Last month, 2016-17 Upper Deck Series Two was released in stores and online shops. Other than a few packs I bought to get a promotional card on National Hockey Card Day, I have avoided buying Upper Deck Series One and Upper Deck Series Two this year. Since 1990, Upper Deck’s flagship “Upper Deck” hockey card set was something I always looked forward to. It was usually the biggest and best hockey card set every year during that decade, and set the high-water mark in quality for the hobby.
But over time, Upper Deck Series One and Series Two have become somewhat…uninspired. Routine. Even boring. This year’s Series One Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist. Likewise, this year’s Series Two Hockey set has 198 base cards of veteran players, two checklists, 49 short-printed Young Guns rookie cards and one short-printed Young Guns checklist.
Other than a little variation in the number of Young Guns, that has pretty much been Upper Deck’s script since 2005-06, and frankly, it is time for a change.
Don’t get me wrong. The cards themselves look great and are of high quality. But even if you ate your favorite food for a month straight, it will still get dull. So it is time for Upper Deck to spice things up and not just do what has been working, but to seek to make things better. Here are seven ways that would improve Upper Deck Series One and Series Two.
Sometimes, the level of amateurishness displayed by the NHL in 2017 surprises me. The league held a celebrity all-star game on Saturday prior to the NHL Skills Competition. One player in the game was international pop sensation Justin Bieber. And yet, the NHL didn’t even bother to televise this game — not even on the NHL Network, which just ran a bunch of talking heads in that time slot.
The NHL streamed the 2017 NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout on its website, and did a lousy job of it too, wasting the opportunity to raise the game’s profile and hopefully get a few new fans in the process.
The two teams — named Team Gretzky (home) and Team Lemieux (away) — had a lot of retired greats in the lineup, like Joe Sakic, Luc Robitaille, Sergei Fedorov, Peter Forsberg, Borje Salming and Larry Robinson. Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux served as the coaches. Current stars Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid played, too. Celebrities like actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and movie director/producer Jerry Bruckheimer also laced them up.
Twenty-five years ago was the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Just like Austin Mathews today is unanimously considered the best prospect in this year’s draft, everyone in 1991 thought the same of Eric Lindros.
Lindros was considered “The Next One” since he was 14 years old. And who could argue? He was 6’4″ and 230 pounds. He scored 149 points in 57 games during his last season of major junior hockey. Lindros was a dominant force that could control the game. But would NHL scouts and GMs spend a first-overall pick on The Big E, or someone else, knowing then what we know now?
So, let’s imagine that we could re-do the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Let’s set our Wayback Machines to June 22, 1991, pack an iPad with Hockey DB and Hockey Reference already bookmarked — we’ll worry about finding a WiFi hot spot when we get there — and see how the first round of the 1991 Draft would have played out in our alternate timeline.
Earlier this month, blogger Kin Kinsley asked the pointed question “Is Upper Deck e-Pack Killing Card values?” It is a great article worth reading, and much of my article here draws from the research Kin conducted earlier. In summary, the droves of collectors opening “virtual packs” of 2015-16 Upper Deck Series One and Series Two at the e-Pack website, coupled with the convenience of physical inserts already being housed at Check Out My Cards, has led to a glut of inserts listed on the COMC website for dirt cheap.
The shock of the Chicago Blackhawks losing to the St. Louis Blues on Monday night has not quote worn off yet — at least not among the die-hard fans who didn’t want to even think about baseball until June. Surely, weren’t the Blackhawks supposed to win the Stanley Cup this year, becoming the first team in almost two decades to win back-to-back championships? Alas, it was not meant to be. Game 7 was close. The entire Blackhawks-Blues first round series was close. But being close isn’t good enough when you are down a goal on the losing end.
Still, let us not forget that the 2015-16 season was nothing to frown upon. From on the ice, to behind the bench, to the front office, it was a great season overall for the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are the top six highlights from the year that was.
When I started watching hockey as a kid, I latched onto the Chicago Blackhawks because I lived in Chicago, and that made sense to me. My younger sister decided that she was going to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan because she was 11 years old and liked penguins. That sounded silly to me as a kid, but now I wouldn’t judge.
People decide to become fans of teams for different reasons. Likewise, our reasons for liking certain athletes are varied, too. As a kid, I looked up to Dirk Graham because he was a hard-working player, and would have loved to have seen him play in an NHL All-Star Game. And even though he won the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward, he was never selected for an All-Star Game. If he ever was, it would probably have been at the expense of a more offensively-gifted player. But who cares? Graham was my guy, and I wanted to see him succeed.
Fans should be allowed to like what sport, league, team or player they choose, for whatever reasons they wish. That said, no matter why fans voted for John Scott to be in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game, the NHL owes it to both the fans and to Scott to honor their end of the deal — regardless of whether Scott participates as a member of the Arizona Coyotes, the Montreal Canadiens, the St. John’s IceCaps or the Tallahassee Warthogs.
It lasted seven years, but to most Chicago Blackhawks fans, it felt like forever. Since 2008, the Blackhawks’ leadership core has consisted of the same three players: Jonathan Toews serving as the team captain, along with Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp as alternate captains.
But that will change now that Sharp has been traded to the Dallas Stars. This begs the question, who will assume the role of the second assistant captain for the Blackhawks? NHL rules stipulate that all teams have one captain and two assistant captains (or three assistant captains) in the lineup, so someone has to fill Sharp’s skates as Keith’s fellow A-bearer.
Until the team makes an announcement, here is a look at the leading candidates for this job opening.
Chicago Blackhawks’ General Manager Stan Bowman has had a busy summer, attempting to get the team under the salary cap before the start of the 2015-16 season. Some popular players were offloaded to create cap space: first, rising star Brandon Saad, followed by All-Star winger Patrick Sharp. These trades won’t be fondly remembered by ‘Hawks fans in the years to come, but they are from far the worst moves the team has ever made.
During the Blackhawks’ 89-year history, the team has made several trades that looked bad from the get-go. These moves were usually made because of personality conflicts with the coach or short-sightedness by management, with devastating effects in the years to come. Here are the five worst trades in Blackhawks’ history.
This month is the 25th anniversary of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. It was one of the deepest drafts in NHL history. Headlining were four highly-touted forwards and a goalie All five were considered can’t-miss prospects; more on them in a bit. But the two biggest names selected in 1990 were Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr.
So, let us pretend that we could re-do the first round of the 1990 NHL Draft, hindsight being 20/20 and knowing what we know now. Imagine we get a copy of Grays Sports Almanac, a la “Back to the Future: Part II,” photocopy it 21 times, go back in time (the hard part of this scenario), and give a copy to each NHL GM in 1990. Here is how the first round of that draft probably would have looked.
Every June, when the NHL doles out its annual awards to the game’s best players, the argument of renaming the NHL’s trophies is always brought up. And not without good reason. Almost all of the awards are named after either players who skated nearly 100 years ago, or are former executives — many of whom did all they could to keep player salaries rock-bottom during the Original Six Era.
That said, it is high time to rename the NHL awards. Here’s a rundown of every major NHL award, why it needs to be renamed and a suggested new name.