A Guide to Attending the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago

[Photo by Sal Barry]
The National Sports Collectors Convention is returning to Chicago in one week. Held annually since 1980, The National is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, with over 600 tables and more than 300 dealers selling sports cards, autographs, apparel, and anything else sports-related that you can think of. Fortunately, The National is five days long — starting on Wednesday, July 26 and lasting until Sunday, July 30 — so you don’t have to do everything in one day. 

If you plan on going to The National, here are some tips that will help you get the most out of the experience. 

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The Hockey Fans’ Guide to the 2017 National Sports Collectors Convention

If you live in the United States, then you know how frustrating it can be to find hockey collectibles at your typical sports card show. In 10 days from now, The National Sports Collectors Convention — a.k.a. “The National” will return to Chicago, and it is anything but your typical card show. It is the largest sports collectibles convention in the world, taking place July 26 to July 30, 2017 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

The National probably won’t have as much “puck junk” as the Fall Expo or Spring Expo, since those shows are in Toronto and feature a hockey-centric lineup of autograph guests. Nonetheless, if you are a hockey collector, you can still get a lot out of The National. I’ve attended this show when it was in Chicago in 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2015, and always enjoyed myself and found a lot of great hockey items, despite the seemingly endless amount of non-hockey memorabilia.

So, here is my guide for hockey fans attending this year’s National. Seek, and ye shall find. 

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National Hockey Card Day is Saturday

Get Free Hockey Cards on February 18

Doughnut lovers have National Doughnut Day. Vinyl aficionados have Record Store Day. Hockey card collectors have a day of our own, too. Saturday, February 18 is National Hockey Card Day. Set your alarm, grab some coffee and head out to your local card shop – or maybe a few card shops — and get some free hockey cards. 

National Hockey Card Day, or NHCD as us cool kids abbreviate it, started in Canada in 2009 and in the U.S. in 2012. Collectors who visit a participating card shop can get a free pack of exclusive Upper Deck hockey cards. Each pack has five cards. A bonus card can also be acquired by making a $10 purchase. 

Here are the details on National Hockey Card Day in each country.  Continue reading “National Hockey Card Day is Saturday”

NHL fails to televise Marleau’s 500th goal

Center Ice subscribers who wanted to see Patrick Marleau score his 500th career goal Thursday night were denied the opportunity. For reasons unknown, the game was not televised on Center Ice, the subscription service that lets fans watch every out-of-market NHL game. 

Well, every game except the one where a 19-year NHL veteran, on the brink of becoming the 45th player in NHL history to score 500 goals, scored his 500th goal. 

But hey — the Oilers-Predators, Jets-Stars and Leafs-Blues games had two feeds each on Center Ice. 

The channel that was supposed to show the Sharks-Canucks game instead showed the list of the games on Center Ice that night. (Note the text at the very top of the screen.)

As a Center Ice subscriber, I expected to watch the Sharks-Canucks game live. That is why I pay for Center Ice. I was hoping to see Marleau score his milestone goal Thursday night. Instead, I got to see it online after the fact. 

I am in Chicago — about 2,160 miles from San Jose and 2,200 miles from Vancouver — so it is safe to say that I am not in either team’s broadcast territory and subject to blackouts. I figured that this might have been a problem with my cable provider, Comcast.

But on Twitter, I found out that this problem wasn’t isolated to Chicago or to Comcast subscribers.  Continue reading “NHL fails to televise Marleau’s 500th goal”

Will More Parallels Save e-Pack Hockey?

Upper Deck announced some changes yesterday to their e-Pack platform as a means to reduce the potential glut of insert and parallel hockey cards available on the secondary market. In a nutshell, physical insert and parallel cards obtained through e-Pack can now be combined to make an even more-limited parallel of the same card. This is bad news for those who are already sick of parallel cards, and even worse news for those who enjoyed scooping up cheap hockey cards as a result of e-Pack. So, will this move save e-Pack?

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Puck Junk’s Top Articles of 2016

Not only was 2016 a great year for hockey collectibles, but it was a great year for this website, too. Readership has steadily grown over the past nine years, and I have all of you to thank for that. While I am working on some new articles for 2017, I just wanted to share this list of “must reads” from the past year. These were Puck Junk’s top articles from 2016:

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Top 10 Hockey Collectible Stories of 2016

Happy New Year! With the holidays and other obligations requiring my focus over the past few weeks, I needed to take a little break from Puck Junk and turn my attention elsewhere. But now I am back on track and ready to start writing about hockey goodness once again in 2017. 

Before we get on with the new, I thought it would be good to take a look back at the year that was 2016. Yes, a lot of cool people died — rest in peace, Princess Leia and Ziggy Stardust — and a mean Oompa Loompa was elected as U.S. President.

But 2016 wasn’t a bad year for hockey collectors. We saw the introduction of a new way to buy cards, a new type of hockey card altogether, and so much more. Here are the biggest hockey collectible stories of 2016.  Continue reading “Top 10 Hockey Collectible Stories of 2016”

The Two NHL Records of Helmut Balderis

helmut_balderis
Custom Hockey Card by Sal Barry

Helmut Balderis set an NHL record 27 years ago. On November 2, 1989, the 37-year old right wing scored a goal for the Minnesota North Stars in a 4-3 loss to the Blackhawks at Chicago Stadium. By doing so, he became the oldest player in NHL history to score his first goal in the NHL.

However, that was actually Balderis’ second NHL record. Continue reading “The Two NHL Records of Helmut Balderis”

A Look Back at the 1991 Canada Cup

7_canada_cup_checklist

Twenty-five years ago today, Canada won the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament when they beat the United States. It would be the last Canada Cup, as the tournament would be renamed the World Cup of Hockey in 1996.

A few months after the 1991 Canada Cup, Upper Deck released its 1991-92 hockey card set, which included a Canada Cup subset. This was the first time that a set of trading cards would feature pictures and players from the Canada Cup. These Canada Cup cards were also the first hockey cards for many of the European players — some who would go on to lengthy NHL careers.

Here’s a look at how each of the six teams, as well as many of the players, performed at the 1991 Canada Cup.
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Remembering Six Forgotten NHL Awards

Fan-Fave-Award-Drawing

With the 2016 NHL Awards Show taking place tomorrow, the internet has been abuzz with which players should win certain awards, or why a particular trophy should be renamed. But I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the NHL’s forgotten awards. Each of these six awards were given out at different times over the NHL’s 99-year history, but all were discontinued for one reason or another. It’s time for a little NHL history.

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