Antti Niemi should own the white mask

Antti Niemi’s stay with Florida didn’t last long. [Photo credit: NHL]
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.”

Niemi needs to own that mask.

Seriously. And by own I mean embrace it and make it his trademark, Continue reading “Antti Niemi should own the white mask”

The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2017

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. 

Continue reading “The Puck Junk Bad Hockey Card Hall of Fame: Class of 2017”

Book Review: The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story

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.

Continue reading “Book Review: The O-Pee-Chee Hockey Card Story”

Book Review: Gratoony the Loony

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. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Gratoony the Loony”

The End of ‘Birth Year Numbers’ is Here

..and for that I am glad.

The trend of birth year jersey numbers in the NHL will go away this season. What I am referring to is when a player elects to wear a number on his jersey that the same number as the year of his birth. Sidney Crosby popularized this trend when he decided to wear 87 because he was born in 1987. 

This continued for more than a decade, but it will finally come to an end. 

Good.

What was maybe a novel concept of an NHL player wearing the year of his birth on his back has long wore out its welcome, becoming as lame as adding “er” or “ie” to make a nickname, i.e. “Kaner” or “Sharpie.”

Just look at the following examples of Millennial creativity at work:  Continue reading “The End of ‘Birth Year Numbers’ is Here”

The Making of The Mighty Ducks

Twenty-five years ago, in October 1992, The Mighty Ducks flew into movie theaters and changed hockey forever. The film hatched two sequels and had an NHL team named after it, all in a five-year span. Terms from The Mighty Ducks like the “Flying V” and the “Triple Deke” became part of hockey’s cultural lexicon. A few years before all of that happened, though, it was just an idea, flapping around the mind of an unemployed screenwriter.

It is the late 1980s. Steven Brill started working on his script for a hockey movie. He combined his memories of playing hockey as a child, his renewed interest in the game after Wayne Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, and his love for the film The Bad News Bears.

Steven Brill, writer (and movie cameo as ‘Frank Huddy’): I played peewee hockey as a little kid, on one of the worst teams ever, and it was just a horrible experience to be horrible at a game that I didn’t know how to play. We had a mean coach, but I loved being part of a team. It was something that always stuck with me. My passion for hockey and memories of my youth made me always want to revisit the sport.

Read the full article at The Hockey News

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Book Review: Tales of a First-Round Nothing

We all knows what happens to a first-round draft pick who goes on to an exceptional career in the NHL. They rack up accolades and are talked about even long after their playing days have ended. But what about the players who don’t make it? What are their careers or lives like after the shot at NHL stardom is long past? “Tales of a First-Round Nothing: My Life as an NHL Footnote,” written by Terry Ryan in 2014, is a hilarious autobiography of a highly-touted prospect who didn’t pan out. But just because Ryan only played in eight NHL games is no reason to ignore his 228-page memoir. In fact, that’s all the more reason to read it. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Tales of a First-Round Nothing”

Pros and Cons of Game Dated Moments

Upper Deck’s new print-on-demand hockey card set has potential & problems

Upper Deck debuted its new Game Dated Moments hockey card set for the 2017-18 season last Friday. Each week, Upper Deck will release between one and four cards in this set, based on what they deem to be the biggest news of the NHL from the prior week. Fans will be encouraged to give Upper Deck their input as to what moments they would like to see on Game Dated Moment cards, which are available to purchase on Upper Deck’s E-Pack platform. 

Upon first hearing about this new set, I was excited. I remember the 1996-97 Upper Deck Hockey set because the photos on those cards had captions that told you what was happening, and on what date the picture was taken. 

I also liked it when Upper Deck made Biography of a Season cards, though admittedly I have always had trouble finding those at my local card shops — only to have dealers try and sell me the same cards months later. 

These also remind me of those “Season Highlights” cards that were commonplace in the old Topps and O-Pee-Chee sets in the 1970s and 1980s. Most oldschool hockey collectors love those cards. 

Anytime hockey gets a new type of set, even if the idea itself isn’t particularly new, I get excited. Hockey cards are almost always overlooked, so I love it when they get the all-star treatment. 

But my excitement for Game Dated Moments has cooled off a little bit for a few good reasons. My outlook on this set is now mixed, with some positives and some problems. Let’s examine the problems first. 

Continue reading “Pros and Cons of Game Dated Moments”

My Digital Hockey Artwork, 1994-2000

Recently, I decided to purge the box full of old computer disks in my closet. Methodically, I went through each and every disk, copied the data over to my hard drive, and then discarded the disks. 

Yes, this is actually the second-ever floppy disk I owned. 

This was no small task. I had about 50 old 3 1/2″ floppy disks, that held 1.44 megabytes of data each, and about another 50 Zip disks, which held a whopping-for-the-time 100 megabytes of data. Some of these disks had files dating back to 1994! And copying the data took a long time, because I used external floppy and Zip drives that connected via a USB port. 

I used to make custom covers for my Zip disks. 

Unfortunately, not all of the disks worked — so some files were lost forever — but most of the disks were fine. Among the old school projects and ancient term papers were some pieces of hockey digital art that I would like to share. 

These images not only depict hockey, but they illustrate my path from computer novice to a digital designer. Let’s see what digital hockey goodness lurked on these obsolete computer disks. 

Continue reading “My Digital Hockey Artwork, 1994-2000”

Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2017-18 Season

Each NHL coach followed his own unique path to get to where he is today. Some were accomplished NHL players who were immediately given a shot as an assistant coach upon retirement. Others were career minor leaguers, toiling in some of hockey’s most obscure ranks, before working their way up those ranks later on in life to finally appear in the NHL from behind the bench. Still, some never even played minor pro, hanging ’em up after junior and starting their coaching careers young. 

For the start of the 2017-18 season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at each NHL head coach’s rookie card.  Continue reading “Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2017-18 Season”