A History of the Triple Gold Club

Pavel Datsyuk became the newest member of hockey’s Triple Gold Club on Sunday when the Olympic Athletes of Russia beat Germany 4-3 to win the Olympic gold medal. The Triple Gold Club is a list of hockey players who have won a Stanley Cup Championship, an IIHF World Championship gold medal and an Olympic gold medal. And with less than 30 members, it is probably the hardest “club” to get into. 

Think about it. Players on teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs cannot compete in the World Championships, since they take place at the same time. Sure, a player might win the Cup one year, and then be on a crummy NHL team the next year that misses the playoffs or gets eliminated in the first round, and go on to win a gold medal in the World Championships. 

But then there is the added challenge of winning a gold medal in the Olympics, which take place every four years didn’t include current NHLers this time around, and might not in the next one, either. 

Thus, being a member of the Triple Gold Cup is just as much about skill — being talented enough to make a team a champion, like Sidney Crosby does — as it is about good timing. 

Here is a rundown of every Triple Gold Club member and an explanation of how he got there. Continue reading “A History of the Triple Gold Club”

Rookie Cards of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Team – Plus the Coaches

miracle_on_ice

February 22, 1980 was The Miracle on Ice, when the United States Olympic ice hockey team upset the heavily-favored Soviet Union’s team by a score of 4-3. Of the 20 players on that team, 13 went on to play in the NHL. But sooner or later, they all appeared on hockey cards. Here is the earliest card of every “Miracle on Ice” player.  Continue reading “Rookie Cards of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. Olympic Team – Plus the Coaches”

The Near-Miracle on Ice: An Oral History of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Defenseman Moe Mantha and goaltender Ray Leblanc in the game against Sweden at the 1992 Winter Olympics. [Photo courtesy of USA Hockey]
Expectations were not very high for the United States Men’s Ice Hockey Team during the 1992 Winter Olympics, but for a two-week span, the group of college players and minor leaguers captured the hearts and minds of Americans watching back home.

After the U.S. rocked the hockey world at the 1980 Olympics with its “Miracle on Ice” win over the Soviet Union and subsequent gold medal victory, Americans hoped for a repeat. It wouldn’t happen that decade, though, as the U.S. finished 7th out of 12 teams in 1984 and again in 1988.

While the U.S. team may have been projected to be a doormat at the 1992 Olympics, the team proved the world wrong. Led by goaltender Ray Leblanc, an unlikely hero between the pipes, the ’92 team was the U.S.’s “Near-Miracle on Ice” – a team that was unstoppable in its first six games, only to be halted by the tournament’s eventual champion.

Part I – The Long Road to Méribel

Narrowing down the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team to 23 players was a six-month process. [Photo courtesy of USA Hockey]
The 1992 U.S. Olympic Team was a bricolage of college standouts and minor pro players, with a few NHLers mixed in. Building the team was an ongoing process that started in the summer of 1991 and went until a few weeks before the Olympics started in February of 1992.

Bret Hedican | #24 | Defense
I had a really good junior year at St. Cloud State University. I was on spring break, of all things, and I got a call from my parents. They said USA Hockey called, and that they wanted me to represent the Americans in Russia for a tournament called the Pravda Cup. I was blown away. I never – not once – had been asked to represent the United States in any national tournament. I had four of the best games of my life. I gave everything I had, because I knew it was my chance of a lifetime. The coaches were Dave Peterson and Dean Blais, and they asked me to try out for the National Team. I left college my senior year to make the National Team, in hopes to make the Olympic Team.

David Emma | #10 | Forward
After I won the Hobey [Baker Award, as the NCAA’s best player], I went right to the tryouts.

Shawn McEachern | #15 | Forward
We had tryouts in the summertime. That’s the way it worked with the Olympic teams back then. You went to tryouts for the National Team, and then you played for the National Team. And then you’d play a season against some NHL teams and some college and minor league teams. And then, just before the Olympics, they cut it down. We traveled around for about six months with the National Team.

Keith Tkachuk | #17 | Forward
This was before I was a professional. Because I was so young, 19 years old, I wasn’t expecting to make the team. I guess I had a good tryout. I was already enrolled to go back to school that fall, but luckily, I made it, and kept on making it, and got to go play in the Olympics.

Continue reading “The Near-Miracle on Ice: An Oral History of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team”

Review: 1993-94 Topps Team USA

After the modest, fourth-place finish of the 1992 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, and an increasing nostalgia for the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” Topps issued cards of players from the 1994 U.S. National Team. Most of these players went on to play for Team USA at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and quite a few went on to have successful careers in the NHL afterward. 

At a glance:
– 1993-94 Topps Team USA inserts
– 23 cards
– Size: 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
Download checklist

Team USA insert cards were found one in every 12 packs of 1993-94 Premier Series Two. If I remember correctly, Series Two came out around February of 1994, the same month the Olympics were taking place, so the timing was right. The set consists of 23 cards. Some of the more notable players in the set are Brian Rolston, Brad Marchant and Peter Laviolette. 

Continue reading “Review: 1993-94 Topps Team USA”

An Interactive Look at Men’s Olympic Hockey Records, 1920 to 2014

The Men’s Ice Hockey tournament at the 2018 Winter Olympics starts on Wednesday. Want a crash course on some Olympic hockey records to impress your friends — or just need a refresher? Then take a look at these interactive charts, which give a snapshot of the most important records in men’s Olympic ice hockey over the past 98 years. 

 


While compiling this information, I found two records particularly eye-opening. First, the United States has been the runner-up in men’s Olympic ice hockey more than any other country. The U.S. lost the gold medal game — thus earning the silver — eight times in 23 Olympic tournaments. Six of those losses were to Canada, and two were to the USSR. 

Speaking of which, the other stat that gave me pause was that goaltender Vladislav Tretiak of the USSR has played in 18 games at the Olympics — and won 16 of them! Both of those marks are records as well. 

Did you find any of these records surprising or interesting? Leave a comment and let me know. ■

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

 

Interview: Randy Walker, Rob Lowe’s Hockey Double in Youngblood

Randy Walker (left) and Rob Lowe on the set of Youngblood in 1984.

Randy Walker had the best summer job a 16-year old boy could hope for. Back in the summer of 1984, MGM was filming the hockey movie Youngblood in his hometown of Toronto. Walker went with some of his friends to the audition because they wanted the free ice time, but he may have skated off with the best part – as one of the hockey doubles for the film’s star, Rob Lowe.

Remember that scene when Dean Youngblood scores a sweet wraparound goal and then gets clocked by Racki during the Mustangs’ tryout? Or when Youngblood gets crushed into the boards by teammate Derek Sutton during practice? Or when Youngblood streaks down the ice and flips a backhander over the outstretched leg of the Thunder Bay Bombers goalie? That was all Walker. Obviously, we see shots of Rob Lowe’s face – usually from the chest up – in those scenes. Walker was one of the people who made the hockey action believable. 

Randy Walker in 2018.

But as a double, Walker had other, less glamorous tasks that you did not see. Many times, a double must stay in place – sometimes even lying under a championship figure skater — while the crew sets up the lights and cameras and frame the shot. Then the real actors step in when the filming starts.

Today, Walker is a police dispatcher and 911 operator in Spotswood, New Jersey. He is a scout for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL and for the Amarillo Bulls of the NAHL, and was a youth hockey coach for 16 years. Working on the set of Youngblood may have been his summer job from over 30 years ago, yet Walker remembers it like it was yesterday. He spoke with me recently so we could geek out over his memories of working on the greatest hockey movie from the 1980s.

Sal Barry: You were pretty young when you worked on Youngblood. How did you get the job?

Randy Walker: I was 16 and played on a really good midget hockey team called the Toronto Red Wings. We won the championship. And there was a Junior B team called the Henry Carr Crusaders. They were also champions in their league. I don’t know how, but the movie found this guy named Charles Rosart.

SB: You mean “Masher?”

RW: Yeah, we called him Masher. I don’t know how they found Masher, but he called our coach and Henry Carr’s coach and got all our numbers. He called us and told us to go to the Lakeshore Arena because they were shooting some movie. Nobody in their right mind would ever believe anything Masher said, but the thing that got us to go to the rink was that we were going to play shinny with guys on the [OHL] Toronto Marlies, like Peter Zezel and Steve Thomas. We looked up to those guys. We were midget players, and those guys were in major junior.

So, it was June, school’s out, and we were going to get on the ice and play shinny with the Marlies. We thought this was going to be for a hockey instructional video. Masher told us it was for a movie, and we thought he was full of crap. When we got there, the buzz started going around that it was a Hollywood movie.

Continue reading “Interview: Randy Walker, Rob Lowe’s Hockey Double in Youngblood”

1983 History’s Greatest Olympians

In 1983, Walter Hill had a big idea. The 1984 Summer Olympics was set to take place in Los Angeles and baseball cards were experiencing a sharp rise in popularity. Hill and his company, Finder Image International, wanted to capitalize on the interest in both.

“I was pursuing an Olympic license for various products,” Hill said. “My friend at the Coca-Cola Company and I talked about trading cards, and I thought it was a good product, so we worked together to get a license from the Los Angeles Olympics Organizing Committee. Once the proposal was approved, we contracted Topps to manufacture the cards.”

With production help from Topps, Finder Image International issued a set of cards called “History’s Greatest Olympians” in 1983 and 1984. Actually, make that three sets.

One set, consisting of 99 cards, was sold in packs and as a boxed set. A variation of the set, using a different logo, was sold at 7-Eleven convenience stores. A third set, smaller in size at only 48 cards, was printed on packages of Coca-Cola products.

“History’s Greatest Olympians” reads like a who’s who of the quad-annual games from the 20th century: Cassius Clay, Jerry West, Jessie Owens, Jim Thorpe, George Foreman, Dorothy Hamill, Mike Eruzione and more. The back of each card gives a short story about that athlete’s feat of Olympic heroism. With the 2018 Winter Olympics taking place in February, collectors might want to give “History’s Greatest Olympians” another look. The set has enough legends, variations and oddities to make for a challenging – but not impossible-to-complete – series to collect.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Book Review: Dennis Maruk

When thinking of hockey’s greatest scorers, it is easy to overlook Dennis Maruk. Twice he put up 50 or more goals and was nearly a point-per-game player in his 14-year NHL career. But if you look at the sad-sack teams Maruk was doomed to play on — the California Golden Seals, the Cleveland Barons, the Minnesota North Stars and the Washington Capitals — it is easy to understand why Maruk is often forgotten. Three of the four teams he played on don’t even exist anymore, and the Capitals were so bad in the early 1980s that the team almost moved. 

Perhaps it is the lack of press that Maruk got during his career that makes his new book, entitled “Dennis Maruk: The Unforgettable Story of Hockey’s Forgotten 60-Goal Man,” so appealing. Thousands of words have been written about Bobby Orr’s Cup-clinching goal, but not so much about the feisty center with the Fu Manchu. Maruk’s book is co-authored by SportsNet’s Ken Reid (“One Night Only,” “Hockey Card Stories“) and puts a much-deserved spotlight on Maruk’s stellar NHL career. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Dennis Maruk”

Box Break: 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey

While watching the Super Bowl last night, I opened a box of 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey. My attention wasn’t diverted for long, though, as a box of Black Diamond has only one pack. A few years back, Upper Deck changed Black Diamond from a mid-range set where you got numerous packs to a high-end set where you get one pack full of “hits.”

A box of 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey sells for around $165 USD online. A box consists of one five-card pack of Black Diamond, and one “bonus pack” of 2017-18 Exquisite, which contains one card. So, that boils down to roughly $27.50 per card. 

Is it worth it? Let’s take a look and find out. 

Continue reading “Box Break: 2017-18 Black Diamond Hockey”

Book Review: Goon, Second Edition

“Goon: The True Story of an Unlikely Journey into Minor League Hockey” is a book that was adapted and made into the 2012 movie Goon that starred Sean William Scott. That movie, in turn, led to the 2017 sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Because of the success of the two Goon movies, the “Goon” book — published in 2002 and long out of print — shot up in value and was generally difficult to find. 

Fortunately, Doug Smith — the goon himself — and co-author Adam Frattasio decided to update and release a second edition of the book, now entitled “Goon: Memoir of a Minor League Hockey Enforcer.” 

Continue reading “Book Review: Goon, Second Edition”