(Note: I am now a contributing writer for Sports Collectors Digest. Here is an excerpt of my first article for SCD.)
The Class of 2017 received hockey’s ultimate honor November 13, when seven new members were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Inductees included: Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Danielle Goyette. Those five were 2017’s additions to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s player category. Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and longtime collegiate coach Clare Drake were this year’s addition to the builders’ category.
Selanne, who retired at the close of the 2013-14 season, was inducted in the first year of eligibility, while Kariya, Recchi, Goyette and Andreychuk had to wait some time before getting their due. All of these players had long and successful careers, either on the professional or international stage – and sometimes both. Here is a look at each player’s accolades that make them “Hall-worthy,” as well as some of their earliest hockey cards.
Slow as molasses
“Nobody thinks I want to be a Hall of Famer,” said Dave Andreychuk at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “You think about just trying to play in the NHL, you think about just trying to make your team better. Lots of it is about who’s with you.”
Andreychuk’s coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, John Tortorella, once said that Andreychuk was “slow as molasses, but for some reason he gets it done.”
Tortorella may have been describing Andreychuk’s play – especially in his Tampa Bay years, when he was at the close of his career – but it could describe his wait for the Hall of Fame; it took a while, but now he’s in.
Action Packed was a trading card company that pinned its hopes on four new sets of hockey collectibles scheduled to launch during the 1994-95 season. Unfortunately for the company, none of its odd memorabilia items saw the light of day, mainly due to the 1994 NHL Lockout. One of these ill-fated Action Packed items was a set of hockey lapel pins called Badge of Honour.
Pucks in Deep is a party game that you would want to play with your beer league teammates or hockey-loving friends. While you could probably play a more mundane game like Poker or Monopoly, Pucks in Deep is appropriate for a hockey crowd — and a little inappropriate, too, in a mostly fun way. Pucks in Deep is similar to games like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, where players try to match an innocent-sounding question with the most hilarious answer possible.
I play-tested Pucks in Deep with four other people. Our group of five consisted of two beer league hockey players (myself included in that demographic), two non-hockey playing hockey fans, and an all-around sports fan.
Before I begin this book review, it is necessary to disclose that I never liked Sean Avery during his NHL career. At the same time, I tried my best to have an open mind and be fair when reading his autobiography; what I think of the man should have no bearing on whether or not his book is entertaining or worth reading.
Also, note that Avery’s book goes by two different titles. In the U.S., where he spent his entire NHL career, his book is called “Ice Capades: A Memoir of Fast Living and Tough Hockey,” while in Canada it is called “Offside: My Life Crossing the Line.” The covers vary slightly, but the book is otherwise the same. However, the Canadian title seems more fitting, as Avery was one to push boundaries on and off the ice.
“Ice Capades,” a.k.a. “Offside” — which I will herein refer to as “Avery’s book” — is co-authored by Micheal McKinley, who previously wrote “Hockey: A People’s History” and “Hockey Night in Canada: 60 Seasons.” Avery prefaces his memoir by stating that it is not his intention to change readers’ opinion of him. But reading his book might just soften your opinion on — as Avery calls himself — hockey’s most-famous third-line player.
The role of the enforcer in the NHL was at a crossroads starting with the 2005-06 season. Fighting and physicality were being legislated out of the NHL, as the league was putting an increasing emphasis on speed and skill. But one card company saw fit to put out a set of trading cards — the first, really — that celebrated the enforcer’s role in hockey. Tough Customers, released in 2005-06, showcases 25 of hockey’s most popular — or notorious — tough guys. It’s a neat set for collectors who like cards of “enforcers,” “goons,” and/or “policemen.”
If you follow women’s pro hockey, then “Who’s Who in Women’s Hockey Guide, 2018 Edition” is a book you will appreciate. It is packed with statistics on over 1,900 current and former professional women’s hockey players from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) and the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). It also includes stats from defunct leagues: the Western Woman’s Hockey League, the Central Ontario Women’s Hockey League and the previous incarnation of the National Woman’s League.
Antti Niemi joined his third team this season when he was picked up on waivers by the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. He started the year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but after three weeks and three bad games was put on waivers and claimed by the Florida Panthers. Three weeks and two bad games later, Niemi was again put on waivers and was picked up by the Habs, whose top two goaltenders are currently injured.
So short was Niemi’s stay in Florida that he didn’t eve have a chance to customize his goalie mask. Instead, he just wore a plain white mask — the mask that simultaneously states “I’m new around here,” and “I won’t be here long.”
Now that Puck Junk has been a part of the online hockey community for 10 years, I feel that it gives me little street cred when it comes to hockey cards. So today, I would like to announce the creation of The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame.
Literally close to one million hockey cards have been produced over the past 105 years. Some were truly great, most were just OK, and many were bad. But some were really bad. The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame plans to immortalize the worst of the very worst.
In order to be considered for the PJ BHC HOF (rolls of the tongue, eh?) I have only one criteria: the card in question has to transcend its category and be exemplar — gee, just like a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame supposedly does, too.
For example, not every O-Pee-Chee card with a poorly repainted photograph will qualify for inclusion. Many cards from the 1960s to the early 1990s used doctored photos; to make the cut, it’s gotta be a cut above.
That said, say hello to The Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.
The name O-Pee-Chee was synonymous with hockey cards for more than two decades. While the London, Ontario company had its beginnings in making gum, the company would ultimately be best known — especially in the 1970s and 1980s — for its annual set of hockey trading cards. Richard Scott’s new book, “The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story,” gives the history of the long-gone company that gave hockey fans many long-lasting memories.
Gilles Gratton was one of pro hockey’s most colorful characters. He had a short, tumultuous career in the NHL and WHA in the 1970s, and is better known for his awesome goalie mask and strange behavior than for stopping pucks. He had enough talent to land six-figure contracts and play for Canada internationally. Sometimes, Gratton was said to be an even better goalie than Ken Dryden — when he felt like playing. But Gratton had almost no desire to play pro hockey. Now, almost 40 years after he retired from the game, Gratton decided to write a tell-all of his, ahem, interesting career.