Best Grab Bag Gift Ever

About 10 days before Christmas, my department at Columbia College had a faculty and staff Christmas party. I ended up with this Air Jet Hockey game, which was totally the most appropriate gift for me to get in the “Yankee Swap” gift exchange.

This game is pretty sweet. It measures 20″ inches long by 13″ inches wide. It includes 2 sets of paddles so up to 4 people can play. It also comes with 4 pucks–two round and two triangular. And best of all, it actually does have little holes that shoot air, making the puck glide quite nicely.

I put a hockey card on it so you can get an idea of the size.

This will go down in history as the best “grab bag” gift I ever got.

Band T-Shirt: Clever or Copycat?

A few days ago, one of my students was wearing what I thought was a New York Rangers t-shirt.

“Rangers,” I said. “Nice. You a hockey fan?” Whenever a student of mine–I teach college–wears hockey apparel, I have to voice my approval.

“Huh?” she said. “This is a t-shirt for a band.”

Upon a closer look, I saw that the text that would normally read NEW YORK RANGERS was replaced with STRAY FROM THE PATH.

I thought that was stupid. Take a recognizable sports logo, and put your own text on it. It lacks creativity and is a cheap attempt at recognition. Continue reading “Band T-Shirt: Clever or Copycat?”

1991 All-Star Game Program

If you haven’t noticed by now, I have been waxing nostalgic lately about the 1991 NHL All-Star Game. Here is the program that I purchased that weekend. It has been tucked away, bagged and boarded the past 20 years so as to remain in mint to near-mint condition

The front features a generic All-Star goalie standing in front of the Chicago skyline at night. I don’t think it is meant to be any specific goalie, just someone from the “home” team–that being the Campbell Conference.

But the cover quadrupled in coolness when you unfolded it…

Click on the image to see super-sized. 

Yes! Generic All-Star goalie versus Hall of Fame and all-time Blackhawks great Stan Mikita! Even the mightiest generic All-Star goalie is no match for Stan the Man.

The program itself has pictures both the All-Stars and the retired players who participated in the Heroes of Hockey Game. There is also history about the Chicago Blackhawks (for the out-of-towners attending the game) and info about the Skills Competition.

I think I paid $5 for this, which was kind of steep in ’91, considering that a standard program cost $3. I didn’t mind, though. How many times do you go to an All-Star Game? And with league expansion imminent in 1991, I knew that the All-Star Game would not return to Chicago for a very long time.

Maybe another 10 years and Chicago will get its turn again?

1991 All-Star Game Ballot

With the NHL All-Star Game on January 30 just a few weeks away, I’ve started thinking a lot about the one and only All-Star Game I got to go to.

Twenty years ago, I attended the 42nd NHL All-Star Game, which was held at old Chicago Stadium on January 19, 1991.

My Aunt Gayle and Uncle Pat had seasons tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks, and I was lucky to go to a lot of games from 1989 to 1992.

During the first half of the season, you could always find All-Star Game ballots and ballot boxes in the Stadium hallways.

Like every other kid,  I used to vote for my favorite players as much as humanly possible. Hey, it’s hard to stuff the ballot box when you are just 15 years old, and this was before online voting and writing programs to stuff the ballot box for you.

So, who would you have voted for in 1990? 

Click on the ballot to read the names.

Bad Ad

I saw this advertisement at a bus stop in my neighborhood the other day. It is an ad for the NHL on VS., featuring Chicago Blackhawks players.

A poorly-designed ad. Yes, I’ve been quite critical lately.

The first thing that bugs me is how close Dave Bolland and Jonathan Toews are. I have never seen hockey players lean into each other–shoulder to shoulder–when jumping the boards. Plus, Bolland’s eyes are looking right at Toews, while Toewes is looking off into the distance. Shouldn’t he be looking at the guy he’s about to collide with?


Secondly–why doesn’t Toews have a stick?

Third, Adam Burish’s elbow makes a cameo. That number 37 at the left edge of the poster used to belong to Burish. Now, no one wears it because all the new ‘Hawks know they can’t possibly replace Burish’s awesomeness.

There’s a wider version of this ad that I’m trying to get a photo of–it’s on the side of Chicago buses, but the darn things won’t hold still long enough for me to snap a pic. I wonder how man ex-Hawks are on the larger (wider) version of this advertisement.

1990 Blackhawks Red-White Scrimmage Roster

Twenty years ago was the 1990-91 season–a season in hockey that I will never forget. My Aunt Gayle had season tickets to the Chicago Blackhawks, and I went to a lot of games that year. The ‘Hawks were the best team during the regular season. The All-Star Game was in Chicago. And let us not forget that the hockey card scene EXPLODED in 1990-91…but that’s another story.

Click image to see larger

Being 15 years old at the time and into everything hockey, I saved a lot of stuff from that year. Not just the cards, but anything I could get my hands on. Here is a roster sheet from the annual 1990 Blackhawks Red Vs. White Scrimmage–or the “Red-White Game” as us ‘Hawks fans called it. Continue reading “1990 Blackhawks Red-White Scrimmage Roster”

Pittsburgh Penguins Keychain

Every time I renew my subscription to “The Hockey News,” I get a free “spinner” keychain. One side features a team logo, which spins around to reveal an alternate logo on the other side.This year, I chose the Penguins, and received it a few days ago.

One side of the keychain has the “penguin with a stick” logo… Continue reading “Pittsburgh Penguins Keychain”

Wall calendars suck

First of, a belated Happy New Year to all. A computer problem has kept me away from the internets the past few days, but I’m back online.

calendar cover

Anyway, with the first of the year now come and gone, my girlfriend Shellie and I decided to purchase calendars at a local bookstore. The best time to buy a calendar is right after New Year’s Day–they become more and more obsolete as the days go by, and you can usually find them marked down at least 50%.

But calendar selections are pretty lame; it’s mostly puppies or flowers or puppies frolicking in flowers. You have your dogs, kittens, horses, Camp Rock, farm equipment, Playboy Playmates, muscle cars, etc. etc. Stuff that I normally don’t like enough to want to hang on my wall (with the exception of a Playboy calendar–but only single guys hang up “naked lady pictures” in their place).

In Chicago, you will find sports calendars of the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bulls (even though they suck), the Bears (ditto), NASCAR, Notre Dame Football, college basketball…and if you are lucky, a hockey calendar. I found this Blackhawks calendar and purchased it, which brings me to the first reason why calendars suck:

1. They are overpriced.

Who in their right mind pays $14.99 for a calendar? The answer is no one. We all just wait and wait until January 2 and then get one at half price. I think the bookstores and calendar-making companies have finally figured this out, and inflated their prices accordingly. Before we know it, calendars will cost $29.99, and get “marked down” to $15. I’m sure some person who knows all about publishing and/or distribution channels can prove me wrong on this, but I don’t care. I have my suspicions.

Paging through the calendar, I notice that Mr. January is Robert Lang. Lang was traded to Montreal before training camp. This brings me to my second reason why calendars suck:

2. The player selection is lame.

calendar cover

Lang was traded on September 12, 2008. Even worse, Rene Bourque–who graces the month of August 2009–was traded to Calgary on July 1, 2008. Which makes me wonder who picked these players? Most of the players in the calendar (Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp) make sense. But these two? Why not also include Jim Vandermeer and Patrick Lalime as long as we’re at it?

calendar cover

I know that, like everything else that is published, there are deadlines. But there’s no flipping way that these stupid calendars were printed before Bourque’s trade on July 1. Didn’t someone at Turner Licensing–the fine folks who made this calendar–realize or even care that Lang and Bourque were gone?

Why aren’t our two big free agent acquisitions–Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet–somewhere in this calendar? What is this, an old Topps hockey card set? Do they have to play a full season in Chicago before appearing in a lousy, overpriced calendar?

Sigh.

calendar cover

Other questionable inclusions are Nikolai Khabibulin (March) and Martin Havlat (May). Most likely, those two guys will be long gone by the time their months roll around.

calendar cover

Maybe I’m just bitter because I didn’t get a free calendar at a ‘Hawks game this year, or my local gas station didn’t give me a crappy “gas station calendar”. My favorite Chinese restaurant gave me a wall scroll-type calendar, but you can’t really write on those.

Oh well. I guess I can’t expect too much, considering that this cost me around $8 and will get the job done. And it still beats that “puppies frolicking in flowers” calendar.

DePaul Hockey Jersey

So, for like the first time in ages I bought myself a hockey jersey…

DePaul Hockey JerseyI recently started Graduate School. I am enrolled in the New Media Studies (aka “Multimedia”) program at DePaul University in Chicago. Well, it turns out that DePaul has a Collegiate Division II hockey team, which is pretty awesome because my undergrad college only had Ultimate Frisbee.

If there’s two things I like, it’s hockey and writing about hockey, so I went to the first game of the season this past Friday–not only as a spectator, but to cover the game for DePaul’s student newspaper.

It’s only been three weeks, but so far grad school has been pretty cool. I’ve totally enjoyed the class I’m taking, I get to write for their school paper and they have a hockey team.

As for the jersey…well, I couldn’t pass it up. It was $30, and has an old school look to it with the shoelace neck. Now I just got to find a place that can put some New York Ranger-style numbers on it.

Here’s the link to the DePaul Hockey Club.