Box Break: 2017-18 Panini NHL Stickers

I will be the first to admit that I’m a little slow when it comes to buying and opening Panini Hockey Sticker packs.

This is because I’m too cheap to spend $1 per pack (plus tax) for however many packs it takes to build a set; it’s usually over 100. I also don’t want to spend around $40 plus shipping on a box. So, I usually wait until the season ends. Then the price drops significantly, I purchase a box or two, and trade for or buy whatever stickers that I still need. 

Panini Hockey Stickers usually have terrible collation. Earlier this year, I purchased a 2016-17 box, and 57 out of 350 stickers (roughly 16%) were doubles. Despite shoddy collation, I still like Panini Hockey Stickers enough to try and build a set every year. 

However, this box might be a turning point for me with Panini Hockey Stickers because the collation was actually darn near perfect.

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Why the Chicago Blackhawks 2019 Winter Classic Jersey is a Winner

[Photo Credit: Adidas]
What’s black and white and red all over?

Not the new Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic jerseys! Those are black and white — but red is nowhere to be found. Yesterday, the team unveiled the jerseys that they will wear at the Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins on January 1, 2019, and I absolutely love this design.  Continue reading “Why the Chicago Blackhawks 2019 Winter Classic Jersey is a Winner”

The Quenneville Era is Over in Chicago

Coach Q Fired After 10 Seasons.
Will His Replacement Last 10 Months?

The biggest news in the hockey world on Tuesday — and probably for this entire week — was the firing of Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Because when a team fires the second-winningest coach in NHL history, it’s kind of a big deal. 

Quenneville’s departure comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak and a 6-6-3 record to start the 2018-19 season. Jeremy Colliton, the head coach of the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, was named Quenneville’s successor. Assistant coaches Ulf Samuelsson and Kevin Dineen were also let go, while Barry Smith was moved from the ‘Hawks front office to an assistant coaching role. 

Like a lot of Blackhawks fans, I am disappointed that Coach Q was fired. Quenneville was to the Blackhawks what Mike Ditka was to the Bears or Phil Jackson was to the Bulls.  Continue reading “The Quenneville Era is Over in Chicago”

The Five Best Hockey Books of 2017-18

With the NHL hockey season back in full swing, we take a look at five hockey books from the 2017-18 season that are well worth the read. And if you aren’t a hockey fan, don’t worry; these books will still appeal to anyone who loves reading about sports. 

“Gratoony the Loony” 
   by Gilles Gratton and Greg Oliver

Gilles Gratton had a short, tumultuous career in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association during the 1970s – but not because he lacked talent. The oddball goalie, best known for his lion mask, was sometimes said to be better than Ken Dryden when it came to his ability to stop pucks. The problem was, Gratton hated playing hockey.

“Gratoony the Loony: The Wild, Unpredictable Life of Gilles Gratton,” explores the life and times of one of hockey’s most colorful characters. Despite having the talent to garner a six-figure contract – great money for a pro hockey player in the 1970s – and representing Canada in international tournaments, Gratton sought interesting and absurd excuses to get out of playing hockey. Some nights, he couldn’t play because of a bad horoscope. Other nights, Gratton’s war wounds – incurred during his “past life” as a soldier in the Spanish Inquisition – made it too painful for him to play. The list goes on.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Pat Falloon & Scott Niedermayer: The Case of the Missing Pro Set Insert Cards

1991-92 Pro Set #Cc3 – Pat Falloon
1991-92 Pro Set #CC4 – Scott Niedermayer

Longtime collectors will no doubt remember the 1991-92 Pro Set cards of Pat Falloon and Scott Niedermayer that were inserted into packs of 1991-92 Pro Set Hockey Series One, only to be pulled early on in production for reasons unknown. This caused the value of these two cards to soar during the early 1990s, becoming the stuff of legend, before eventually becoming the stuff of dollar bins. But what many collectors do not realize is that these two cards sparked a change in the hockey card industry. 

So what happened here? Did these cards disappear because they violated an agreement with the NHL, with the NHL Players’ Association or with Falloon and Niedermayer — or all of the above? 

Continue reading “Pat Falloon & Scott Niedermayer: The Case of the Missing Pro Set Insert Cards”

Hockey-Inspired Costumes for 2018

Going to a Halloween party? Need a last-minute costume? You could use one of these sweet ideas to impress your friends that know hockey, and confuse your friends that don’t. All you need is a jersey and a few things that are probably lying around your house or easy to find in the Halloween section of your nearest drug store. 

Continue reading “Hockey-Inspired Costumes for 2018”

John Ziegler Did More Harm Than Good for Hockey

Former National Hockey League President John Ziegler Jr. passed away last Thursday. The NHL and two teams that Ziegler worked for — the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks — all issued whitewashed statements about how great Ziegler was for the NHL during his 15-year tenure as president. Various media outlets also issued brief stories, regurgitating what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in his statement. All of these articles made a half-hearted attempt to puff up Ziegler’s accomplishments, but none really said that Ziegler did more harm than good during his run as NHL president. So I will. 

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Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94

NOTE: This interview with Jeremy Roenick was originally published in the October 2013 issue of Beckett Hockey Magazine. Because very few of you probably saw it, and it was five years ago, I am reprinting it here, just in time for the 25th Anniversary of NHL ’94. 

Jeremy Roenick electrified crowds during his 20 seasons in the NHL with his hard-nosed, high-scoring style of play. He reached the 50-goal plateau three times and was the third American-born player to score over 500 career goals. When he retired in 2009, Roenick scored  513 goals and 703 assists in 1363 games. A year later, he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and is currently a studio analyst for NHL games broadcast on NBC.

Yet, to a generation of hockey fans, Roenick is perhaps better known as being one of the best-ever video game characters to grace a TV screen. NHL ’94, released in fall of 1993 and currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, is considered the best video game from the classic gaming era. In the game, which used the names and attributes of real NHL players, Roenick was nearly unstoppable. His great speed and agility, along with one of the hardest and most accurate shots, make J.R. the biggest offensive threat in NHL ’94.

In the Genesis version of the game, a programming mistake — known as the “weight bug” — made lightweight players actually more difficult to knock down while also making them hit harder. This resulted in Roenick being a total wrecking ball in NHL ’94, with a better mix of offensive skills than Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.

Movie-goers would also learn about Roenick in the 1996 film Swingers, starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. In a memorable scene, the  characters are playing NHL ’94 (although the cutaway shots of the game are actually from Electronic Arts’ previous hockey game, NHLPA Hockey ’93). When accused of playing unfairly, Vaughn’s character Trent replies “Y’know, it’s not so much me as Roenick; he’s good.” This cemented Roenick’s status as a pop culture icon and a video game legend.

Recently, Roenick talked with Beckett Hockey about his video game notoriety, games he played growing up, and what it’s like to be a cover athlete.

Sal Barry: The video game NHL ’94 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. I’m sure you remember that game.

Jeremy Roenick: I do. Very, very well. The NHL ’94 game is the one topic that is mentioned to me most often to me in my lifetime. Continue reading “Interview: Jeremy Roenick on NHL ’94”

2017-18 Upper Deck China Games Chinese Hockey Cards

Longtime collectors will remember when Upper Deck used to make hockey cards written in French for fans in Quebec in the early 1990s. Taking that idea to a whole new level, in 2017 Upper Deck issued hockey cards written in Chinese, and gave them to attendees of the NHL’s “China Games” — a two-game preseason series between the L.A. Kings and the Vancouver Canucks. The Kings won the first match 5-2 on September 21 in Shanghai, and again in the shootout 4-3 on September 23 in Beijing. 

The series marked the first time that NHL games were played in China, and for many in attendance, it was probably the first time they saw a live hockey game. Likewise, it was probably the first time many of the Chinese in attendance saw a hockey card too. Upper Deck gave away an eight-card panel of hockey trading cards. 

China may not be big on hockey, or hockey cards for the matter, but fans in attendance got some pretty sweet cards. 

Continue reading “2017-18 Upper Deck China Games Chinese Hockey Cards”

Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2018-19 Season

Becoming a coach in the NHL may arguably be harder than becoming a player in the NHL. While the NHL has roughly 700 jobs for players — not counting call-ups from the minors — there are only 31 jobs for head coaches. Making the task even more daunting is that there is no clear path to become an NHL coach.

Sometimes, an accomplished NHL player is given a shot as an assistant coach when they retire. Other times, a player might spend their entire career in the minor leagues, retire from playing, and then work their way up through those same ranks again, finally appearing in the NHL, but as a coach. Some NHL head coaches never even played minor pro, instead opting to coach once their junior careers wrapped up. 

But all of these men have been involved in hockey before they became an NHL head coach, and therefore have at least one card chronicling their career. So, here is a look at every 2018-19 NHL head coach’s rookie trading card.  Continue reading “Rookie Cards of Every NHL Head Coach for the 2018-19 Season”