Trio of Hawks Sign Extensions

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed three of their top players to contract extensions today. Forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have signed 5-year deals, while defenseman Duncan Keith has signed a 13-year pact.

Toews and Kane’s deals are worth $31.5 million ($6.3 big ones per year), while Keith’s deal was for $72 million ($5.54 mil per year).

Full stories about this can be found on NHL.com and the Blackhawks’ website.

This is exciting news for Blackhawks fans like myself, who would hate to see the team’s great young players end up signing elsewhere. Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa might be the best-paid players on the team, but Kane, Toews and Keith are the core.

This calls for another LOLTaves:

Upcoming Hockey Figures

Here’s a quick rundown of NHL SportsPicks Series 23 and 24 by McFarlane Toys.

NHL Series 23 – January 2010
Marc-Ander Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Alexander Ovechkin 4 (Washington Capitals)
Gordie Howe (Hartford Whalers)
Teemu Selanne 2 (Anaheim Ducks)
Bobby Orr 3 (Boston Bruins)
Luke Schenn (Toronto Maple Leafs)

NHL Series 24 – April 2010
Robyn Regehr (Calgary Flames)
Michael Cammalleri (Montreal Canadiens)
Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)
Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
John Tavares (New York Islanders)
Jonas Gustavsson (Toronto Maple Leafs)

NHL Series 23 seems to be a pretty typical assortment. I’m already tired of Ovechkin figures and Maple Leafs figures. A figure of Gordie Howe with the Hartford Whalers should be interesting, though a figure of him as a Houston Aeros would really rock.

Now, NHL Series 24 has my attention. McFarlane Toys is making figures of popular rookies John Tavares and Jonas Gustavsson while they are still rookies. Mike Cammaleri is currently second in scoring for Montreal, and Tim Thomas has more than established himself as a top-tier player.

But what really excites me is that there will be a figure of Blackahwks team captain Jonathan Toews. While there have been recent figures of retired ‘Hawks (Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Bobby Orr), this is the first figure of a current ‘Hawk since Nikolai Khabibulin was released in NHL Series Series 12 (May 2006).

Which leads me to ask, why no Blackhawks figures for so long? They have been among the hottest teams in hockey in the past two years. Patrick Kane won the Calder Trophy in 2008, but still has yet to be immortalized as a figure. Current stars Marian Hossa and Christobal Huet both appeared as SportsPicks in 2007; why not repaint them as Chicago players?

Either way, I’ll be looking to get a few of these. I’ve really slowed down on the SportsPicks as of late. I really need to get my hands on this one.

Hossa is back!

Marian Hossa will make his debut as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, as the ‘Hawks take on the Sharks at 9:30 pm CST.

The Blackhawks are 15-5-2 so far this year, and have won their past 7 games. If you think the ‘Hawks are tough…well, now they got Hossa. Western Conference teams, be afraid. Be very afraid.

The Goalie Mask is 50

Yesterday was Halloween, and today is the 50th anniversary of when Jacques Plante first wore a goalie mask in a game–November 1, 1959.

What is ironic about these two days being back-to-back is that the classic, “Jason-style” goalie mask will forever be associated with Halloween (the holiday, not the movie).

“Really, are we all that different…?”

The fiberglass goalie masks worn by guys like Plante, Tony Esposito and Gerry Cheevers was phased out during the 1980s, and pretty much gone by 1990. Sam St. Laurent was the final guy in the NHL to wear the fiberglass “face” mask, last appearing for the Red Wings in 14 games during the 1989-90 season.

Yet, the very same classic goalie mask still “means” hockey–even though it was last used in the NHL 20 years ago. Most goalies started to change over to helmets during the early-to-mid 1980s, after Bernie Parent sustained a career-ending eye-injury in 1979.

Though no longer used in hockey, the classic goalie mask continues to be a symbol of Halloween. Worn by Jason Vorhees in the “Friday the 13th” series of movies, the plain white goalie mask remains a staple for people who don’t want to put a lot of thought into dressing up once a year–never mind the fact that those films, like the mask itself, have not been relevant since the 1980s.

Get some black clothes, a $5 toy mask and a machete (prop or otherwise) and you’ve got the lazy man’s Halloween costume. 97 out of 100 people will get it (the other 3 will think you’re a zombie Pelle Lindbergh).

Fitting to both Halloween and the anniversary of the goalie mask, the Chicago Blackhawks gave out a Halloween-inspired mask to fans who attended their game on October 30. I think Wayne and Garth would approve.

No, not that Wayne and Garth.

“Game on!”

By the way, here’s a cool article about one of the last goalies to go without a mask.

Wolves Sign Chelios!

The Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League (AHL) have signed Chris Chelios today. He will make his debut with the team on Friday. The full story can be seen on the Chicago Wolves’ website.

As many of you know, Chelios is my favorite player. Way back when he was with the Montreal Canadiens, I enjoyed his rough-and-tumble style of play. When he became a Chicago Blackhawks player in 1990, he also became my favorite player. He was our top defenseman on the team, but also contributed a lot of offense. In fact, he led the team in scoring during the 1995-96 season.

Virtually all of the players I grew up watching have retired–but not Chelios. He kept soldiering on over all these years. My joke all along has been that I will still be a kid until Chelios retires. And it looks like Chelios will stave off retirement a little while longer.

Above is Chris Chelios’ rookie card, from the 1984-85 season. Below is a custom card I made of Chelios–based on the ’84-85 design–but wearing a Chicago Wolves uniform (well, practice jersey anyway).

So, I wrote a letter to Upper Deck…

Way back in March 2008, I got this card in a pack of 2007-08 O-Pee-Chee Hockey:

card

As you can see, it is a Quad Jerseys card of four Minnesota Wild players: Marian Gaborik, Pierre Marc-Bouchard, Adam Hall and Pavol Demitra. I instantly hated this card because it features a purple swatch next to Demitra. Why would you put four Minnesota players on a card, feature four swatches swatches of their jerseys, but use a Kings jersey for one of the players? It doesn’t make sense, and it ruins what would otherwise be a fantastic card.

Would you make a game-used card that featured a game-used swatch of a Kings jersey worn by Wayne Gretzky, but use a photograph of Gretz with the Oilers? No, that would be stupid, and kill what could otherwise be a nice presentation. Yet, each year Upper Deck gives us cards of showing a player wearing the jersey from his “new” team, but using a swatch from a jersey from his “old” team. I once got a card of Marc Savard that pictured him as a Thrasher, colored the card in Bruins colors (and said “Boston Bruins” at the bottom) and used a swatch from a Flames jersey. That was one messed up card.

So, I’ve decided that I will no longer accept this. On September 15, I sent the Minnesota Wild Quad Jerseys card back to Upper Deck with a letter explaining that I did not want this “defective” piece of merchandise.

Dear Customer Service,I recently pulled this “Quad Jerseys” authentic game-used memorabilia card from a pack of O-Pee-Chee Hockey cards. Naturally, I was excited to get it, as these cards are hard to come by – one in about every 288 packs.

However, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment and frustration because there is a defect on this otherwise great card. This Quad Jerseys card features four players from the Minnesota Wild Hockey team – but the swatch in the lower right-hand corner is purple. Never in the team’s ten-year history have they ever worn jerseys containing purple. So, I am not sure why a purple swatch was placed on this otherwise wonderful card.

I understand that you may not have another copy of this card available to exchange for this defective one. I would gladly accept any other jersey card in lieu of this one, as long as it has the proper-colored swatches on it. It can be of any hockey team (though I am particularly fond of the Chicago Blackhawks).

Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.

Your customer,

Sal J. Barry

To make sure this letter did not get “lost”, I sent it via Signature Confirmation, so that someone would have to sign when the Post Office delivered it. On September 18, it was delivered and signed for by someone named “Ventura”.

On September 30, I received a padded envelope from Upper Deck. It contained a letter–mostly the typical “form letter,” but the bottom is actually personalized to my particular case…

SalThank you for your recent replacement request. The Upper Deck Company strives to produce the highest quality trading cards on the market and we apologize that the card(s) you recently purchased did not meed these standards.

We are however more than happy to replace any damaged cards from our replacement stock and hope you will enjoy the enclosed replacements.

We offer product replacements for our valued customers for 8 months or while supplies last, which ever occurs first. Factory stamped cards will be replaced with factor stamped cards. However, laser printed cards are replaced with hand-numbered replacements.

Thank you again for your continued support and we look forward to assisting you in the future.

Unfortunately, some of the cards you have submitted that are noted as “Not Replaced” are either past our product replacement period or we have depleted stock on them. We replace cards for 8 months from the product release date or until stock is depleted.

Hello Sal,
The Pavol Demitra swatch is purple because we used inventory for when he played with the Kings. Even though it isn’t his Minnesota jersey, it is still game-used and authentic Enjoy yourcard.
CS

Sincerely,

The Upper Deck Company

(The typo “yourcard” is theirs, not mine. *I* use spell-check.)

Upper Deck returned the Quad Jerseys card, explaining that the card was not defective–they just knowingly used a swatch from the wrong team. But it’s cool, because Demitra was a King at one time, just not when he was pictured on this card. Their fuzzy logic is frustrating.

Perhaps as a means to placate me, UD’s customer service also enclosed this 2007-08 Upper Deck Black Diamond “Gemography” card of Patrice Bergeron.

card

So, I gained an autographed card–which is always nice–but still have the same lousy Minnesota Wild jersey card with a swatch from a Kings jersey. Plus, I just now realized that the gray swatch used for Adam Hall is from his days with the Nashville Predators, making this card an even bigger piece of crap. Had I noticed that before, I would have mentioned that in my letter too.

I did not do this as a means to “extort” an autographed card from Upper Deck. While I did ask for a replacement card, I told Upper Deck that I did not care what it was so long as the jersey was “right”.

As we collectors, we should not accept “defective” memorabilia cards, where the swatch is not from the same team as the player pictured. Seriously, who wants that in their collection?

So here is what I propose: if you get such a card in a pack of 2009-10 hockey cards, where the jersey swatch is not from the same team as the photographed player, send it back to Upper Deck. Let them know that you will not accept such a defective card. And it is a defect–not in the manufacturing process, but in their thought process. Remember, these game-used memorabilia cards are what drives up the cost of hockey cards–if we are paying for something, we should be paying for something we want.

Who is with me on this?

Puck Junk is 2 years old…

Puck Junk is two years old.

Yes, the terrible twos.

I should be more happy about this, but I’m not.

I’m a web designer. I make websites.

Sites come and go.

Some of the best websites I’ve done have since gone to website heaven.

My previous “passion project”, which was based on “The Matrix” movies, lasted six years until I got tired of it and took it offline.

Too many hobbies, not enough time to create websites for all of them (though I try).

Conventional logic should dictate that in order for a website to succeed, new content should be added every day. Well, I guess the reason why I’m a bit disappointed is that I don’t update this site every day or every other day.

Instead, I tend to be streaky. I go through some weeks where–BAM!–I update the site five days a week. And then there are other times where I can’t even find the time to update in two weeks. My last post was my tribute to Patrick Swayze…and that was 20 days ago!

For those who are still reading and not bored yet, here are some numbers–who doesn’t love stats?

In Puck Junk’s first season, I’ve updated the site 142 times–67 in-depth articles and 75 “off the cuff” blog posts.

During Puck Junk’s second season, I’ve updated only 85 times–25 full articles and 60 shorter blog posts.

In total, I’ve updated 227 times out of 730 days. Even if I omit Saturdays and Sundays, that would be 227/522, or approximately 43% of the time.

So, that’s adds up to a little less than every other day.

Lately, I’ve been swamped with school work. Grad school has been kicking my butt. I’m doing okay in my “Writing for Magazines” class, but I’m falling behind in my “New Media and Culture” class. One is a lot of writing, the other is a lot of reading. Both are time-consuming, leaving me little time for this site or my autograph blog.

Hopefully, this week I’ll be able to squeeze a little time out to write here and there. I’ve got a Card of the Week to post that’s been a thousand years in the making. I’ve got an interesting Chicago Blackhawks collectible to show off too. Finally, I conducted a hockey card-related “experiment” to see what would happen. I plan on getting these three little gems up on this site this week.

R.I.P. Patrick Swayze

Another actor from the film “Youngblood” has passed away. Patrick Swayze died yesterday after battling pancreatic cancer for the past 20 months. He was 57 years of age. Voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1991, Swayze is best known for films “Dirty Dancing” and “Ghost.” But hockey aficionados will always remember him as Derek Sutton, team captain of the Hamilton Mustangs in “Youngblood.”

Swayze’s character of Sutton was cool. He got the ladies, he could score goals and he could fight. He explained to Dean Youngblood that he’d be happy to play for the “Tallahassee Warthogs,” and also uttered my favorite line in the film: “Thank God there is a sport for middle-sized white boys.”

Swayze is the second person from that film to pass away this year. Back in May, former NHL player Peter Zezel died. Zezel played a non-speaking character named Rossini (he’s the guy who gets sent out to replace Dean at the end of the film, only to skate back to the bench). Although Zezel played mostly for teams that rivaled the Blackhawks, I was a fan of his because of his role in the film.

As a tribute to Swayze–and a belated one to Zezel–here are some custom hockey cards I made (seen at the top, and below). “Youngblood” was a film I enjoyed many times over during my teenage years. Thanks for the happy memories, guys.










FYI, I was up until 3 am making custom hockey cards. I must be nuts. Then again, for what it’s worth I really liked “Youngblood”…

I wasn’t going to touch this…

…but I have to say something about Patrick Kane being arrested early Sunday morning. I mean it isn’t every day that the Blackhawks make the front page…

…and the back page…

…of both local newspapers in Chicago.

Usually, that kind of stuff is reserved for when a Chicago Bears player gets in trouble for bringing a gun into a night club. Or when a Chicago Bulls player is revealed to have cheated on his college entrance exam. Or–in all fairness to the media–when a White Sox player pitches a perfect game.

But here he is, Patrick Kane, the golden boy of Chicago hockey. And now he has his own mugshot. I tell ya, kids grow up so fast these days.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Patrick Kane and his cousin were arrested in Buffalo after beating up a cab driver. As reported, the 20-year-old Kane and his 21-year-old cousin James took a cab home from the downtown club district in Buffalo. The fare was $13.80. The Kane cousins paid him $15, but got mad when the cabbie gave them back a dollar but informed them that he did not have twenty cents change. The Kane cousins punched the cab driver repeatedly and broke his glasses. Someone saw what was going on, and called the cops. Or so the story goes.

And just like that, little Kaner has a rap sheet. Not as long as Bob Probert’s rap sheet, but hey–Kane is only 20. Give him time.

Anyway, here are a few collected articles about this incident:

Kane arrested, pleads not guilty to robbery charge (NHL.com)

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane arrested in Buffalo, NY (The Hockey News)

Tough-guy act doesn’t befit Kane (Chicago Tribune)

Kane hires high-powered defense attorney (The Buffalo News)

But Len Ziehm, the ‘Hawks beat writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, doesn’t believe the hype:

Hard to Fathom (Chicago Sun-Times)

A day later, the cab driver’s lawyer is downplaying what happened:

Attorneys downplay allegations against Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane (Chicago Tribune)

So what do I think? It is hard for me to imagine that Patrick Kane would do such a thing. But then again, my judgment is clouded because I’m a Blackhawks fan. Many athletes–hockey players included–have done boneheaded things. Maybe Kane is one of them.

By the way, Kane will appear on the box cover of Electronic Art’s “NHL ’10” video game when it is released on September 15. Perhaps this incident was caused by the “EA Box Cover Curse”? You know, when a player appears on the cover of a video game and then has a bad year that very same season?

Though I wonder if EA should modify the box art a bit…

NOTE: For those who were wondering, the Chicago Bears player I referred to is Tank Johnson, the Bulls player is Derrick Rose and the White Sox player is Mark Buehrle.

Whole Lotta Hossa

Dale Tallon must be out of his mind.

Yes, the Blackhawks General Manager did “manage” to sign this summer’s hottest free agent, Marian Hossa.

The problem is, he signed Hossa for twelve years. Twelve years. Let’s think about this for a minute, shall we? In 12 years, it will be the year 2021–which sounds like the title of a Rush album or an Arthur C. Clarke novel–and Hossa will be 42. Continue reading “Whole Lotta Hossa”