No Stanley Cup, But Still a Great 2015-16 Season for the Chicago Blackhawks

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Patrick Kane won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer in 2015-16. This was the first time in 48 years that a Blackhawks player has won the trophy. [Photo by Lisa Gansky Photography]

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.

Continue reading “No Stanley Cup, But Still a Great 2015-16 Season for the Chicago Blackhawks”

John Scott Trade is a Punch in the Face for NHL Fans

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John Scott [PuckJunk.com photo illustration]

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.

Continue reading “John Scott Trade is a Punch in the Face for NHL Fans”

Who Will Be Named the Chicago Blackhawks’ Next Assistant Captain?

Craigslist_AdIt 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.

Continue reading “Who Will Be Named the Chicago Blackhawks’ Next Assistant Captain?”

Re-imagining the 1990 NHL Draft

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.

Continue reading “Re-imagining the 1990 NHL Draft”

It’s Time to Rename the NHL Awards

trophy_title_imageEvery 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.

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Franken-Cards

RoenickJERSEY CARDS! Love ‘em or Hate ‘em, you’re bound to come across them if you spend any appreciable time (and money) opening packs. Sometimes you luck out and score the star player of your favorite team! YAY! And sometimes you pull some dude you don’t know on a team you dislike. BOO! But hang on to him anyways, because you never know when Nathan Gerbe will get picked up by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Then there are the jersey cards that make you scratch you head when the swatch of jersey does not match the picture on the card. Like, not even close. Continue reading “Franken-Cards”

With Morin gone, Byfuglien trade officially a bust for the Blackhawks

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The Chicago Blackhawks traded winger Jeremy Morin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Tim Erixon on Sunday. But this was more than a simple player swap; it was the symbolic end to the Dustin Byfuglien trade from four years ago. At this point, it is safe to say that trading Byfuglien was a bust for the Blackhawks. Continue reading “With Morin gone, Byfuglien trade officially a bust for the Blackhawks”

New Blackhawks Winter Classic Jersey Almost Gets It Right

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Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews models the 2015 Winter Classic Jersey [Blackhawks / NHL]

The Chicago Blackhawks unveiled their new jerseys for the 2015 Winter Classic Wednesday on Twitter, then later on their website. And I love it. It is awesome. It is almost perfect.

Almost. Continue reading “New Blackhawks Winter Classic Jersey Almost Gets It Right”

My attempt at hockey artistry, circa 1992

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I was cleaning out my filing cabinet and found some old drawings I did in high school. Art was always my favorite subject, and I took it all four years. I would try to draw or create hockey images whenever possible. During my junior year — right around the time of the 1992 Winter Olympics — we had to make a few blended colored pencil drawings for an assignment. I made three, using hockey as my inspiration. Continue reading “My attempt at hockey artistry, circa 1992”

Topps rips off their own hockey design

Topps released its 2014 Baseball Archives set this week, and usually I don’t pay attention to baseball cards. But Topps did something with this set that really annoyed me: they used a classic hockey card design in the new Archives baseball set — specifically, this design:

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“Check me out, dawg. I’m retro!” [Picture: Ebay]

Yes, that is the classic 1971-72 Topps and O-Pee-Chee design, re-purposed for a 20-card insert set of baseball cards — cheapening it in the process.

Everyone who reads this blog knows how much I love the 1971-72 design. It is the best hockey card design from the 1970s. (If you don’t believe me, read this first and then we’ll talk.)

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Best. Design. Ever.

Using this design for a baseball set would be like putting Sidney Crosby on a 1952 Topps Baseball card, or Alex Ovechkin on a 1989-90 Hoops Basketball card.

Inconceivable!

Five years ago, In The Game created a set of trading cards called 1972: The Year In Hockey which was reminiscent of the 1971-72 Topps/OPC design. I don’t know the full story, but I understand that In The Game got into a legal entanglement with Topps for making cards that also used ovals, bright colors and puffy letters. As if Topps invented — or outright owns — any of those design elements.

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A card from the 1972: The Year In Hockey set by In The Game

The 1972 set by In The Game was a hit with old school collectors who either bought cards in 1971-72 (that was before I was born), or collected that set later on. Making a new hockey set look like an old hockey set makes sense — especially when done right.

Anyway, would the type of collector who buys Topps Archives Baseball cards really give a damn about baseball cards that look like old hockey cards? I think they’d be more excited about new baseball cards that look like old baseball cards. Or the insert cards based on the Major League movie. I’m not even a baseball fan and I want those cards!

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2014 Topps Archives insert cards [Picture: Ebay]

But these cards…irritate me.

Frankly, I”m tired of card companies re-using old designs because they don’t even do it right anymore.Think about Upper Deck’s half-hearted release of Fleer Retro last year. Some of the “retro” cards were great, but many of the inserts were dumb because they weren’t even based on hockey designs, like Intimidation Nation (based on a football set) and the God-awful Noyz Boyz (based on basketball cards).

Yes, Topps made hockey cards in 1971-72, and can use that design all they want. They can use it on baseball cards or FIFA World Cup cards or Spongebob Squarepants cards or whatever the heck they make these days.

But just because they CAN doesn’t mean they SHOULD.