The Do’s and Don’ts of Interacting with Hockey Players

A stick to the face, a car door covered in paint marker and hearing “Hot dogs!” screamed at him was just one day of Phil Kessel’s experience of meeting fans outside of the new Pittsburgh Penguins practice facility. Can you blame the guy for being so secluded? This is just one of the many instances I have unfortunately had to witness when interacting with players. 

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not an autograph hound. I am not a re-seller. I am just a fan of the game. NHL players are extremely talented and hard-working, but in the end they are just like you and me, and want to be treated with respect. 

Think about it. If you walked out of your job every day and 20 people that you’ve never seen in your life ran up to you screaming, waving markers in their hands and asked you to autograph something, it would get old, wouldn’t it? So, with that perspective in mind, here are some do’s and don’ts for interacting with players.  

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Speculating on Athletes is a Bad Idea

Recently, I saw a brief write up on “success” of Upper Deck’s 2017-18 SP Authentic, in part because collectors are chasing Upper Deck’s buyback of Connor McHockeyJesus’ Young Guns rookie card. Not just because it’s his rookie card, but because they have also been autographed and numbered only to 97. Aren’t we lucky that McDavid doesn’t wear a jersey number like 2? 

While there are more reasons to buy a box of these cards, like some handsome autograph and jersey swatch hits, these ultra-rare McDavid cards are fetching upwards of $3,000 at card shows. That’s like five times more than I paid for the Volvo I used to drive. Now, it is pretty exciting to pull a rare card like that from a pack; I was mildly excited when I pulled a McDavid Young Guns RC from a Series One pack a few years ago, let it lay around on my dining room table unprotected for two weeks, and then sold it on eBay for $150 so I could buy an expensive-ass bicycle seat (pun not intended), and Sal can hate me forever for not selling it to him. What-evs!

But should you purchase the card of a young player at such an exorbitant price? He’s got his whole career ahead of him, however long or short that may be. 

History is generally cyclical. There have been other young athletes who have put up promising careers only to derail them due to personality issues, off-field antics, or REEEEEALLY poor decisions made when they play in some of the most stuffy, old fashioned, conservative sports on the planet. Let’s look at three such athletes.

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Wilson Deserved 20-Game Suspension

20 games is a long time to learn a lesson

Capitals RW Tom Wilson [Photo credit: Michael Miller]
Capitals forward Tom Wilson received a 20-game suspension on Wednesday for delivering an illegal hit to the head to Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in a preseason game on September 30. It is a decision that has been met with both resounding praise and harsh criticism over the past day. 

Wilson is not a bad person, nor is he a bad player. In fact, he was awarded the Bob Probert Bowl in the First Annual Puck Junk Awards earlier this year for possessing that formidable balance of skill and aggression. 

However, his hit on Sunqvist was egregious and inexcusable. So, the NHL handing Wilson a 20-game suspension was the right thing to do. Here’s why. 

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How Players Fared After Ditching Their Beards

It was an end of an era this week when Brent Burns helped Joe Thornton shave off his beard. [Photo Credit: Brent Burns/Twitter]
Not since the bearded women in Monty Python’s Life of Brian has a beard been as famous as the one belonging to the San Jose Sharks’ “Jumbo” Joe Thornton. Its removal earlier this week marked the end of an era, but will such a move affect his All-Star caliber abilities? Let’s look at a few similar cases as we pray for the best.

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Hockey’s Best Throwback Jerseys

This season marks the return of the “third” or “alternate” jersey in the NHL. Other than outdoor games, NHL teams did not wear third jerseys least season due to it being Adidas’ first year outfitting the league. Over the summer, several teams unveiled third jerseys for the 2018-19 season, and they have been fantastic. Most notably, the Carolina Hurricanes will wear Hartford Whalers jerseys as an homage to the team’s past life. 

The Whalers jerseys are one of the best throwback jerseys out there, and that got me thinking of some of the other awesome vintage sweaters that I would like to see return. So I made a list of my favorites, as well as the most iconic players to don that jersey — in case you buy one tomorrow and can’t decide what name to put on the back. See if your favorite throwback made the cut! 

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The Best 2018-19 NHL Game-Night Giveaway Items

Another NHL season is upon us — and with that, another slew  of free game-night giveaway items. Some of them are embarrassingly practical, with 16 of the 31 teams giving away magnet schedules. That’s great if you don’t have your smart phone handy and happen to be standing near the fridge, or wherever one sticks a magnet schedule. 

On the other hand, much of the free swag is downright strange. The Arizona Coyotes will give away an Oliver Ekman-Larsson kids cape on “Superhero Night.” And yes, they’re calling it a “kids cape” — because an adult-sized Oliver Ekman-Larsson superhero cape would  be weird. 

But not nearly as weird as this Joe Thornton bobblehead figure.

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The 5 Biggest Offseason Moves of 2018

Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1988, Wayne Gretzky was traded to the L.A. Kings. While no move made during this offseason could ever top that, some NHL GMs were nonetheless working on blockbuster deals of their own. Here are the five biggest moves of the 2018 offseason.

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Why Seattle would be great for the NHL

For only $650 million, you can be the owner of the 32nd NHL franchise. And that franchise will be located in Seattle, Washington. Late last year, the NHL granted permission to begin the application process to create an expansion team in Seattle. The team’s potential ownership group hosted a season ticket drive, with a goal of selling 10,000 tickets. They matched that goal in less than 15 minutes, and sold 25,000 tickets in an hour. This kind of momentum will go a long way in ensuring Seattle will become the NHL’s 32nd team. Here are a few reasons to be excited, and one reason to not be, about Seattle being the NHL’s newest franchise.

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Gretzky’s Trade to Kings Changed Hockey – and Collecting – Forever

Thirty years ago, on August 9, 1988, the biggest trade in sports was made when the Edmonton Oilers sent Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings in a multiplayer deal that included draft picks and $15 million.

It was the biggest trade in history because it proved that no one was untouchable – not even a superstar player who topped the league in scoring seven of the previous eight seasons, led his team to four championships, won 23 individual awards, held 49 league records and was on the verge of breaking many more.

Gretzky’s move to the second-largest market in North America not only accelerated the growth of hockey in the United States, it sparked the eventual explosion in popularity for hockey cards and collectibles.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Interview: Jim Pappin, 2-Time Stanley Cup Winner and 5-Time NHL All-Star

The Toronto Maple Leafs have the honor of being the last team during the “Original Six Era” to win the Stanley Cup — and they have Jim Pappin to thank for the large part he played. The Leafs beat the Montreal Canadiens four games to two in the 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Pappin led all Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs, with seven goals and eight assists for 15 points in 12 games. 

Championships seemed to follow Pappin wherever he went during the early part of his career. In 1964, he won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs. In 1965 and 1966, he won back-to-back Calder Cup Championships with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. After his second Stanley Cup Championship in 1967, Pappin won another Calder Cup in 1968; that’s five championships in five seasons. 

Pappin was later traded to the Chicago Black Hawks, where he was consistently one of the team’s top scorers during the early-to-mid 1970s, and played in five NHL All-Star Games. 

Recently, Pappin was signing autographs at AU Sports, a sports card and memorabilia store near Chicago, and graciously answered a few questions about his career. 

Sal Barry: You led the Maple Leafs in scoring during the playoffs in 1967 — including four goals and six assists in six games during the Finals. What went right for you in the playoffs? 

Jim Pappin: If you work hard in the playoffs, you don’t have to work in the summertime (laughs). They always say, if you play hard and win the Championship, you get bottled beer instead of draft beer. It’s a good incentive. 

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