The First Annual Puck Junk Awards

A.K.A. 6 NHL Awards We’d Like to See

The 2018 NHL Awards take place tonight. Seeing the same great players over and over win trophies and make boring speeches is fine and all, but what hockey needs is a little variety to its awards. So here are six all-new and exciting trophies that the NHL should give out to these six unique and interesting players. But the NHL is more likely to give Quebec its next expansion franchise than to acknowledge the feats of these guys. I guess that leaves it to me. So I present to you the First Annual Puck Junk Awards!  

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Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?

He Isn’t the Senators’ Only Problem, Though

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From the 1976 to 1989, there was a baseball player named Dale Murphy who was the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, for some reason. He was expected to provide much of the offensive support for a terrible team, and in return took a lot of money. After only one postseason appearance in 1982, the Braves finally wised up and dumped his ass onto the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, thus putting Atlanta on the road to an impressive stretch of Pennant wins in the National League.

Philadelphia, however, floundered like a seafood restaurant that has to hide its sanitation grade. Then the Phillies wised up and dumped him on the Colorado Rockies in 1993, lightening their load. Then the Phillies had a very memorable World Series run. But don’t weep for the Rockies; after Murphy retired they found their berth in the playoff in 1995.

Why am I telling you this? Because Matt Duchene might be the next pro sports Dale Murphy. Continue reading “Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?”

Why I Stopped Playing Topps Skate

When Topps launched its NHL Skate digital app at the start of the 2016-17 season, I couldn’t get enough of it. I constantly bought packs, actively traded for cards that I needed, worked towards getting all the reward cards and participated in numerous daily contests.

A year later, my enthusiasm for Topps Skate is all but gone. Yes, I still open the app once a day to collect my free coins, and will open a few packs now and then and try to get a few inserts. But I don’t even bother with the daily contests, nor do I try all that hard to get any of the cards. Here’s why.

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8 Offbeat Washington Capitals Cards

Since the Washington Capitals entered the NHL in 1974, the team has been in the Stanley Cup Finals just twice: back in 1998 and now in 2018. And during the team’s 43-year history, there have been only a handful of offbeat Capitals hockey cards. Here are eight such cards of Capitals players that are so fun, strange or ridiculous that they just have to be shared. 

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What Haters Get Wrong about the Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights exceeded expectations during their inaugural season. [Photo by Michael Miller]
The Vegas Golden Knights are in the Stanley Cup Finals in their very first season — and deservedly so. Numerous hockey “fans” — really, just blowhards with little hockey knowledge — have bemoaned that the Golden Knights are “too good” because of the “unfair expansion draft rules” and are basically being “handed the Stanley Cup.” 

Most of us know that this simply is not true. Plus, as they say, haters gonna hate. Here are four myths that naysayers have clung to about the Golden Knights — and why each one is wrong. 

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A Look Back at National Hockey Card Day 2018

Kids who attended National Hockey Card Day at Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, IL
proudly show off the hockey cards they received. 

March 3 was National Hockey Card Day, which has become an annual tradition for collectors in the United States and in Canada.

Sponsored by Upper Deck, National Hockey Card Day was started in 2009 in Canada and came to the United States in 2012. Hockey fans could visit a participating sports card shop and get a free pack of exclusive hockey cards.

The cards given out differ by country. The U.S. set focuses more on American players, while the Canadian set keys in on Canadian players. The cards were given out in five-card foil packs, and each set consisted of 16 total cards; the first 15 cards are found in packs, while the 16th card could only be acquired with a $10 purchase. Additionally, there were a few chase inserts.

Both the U.S. and Canadian packs had ten different Victory Black rookie cards of popular first-year players. These cards, numbered 13-22, continue the Victory Black set given away at the Fall 2017 Toronto Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo. Canadian fans also had the opportunity to pull five retro Young Guns reprint cards, while U.S. fans could find five Vegas Golden Knights cards. There were also long odds of getting an autographed card.

Excerpt from Sports Collectors Digest, Vol. 47, No. 10, May 11, 2018. Article also published online here.

Retailers who spoke with Sports Collectors Digest noted that National Hockey Card Day had a positive effect on their stores. Some dealers put up posters advertising the event and emailed their customers, while others went all-out, with sales on hockey products and raffles for signed memorabilia.

“It was unbelievable,” said Jim Amerey, co-owner of West’s Sports Cards in Edmonton. “Lots of people. I can’t count them. We give away packs for three days because there’s a lot of people who can’t come on Saturday, so we do it on Sunday and Monday, too.”

“We did really well with it, but we also had some youth hockey teams come in,” said Steve Wilson, owner of Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, about 40 miles north of Chicago. “Some of the kids were here for the first time. And a week later, we’ve already seen some of them come back and spend some of their money, so that’s always a good sign.”

National Hockey Card Day was a hit in Las Vegas, home of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Saturday was pretty insane,” said Mark Hansen, manager of Legacy Sports Cards in Las Vegas.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

The Race for the 2018 Hart Trophy

8 Great Choices – But Only 1 Can Be MVP

With the NHL regular season now at an end, I think we can all agree it has been one of the best in recent memory. If the brilliant debut of the Las Vegas Golden Knights wasn’t enough, maybe it was the play of breakout stars, Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brayden Point. But, the NHL is a stars league, and it is always at its best when its stars are shining bright. And this season is a prime example. When superstar Sidney Crosby is playing up to his expectations and is 10th in the league in scoring, you know the league is firing on all cylinders.

It felt as though this year, all of the big stars were playing their best. So that leaves one question: who is most deserving of the Hart Trophy as the league’s regular-season MVP? The award is always contentious because of the letter“V,” for valuable, in MVP. But I’m not here to try and define value and who should win; I’m here to show that this is one of the most exciting Hart Trophy races in my lifetime. There are arguably eight players,  forwards in particular, that have a legitimate chance to win the award this year. Eight forwards who have arguably been more valuable to their team than anyone else. That is the important caveat: a player’s team success is almost always included in their chances at winning the award, so I will take that under consideration. Here are the reasons why, and why not, these eight are in contention for the NHL’s top individual honor.

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The Evolution of Baseball’s Goalie Mask

Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Dave Parker in 1978.

Note: Kyle Scully is a new writer for Puck Junk. Please give him a shout out in the comments below. 

Hockey’s greatest cultural contribution may not be the Stanley Cup or Wayne Gretzky, but the fiberglass goalie mask made infamous by Jason Voorhees’ in the Friday the 13th movies. From Jason, to The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Casey Jones, to the brazen thieves in Heat, Hollywood has an endless fascination with hockey’s famous headgear, but goalie masks don’t often appear elsewhere. However, 40 years ago, a goalie mask made a cameo appearance in a Major League Baseball game. Two decades later, it became a game-changer. 

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Buying Cards in the 1990s, Memory #4: The Hat Store’s Basement

If you grew up in Chicago and collected sports trading cards in the early 1990s, then you might remember that card shop in the hat store.

Yes, seriously. There was a card shop in a hat store — in its basement, specifically. Long before there was such thing as a Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, there was a Combination Baseball Card and Hat Store. This was the 1990s, after all, and sports cards were everywhere. 

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Have You Ever Collected Ironically?

Every collector has at least one card in their collection that they own more than one copy of. Maybe it’s an extra or three of their favorite player’s rookie card, or duplicates of their hometown team’s players. Personally, I have nine Mario Lemieux rookie cards and more Jeremy Roenick rookie cards than I will ever admit to owning. Heck, I even had an expensive obsession with nabbing as many Pro Set Stanley Cup Hologram cards that I could get my mitts on. All of those cards were purchased because I genuinely liked them. 

But over the years, I’ve collected multiple copies of one card — 2010-11 Artifacts #49 Rene Bourque Emerald Parallel — purely for ironic reasons. 

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