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”

Final round, fight!

Redwings vs. Penguins

Series: Detroit Red Wings vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

My prediction: Penguins pull the UPSET in 6 games.

Thoughts: Last year, I predicted that the Red Wings would win in 6 games–and they did. Am I psychic? No. Am I really good at guessing how many games it takes to win a particular series? Obviously not, as evidenced by my prior blog posts during this year’s playoffs.

But I do know this: both of these teams are awesome, are totally capable of scoring a lot of goals and have so-so goaltending. But I don’t think we can expect to see games with 7-6 scores. It seems that everyone goes conservative once they reach the finals. I would love to see some blowout scores. It might happen–both teams have the tools to do so.

Now, the Red Wings are pretty much the same team as last year, except now they have Marian Hossa too. Hossa was on the Penguins last year, but figured that if he can’t beat ’em Red Wings, then join ’em Red Wings.

And despite the offense that Hossa adds to Detroit, I can’t help but feel that Pittsburgh will do it this year. Last year, they struggled and lost to the Red Wings. This is very much like the 1983 Edmonton Oilers, who lost to the Islanders that year in the Cup finals. That was the Islanders’ fourth straight Stanley Cup. The next season, a more mature, more confident Oilers team would beat the Islanders, starting a dynasty of their own.

History is cyclical. It’s time for a changing of the guard.

Penguins in six.

Round 3 recap

With only two series in the third round, I can be either half-right, completely right, or completely wrong. No more of this 75% stuff.


Series: Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (4)

My prediction: Red Wings in 7.

What actually happened: Red Wings won in 5.

Thoughts: While I was hoping that the Blackhawks would pull off an upset and make it to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992, I knew that they could not beat the Red Wings this year. The Wings depth players performed well, while most of the Blackhawks depth players were nowhere to be seen in this series. Byfuglien, Ladd and Bolland were all non-factors.

I was right about the winner, but really thought the ‘Hawks would test the Wings better. Oh well. What do Cubs fans say? Oh yeah, Wait ’til next year!


Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)

My Prediction: Penguins in 7.

What actually happened: Penguins in 4.

Thoughts: Ah, stupid ‘Canes. Two weeks ago, I stated

At this point, no team is just going to roll over and die. The Penguins will win the series, but it will be another hard-fought battle. The Hurricanes bumped off two teams ranked above them–the Devils in Round 1 and the Bruins in Round 2. Clearly, this team is for real.

Hard fought? This team is for real? Not only does that sound hokey and cliched, but it was wrong. I stated that the Hurricanes would not “roll over and die”, but that’s pretty much what they did. Other than the first game, which the Pens won by a single goal, the rest of the games were lopsided victories for Pittsburgh.

By the way, during Game 2 I heard Versus commentator Darryl Reaugh say “The Malkin Mind Meld,” in reference to one of Evegeni Malkin’s goals. Dude, seriously–keep Star Trek out of hockey. I can see the appeal of alliteration, but using it for a thinly-veiled sci-fi reference is just sad. Now, had Tomas Vokoun been tending the nets for either team, Vokoun Mind Meld might have been funny.

Well, I did pick the winners of each series, but come on–anyone could have done that. Those kids from Mozambique that we see in those “Right to Play” ads could have picked the conference winners. I’m not saying that kids from Mozambique don’t know hockey–I’m just saying that once the Sharks and Capitals were out of the way, everyone was smelling a rematch of last year’s final.

Round 3, fight!

Hockey’s “Final Four” starts today, with the Chicago Blackhawks facing off against the Detroit Red Wings in the


Series: Detroit Red Wings (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (4)

My prediction: Red Wings in 7, but if the ‘Hawks win, they’ll have to do it in 6.

Thoughts: Has any team gone from non-playoff contention to Stanley Cup winner?

Actually, yes. The Montreal Canadiens did not make the playoffs in 1970, but won the Stanley Cup in 1971 (ironically, at the expense of the Blackhawks). So, a team can turn it around in a year and go from zeroes to heroes. And the Blackhawks can be that team.

But let’s be realistic here. The Red Wings are pretty much the same team as they were last year, minus Dominick Hasek (who was a non-factor) and plus Marian Hossa (who helped the Penguins reach the Finals last year). They are an awesome team that became a little awesome-r with the addition of Hossa.

I don’t think goaltender Chris Osgood can carry the Red Wings, but they have so many high-scoring players that it does not make a difference. Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa are all deadly with the puck, and Nick Lidstrom ain’t no slouch, either.

But the Blackhawks won’t go down easily. They made it this far for a reason. They, too, have a lot of scoring potential, with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Martin Havlat and Patrick Sharp. Maybe these guys aren’t as dynamic as the Red Wings scorers–yet–but they’ve all come through in the past two series.


Series: Pittsburgh Penguins (4) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (6)

My Prediction: Penguins in 7.

Thoughts: At this point, no team is just going to roll over and die. The Penguins will win the series, but it will be another hard-fought battle. The Hurricanes bumped off two teams ranked above them–the Devils in Round 1 and the Bruins in Round 2. Clearly, this team is for real.

So are the Penguins. They have two of the best players in the league–Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Bill Guerin has been stepping it up too. As the Penguins proved in Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, their offense can be devastating.

Really, it will have to be Pittsburgh’s offense that wins this series. Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has not proven himself to be a standout goaltender, and stands to be the Penguins biggest weakness. Things will get troublesome if the ‘Canes learn how to exploit that weakness. Of course, they did solve Martin Brodeur.

Looks like it’s going to be another Detroit-Pittsburgh matchup in the Stanley Cup Finals. But, I would love it to be Chicago-Pittsburgh–even more so because the Penguins are my sister’s favorite team, and she still won’t drop the fact that the Penguins beat the Blackhawks in the 1992 finals. A rematch is long overdue.

Round 2 recap

Round 2 of the playoffs was by far the best hockey I have seen in a long time. Three of the 4 series went down to the bitter end and were settled in 7 games. The fourth series went 6 games, but like the other series was also very close.

Here is the breakdown of my Round 2 predictions and the actual results.


Series: Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (4)

My prediction: Red Wings in 7.

What actually happened: Red Wings in 7.

Thoughts: You can’t get much closer than this. Most of the games were within 1 goal, but the Red Wings did win by 3 goals in Game 4 and Game 5. Regardless, I was right about this one going 7 games. Feelin’ pretty smug…


Series: Vancouver Canucks (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (3)

My Prediction: Blackhawks pull UPSET in 6.

What actually happened: Blackhawks pull UPSET in 6.

Thoughts: Oh yeah! There are some games in this series where the Blackhawks looked lethargic–namely Games 3 and 4 in Chicago. But in Game 2 they were dynamite. The Hawks had their ups and downs in the series, but when they did good, they did really good. Their big guns like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews came through, but so did depth players like Adam Burish and Dustin Byfuglien. And the fact that the scored 7 goals against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is pretty amazing,. I also correctly predicted that this would be settled in 6 games. The smugness continues!


Series: Boston Bruins (1) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (4)

My Prediction: Bruins in 5.

What actually happened: Carolina UPSET in 7.

Thoughts: I guess the Hurricanes are a better team than I give them credit for. But what the hell happened to the Bruins? They were the best in the East, and self-destructed a la the Sharks. I’m kind of disappointed, because I would have loved a Bruins vs. Penguins conference finals. I’m a little less smug, now…


Series: Washington Capitals (2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (3)

My Prediction: Penguins UPSET in 6.

What actually happened: Penguins UPSET in 7.

Thoughts: The Penguins-Capitals series by far was the best of the playoffs so far, and might prove to be the best series of the playoffs, period. The first 6 games were close, and both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin were awesome. Pittsburgh’s 6-2 win in Game 7 was the only real decisive victory in the series.

This round, 3 of my 4 predictions were correct, as far as series winners go. That’s another 75% for me–same as last round, where I correctly picked 6 of 8.

Round 2, fight!

Round 2 of the 2009 NHL playoffs start today. I was 6 for 8 in my first round predictions; let’s see if I can be 3 for 4 in my second round picks.


Series: Detroit Red Wings (1) vs. Anaheim Ducks (4)

My Prediction: Red Wings in 7.

Thoughts: The underachieving Ducks–who finished 8th in the Western Conference–knocked off the Sharks in 6 games. Can they repeat their success against the Red Wings? Nope! I don’t know why the Sharks keep sabotaging themselves each year, but the Red Wings don’t seem to have this self-destructive tendency. I’m not saying the Ducks will go away that easy; this series will go down to the wire.


Series: Vancouver Canucks (2) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (3)

My Prediction: Blackhawks pull UPSET in 6.

Thoughts: Yes, I’m pulling for my team here, but they’ve won two and lost two against the Canucks during the regular season. The Hawks will win if they can steal a road game early–if it goes to seven games, then the Canucks will draw upon the power of playing on their native Canadian soil and win the series.


Series: Boston Bruins (1) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (4)

My Prediction: Bruins in 5.

Thoughts: If you use your imagination, you can pretend it’s a Bruins-Whalers matchup (there I go again, living in the past). While Carolina upset the Devils, the Bruins averaged 4 goals a game against the Canadiens. Tim Thomas is having a hell of a playoffs (1.50 GAA so far), so the Bruins will make it to the Final Four.


Series: Washington Capitals (2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (3)

My Prediction: Penguins UPSET in 6.

Thoughts: This one will be interesting. Capitals rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov kicked ass in goal against the Rangers. Can he continue to do so against the Penguins–a team who will push him to his limits. I think Alexander Ovechkin is a better player than Sidney Crosby, but I think the Penguins have the better team.