10 Must-Own Blackhawks Rookie Cards

twitter1The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the NHL’s oldest team. A wealth of great players have donned the iconic sweater during the team’s 90-year history. Anyone who collects cards and considers themselves a ‘Hawks fan should really track down rookie cards of these 10 all-time great players. Some cost $1, others $10 and some well over $100, but if you get them all they will form the foundation of an impressive Blackhawks collection. Continue reading “10 Must-Own Blackhawks Rookie Cards”

A Guide to Attending the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago

[Photo by Sal Barry]
The National Sports Collectors Convention is returning to Chicago in one week. Held annually since 1980, The National is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, with over 600 tables and more than 300 dealers selling sports cards, autographs, apparel, and anything else sports-related that you can think of. Fortunately, The National is five days long — starting on Wednesday, July 26 and lasting until Sunday, July 30 — so you don’t have to do everything in one day. 

If you plan on going to The National, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of the experience. 

Continue reading “A Guide to Attending the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago”

The Hockey Fans’ Guide to the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention

If you live in the United States, then you know how frustrating it can be to find hockey collectibles at your typical sports card show. In 10 days from now, The National Sports Collectors Convention — a.k.a. “The National” will return to Chicago, and it is anything but your typical card show. It is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, taking place July 26 to July 30, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The National probably won’t have as much “puck junk” as the Fall Expo or Spring Expo, since those shows are in Toronto and feature a hockey-centric lineup of autograph guests. Nonetheless, if you are a hockey collector, you can still get a lot out of The National. I’ve attended this show when it was in Chicago in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and always enjoyed myself and found a lot of great hockey items, despite the seemingly endless amount of non-hockey memorabilia.

So, here is my guide for hockey fans attending this year’s National. Seek, and ye shall find. 

Continue reading “The Hockey Fans’ Guide to the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention”

Chicago Steel 2017 Clark Cup Champions Trading Card

The Chicago Blackhawks may have been eliminated in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean Chicago is without a championship hockey team. Back in May, the Chicago Steel won the Clark Cup as the best team in the United States Hockey League. The USHL is the premier Junior A league in the U.S. The Steel took the best-of-five series three games to two over the Sioux City Musketeers. The Steel won Game Five 2-1 in overtime — while on the road, no less. 

This Chicago Steel “Clark Cup Champions 2017” card was given away by the Steel at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Continue reading “Chicago Steel 2017 Clark Cup Champions Trading Card”

Box Break: 2016-17 SP Authentic Hockey

Upper Deck’s SP Authentic was released during the 2016-17 playoffs. The set is known for its white backgrounds and being tough to put together — usually consisting of around 100 base cards and another 100 short prints. 

Over the past several seasons, SP Authentic has become the set where Upper Deck sneaks in some “Upper Deck Update” cards into its packs; cards that resemble Series One/Two and feature late-season trades and surprise rookies.

SP Authentic is the first set to be a part of Upper Deck’s new “Bounty Program,” which encourages collectors to put together a special insert set to redeem for even more tough-to-find cards. 

2016-17 SP Authentic costs about $150 online for an 18-pack box. Each pack contains five cards. Recently, I opened a box. Here is what I found inside. 

Continue reading “Box Break: 2016-17 SP Authentic Hockey”

HHOF Class of 2017 Rookie Cards

On Monday, the Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2017 class of inductees: players Teemu Selanne, Paul Kariya, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Dainielle Goyette; Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs; and former Canadian collegiate coach Clark Drake.

Neither Jacobs or Drake had any hockey cards made of them, for somewhat obvious reasons: most colleges do not make cards of their athletes, let alone coaches, while owners aren’t  popular enough to be included in trading card sets. (And if Jacobs ever had a trading card with his picture, what awful things would Bruins fans do to it?)

Obviously, Selanne, Kariya, Andreychuk and Recchi had hundreds of hockey cards made during their illustrious careers, since they all played in the 1990s and 2000s, when cards were printed like money. Even Goyette had over a dozen trading cards, which is surprising since there really are not many cards made of women hockey players. 

Here’s a quick look at each player’s rookie cards — along with a few interesting cards thrown in for fun: 

Continue reading “HHOF Class of 2017 Rookie Cards”

Re-imagining the 1992 NHL Entry Draft

Last weekend, the NHL held its annual Entry Draft in Chicago. It was considerably a weaker draft class than the previous two drafts, which were headlined by Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel in 2015, and then Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine in 2016. That isn’t to say that the 2017 draft class won’t turn out its share of NHLers; it was just not as exciting of a group. 

Coincidentally, the same thing happened 25 years ago. The 1990 and 1991 drafts were deep. And the 1992 Draft? Well, it had Roman Hamrlik and Alexei Yashin. Oh — and Sergei Gonchar. 

I will admit, after writing fantasy “do-overs” of the 1990 and 1991 NHL Entry Drafts, I was not really looking forward to looking back at the 1992 Draft. There were no 1,000-point or 400-goal scorers to come out of 1992. None made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame. About the only milestone any of the players drafted in 1992 achieved was that seven of them skated in 1,000 or more NHL games. Even then, the NHL expanded from 24 teams in 1992 to 30 teams in 2000, so that probably had a lot to do with it. 

It is easier and more fun to agonize over who should have gone first overall in 1990 — Jaromir Jagr or Martin Brodeur — with hindsight being 20/20 and all. But looking at a bunch of average players and trying to figure out which one is slightly better than the other…well, that’s the kind of challenge scouts deal with all the time. And I’m always up for a challenge. 

Thus, below is my fantasy re-imagining of the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. There may be no marquee names, but some went onto exceptional careers, while others were good enough to play a long time in the world’s best hockey league.

And, with the first-overall pick, the Tampa Bay Lighting are proud to select…

Continue reading “Re-imagining the 1992 NHL Entry Draft”

Why the 1997 NHL Awards Show was the Greatest NHL Awards Show Ever

Tomorrow is the 2017 NHL Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas. During the show, the Vegas Golden Knights will also reveal who they selected in the expansion draft. If you haven’t already thought about that, do so now; a show that will heap praise upon the NHL’s best players will also highlight those not good enough to stay on their current teams.  

The NHL Awards have been cringe-worthy in its attempts to be funny for as long as we care to remember– with B-list comics making D-list jokes — while also seemingly trying to pander to non-hockey fans. Adding in expansion draft “revelations” can only make this year’s award show even worse. 

This got me thinking about the 1997 NHL Awards Show, which conveniently took place 20 years ago (people love anniversaries, as do I). The NHL Awards in 1997 tried to be funny, but in a sweet way, and succeeded where current NHL Awards shows do not. The 1997 show was hosted by Ron MacLean, who is serious but has a sense of humor. The 1997 NHL Awards Show had a good mix of celebrities who actually liked hockey as award presenters, jokes that aren’t bad and some humorous segments that introduced the awards nominees. Future rap sensation Drake even made a cameo as a 10-year old boy. 

But the best were these comedy sketches that served as “bumpers” before and after commercial breaks. I dare the NHL to once again at least attempt something as funny as “The Wig Helmet.” Read on, and you’ll soon understand what I mean.  Here is a rundown, with images and video clips, on why the 1997 NHL Awards Show was the best NHL Awards Show — ever!  Continue reading “Why the 1997 NHL Awards Show was the Greatest NHL Awards Show Ever”

Book Review: They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven

They Don't Play Hockey in Heaven

“I know what you’re thinking,” my friend told me when he loaned me this book, “the title is depressing. But the book isn’t.” Well, that’s mostly true. 

“They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven: A Dream, a Team, and My Comeback Season” is the story of Ken Baker, a former NCAA goalie and NHL prospect whose pro hockey aspirations were cut short by an undiagnosed brain tumor. Baker quits hockey and settles into a career as a journalist, interviewing celebrities for publications like People and US Weekly. But the effects of his tumor worsen, making Baker suicidal. Soon after, his brain tumor is discovered; most of it is removed, the rest is rendered benign by medication. He gets married and is about to settle into the “happily ever after.” That is, until Baker has what he refers to as “The Dream.”

Continue reading “Book Review: They Don’t Play Hockey in Heaven”

Deja Vu Tuesday: Patrick Kane

The exact same photograph of Patrick Kane was used on two different hockey cards during the 2011-12 season. At first, I thought this could have been an honest mistake. But then my research led to an unusual conclusion: what if one card company deliberately decided to use the same photograph to troll their competitor? 

Continue reading “Deja Vu Tuesday: Patrick Kane”