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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
What You Need to Know Before Going to the ‘Hawks Con This Year
NOTE: David Schauer is another new member of Team Puck Junk. Please give him a shout out in the comments below!
The annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention is right around the corner, and we at Puck Junk thought it might be a good idea to share some of the knowledge that I’ve gained over the years of attending. In fact, this is the 11th annual convention and I personally have gone to the last nine. I’m still kicking myself for missing the first one. All of that experience adds up to a unique insight on what to expect and tips to make your visit even better.
By Sal Barry, Kyle Scully, Blake Isaacs & Jim Howard
Before we fully turn our attention to the season that lies ahead, here is a look back at the biggest hockey stories of the 2017-18 season.
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.
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.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.
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.
The popular Upper Deck program returns on Saturday, March 3, 2018
Don’t call it a comeback; it’s been around for years! Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day returns for 2018. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, collectors in the U.S. and Canada can get an exclusive pack of trading cards when they visit a participating retailer (U.S retailers here, Canadian retailers here.)
This is the 7th year that NHCD has taken place in the U.S., and the 10th year in Canada. For 2018, Upper Deck has upped the ante and added a few more cards to the mix.
Life came full circle for Eric Lindros when the Philadelphia Flyers retired 88 – his number for eight seasons in Philly – on January 18.
After more than a decade of icy feelings between him and the Flyers, he received the highest honor a team could bestow upon one of its former players. Lindros joins Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Barry Ashbee, Bill Barber and Mark Howe as the only Flyers to have their numbers retired in the team’s 50-year history.
“This evening has given me a chance to reflect and remember special moments, special people, and of course you, the amazing fans that support the Flyers of Philadelphia,” Lindros said to the sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center, moments before his number was raised to the rafters.
Lindros was an offensively gifted physical player who was just as likely to bring fans to their feet by scoring as goal as he was by delivering a bone-crunching hit. Nicknamed “The Big E” for his 6’4”, 230 lb. frame, Lindros was the Flyers’ team captain for six seasons and was the most dominant forward in the NHL in the mid-to-late 1990s. He was also hockey’s first “investible” player; that is, the player that collectors and speculators would want cards of because of potential future value – much like Shaquille O’Neal was to basketball card collecting around the same time.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk.