The 10 Biggest Hockey Stories of 2017-18

By Sal Barry, Kyle Scully, Blake Isaacs & Jim Howard

Before we fully turn our attention to the season that lies ahead, here is a look back at the biggest hockey stories of the 2017-18 season.

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Tom Dundon: the Most Interesting Man in Hockey

The Winds of Change Hit the Hurricanes

Carolina Hurricanes’ new majority owner Tom Dundon [Twitter]
A lot has happened in RaleighWood with the Carolina Hurricanes over the past year. Caniacs were over the MOON late last year with the idea that some dude named Chuck Greenburg was seriously interested in finally buying our team from the curmudgeonly Peter Karmanos Jr. PK had previously won our team the Stanley Cup before firing all of his smart, hockey-minded adult sons who then sued him because he was using their inheritance to prop up the Hurricanes, and telling all of the fan to shut their yaps and be patient when it came to improving the team. Which he didn’t do.

So yeah, we were excited to have someone young, and passionate, very sports-minded, was probably gonna install a Lazy River in the PNC Arena, and damn we were so excited about having a new “dad!”

But Karmanos gonna Karmanos; and instead of patiently letting Chucky get together the money for the purchase, PK dogged him publicly to hurry up and then jacked the price up on him. If there was a local, low-budget horror film made about this, it would be titled, “Karmanos: The Hands of Fate.” Caniac Nation was livid at Karmanos for this act of selfish greed, but damned if he didn’t have ANOTHER buyer waiting the wings and we didn’t even know it!

Enter the Dragon Tom Dundon. Carolina exclaimed a collective “WHO?” before running to Google for info of what to expect. And there wasn’t much to say. All we could really figure out was that he made a metric butt-ton of money from a number of ventures, most notably for a sub-prime auto loan company and his only real financial connection to sports was being part owner to an indoor driving range franchise called Top Golf. Ok, so no Lazy River in PNC…we get a Putt-Putt? Still, he had enough money to call Peter Karmanos his Lil’ Bitch and got him out of the driver seat, so the guy was already our First Star for the month of December. In the half a year since, we’ve learned a lot about him and he is learning a lot about hockey. 

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The First Annual Puck Junk Awards

A.K.A. 6 NHL Awards We’d Like to See

The 2018 NHL Awards take place tonight. Seeing the same great players over and over win trophies and make boring speeches is fine and all, but what hockey needs is a little variety to its awards. So here are six all-new and exciting trophies that the NHL should give out to these six unique and interesting players. But the NHL is more likely to give Quebec its next expansion franchise than to acknowledge the feats of these guys. I guess that leaves it to me. So I present to you the First Annual Puck Junk Awards!  

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Why I Stopped Playing Topps Skate

When Topps launched its NHL Skate digital app at the start of the 2016-17 season, I couldn’t get enough of it. I constantly bought packs, actively traded for cards that I needed, worked towards getting all the reward cards and participated in numerous daily contests.

A year later, my enthusiasm for Topps Skate is all but gone. Yes, I still open the app once a day to collect my free coins, and will open a few packs now and then and try to get a few inserts. But I don’t even bother with the daily contests, nor do I try all that hard to get any of the cards. Here’s why.

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A Look Back at National Hockey Card Day 2018

Kids who attended National Hockey Card Day at Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, IL
proudly show off the hockey cards they received. 

March 3 was National Hockey Card Day, which has become an annual tradition for collectors in the United States and in Canada.

Sponsored by Upper Deck, National Hockey Card Day was started in 2009 in Canada and came to the United States in 2012. Hockey fans could visit a participating sports card shop and get a free pack of exclusive hockey cards.

The cards given out differ by country. The U.S. set focuses more on American players, while the Canadian set keys in on Canadian players. The cards were given out in five-card foil packs, and each set consisted of 16 total cards; the first 15 cards are found in packs, while the 16th card could only be acquired with a $10 purchase. Additionally, there were a few chase inserts.

Both the U.S. and Canadian packs had ten different Victory Black rookie cards of popular first-year players. These cards, numbered 13-22, continue the Victory Black set given away at the Fall 2017 Toronto Sport Card & Memorabilia Expo. Canadian fans also had the opportunity to pull five retro Young Guns reprint cards, while U.S. fans could find five Vegas Golden Knights cards. There were also long odds of getting an autographed card.

Excerpt from Sports Collectors Digest, Vol. 47, No. 10, May 11, 2018. Article also published online here.

Retailers who spoke with Sports Collectors Digest noted that National Hockey Card Day had a positive effect on their stores. Some dealers put up posters advertising the event and emailed their customers, while others went all-out, with sales on hockey products and raffles for signed memorabilia.

“It was unbelievable,” said Jim Amerey, co-owner of West’s Sports Cards in Edmonton. “Lots of people. I can’t count them. We give away packs for three days because there’s a lot of people who can’t come on Saturday, so we do it on Sunday and Monday, too.”

“We did really well with it, but we also had some youth hockey teams come in,” said Steve Wilson, owner of Jim & Steve’s Sportscards in Waukegan, about 40 miles north of Chicago. “Some of the kids were here for the first time. And a week later, we’ve already seen some of them come back and spend some of their money, so that’s always a good sign.”

National Hockey Card Day was a hit in Las Vegas, home of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Saturday was pretty insane,” said Mark Hansen, manager of Legacy Sports Cards in Las Vegas.

Read the full article at Sports Collectors Digest

Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk

Box Break: 2017-18 SP Game Used

Last month, when ordering my box of Upper Deck Series 2 to make fun of, I also tossed in a box of SP Game Used since it was on sale. I actually wrestled with purchasing this item verses a box of Artifacts that were at a similar price point, both on sale. Eventually I gauged that the SPGU would have a better value in the promised “hits.” With only one pack per box, let’s see if that holds true…

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The Race for the 2018 Hart Trophy

8 Great Choices – But Only 1 Can Be MVP

With the NHL regular season now at an end, I think we can all agree it has been one of the best in recent memory. If the brilliant debut of the Las Vegas Golden Knights wasn’t enough, maybe it was the play of breakout stars, Andrei Vasilevskiy or Brayden Point. But, the NHL is a stars league, and it is always at its best when its stars are shining bright. And this season is a prime example. When superstar Sidney Crosby is playing up to his expectations and is 10th in the league in scoring, you know the league is firing on all cylinders.

It felt as though this year, all of the big stars were playing their best. So that leaves one question: who is most deserving of the Hart Trophy as the league’s regular-season MVP? The award is always contentious because of the letter“V,” for valuable, in MVP. But I’m not here to try and define value and who should win; I’m here to show that this is one of the most exciting Hart Trophy races in my lifetime. There are arguably eight players,  forwards in particular, that have a legitimate chance to win the award this year. Eight forwards who have arguably been more valuable to their team than anyone else. That is the important caveat: a player’s team success is almost always included in their chances at winning the award, so I will take that under consideration. Here are the reasons why, and why not, these eight are in contention for the NHL’s top individual honor.

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Scott Foster Custom Hockey Cards

Scott Foster made NHL history last week when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. He is the second emergency backup goaltender (EBUG) to be credited with ice time in an NHL game, and the first to be credited with making a save. Actually, he made seven saves, including stops on a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot and a  shot by Paul Stastny from the slot. 

Last season, Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager Jorge Alves suited up as an EBUG for the ‘Canes, played a mere 7.6 seconds, didn’t face any shots, and yet got a bunch of official hockey cards made by Upper Deck. Meanwhile, Eric Semborski was coincidentally an EBUG for the Blackhawks last season, and got two digital trading cards from Topps, though he didn’t play in the game. 

So, where are the Scott Foster hockey cards? The guy actually appeared in an NHL game, which is the minimum criteria for getting an NHL card. Heck, he even used to stuff hockey cards of goalies in his skates for good luck. Foster might get a card from either Upper Deck or Topps later this season. But to tide you over until then, here are seven custom Scott Foster hockey cards — one for each save he made in his 14 minutes of ice time. 

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Best of the Worst: 2017-18 Upper Deck Series 2 Hockey

As the NHL season slowly slips away from us (because some of our teams couldn’t find the postseason if it was water and they fell off a boat), it’s nice to have Upper Deck around to remind us of the good times and the crazy moments like a high school yearbook. And much like a high school yearbook, even good photographers can take bad pictures. Let’s look at some now!

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Saturday is National Hockey Card Day

The popular Upper Deck program returns on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Don’t call it a comeback; it’s been around for years! Upper Deck’s National Hockey Card Day returns for 2018. On Saturday, March 3, 2018, collectors in the U.S. and Canada can get an exclusive pack of trading cards when they visit a participating retailer (U.S retailers here, Canadian retailers here.)

This is the 7th year that NHCD has taken place in the U.S., and the 10th year in Canada. For 2018, Upper Deck has upped the ante and added a few more cards to the mix.

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