Goodbye and Thank You, Pierre Pilote

Like so many other hockey fans, I was surprised and saddened when I learned that former NHL defenseman Pierre Pilote passed away Saturday night at the age of 85. 

I never saw Mr. Pilote play; he retired long before I was born, so I can’t attest to what kind of player he was without paraphrasing what others have already said, especially during the past few days. However, I have met Pilote many times during the past decade, and can speak to as what kind of person he was towards Blackhawks fans. 

Pilote was at the annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention practically every year since it started in 2008. I also met him at the National Sports Collectors Convention when it was in Chicago in 2011 and 2015, and at numerous Sun-Times Sports Card Shows, where he usually signed autographs for charity as a part of The Fergie Jenkins Foundation.

As you would probably expect of someone who was the Black Hawks team captain for seven years, Pilote was nothing short of awesome when interacting with the fans. Continue reading “Goodbye and Thank You, Pierre Pilote”

Box Break: 2017 Grandeur Hockey Coins

Upper Deck released its inaugural edition of Grandeur Hockey Coins earlier this year. A box with one coin costs $100, while a four-coin box costs $499 and is guaranteed to contain one of the rarer coins. I finally got my hands on a one-coin box, so let’s check this puppy out. 

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Box Break: 2017-18 MVP Hockey

Let the new season of collecting begin!

The 2017-18 hockey season is still a month away, yet Upper Deck likes to get the “collecting season” started early. Coming out almost two months before the start of the season is Upper Deck MVP Hockey. Although the price is the same as last year’s MVP — about $3 USD per pack or $40 USD for a 20-pack box — the set is smaller, with over 100 less short-printed cards, making this year’s offering easier to complete.

I opened up a box of 2017-18 Upper Deck MVP Hockey recently. Here is what I found: 

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Buying Cards in the 1990s, Memory #3: The Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall

In August of 1997, my girlfriend (at the time) and I went on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to the Wisconsin Dells. For those who have never been there, “The Dells” is a touristy area about an hour or so north of Chicago that has tons of fun attractions like water parks, mini golf courses, go kart racing, boat tours, and indoor attractions too, such as the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum. Basically, good, cheap fun that 20-somethings could afford. One time, I even found some long-needed hockey goodness for my collection.  Continue reading “Buying Cards in the 1990s, Memory #3: The Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall”

Deja Vu Tuesday: Carter Hutton

For the first four years of his professional career, it looked like Carter Hutton was doomed to the minors. During a three-year span, Hutton was called-up from the minors and appeared as a backup for a handful of games; first for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2009-10, then the San Jose Sharks in 2010-11 and then the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12. But Hutton never actually played in any of those games. 

The same seemed destined to happen in 2012-13, when the Blackhawks called up Hutton a few times during the lockout-shortened season to ride the pine. Finally, in their last regular season game of 2012-13, the Blackhawks started Hutton in his first NHL game — a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. After that, he grew into a dependable backup netminder; first for the Nashville Predators, and then last season for the Blues.

During two of his years in the minors,  Hutton had two trading cards that used the exact same photo — which was weird because they were cards for different teams. 

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Every 1991-92 Hockey Card Set Ranked

While a lot of hockey cards were made during the 1990-91 season, the 1991-92 season was like a movie sequel: bigger and bolder, with more of everything.

More cards? Check.

Larger sets? That too.

Extra inserts? You bet! 

The amount of sets made, and cards to collect, nearly doubled, with companies releasing two or three sets each in an attempt to cash in on the boom. Hockey card revenue from the 1991-92 season, generated from the brisk sales, spiked to $15 million and was even a major cause of the 1992 NHL Players’ Strike. 

That’s funny if you think about it, because hockey cards in the 1991-92 season were worth $15 million to the players and owners – money worth fighting over — and yet hockey cards from that year are practically worthless today. 

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t open up your collection a little bit to some of these “neo-vintage” (don’t call ’em “junk wax”) sets. Maybe you have room in your collection for one, or a few, of these — assuming you don’t have them already. So here is my ranking of every 1991-92 hockey card set. 

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Movie Review: Kings Ransom

August 9, 1988 was arguably the single most important day in hockey history. On that day, the biggest trade in professional sports took place when the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings. Here, the best player in his sport was traded at the height of his career. Gretzky’s trade changed hockey forever. “Kings Ransom,” an ESPN documentary directed by Peter Berg, recounts that fateful day and the events that led up to it. 

Unfortunately, “Kings Ransom,” released in 2009, is not the documentary that I hoped for. It tries so hard to be dramatic and doesn’t say anything that hasn’t already been said. 

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My 2017 National Haul

Truth be told, I’ve kind of outgrown the desire to recap the various cards and collectibles that I acquire at shows. Part of it seems like bragging (“Look how much money I spent!”) and part of it seems rather trivial (“Yep, I found that Ilya Bryzgalov rookie card in the quarter box!”). Plus, I’d rather write other articles, like making fun of a horrible hockey card, reviewing the best and worst hockey card sets ever made, re-imagining an old NHL draft, or interviewing a current or former player. 

However, in the last Puck Junk Podcast, I *did* say that I would show some of the items that I got at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention. So, as promised, here are the highlights of my 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention haul:

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Puck Junk Podcast #25 – August 3, 2017

…with Sal Barry & Tim Parish

In this episode of the Puck Junk Podcast, Sal & Tim discuss the 38th Annual National Sports Collectors Convention, which was held in Chicago from July 26 to July 30, 2017. We talk about autographs, redemption programs, vintage hockey cards — even baseball cards! — and more. 

Podcast #25 is 50 minutes and 15 seconds. I counted. Twice. 

Follow Sal on Twitter @PuckJunk.
Follow Tim on Twitter @TheRealDFG
Podcast intro music by Jim “Not the Goalie” Howard. 

10 Awesome Hockey Finds at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention

From Wednesday, July 26 to Sunday, July 30, the 38th annual National Sports Collectors Convention took place in Chicago. While baseball makes up the bulk of the trading cards, game-used gear and other memorabilia at The National, there are always some hockey gems to be found. 

This year was no exception. On my four-day journey at the NSCC (I skipped the last day), I found some diamonds in the rough. Most are out of the price range of all except the most hardcore — and deep-pocketed — collectors. Regardless, all were fun to look at, and would be cool to own. 

Here are the top 10 hockey finds at this year’s National Sports Collectors Convention.

Continue reading “10 Awesome Hockey Finds at the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention”