Played the Maple Leafs…at Montreal Forum

1979 Sportscaster #56-05 – Montreal Forum

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? 

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8 Offbeat Washington Capitals Cards

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. 

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What Haters Get Wrong about the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights exceeded expectations during their inaugural season. [Photo by Michael Miller]
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. 

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Book Review: Game Change

“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. 

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Book Review: A Century of NHL Memories

“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. 

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A Look Back at National Hockey Card Day 2018

Kids who attended National Hockey Card Day at Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, IL
proudly show off the hockey cards they received. 

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.

Excerpt from Sports Collectors Digest, Vol. 47, No. 10, May 11, 2018. Article also published online here.

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.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

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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