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”

Puck Junk’s 10th Anniversary

Ten years! Can you believe that Puck Junk is a decade old? Sometimes, I can’t believe that I’ve stuck with this whole writing thing for so long, partially because I have a penchant from changing hobbies every few years. Sure, I am passionate about hockey — and I always will be — but to write about it consistently for a decade is an accomplishment I am proud of. And I have all of you to thank for that. 

Continue reading “Puck Junk’s 10th Anniversary”

The Best 2017-18 NHL Game-Night Giveaway Items

‘Member Star Wars? Ooh, I ‘member.

Free stuff. We all love getting it when we go to a hockey game. I might not collect bobbleheads, but darn it, I’ll be sure to be one of the first 10,000 people to hustle through the gates to get a Jonathan Toews bobblehead that slightly looks like him. And if the giveaway is hockey cards, then I’ve been known to get to a hockey game two hours before puck drop. 

Below are the notable game-night giveaways for each and every NHL team, including hockey cards, bobbleheads and other fun items that will end up on Ebay the day after they are given out. Some apparel items, like hats and t-shirts, are also listed below if they seem unique enough. 

Continue reading “The Best 2017-18 NHL Game-Night Giveaway Items”

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. 

Continue reading “Box Break: 2017 Grandeur Hockey Coins”

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: 

Continue reading “Box Break: 2017-18 MVP Hockey”

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”