A Look Back at the 1991 Canada Cup

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Twenty-five years ago today, Canada won the 1991 Canada Cup Tournament when they beat the United States. It would be the last Canada Cup, as the tournament would be renamed the World Cup of Hockey in 1996.

A few months after the 1991 Canada Cup, Upper Deck released its 1991-92 hockey card set, which included a Canada Cup subset. This was the first time that a set of trading cards would feature pictures and players from the Canada Cup. These Canada Cup cards were also the first hockey cards for many of the European players — some who would go on to lengthy NHL careers.

Here’s a look at how each of the six teams, as well as many of the players, performed at the 1991 Canada Cup.
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Re-imagining the 1991 NHL Entry Draft

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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.

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Remembering Six Forgotten NHL Awards

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With the 2016 NHL Awards Show taking place tomorrow, the internet has been abuzz with which players should win certain awards, or why a particular trophy should be renamed. But I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the NHL’s forgotten awards. Each of these six awards were given out at different times over the NHL’s 99-year history, but all were discontinued for one reason or another. It’s time for a little NHL history.

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Building the 2016 Pittsburgh Penguins: An Interactive Timeline

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It has been a long seven years, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally reclaimed the Stanley Cup. The Pens team that made back-to-back Finals appearances, losing in 2008 and winning in 2009, seemed poised to be an annual contender. Yet, the Penguins faltered, being adequate enough to make it into the playoffs, but not great enough to win it all.

That changed when Jim Rutherford was hired as the Penguins General Manager in 2014. He started re-building the team around cornerstones Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury. He made a blockbuster deal for Phil Kessel, as well as other trades, and made the controversial decision to fire Pens’ head coach Mike Johnston and replace him with their AHL coach, Mike Sullivan. It all worked out in the end.

For a more in-depth look at how the Penguins rebuilt themselves into a championship team, plus a recap of every players’ contributions, take a look at this interactive timeline. ■

Penguins’ Stanley Cup Finals Ice for Sale

Ice, Ice Baby! Consol Center Ice, Ice Baby!

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What do you buy a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan to celebrate the Pens’ 2016 Stanley Cup Championship? You could get them an autographed photo, a signed puck or a team-signed guitar. I’m not making the last one up.

Or you could get them some ice from the Consol Energy Center that has been melted down and put into a puck or a mini Stanley Cup. It’s the ice that the Penguins and Sharks skated on for Games One, Two and Five. This is great for Pens fans who like water that they can’t drink. And if Sidney Crosby spit on the ice in any of those games, it might even have his DNA! No, not really. All kidding aside, these are pretty nice.

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The Crystal Puck looks fancy and comes in a posh blue box that bears the Stanley Cup Championship logo. It costs $49.99, with free shipping.

But I think I like the “Crystal Cup” better.

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Like the real Stanley Cup, the Crystal “filled with ice” Cup comes with its own coffin storage case. At $79.99 (with free shipping) it costs a bit more than the crystal puck, but I think the box makes it worthwhile. It lists out the years of the Penguins’ four Championships, their regular season record, the results in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and the game-by-game results of the Finals.

The ice-filled Crystal Puck and Crystal Cup collectibles — as well as other Penguins Championship merchandise — are being sold by SportsMemorabilia.com, who is running a $20 off promotion for Flag Day. Use code FLAG at checkout to save $20 on an order of $100 or more. ■

An Interview with Hockey Card Photo Editor Austin Castillo

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Upper Deck photo editor Austin Castillo, left, poses with Philip Pritchard and the Stanley Cup. Among other duties, Castillo selects photos shown on Upper Deck hockey cards.

A few weeks ago, Puck Junk got some internet buzz with our Best of the Worst article about this year’s Upper Deck Series Two. That caught the busy eyes of our cardboard muses at Upper Deck, who enjoyed the light-hearted ribbing we gave them. We asked if we could interview one of their photo editors, because we want to know what goes into the production of hockey cards. What are some of the challenges that Upper Deck employees face to make cards that they’d be proud of?

Fortunately, Upper Deck photo editor Austin Castillo was kind enough to play Twenty(ish) Questions with us via email, and provided some pretty insightful and provocative things about the world of cardboard sports icons. Where do their new product ideas come from? What kind of guidelines do they follow for selecting card photos? Let’s find out!

Jim Howard: What is your job and what are your duties with Upper Deck?

Austin Castillo: My job title is Photo Editor. I maintain a huge archive of digital and film assets (slides and negatives) and pick the photos that go on cards, as well as some Photoshop work (CMYK conversion, color correction, etc.).

JH: How did you find your way into this field?

AC: I studied photography in college and then found the job via Indeed.

JH: To what extent do you edit the pictures?  Obviously color, contrast and brightness are tweaked as needed, but I’ve seen older cards where the ads on the boards were removed or altered.

AC: We generally don’t retouch the image too much, but we’ll airbrush out Continue reading “An Interview with Hockey Card Photo Editor Austin Castillo”

Your e-Pack Trash is My Treasure

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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.

This is either awful or awesome, depending on your point of view.  Continue reading “Your e-Pack Trash is My Treasure”

Hockey and Superheroes: A Bizarre Team-Up

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“Captain America: Civil War,” the new Marvel movie comes out today, and oh man, am I excited. The movie features Captain America, who was my favorite comic book hero growing up. (Yes, I self-identify as “lawful good.” Deal with it!) It’s got Iron Man and Spider-Man and all the other superheroes we love.

My first-ever job was working in a comic book store, as a dorky, flannel-wearing teenager who spent his $4 an hour on comics and hockey cards almost faster than he could earn it. (Well, it wasn’t like I had many dates back then.) Today, I still collect hockey cards, and while I’ve cooled my heels on comic collecting, I still enjoy a good superhero flick.

Hockey fans who also like superheroes — or comic book fans who are at least tolerant of hockey — will be interested to know that there have been several notable crossovers between superheroes and hockey. Like ketchup on ice cream, hockey and superheroes is a strange combination that always had ridiculous results.

Here are six examples of hockey and superhero crossovers.

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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.

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